October 2, 2011
The U.S. Forest service and the Yakama Tribe cooperate on a controlled burn of the Sawtooth Huckleberry Fields in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Back before the spotted owl, the salmon and ecosystem management changed the rules of the game, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest was one of the biggest timber producers in the Northwest. The numbers tell the story.
SAWTOOTH HUCKLEBERRY FIELDS — On a blue-sky late September afternoon high in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, firefighters from the Forest Service and the Yakama Tribe waited, drip torches in hand, for the state to give the go-ahead so they could set the woods on fire. When the green light came, they marched into a thinned mixed-conifer stand bordering the road, spaced themselves along the boundaries of a 20-acre plot, and began igniting huckleberry bushes and low-lying shrubs and grasses. Flames skipped across the forest floor and laddered into the crown of a tall subalpine fir. Smoke billowed into the clear sky. The hiss and pop of burning needles filled the air.