DTO REPORT: A Growing Sea of Snags

DTO released a report we commissioned by Bob Zybach, entitled “A Growing Sea of Snags.”The report looks primarily at the federal-vs-private response to the Archie Creek Fire aftermath and places salvage/reforestation into the context of historic fire patterns in western Oregon. They have issued a press release that summarizes the basic findings/recommendations of the report:


  • Approximately 40% of the Umpqua National Forest has burned at least once in the last 20 years;many areas have burned 2-3times in that period;
  • As little as 1% of snags are being removed from federal burn areas–contributing to an over-abundance of dead trees in the Northand South Umpqua drainages for the foreseeable future;
  • The presence of snags across the landscape intensifies fire behavior and poses hazards to firefighters, reduces the ability to directly attack fires and leads to even more acres being burned;
    • Attempts to manage a wildfire are made far more dangerous by burning snags;
    • Burning snags can greatly increase the heat and severity of fire;
    • Wildfire managers will be reluctant to directly attack fires in re-burn areas;
  • Based on historic wildfire patterns in western Oregon, there will be a heightened fire risk in the upper North and South Umpqua watersheds for the next half century until snags are removed intentionally or by consequent wildfire;
  • Re-burnareas may ultimately convert forest stands to another vegetation type altogether (e.g.,brush field, hardwoods);
  • Federal land managers are crippled before and after fires by the current suite of administrative land designations.


  • Federal land management designations should be reevaluated to allow land managers to reduce the threat of future fires to human and wildlife populations;
  • Remove most snags from high-risk areas with residences, major roads, power lines, etc.;
  • Fuels reduction along existing road networks can create a system of ready-made firebreaks;
  • Reforestation projects can be used to create a network of strategic firebreaks;
  • Openup riparian areas and ridgetops to more closely mimic early historic forest patterns;
  • Replicate historic Indian burning practices in the Fall in places such as grassy prairies, ridgelines and berry fields.