Cary Renzema interrupts a stroll around his 50-acre forest to point out tiny purple petals peeking out from the forest floor. “Beautiful little orchids,” Renzema says. “Once you start looking, there are hundreds of those things around here.”
For 13 years Renzema has studied this forest’s quirks and charms, explored its groves of cedar trees and patches of vine maple and wild rose about 25 miles west of Portland. Today, though, those sights are bittersweet. As part of a divorce settlement, he may have to log this second-growth forest, leaving thousands of stumps where trees have stood for three generations.
Environmentalists and the timber industry — once bitter adversaries — are working as allies on forest restoration. Collaborative forest thinning projects aim to fight megafires before they start — but money is scarce and tens of thousands of acres acres in Oregon now face an elevated risk of catastrophic fire.