The West is Burning

For over a century, Central Oregon’s National Forests grew unnaturally dense due to aggressive fire suppression, historic forest practices and the end of cultural fire use by Indigenous people. Now, longer and hotter summers are putting more stress on trees which leave them susceptible to diseases. These conditions lead to wildfires burning more land with greater intensity, often threatening homes, water supplies and critical infrastructure.

The U.S. Forest Service introduced the Wildfire Crisis Strategy in 2021, a 10-year plan to address western wildfires in the places where they pose the most immediate threats to our communities. The strategy combines congressional funding with extensive scientific research and planning to create a national effort to increase forest health treatments over the next decade. Due to Central Oregon’s high risk for extreme wildfire and successful partnerships, the Forest Service chose this area as one of the initial landscapes identified for targeted investments. With these funds, the Deschutes National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland, along with Tribal, State, and local partners, expect to treat more than 50,000 acres by 2024.

The West is Burning poster

During the spring of 2023, Discover Your Forest hosted a handful of in-person film screenings across Central Oregon of The West is Burning followed by a panel discussion including local land managers, firefighting professionals and forestry practitioners. These events fostered opportunities for learning and dialogue around local work occurring across our Central Oregon landscape to build on past investments and successes to increase the pace and scale of wildfire risk reduction around our communities and restore the health of our fire-dependent ecosystem.

The West is Burning examines the history of forest management and social conflict that has contributed to current forest conditions, causing longer fire seasons and unprecedented impacts. The film emphasizes the need to act now to generate positive change in our forests, watersheds, and communities. Six real life perspectives drive the film’s narrative to help raise awareness about the conditions of forests in the western U.S. Their stories demonstrate the need to embrace a new era of forest stewardship, and the unique partnerships that are being built across community-based organizations, government entities, and private and non-governmental organizations. These thought leaders highlight the need for a unified response to climate change, land use, and forest restoration, and emphasize the importance of community-based solutions to these challenges.

This webpage offers the opportunity for you to recreate a virtual experience of the “West is Burning” film screening and panel discussion. Below you can access the film and panel discussion from the Bend screening and find a number of additional resources to help answer questions and help think about ways you can prepare for wildfire.

Watch the Film

Watch the Panel Discussion



We would like to thank Landmark Stories, Wallowa Resources, and Galen McCaw for creating The West is Burning and supporting our events. We also would like to thank the Embark Coworking Community in Bend for their support by providing the beautiful space where our panel discussion was held and recorded.

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