A decade after the B&B fire, devastation remains. Memories fade.


Despite the size and severity of some wildfires in Oregon, it’s surprising how quickly the thought of the disasters fade from the general public. Some fires live in America’s collective memories; Yellowstone, and likely the current Yosemite fires. But the memories of others don’t stick.

Over the Labor Day weekend, I went camping with family and friends near the Santiam pass. Great weather, great fun, nothing to complain about (perhaps the mediocre fishing). We took a trip to Scout Lake, a popular swimming lake in the region, and a lake that was overtaken by the B&B fire in 2003. I hiked around the crowded side of the lake, and on around the deserted rim. Two things I noticed.

The first was that a decade later, it still looks very similar to the first time I walked the burned area. Burned trees and silver stems still stand, with a few more on the ground. Low vegetation has filled in, but you’ll find little in the way of new tree growth.

The other thing I noticed were the comments from strangers, as well as friends. “What happened here?” “When are the trees going to grow back?” “There was a forest fire here like 20 years ago.” “Why haven’t they cut these dead trees down for wood?” “Was this a big fire?” ”There was a forest fire here just a couple years ago.”

The fire damage is plain to see, but the details get lost. If you’re in the area, or driving from Salem to Bend, tune your radio to the B&B low-power station (530 am), or stop off at one of the OFRI-developed interpretive kiosks and remind yourself just what happened to that landscape 10 years back.

Jordan Benner


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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