Hexbyte Tech News Wired Native Tribes Are Taking Fire Control Into Their Own Hands

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

The Klamath region near the California-Oregon border is home to indigenous tribes that once used controlled burns to prevent wildfires. Now, their role is being restored.

Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

The Klamath region near the California-Oregon border is home to indigenous tribes that once used controlled burns to prevent wildfires. Now, their role is being restored.

Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Sometimes Vikki Preston is inching her way through the forest when she comes across a grove of tan oak trees that feels special. The plants are healthy, the trees are old, and their trunks are nicely spaced out on the forest floor. “You can feel that the grove has been taken care of,” she says. “There’s been a lot of love and thoughtfulness.”

Tan oak groves have long been tended by indigenous people who still live along the banks of the forested Klamath and Salmon Rivers near the California-Oregon border. Preston, a cultural resource technician for the Karuk tribe, grew up watching her grandfather tend just such a grove—by burning it. Fire helped cleared away small pines, alders, and willows. It killed pests like weevils that ruin acorns, and allowed for new, straight shoots of hazel to grow that can be used for basket-weaving. It left a forest sentineled with sugar pine and oaks, scattered with meadows full of wildflowers and ferns.

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