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Smart Forest Management

from AP

For tribes, ‘good fire’ a key to restoring nature and people

By JOHN FLESHER

Brody Richardson, a member of the Yurok tribe, carries a torch as he takes part in a cultural training burn on the Yurok reservation in Weitchpec, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. In recent years, federal and state officials have formed partnerships with Northern California tribes to allow limited burning, despite some opposition from a jittery public. Native leaders say their fires are carefully planned and well executed. They hope to burn larger areas in their historical territory. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Brody Richardson, a member of the Yurok tribe, carries a torch as he takes part in a cultural training burn on the Yurok reservation in Weitchpec, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

WEITCHPEC, Calif. (AP) — Elizabeth Azzuz stood in prayer on a Northern California mountainside, arms outstretched, grasping a handmade torch of dried wormwood branches, the fuel her Native American ancestors used for generations to burn underbrush in thick forest.

“Guide our hands as we bring fire back to the land,” she intoned before crouching and igniting dead leaves and needles carpeting the ground.

Others joined her. And soon dancing flames and pungent smoke rose from the slope high above the distant Klamath River.

Over several days in early October, about 80 acres (32.4 hectares) on the Yurok reservation would be set aflame. The burning was monitored by crews wearing protective helmets and clothing — firefighting gear and water trucks ready. They were part of a program that teaches Yurok and other tribes the ancient skills of treating land with fire.

Such an act could have meant jail a century ago. But state and federal agencies that long banned “cultural burns” in the U.S. West are coming to terms with them — and even collaborating — as the wildfire crisis worsens.

[ click to continue reading at AP ]

Posted on October 30, 2021 by Editor

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