As I work my way down towards the Mad River, I am walking through a Douglas-fir forest. This forest type is a new phenomena for this area, as there are very few trees older than 100 years and no stumps. The evidence of the white oak forest that existed previously is abundant.
This change in forest type is a natural process called succession. Species who favor light are eventually over topped by shade tolerant species who have been slowly making their way through the canopy. The problem is, although succession is a natural processes, the real reason behind this change is Man. Prior to 1920, these areas had a regular factor in the climate that is now absent: fire. Fire maintained a balance of forest types which supported a wide array of mixed species forests. That diversity is on the decline as Douglas-fir comes to dominate these areas. We are just coming to understand the scope of this problem but is it too late? We can not expect a natural fire regime to return to our forests. So what should we do?