How the Pacific Crest Trail Brought Climate Change to Life

Andrew Clair

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  • Though smaller forms of plant life are able to bounce back more easily, 72 miles of burned landscape can make it difficult for nature to recover.

  • The desolate, burned landscape allowed for little wildlife to thrive.

  • Despite the occasional oasis, fires had driven out both the wildlife and water out of the Oregon desert.

  • Charred trees spread across the southern Oregon desert for days on end.

  • Air quality often deteriorated to dangerous levels, even in unburned areas.

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For many of us, the effects of 2020 Oregon wildfires are no longer visible. Personally, after the smoke settled and the electricity came back online, it was easy for me to relegate the fires to memory.

But especially as Oregon experiences an unprecedented drought, it’s important to remember the effects of climate change right in our backyard.

After hiking the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail in the summer of 2021, I was finally able to understand the magnitude of damage that had been caused by the wildfires that tore through our state.

Here are some of the images that brought climate change to life for me.