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Landscape Recovery

Landscape Recovery

Landscape after the fires

What happens to the landscape and trees after a fire? Overall, the goal is to make sure that Oregon’s natural spaces have an opportunity to mend from the fire damage safely. Some clean-up might be required in areas with people, roads, and structures where fire-weakened trees, snags, and dead vegetation may need to be removed. Other areas, especially out in the wilderness, may be left alone to recover naturally on their own. Some places like industrial timberlands will need to be re-seeded and re-planted, and recreation areas may need additional rebuilding and repair of trails, campgrounds, and structures. 

Oregon’s lands are managed by several different agencies, including federal, state, local, and tribal. Over a million acres of land across many jurisdictions were burned in the September 2020 fires. Recovery work in these areas will take many years with multiple strategies being implemented across the landscape.

Acres burnd from September 2020 Fires, incpuding a pie chart of land burned in 2020 fires 

Contact by jurisdiction and management agency


Illustration depicting the state of a landscape after a fire
  1. Hazard Tree Removal (first priority, within the first two years)
    Dead or weakened trees need to be removed if they pose a threat to people, structures, trails or roads if they fall.
  2. Salvage Tree Harvest (within the first two years after the fire)
    Minimizing the loss of burned or dead trees for commercial timber by salvaging them before they decay or become hosts for wood-boring insects. This can recover some economic benefit to hard-hit landowners and communities in the area.
  3. Monitor and Leave Alone (ongoing)
    Most of the public/wilderness areas affected by wildfires will be left alone for natural recovery. Fire is natural in our landscape and recovery could take many years.
  4. Trail and Recreation Restoration (ongoing)
    Many trails and recreations areas might be closed from the fire damage and restoration. Respect closures and stay out until they can be repaired and made safe again. Some areas need to be left alone so natural recovery can take place. It could be dangerous to you and others to enter closed areas.
  5. Reseeding and Replanting (2-6 years pending seedling availability)
    Replanting helps Oregon's working forests quickly regreen. In areas managed as natural areas, fire gives opportunity for native species and fire-resistant plants to be reseeded, planted or allowed to grow back naturally. This includes seeding and planting saplings (young trees).
  6. Rebuilding (ongoing)
    Looking to rebuild trails, campgrounds, cabins, boat launches, utilities and other structures that help us access and care for our natural areas.
  7. Riparian Area Restoration (ongoing)
    Rebuilding habitats along rivers and streams as well as the upland areas around them. That means leaving some dead or fallen trees where they are.
  8. Erosion Control (ongoing)
    Fire can reduce the soil's ability to absorb water as well as weaken the ground or kill roots that once held the ground together. Trees that once buffered the rainfall may have died or been removed. Constructing protective barriers and planting new trees can help reduce risk.