He scurries among the charred tree trunks, pointing out all the trees and shrubs that either survived the fire or sprouted up afterwards: Western red cedar, morel mushroom, huckleberry, twinflower, bear grass. Tiny new Douglas fir trees dot the ground with bright green spikes and grow out of pine cones. “So you see that as quickly as the forest is destroyed, the seedlings come right back. It’s magnificent, isn’t it?” Kauffman says.
Fire is part of the ecosystem in the Northwest, he says.
“Virtually all of the plants and animals of these forests evolved to survive and even thrive and quite often even depend upon fire for their survival and for their reproduction,” Kauffman says. “It was flaming here. It was probably a thousand degrees at this site. Yet so many of the plants survive even those harsh conditions.”