U.S. Forest Service integrates traditional and western fire knowledge

U.S. Forest Service scientists are working on several fronts to integrate indigenous burn practices into fire management and restoration strategies across land ownerships.

By engaging with tribal communities in a variety of ways, Forest Service scientists increase the depth and breadth of research objectives and applications.

With the goal of bringing people together and sharing knowledge, the Northern Rockies Fire Science Network hosts a repository of multi-media resources. Special sessions at the National Wildland Fire Cohesive Strategy Workshop and a traditional knowledge and fire newsletter share the benefits of indigenous burn practices in landscape restoration, gathering and tending traditional foods and other ecosystem services, and reducing risk to wildfire.

 

Gathering value from tribal forest-tending practices

A collaborative project among the Karuk Tribe, academic and Forest Service scientists developed a new Indigenous Cultural Ecosystem Services framework to explore the effects of climate change on traditional gathering of culturally important plants. Considering the cultural value of ecosystem services and incorporating indigenous approaches can lead to better-informed climate adaptation and forest management practices.

 

Teamwork for a resilient Lake Tahoe Basin

As wildland fire increases its threat to western U.S. communities, Forest Service R&D responds by providing science-based tools to assist coalitions in decision-making. Researchers assisted the Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership by developing a tool to evaluate different management strategies as the Partnership weighs ecological, social, and economic dimensions of creating a resilient landscape in the Lake Tahoe basin.

 

Taking a biocultural approach to management

Indigenous gatherers value and tend plants that are not often considered by forest managers, according to a recent study of the Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq communities by Forest Service co-authors and partners. The perspective of traditional gatherers can help managers identify and encourage plants with cultural value.