Current North Coast watershed steward and former SFEI staff scientist Chuck Striplen penned an article for Bay Nature that identifies a number of challenges California faces, while illustrating the lines of connection between the past and present. Colonized California has consistently disparaged native ecological practices, just as it has neglected its tribal relationships. Now, Striplen contends, it is the time to reconsider those practices for their vital roles in promoting resilience and managing combustible fuel loads. At the same time, California, according to Striplen, must reinvest in the relationships with tribes who might help to address these challenges in partnership with the State's stewardship resources. The wildfires that are an increasing hallmark of climate change, in other words, have human problems at their root. There is hope, however, as human relationships can also serve to address those problems.
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Hundreds of years before Pinnacles National Monument became preserved open space, it was heavily used as a resource for basket-making. The native deergrass and white root sedge were valuable materials to the Amah Mutsun tribe, who charred the landscape with controlled fires to promote the re-growth of longer and straighter flower stalks used in coiled baskets.
Grass is burned to study Indian culture
Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, December 12, 2011
A smoke-signal-like plume rose up as flames rolled through 2 acres of deergrass at the Pinnacles National Monument to the delight of Indian tribal leaders who lit the blaze and naturalists who monitored it.
The fire was small, but it loomed very large for the American Indian community in California.
Fire recovery in the Russian River Watershed will benefit from a common online platform for compiling, visualizing, and interpreting many kinds of environmental data available from diverse federal, state, regional, and local sources. Providing such a platform is one objective of the Russian River Regional Monitoring Program (R3MP).
Since 2006, together with colleagues at UC Berkeley, CA State Parks, UC Santa Cruz, BLM, the National Park Service, the Muwekma Ohlone and Amah Mutsun Tribes, and numerous private property owners in the Monterey Bay region, SFEI has spearheaded an effort to better understand and chronicle the role of California's Tribal Nations in the relationship between humans, fire, and the landscape in Central Coastal California.