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Doug firs in Western Oregon and Washington are less vulnerable to fire and drought for next three decades, until conditions worsen.

COURTESY OF CASSANDRA PROFITA, OPB/EARTHFIX - A roadside reminder in southwest Washington's Gifford Pinchot National Forest that homes in the "wildlands urban interface" need special landscaping, building materials and maintenance to reduce the risk of being destroyed by a wildfire.

Climate change is expected to increase drought and wildfire vulnerability in forests across the West. But new research out of Oregon State University shows that some places will fare better than others.

The Douglas fir forests of western Oregon and Washington are among the least susceptible to drought and fire over the next thirty years.

This was the case even in the extreme climate change scenario, referred to as RCP 8.5, the scientists modeled in the work.

"Worst-case scenario," said OSU co-author Bev Law. "So why did we choose that? Well, we're still on that trajectory. We're still globally on that trajectory of not doing very much to reduce our fossil fuel emissions of carbon dioxide."

Other forests types are in for a much more volatile future. This includes the forests east of Warm Springs, in north-central Oregon, which are expected to suffer drought. Wildfire vulnerability is high in the Klamath Siskiyou Mountains of southwest Oregon, as well as across the border from Hood River in Washington. Fire vulnerability is elevated in California's Sierra Nevada, too.

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