Wildfire in the Gorge – The Good, the Bad, and Lessons from Eagle Creek
Sense of Place, Jan. 11th, Wildfire in the Gorge – The Good, the Bad, and Lessons from Eagle Creek
A trio of experts share important takeaways from the Eagle Creek Fire
Mt. Adams Institute presents a Sense of Place lecture, Wildfire in the Gorge – the Good, the Bad, and Lessons from Eagle Creek, January 11, 2023, at the Columbia Center for the Arts. Whether you were in the Gorge on September 2, 2017 or you were miles away, you likely recall how the Eagle Creek fire affected your daily life and our community. The event, which burned almost 50,000 acres, forever changed the landscape and raised awareness about the increasing risk of wildfire – to our ecosystem, our health, our economy, and our recreational activities.
During the next Sense of Place lecture, hear from three experts on how the Eagle Creek Fire taught us many lessons and will inevitably prepare us for the future. Jessica Hudec of the U.S. Forest Service will present on the good and bad of wildfire. Loretta Duke of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest will share stories from her role as the Initial Attack Incident Commander during the first days of the Eagle Creek Fire. And Brian Harvey, a professor at the University of Washington, will share the latest research on what’s being discovered at Eagle Creek, 5-years later.
In recent decades, the frequency of large wildfires has increased, and new maximums for the scale, speed, and severity of wildfires have been set. Still, the occurrence of wildfire is more nuanced than most news headlines would have us believe. Fire is an important part of maintaining healthy, diverse ecosystems. Wildfires release valuable nutrients into the soil, initiate re-birth, and provide habitat for fire-dependent plant and animal species.
The Eagle Creek fire was the largest fire the Gorge has seen in the past century. Smoke filled the air as forests burned, residents were evacuated, highways closed, and businesses shut down. Five years later, what can we learn from this historic event? How has it affected our local landscapes, communities, and fire management practices? And as wildfire becomes increasingly common in the Gorge, how can we better understand its costs and benefits, as well as, how to coexist with this incredible force? The next Sense of Place speakers bring a unique mix of experience and knowledge to help us understand the impacts of the Eagle Creek Fire and how to be more prepared for a future with increased wildfire risk (see below for complete bios).
This event will be offered in-person at the Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River, Oregon and will include a Q&A session moderated by Sense of Place host/curator, Sarah Fox. A livestream option is available for those unable to attend in person.
Sense of Place lecture series
When – Wednesday, January 11th, 2023. Doors open 6:30pm, presentation begins 7pm.
Where – Columbia Center for the Arts, 215 Cascade Avenue Hood River, OR 97031.
Cost – $10 tickets, available at https://sense-of-place-13.eventbrite.com/
For more information on the Sense of Place lectures or its livestream, please go to www.mtadamsinstitute.org/senseofplace
FULL SPEAKER BIOS
Jessica Hudec started her U.S. Forest Service career in 2003 as a wildland firefighter and spent the following 11 years working in fire management. In 2011, Jessica completed a Master of Science degree in Forest Resources with a focus on fire ecology at the University of Washington. Jessica shifted her career path in 2014 when she accepted a position as Forest Ecologist, stationed in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Jessica brings a particular interest in fire ecology to her current role, and she continues to participate in wildland fire management as a long-term fire analyst, fire effects monitor, and incident commander, among other roles.
Loretta Duke is the Fire Management Officer for the South Zone of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. She started her career in wildfire as a member of the Logan (Utah) Hotshots crew in 1989 and moved on to the North Cascades National Park to work on fuels management in 1993, eventually becoming the Assistant Fire Management Officer. In that role, she supervised Engine Captains and Hand Crew Captains, as well as served as the training officer for the unit. On September 3, 2017, one day after the Eagle Creek Fire was started, Loretta served as the Initial Attack Incident Commander. She later became the Division Supervisor of Eagle Creek Fire and also worked as a Duty Officer responsible for sending resources to other fires under initial attack.
is the Principal Investigator at the Harvey Lab of the University of Washington and the Jack Corkery and George Corkery Jr. Endowed Professor in Forest Sciences and Assistant Professor in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences in the College of the Environment at the University of Washington. His research focuses on understanding the nature of forest disturbances (e.g. fires and insect outbreaks) – and how forest structure and function is shaped by disturbances, interactions among disturbances, and climate. Dr. Harvey’s work emphasizes field studies that are integrated with large spatial datasets and analyses, drawing on insights from landscape ecology and community ecology. Over the last 10 years, he has conducted research on the disturbance ecology of forests in coastal California, the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Northwest. Prior to pursuing a career in research, Dr. Harvey worked in the private sector as an environmental consultant and project manager. In addition to his research at UW, he teaches graduate- and undergraduate-level courses in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.