How Indigenous Burning Shaped the Klamath Forest for a Thousand Years – Forest Research and Access

Dense Douglas pine trees around Lake Southern Twin Cities in California. Decades of logging and firefighting have changed the diversity of forests in the region, with fire-resistant softwoods, such as pine, firewood, and oak. (Photo by Clark Night, Winter 2018)

Decades of Tree and Firefighting California’s forests are vulnerable to drought, drought, and wildfires. Climate change is exacerbating these effects. But thousands of years ago, during and after European colonization, indigenous tribes lived in these forests and forests, deliberately setting fires to control landscapes and ecological mosaics, improving habitat, producing food and basketware, and clear roads. , Reduce pests and support rituals. Experiences.

A new study published online today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Combining scientific data with indigenous linguistics and ecological knowledge shows that the Klamat Mountains – the cultural arson of the Karuk and Eurok tribes – helped to shape the region’s forests for at least a thousand years before European colonization.

The study found that forest biomass in the region accounted for about half of what it is now, and that forest fires also played an important role in protecting forest structures and biodiversity during cultural differences. For example, while lightning strikes may occur in the cold and wet season known as the Little Ice Age, the study found that fires in the area actually increased during that time and that forest biomass was relatively low.

Clark Knight, lead author of the study, said: “Using a number of lines of evidence, we have been able to understand the impact of indigenous forests on the indigenous peoples, and their management has shown that these forests have been stable and low biomass for at least a thousand years.” He completed his research as a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. “The idea that we should allow nature to take the course has greatly eased the need for management, because these woods have been actively managed for at least a thousand years and possibly longer.”

A recent study in Sierra Nevada found that tree density had increased six to seven times over the past century, contributing to more fires. Understanding both stable, historic California forests and their role in caring for humanity will be key to California’s success in mitigating climate change by effectively managing its forests to prevent climate change.

“California expects its forests to produce a fair amount of carbon to help meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals,” said John Bals, a professor of forestry at UC Berkeley. , And we have to sacrifice a lot of carbon reserves to get a forest safe. It is a well-known trade-off, but these findings bring a great deal of relief.

California Fire: Managed Landscaping

For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples have used California fires and other pastoral care to maintain their natural habitat, and these practices are vital to many ethnic cultures. Traditional combustion is often guided by a detailed knowledge of the environment and fires that are most suitable for combustion.

“Fire has always been a major tool for people to live in this area,” said Bill Tripp, director of natural resources and environmental protection for the Karuk tribe. “It is rooted not only in the customs that are traditionally employed at different times of the year, but also in the systemic practices of the Karuk people.”

According to the study, the Klamat Mountain Fire Extinguisher has made the forest dense and overgrown and replaced the forest composition with fire-resistant softwoods such as oak and Douglas fir. Failure to burn has hampered the rights and cultural expressions of the Karuk and Euro peoples and deprived them of traditional food and other resources.

However, while many agree that frequent wildfires were once the culmination of many California forests, there is some debate about the relative effects of lightning-related practices on indigenous forests, such as lightning, and indigenous fires.

To better understand the historical role of cultural burning in the Clamas Mountains, Nate gathered a team of collaborators, including some present-day members with experience in both the geology and the cultural history of the Karuk and Eurok tribes. The team collaborated with the tribes to obtain samples from their land and to conduct research using their oral history and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). For the Karuk tribe, this means following the principles of Pickup policy, which is a guideline and protocol for collaborative research between university scientists and the tribe.

“It seemed very important to talk to the people on the ground to find out what the history of this place is, because there is so much more to be done about the history of the landscape,” Knight said. Postgraduate researcher at US Geological Survey. “Fortunately, they are open to that and have been able to share their history and cultural knowledge with us.”

The study focused on watersheds that include Lake Asa and Lake Agaromtock in the western Clamas Mountains. To estimate how much biomass near the lakes has changed over the past 3,000 years, research team members have been collecting sediment cores from the two lakes and diligently counting the pollen grains at each major sample level. With the help of carbon dating and careful modeling, this information can be used to estimate forest biomass at various times in the past.

Similarly, coal deposits in sediment cores show how many fires have been burned near lakes. Clues to the timing of historical fires were obtained by examining the scars of nearby trees and comparing the years burned by tree rings.

Co-author Frank Lake, an American forest service researcher, and the Karuk breed, which grew up between the Karuk and Eurok tribes, helped to integrate this information into ethnic history and cultural knowledge. In many cases, this genetic information has helped to explain both geographical and temporal patterns in paleontology and fire history.

For example, scars near the lakes indicate that fires are more likely to occur near Lake Asaromtock, consistent with reports that areas around the lakes have been used for various ethnic purposes. In addition, the frequency of fires and forest biomass patterns during the cold, wet little snow season indicate significant human impact on the forest.

“If you are trying to get a sign of a fire due to human care, it is a good time to have a cool and humid climate because it will be prominent in the record,” Knight said. “And that’s exactly what we got. More stockpiling of coal, more coal production, so more biomass associated with that fire and less emissions.”

While California’s forests could not be restored to their original state 150 years ago, the findings underscore the importance of active forest management in the West, especially as climate change brings hot and dry climates. The Karuk tribe has partnered with the US Forest Service and other organizations to use traditional ecological forest management techniques to restore fire resistance and revitalize traditional burning practices in the Klamat Mountains.

“It is not an option to lose control of our forests in the western hemisphere,” said Matthew Pots, chairman of forest economics at UC Berkeley’s SJ Hall. “You have to decide how to manage a fire-prone landscape, especially if you have a lot of people living in these landscapes. The challenge is to keep up the good work.

Additional contributors to the newspaper Lisa and Anderson, Marie Champagne and David Wahl American Geological Survey; Hall University M. Jane Bunting; Rosie M. Cleiberon, Euroco cultural director; Frank K. Lake, Jeffrey N. Crawford and Eric E. Knap U.S. Forest Service; Anna Klimaszewski-Patterson and James Wanket California State University, Sacramento; Scott A. Mensing, Nevada University, Reno; And Alex Watts-Tobin of the Karuk tribe Natural Resources.

This study was funded by the US Forest Service and the National Science Foundation (Gifts # 0926732, # 0964261), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (# 09ERI003), California Forest and Fire Protection Unit (18-CCI-FH-0007). -SHU), US Geological Survey Land Use Research and Development Program; US Forest Service Mackinter-Stennies Cooperative Forest Development Program (Project 1020791) and California Agricultural Research Station (CA-B-ECO-0144-MS).

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