North Cascades National Park NPS Arrowhead
Bald Eagle
North Cascades - Homeward Bound NPS
Bald Eagle Forest Carnivores (martens) Kids on the Trail
Salmon and Juveniles
Fire in Ponderosas
Fire in Ponderosa Forest

Forest Rebirth

Too often we arrive at black and white judgments: fair weather is good, fire is bad. However, life is rarely this simple.

For the ponderosa pine, fire is an essential part of its life cycle. This tree is endowed with thick bark that is somewhat fire resistant. If it were not for fire, other trees would snuff out a ponderosa's light from above and draw off its water from below. For communities of ponderosa pines and those plants and animals that depend on open-canopied forests, fire is good.

On the other hand—in the case of the town of Stehekin at the north end of Lake Chelan—fire would destroy homes and other buildings. Yet, without fire, our food would not be cooked, nor would our homes be warm. Forests from which we harvest great numbers of resources would be unhealthy were it not for fire. For humans, fire is both bad and good.

Forest fires tend to have a cleaning effect in forest communities. They burn through brush, limbs and logs to clear out 'fuel' that would otherwise accumulate and create the potential for dramatic forest-infernos. In Stehekin, forest fires have been suppressed for many years, thus creating a tinderbox of logs, limbs and brush in nearby forests. One lightning bolt or match could set off a massive fire-in-waiting. The National Park Service has embarked on a Forest Fuel Reduction Plan near Stehekin to help reduce fuel accumulated in nearby forests. This plan is intended to protect Stehekin residents from forest fires as well as to protect the biological integrity of the forests. By both removing accumulated fuels and setting fires under carefully determined conditions (prescribed fires), the National Park Service is reducing the risk of catastrophic fire in the Stehekin Valley.


Notes from the Field
  Forest Fuel Reduction Plan Summary
  Analyzing Fire Data

ActivityManage a forest in No Burnin' Down the House.

Backyard Discoveries
  Activities: Shady Characters
  Critical Thinking: Playing with Fire

The Eagle Eye
  Stehekin Valley (aerial)
  Winter Thinning
  Orchard Plot Visualization
  Graph: Tree Density (all plots)


Glossary: biological integrity, crown, density, diversity, prescribed burn, shade-tolerant, suppression, variable
Link: Stehekin Forest Fuel Reduction Plan, National Park Service Fire Education
Lilly (half)
Lilly (half) Lilly
a Natural Resource Challenge education project made possible by Parks As Classrooms