Native Traditional Methods Revived to Combat California Drought and Wildfires
Prescribed fire training exchange in northern California in 2015. Photo: Mid Klamath Watershed Council
Renee Lewis authored an intriguing article this summer, highlighting the cooperative efforts between California Native American Tribes and the US Forest Service to tend the land in ways that help ease droughts and create barriers to wildfires.
Lewis notes that as California battles its worst drought in 1,000 years, a number of Tribal members and scientists are working with US Forest Service officials to revive traditional land management practices that can help contain wildfires and lessen the effects of drought.
California's Amah Mutsun, Karuk, Yurok, Hupa and North Fork Mono Tribes, among others, have traditionally carried out controlled burning every year in the fall, to preserve useful plants and prevent larger fires. North Fork Mono Tribal Chairman Ron Goode said he has been receiving more requests from the US Forest Service to share knowledge of traditional land management techniques since the current drought began gripping the state.
Goode’s technique to combat drought and wildfires focuses on restoring meadows, which he said achieves dual purposes: keeping more water in the ground by thinning the forest canopy, and thus also creating clear, wetter areas that act as buffers to large fires.