San Juan Islands Wildfire Protection

San Juan Landscape View

Wildland fire management options for the Spokane District typically include a variety of potential responses to unplanned fires (wildfires); use of prescribed fire; mechanical, biological, and chemical fuels treatments including removal of some fuel for utilization in wood products, fuelwood, and pulp; post-fire rehabilitation and restoration; and community protection and assistance including rural fire department assistance.

In an effort to minimize the impact of wildland fire and reduce the spread of invasive and noxious weeds, the Spokane District has available the ESR program. Collectively, the fire management program addresses current FRCC and impacts to other resources. It is expected that due to the current fire regime conditions within the planning area and factors outside the control of the fire program (e.g., invasive weed control, vegetation management issues, drought, grazing), FRCC categories would be maintained at or near their current condition. Management actions to reduce fire severity, including green strips, hazardous fuel reductions, grazing, and rehabilitation, could slow the decline of resources.

The current trends in the San Juan Islands Dry Forest will continue until there is a wildfire, wind event, or insect and disease outbreak. Stand densities will continue to increase with a continued increase in closed canopy forests and a continuing trend in certain areas of tree encroachment on grasslands. Oregon (Garry) oak will continue to decline and large, old, formerly open grown trees will continue to be put under increasing stress from young trees. The stress and risk agents are similar to those for the Dry Forests and Old Growth types.

Oregon (Garry) oak is limited in the San Juan Islands; without active management, oak stands will continue to be shaded out in areas by conifers. Pacific madrone dieback will continue to occur and most likely increase as more competition from competing trees occurs. Implementing forest and fuels reduction treatments on additional acres would help to restore these stands to similar historic conditions. These stands would be more resilient to disturbances such as wildland fire, insects, and disease outbreaks, and environmental factors.

The current trends in the San Juans Moist Forest will continue until there is a wildfire or insect and disease outbreak. Grasslands would continue to be encroached upon by trees, and forest stands with openings will continue to be filled in with trees creating more closed canopy conditions. Western hemlock, Sitka spruce, lodgepole pine, and grand fir will continue to increase in areas where historically numbers of these species were low or did not exist. Implementation of forest health and fuel reduction treatments on additional acres would reduce the extent and intensity of insect, disease, and wildland fire disturbances.