High school students investigate different disturbances of Pacific Northwest forests and explore differences between natural and human-caused disturbance. They learn how dry, ponderosa pine forests have evolved with wildfire and the suppression of this natural disturbance has made forests more susceptible to larger, more intense fires.
Students use real WDFW data from the Oak Creek Wildlife Area to begin their observational practice. Next, students explore a forester’s career by measuring the health of a forest plot. They make observations and measurements on the vegetation of the plot, compare data, and make a hypothesis about the health of their plot. Students then synthesize information and develop a report on the health status of their plot based on their data. The lesson culminates with students discussing the value of forest management.