SISTERS, Ore. - They'd read about it, they'd seen the videos on the news, and they endured a late summer of smoke-filled skies.
But on Friday, a group of 50 Central Oregonians got to see the devastation of the Pole Creek Fire with their own eyes.
"There was actually more green areas than I might of thought," said Sisters resident Pat Kearney.
The Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project and other forest and nature partners opened up portions of the fire area to the public for a special tour and series of talks.
"(We want to) foster a dialogue and create an opportunity for shared learning for the role of fire in our forest systems," said organizer Pete Caligiuri of The Nature Conservancy.
The group loaded up in a bus and toured for different areas in the fire zone. Each stop had a different discussions: the history of fires in Central Oregon, fire ecology, the effects of the blaze and the efforts for forest restoration.
"We're trying to help them understand why we're doing this proposal, what the objectives are and what the impacts and benefits will be," said Forest Supervisor John Allen.
Allen is talking about the proposed salvage logging of about one thousand aces in the fire zone
"When I first came here I thought it should all be mother nature, but I've learned a lot more living in this area, I think we do need to help," said Kearney about how she supports forest officials helping the forest recover.
A few people on the group said they learned a lot--but Caligiuri said it's not only about giving lectures to the public.
"(We want the public to share their perspective on how they've seen forests change, there's a lot to be heard and learned from the public," he said.
And Kearney said she's pleased to see new life is already returning to the area.
"There's a lot of hope there," Kearney said. "I like to see it as it comes along, this is sort of year one, and you're already seeing green things, so that's really neat."
It's a sight Kearney had to see for herself, because photographs can't really capture it.