Fire played a large role in shaping the landscape of San Juan Island and likely lots of other areas in western Washington. Tom Schroeder has assembled a site (http://www.rockisland.com/~tom/)devoted to observations and interpretations he has made on the San Juan Island forests that is very consistent with my own observations and has greatly aided me in understanding the forest ecology of the San Juan Islands.
On a recent venture to San Juan Island I passed through a mix of fire scarred trees with a mix of old growth. Most of this forest was Douglas fir. But with the dry aspects of the site and thin soils areas of open ground still persist.
Sam sniffs the ground near a fire scarred Douglas fir
Weather beaten firs on the upper slopes of a bald area
Old Douglas fir with very heavy limbs would have had no appeal for lumber value
More fire scars
Large fir on summit
Heavy limbed Douglas fir
No need to loose limbs when growing on open ground
Large old snag
Open meadows and old growth firs and snags
Another fire scarred tree
Older fire scarred tree with younger trees and open understory
I did have some historic information that this area was impacted by multiple fires well into the 20th century. A review of aerial photographs showed a slow encroachment of forest into open ground as fires became less frequent and grazing and logging diminished.