When early European settlers arrived in Western Oregon, they encountered a landscape quite different from what we see today. Much of the Willamette Valley was an open oak savannah, and the forests were a patchwork of new and old growth, reflecting centuries of intermittent fire. For many early visitors, this was the "natural" landscape - but in fact the native peoples of the area had been "managing" their environment for about 4,000 years, primarily through the use of fire. By using low-intensity spot firing in the Fall, the Kalapuya and other local peoples had learned how to maximize the landscape for the products they needed most - seed, textiles, wapato, and forage for game. In fact, they had maintained the Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue Valleys in a truly prehistoric state - since the last great climate change about 4000 years ago, when a wetter climate succeeded a long dry period.
This bibliography captures most of the current research in this field. Many books are available in LCC Library, and others are available thru Summit, the Library's regional consortium. These can be ordered by any LCC student or faculty.
Benner, Patricia, and James Sedell. "Upper Willamette River Landscape: A Historic Perspective." River Quality : Dynamics and Restoration. Ed. Antonius Laenen and David A. Dunnette. Boca Raton: CRC/Lewis, 1997. 23-46. Print.
Whitlock, Cathy. "Vegetational and Climatic History of the Pacific Northwest During the Last 20,000 Years: Implications for Understanding Present-day Biodiversity." Northwest Environmental Journal 8 (1992): 5-28. Print.
- - -, and L.D. Grigg. "Late-glacial Climate and Vegetation Changes in Western Oregon." Quaternary Research 49 (1998): 287-298. Print.
- - -, and Margaret A. Knox. "Prehistoric Burning in the Pacific Northwest: Human Versus Climatic Influences." Fire, Native Peoples and the Natural Landscape. Ed. Thomas R. Vale. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2002. 195-231. Print.
Williams, Gerald W. "Early Fire Use in Oregon." Fire Management Today 60 (2000): 13-20. Print.