Tribe and partners light up a forest to restore landscape in California

By Carly Nairn
November 8, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

ORLEANS, California—An elemental smell wafts through the Klamath mountains in early autumn—woodsmoke. Despite the U.S. Forest Service’s intermittent bans on lighting fires in the forest, the Karuk Tribe is maintaining its cultural practice of intermittent burns to conserve their traditional lands in northern California.  With the Tribe’s oversight, a partnership with the Forest Service and other stakeholders introduced the Somes Bar Restoration Project in 2018. Using traditional fire techniques, it targets 2,254 hectares (5,570 acres) of land. Although the project is multilayered and partners hold different priorities, all agree that the project is an ongoing, if slow-moving, success to safeguard the rich biodiversity of hardwoods, conifers, deciduous oaks and an almost endless variety of alpine plant life in the Klamath mountains.  And their restoration tool: fire.

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