Biscuit Fire:  Oregon Field Guide
brightFire.jpg (42392 bytes) fireHill.jpg (26452 bytes)

photos by National Forest Service 

The Biscuit Fire, located in southern Oregon and northern California, began on July 13, 2002 and reached 499,965 acres. Estimated to be one of Oregon's largest in recorded history, the Biscuit Fire encompassed most of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. The boundary of the Biscuit Fire stretches from 10 miles east of the coastal community of Brookings, Oregon; south into northern California; east to the Illinois Valley; and north to within a few miles of the Rogue River

Biscuit Fire:  Oregon Field Guide
   Nov 17, 2003 18:14 PST 


An amazing thing happened. I was watching a bit on the Biscuit Fire on OPB
and I hear this name. What do you know? There you are on the picture box.
So tell me, what exactly kinda research are ya doin' on the Biscuit Fire?
I find this stuff very interesting and would love to find out more. Are
there any good websites out there or anything that tells lots of facts and
other info about this great fire? About how long ago did they interview


Re: Oregon Field Guide    The Darbyshires
   Nov 17, 2003 22:26 PST 

Hi Rory - yes, that was me on the Oregon Field Guide. I believe they
interviewed me and did the filming with Crystal Raymond and Bernard Bormann
in early August. We were surprised that this episode was airing so soon -
when they filmed it they told us that they were tentatively planning to air
it next spring!

There is a web site for the fire: 
The Draft EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) for the fire recovery
projects is also available on-line through that web site. Of course, most
people are interested in the fire salvage proposals, but there are a number
of other projects included in there as well that involve reforestation,
prescribed burning, fuel break creation/maintenance, etc. The major
controversy with the salvage is that there is pressure to salvage in
roadless areas. My major involvement in that project has been to take the
lead in developing a large-scale replicated management study to compare
three different methods for restoring Late-Successional Reserve areas that
were burned by the fire. The study plan for this project can be found in an
appendix to the DEIS. The study plan has just undergone a peer review and
we will be revising the study plan for the Final EIS (FEIS).

Because the Siskiyou National Forest felt that there would be a lot of
research interest after the fire, I agreed to take on the role of "Research
Coordinator" in addition my regular job, which involves coordinating the
research activities on the Long-Term Ecosystem Productivity Project for the
Pacific Northwest Research Station. We have research sites on the Olympic
Peninsula (near Forks, WA), in the Oregon Cascades near Vida, OR (in the
McKenzie River drainage), and in southwestern Oregon near Brookings, OR.
The primary focus of these sites is to look at the effect of different
forest plant communities and large woody debris on ecosystem productivity.
One of the treatments emphasizes early seral vegetation with Douglas-fir,
another treatment emphasizes Douglas-fir, a third treatment emphasizes
Douglas-fir with more shade-tolerant species, and a fourth is an uncut
control. Each of these vegetation treatments has subtreatments with high
and low amounts of woody debris. We have set up a series of long-term plots
to measure a variety of attributes of these conditions over time. The fire
burned through some of them, and we received over $450,000 to compare the
pre and post-fire conditions on our detailed, permanently marked plots.

I do have a handout that lists current Biscuit Fire research projects if you
are interested. It is in Microsoft Word. I'd be happy to email copies to
anyone who is interested.

Re: Oregon Field Guide
   Nov 19, 2003 18:20 PST 


To tell you the truth, I often have no idea what I'm talking about either.
So don't worry, we are in the same boat.

I have to say I often forget about how forest fires really burn. When I
hear the figure of 500,000 acres it's hard not to picture this vast area
that were burned to the ground. The local 5 o'clock news paints it up like
this. But in all reality the Biscuit Fire had about 95,000 acres (19%)
that went untouched, about 205,000 acres (41%) burned at a low intensity,
leaving green trees standing and healthy while clearing out brush and
small trees. Only 15.7%, about 78,500 acres, burned at high intensity,
leavin little but ash and charcoal behind, and 22.6%, about 113,000 acres,
burned at moderate intensity, where underbrush and most trees where
killed, but their leaves or needles remained intact.

The fire killed about 53,000 acres of old growth forest considered
suitable for spotted owl habitat. As of Sept. of 2002, the fate of 47
pairs of spotted owls is not known.

Rory Nichols