If you visit the Ochoco, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, it doesn’t take long to find areas where forest conditions are dominated by dense stands with thick ladder fuels. The problem with these overcrowded forest conditions, which have also experienced drought conditions in recent years, is large areas of the landscape are left vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate, including large and severe wildfires, and insect and disease outbreaks.
Why do we have these overcrowded conditions? For more than a century, we have suppressed wildfires so effectively that dry forests have become overcrowded with close-canopied forest stands dominated by smaller diameter, young trees. Fire suppression has also led to conifers spreading into aspen stands and historically non-forested areas.