Debates over the fate of ancient forests have been commonplace in the Pacific West for decades. The Tillamook takes up the question of younger forests, exploring the creation of a managed forest and what its story reveals about the historic and future role of second-growth forests.
It was Oregon's most notorious conflagration – a series of four major fires that struck the Tillamook forest beginning in 1933 and recurred with bizarre regularity through 1951. The fires burned 355,000 acres of virgin forest and became collectively known as the Tillamook Burn. In this engaging history, Gail Wells recounts the story of these famous fires and the cooperative efforts of foresters and ordinary citizens – including thousands of schoolchildren – to get young trees growing again on the burned landscape. It became one of the largest forest rehabilitation efforts ever, resulting in a created forest that promised "timber forever".
Now a state forest, the Tillamook is coming of age at a time when attitudes toward forests have changed and "timber forever" is no longer the guiding principle. In contemplating the Tillamook's fate, Wells traces the historic roots of competing perspectives on forest use and examines the contemporary debate over forest issues. She sees the future of second-growth forests as holding the possibility of a workable synthesis ,"a truly stable, sustainable, and humane relationship with our forests".
In a new epilogue, Wells updates the story of the Tillamook five years after her book was first published, and explains why the fate of the forest remains uncertain.