...so we quietly hiked in after crossing the stream a ways before the road-block. The forest looked amazingly beautiful... stark contrast to the lush green forests we were used to seeing along Fall Creek, but beautiful nonetheless. Ferns had already begun sprouting back up through the ash. Scorched Doug Firs and cedars sparkled in the sunlight. Many trees were not burned at all, others were lightly blackened by the flames. Some had obviously been swallowed up by the flames, but appeared to be alive. Insects and birds were thriving in the disturbance.
However, in true Forest Service fashion the fire suppression techniques used at Fall Creek were horrifying to say the least. The most depressing scene was an 800-year-old completely healthy Douglas Fir, 7 feet in diameter, felled for no reason - with sap dripping from it like blood. Even trees near water were felled. Scattered throughout the burn area are trees marked with orange flagging, printed with skulls and crossbones and the words "Killer Tree". The tags were often found on large ancient trees that survived the fire. Loggers will be deployed to murder these "killer trees" so they can be "salvaged" for the insatiable appetite of the timber industry.
Afterwards we chose a serene spot in the burn next to the creek and spoke of the energy we received from the forest. Then we jumped into the creek and promised the forest that we would use that energy to defend it at all costs from the greedy timber companies now drooling over the opporunity presented to them by this natural disturbance.
The trip to Clark seemed all the more appropriate with Bush coming to Oregon to ram his "healthy forest initiative" agenda down our throats. With a fire "spontaneously" occurring near Camp Sherman, where Bush was going to have a fundraiser and push his deforestation agenda, one has to wonder if this isn't the future of logging: to use fire emergencies as excuses to log hugely-profitable ancient trees on a case-by-case basis while degrading the quality of the remaining forest with clearcuts and quick-burning plantations which will promote future fire "emergencies". Many recent controversial "salvage" timber sales have officially been declared unsolved arsons, and the backburn and fire-mediation strategies employed by the forest service often devestate more acreage than the wildfires themselves, creating rich habitat for the timber barons who profit from salvage operations. It would be nice if the billions of dollars wasted to subsidize the Federal timber sale program could be diverted toward the sound strategies of fire suppression though premeditated forest restoration, re-employing ex-loggers orphaned by a self-destructive and dying forest-liquidation industry.