Returning Fire to the Land—Celebrating Traditional Knowledge and Fire
Lead Authors Frank K. Lake, Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service
Vita Wright, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service Key Findings
Fire is a key ecological process influencing the distribution, structure, and function of many biomes world- wide. In North America, landscape fire effects are critical to many tribal cultures. Most tribes have traditional knowledge about how fire affects ecosystems, habitats, and resources. Many tribes used fire to improve the quantity, quality, and functionality of valued resources and habitats, but the extent of fire use varied across North America. Some tribes used fire extensively and purposively, as American Indian men and women carefully planned and conducted burns (prescribed) for different reasons, at different locations, in different seasons, and at different frequencies. This report yields three important points:
Wildland fire researchers and managers working with American Indian tribes can learn a great deal about fire-related resource values when working with traditional knowledge.
Traditional burning practices can help achieve multiple resource objectives, especially for culturally important resources.
Consultation, communication and coordination with tribes regarding wildland fire research and management can build trust and improve working relationships across jurisdictions.