Pre-settlement Wildfire information

I write this to get us all thinking about our goals/visions and options (how to achieve our goals) about our forests. For more than ten years I have been studying “What were our CDF pre-settlement forests like?” off the side of my desk. I’ll start with a hypothesis: Lasqueti forests were more open (less dense), multiple aged and diameters, less brush, created by active management with fire, experienced/used to frequent ground fires, often with small patch to larger prairie areas of forbs/forage and of coarse stands of nice old-growth trees. The northern Coast Salish frequently burned Lasqueti (Xwe?etay/Xwe”i”tay) to increase both wanted plant & fauna habitat for their food needs on the island. I believe such a forest (pre-contact) can be burned relatively safely (without crowning out and killing all/most of the trees) and would be at a lower wildfire risk than what we have today.

If this hypothesis is correct, then our present forest is quite different; much denser, lots of fuel, filled with fire ladders, and too many crowns touching one another; in other words, just waiting for a major stand replacing fire to happen. Like what has been occurring up & down the west coast. The fire return was from about 6 to 45 years, which increases our wildfire risk with each additional decade without a fire. We need a to thin out the forest and possibly re-introduce fire by controlled burns, to protect our forests. This presentation is the first (part 1) about the pre-settlement CDF forest and is mostly about the time between wildfires and the mix of what old-growth was like on the island from my research.

... Please see attached PDF for full report ...

CDF and fire (PDF)686.13 KB