Traditional Ecological Knowledge to Develop and Maintain Fire Regimes in Northwestern California, Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion: Management and Restoration of Culturally Significant Habitats


The use of Native American fire regimes evolved in the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion over millennia. A mixture of Native American and Euro-American sociocultural management has developed from adaptations to climate, topography, ecological processes, and land use practices. This research incorporates Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) to partially examine the role of tribal fire uses and ethnobotany. Research methods use an interdisciplinary approach to characterize fuels and fire management issues in culturally significant riparian and terrestrial habitats. Tribal fuels and fire management practices were investigated. Understanding past tribal fire management systems is needed to place contemporary Native American fuels and fire management issues in to context for government agencies and private interest that have altered tribal opportunities to continue fire uses. This study examined fire effects on sandbar willow (Salix exigua) in valley riparian zones along the lower mid-Klamath River. Prescribed fire was used to induce sprouting of sandbar willow and reduce insect populations to improve basket material quantity and quality. Results indicate that flooding had greater affects on the structure, composition, and abundance of vegetation and fuels than prescribed fire. A second experiment to compare the effect of propane burning and pruning sandbar willow indicated that propane burning was less effective than pruning to improve stem morphology for basket weaving. Consultation with tribal basket weavers and research of the proportion of useable willow shoots, amount of insect damage and the relationship of stem diameter and length revealed these attributes were important criteria for determining usability for weaving. This research also included other basketry plants. TEK is used to better understand fire effects on culturally significant resources and the consequences of fire suppression on terrestrial and riparian habitats. The mechanisms of how fire suppression impacts tribes, resources and tribal land uses are presented. Recommendations are presented for additional research to improve collaboration with tribes, tribal organizations and communities based on contemporary tribal values and priorities for fuels and fire management.Provenance: Contributed to Sipnuuk Food Security Collection by Jennifer Sowerwine, Assistant Cooperative Extention Specialist at UC Berkeley, in association with her role as PI of the USDA AFRI Food Security Grant.Rights: The material in Frank K. Lake's dissertation is not Copy right protected and open access is granted. This research was in-part supported by federal funding and tribal elders/practitioners who participated in this research did not want commercial use of their intellectual property.

Lake, Frank


General public access recommended.  Well written and Karuk people and culture represented in a respectful manner.  Very good and informative.

General public access recommended.  Well written and Karuk people and culture represented in a respectful manner.  Very good and informative.

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