It is so important to understand how wildfire is an integral part of the natural world in California and the Western US. I am dedicated to learning about this relationship and sharing what I discover.
In October 2019, I participated in a landmark experience in the Klamath Mountains, sketching prescribed/cultural burning as part of the Klamath Training Exchange (TREX). I met many amazing people and watched dedicated and skilled fire practitioners. The training was hosted by the Karuk Tribe and the Mid Klamath Watershed Council. We participated with support from The Nature Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management. The other talented and highly experienced nature journalers who participated were John Muir Laws, Laura Cunningham, Laurie Wigham, Marley Peifer, Miriam Morrill, and Fiona Gillogly. It was unbelievably inspiring to see “good fire” being given back to the community.
In January 2020, I attended another cultural burning event, this time at the Cache Creek Conservancy in Yolo County. This was their second annual Indigenous Fire Workshop, held in their Tending and Gathering Garden. The event was attended by a variety of community members, students and researchers, and members of a number of nearby tribes. The Conservancy is within the homeland of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, with whom they collaboratively manage the Tending and Gathering Garden and other riparian projects along Cache Creek. This was so impressively a full community event! People of all ages were helping tend the fires, wandering between the burning patches and poking at fire with sticks.
Having watched the Cache Creek Conservancy burning event, I am now following the progress of the Tending and Gathering Garden as the plants, animals and fungi respond to the fire. I visited in July 2020 to talk to Zack Emerson, the Conservancy’s Habitat Restoration Manager, about what he has seen.