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3203 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland, OR 97202, USA

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Historical role of fire in the Klamath Mountains, California

In this talk, USGS scientist Dr. Clarke Knight will discuss a recent paper which found strong Indigenous influence on forest conditions in the Klamath Mountains over one millennium. She co-authored this research with members of the Karuk and Yurok Tribes, USGS scientists, and USFS scientists. Their findings show that a fire regime consisting of tribal burning practices and lightning ignitions was associated with long-term stability of forest biomass. Before Euro-American colonization, the long-term median forest biomass was approximately half of contemporary values. Indigenous depopulation and 20th-century fire suppression likely allowed biomass to increase, culminating in the current landscape: a closed Douglas fir–dominant forest unlike any seen in the preceding 3,000 years. This is consistent with pre-contact forest conditions being influenced by Indigenous land management and suggest large-scale interventions could be needed to return to historic forest biomass levels.

3:45pm Snacks & Socializing
4:10pm Talk Begins

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