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It was once widely believed that landscapes become increasingly stable over time until eventually reaching a climax state of complete stability. In recent years, however, that idea has been challenged by a new understanding of the importance and inevitability of forces such as storms and fires that keep ecosystems in a state of constant change. The dynamics of fire ecology has emerged as a central feature of the new understanding as scientists and land managers redefine traditional assumptions about the growth and development of ecosystems. Fire Ecology of Pacific Northwest Forests is a historical, analytical, and ecological approach to the effects and use of fire in Pacific Northwest wildlands. James K. Agee, a leading expert in the emerging field of fire ecology, analyzes the ecological role of fire in the creation and maintenance of the natural forests common to most of the western United States. In addition to examining fire from an ecological perspective, he provides insight into its historical and cultural aspects, and also touches on some of the political issues that influence the use and control of fire in the United States. In addition to serving as a sourcebook for natural area managers interested in restoring or maintaining fire regimes in Pacific Northwest wildlands, this volume provides an essential base of knowledge for all others interested in wildland management who wish to understand the ecological effects of fire. Although the chapters on the ecology of specific forest zones focus on the Pacific Northwest, much of the book addresses issues not unique to that region.