Post-Biscuit Fire Management Study

Project Background & Description

The 2002 Biscuit Fire was the largest wildfire in the history of southwest Oregon, covering nearly 500,000 acres of forestland, most of which is managed by the USDA Forest Service (USFS). The proposed study and planned website are a direct result of a proposed 36,000-acre replicated “learning experiment” described in Appendix A to the Biscuit Fire Recovery Plan Final Environmental Impact Statement (Bormann, et al. 2004), as adopted by the USFS and USDI Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 2004 (“Appendix A”).

The intent of coupling an independent educational website with the proposed study is for purposes of project monitoring, public outreach, and as a collaborative source for post-fire management information, education, and research. Several discussions involving PNWRS and ORWW principals have taken place since the adoption of Appendix A, and formal efforts have been made for funding this proposal. A current application for long-term funding of the study and website remains pending with the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.

This website represents the completion of an agreement between PNWRS and ORWW principals intended to result in the eventual creation of a cooperative educational website to help achieve the goals and objectives of the planned Post-Biscuit Fire Management Study.

Definitions & Examples.

The following terms are used in this report and in Appendix A. Several website links are provided as examples of how the proposed website might look, or that contain information likely to be assimilated or consulted during website construction.

Analysis functions.

This link would be the primary destination for most website users. It would provide a synthesis of hypothesis testing with collected evidence that would be regularly updated, and would also provide a more formal opportunity for visitors to develop their own analyses. Visitors may or may not be anonymous, depending on user choice and final website design.

Background Information Links.

These links would connect to files and websites providing information on basic Biscuit Fire topics, such as “historical context,” “quantitative evidence,” and “qualitative evidence.” Formats would include video clips, photographs, hypertext documents, and PDF files, as demonstrated in a preliminary contract between PNWRS and ORWW completed in September 2006.

Historical context would include cultural landscape history, Indian burning patterns evidence, historical maps and photographs, and other pre-fire information. Historical context data would also include a detailed history of the fire itself, including fire attack response, BAER project results, lawsuits, and Appendix A adoption.

Quantitative evidence would include measures directly related to the fire, such as total acres burned, owl and salmon habitat loss, and other measurable post-fire data.

Qualitative evidence would include oral history interviews, eyewitness accounts, and personal opinions. Interactive public outreach options would allow website visitors to express their own observations and opinions, perhaps anonymously.

Civil Science.

For purposes of this report and discussion, civil science can be described as: 1) involving and improving local applied science education and research, particularly in fields of value to federal management of natural and cultural resources and to public science education, and/or 2) developing scientific data of direct or general management value to local agencies, residents, landowners, and resource managers.


This project is intended to involve and develop a growing association of website users and builders, eventually including USFS, BLM, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), Oregon State University (OSU), Portland State University (PSU), University of Oregon (UO), Southern Oregon University (SOU), and other agency, university, and industrial scientists, natural and cultural resource managers, landowners, local residents, schools, students, teachers, and interested members of the general public. ORWW has been continuously online for more than 11 years, and many of its past sponsors and current users (150,000+ visitors/year) already include members of these target groups:

Cultural Landscape.

Much of the informational content for the proposed website is intended to reflect local cultural and historical conditions for the study area. The purpose for including these data is to better interpret pre-fire conditions and post-fire objectives at a landscape-scale. Types of such information can be as diverse as historical vegetation patterns and significant topical song lyrics:


This link would provide principal access to the study’s monitoring plan, schedule, and results. Sequential photographs, LIDAR data, and periodic field inventories would be included in this area of the website. This would principally be a data-sharing link and may not have an interactive (user alteration) feature.

Management Study.

As defined in Appendix A (Bormann, et al. 2004):

"This management study is a 36,000 acre replicated landscape-scale management experiment. It is an attempt to help meet both the resource and adaptive-management goals of the Northwest Forest Plan (1994), and thus it must sometimes balance conflicting resource and learning objectives. Focused on questions facing land managers, the study will be implemented as normal business for the Siskiyou National Forest, with limited support from the Corvallis Forestry Sciences Laboratory and other research organizations. The approach is based on adaptive management concepts, using a parallel-learning model."

Public Outreach.

For purposes of this report and study, principal public outreach objectives are met with the creation and use of the proposed study website. Other methods of involving the public in this study include public tours, public lectures, and news releases, as generally described in previous funding proposals.

Study design.

This link would detail basic research questions of the study and provide a detailed comparison of established management directions. Options for public commentary on design and methods would be encouraged for consideration of possible future replications of these types of studies. Such commentary may also be helpful for analyzing study results and conclusions.

Website Design.

Website design includes the visual and structural organization of software and content that directly contributes to site appearance, use, and navigation.

©2008 Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project, Inc.