Decades: Born in Fire tells the story that emerged as the last embers of the Biscuit Fire cooled. The film takes the viewer on a journey down the Wild and Scenic Illinois River and into the halls of Oregon State University’s School of Forestry to expose the political motives and environmental consequences of post-fire logging.
The film examines the controversy surrounding the proposal to log the burnt timber of the Biscuit Fire in the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area. It shatters the economic and environmental lore of post-fire logging through investigative reporting, interviews with key players from all sides of the controversy, testimonies before the Oregon State Senate and footage of the land in question, the Wild and Scenic Illinois River.
Since the Tillamook fires burned in the 1930s, the public has perceived burned landscapes as wastelands, devoid of life and in need of intervention. In the decades that have passed since these fires, scientific researchers have looked at ecological impacts of post-fire logging on the landscape. After the Yellowstone fires burned in the 1980s, the public’s perceptions of recovery after fires changed in the wake of the prolific natural recovery of Yellowstone ecosystems.
In the wake of the Biscuit fire, a controversial proposal emerged for one of the largest logging projects in modern times. At the same time, federal legislation was being considered to expedite post-fire logging. In early 2006, a controversy erupted over the attempt by professors at Oregon State University to push forward federal legislation mandating expedited logging in post-fire environments. This small but seemingly powerful group of professors used their positions to defend the long-held sacred cow of salvage logging. Decades digs into the ashes of these disturbances to shatter the myths and expose the environmental consequences of post-fire logging. The film presents never before seen footage from congressional hearings in 2006 and reveals the true nature of the behind-the-scenes political maneuvering that resulted in “science for sale”.