Wildlife response to the 2020 Labor Day fires in the Oregon Cascade Mountains
July 2022 - June 2024
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
In Oregon State and throughout the Pacific Northwest, there is an urgent need to document how wildlife species and their habitats recover from severe, large-scale fires. 2020 was an unprecedented wildfire season in western Oregon with five wildfires each exceeding 100,000 acres in size, all in the Cascade Mountains. Understanding how these large-scale disturbances influence wildlife resources in Oregon is extremely important for their conservation and management. To date, there is limited information on how wildlife have responded to these major fire events, primarily because megafires were not as abundant and did not present as great a challenge to the future of wildlife as they do now. With long-term projections of longer, hotter, drier summers, megafires may be inescapable. Understanding how wildlife recolonize areas with different burn intensities and management histories, the length of time it takes for population recovery, and what species fail to recolonize in wildfire affected areas will be extremely important for agencies to manage wildlife resources and for informing forest management practices. In 2021 and 2022, ODFW established 120 long-term monitoring sites (60 for Archie Creek and 60 for Beachie Creek) including trail camera units, audio recording units, and cover boards. Monitoring sites will be maintained for two full years, with continued monitoring at 5- to 10-year intervals conducted by ODFW. Habitat assessments using UAS and remotely sensed data will provide valuable information on vegetation response to fire and management practices near each monitoring site.