Featured Voices, Opinion, South County

Indigenous Wisdom and Eco-Cultural Fire? How Effective Is It Really?

On average over the past decade, wildfires are getting far worse. Increases in frequency, size and intensity are seen across the western U.S. and north into Canada.

The question arises; with the $-billions in tax-dollars being spent, and massive increases in spending every year, why hasn’t this destructive trend been curbed?

The reason is simple: the genesis of the problem hasn’t been properly addressed, and it’s not climate, even though climate does influence the flammability of grass and brush fuels.

The genesis of the wildfire problem is the collapsed herbivory according to numerous published studies, which are being ignored in favor of profiting from wildfire.

Examples of Published Science regarding benefits of herbivory for wildfire prevention:

1.https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2017.0443

2.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/354384640_Effects_of_large_herbivores_on_fire_regimes_and_wildfire_mitigation

3.https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/large-herbivores-can-help-prevent-massivewildfires/

From NPR National News:

Wildfires In the West Are Putting Parched Tribal Lands In Growing

Danger

  “The fire in the Fremont-Winema National Forest was burning through a region where the Klamath Tribes — comprised of three distinct indigenous peoples — have lived for millennia.

  “There is definitely extensive damage to the forest where we have our treaty rights,” said Don Gentry, the chairman of the Klamath Tribal Council in Chiloquin, Oregon, which is located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of the Bootleg Fire.

  “I am sure we have lost a number of deer to the fire,” he said. “We are definitely concerned. I know there are cultural resource areas and sensitive areas that are likely the fire is going through.”

The Klamath Tribes have been impacted by wildfires before, including one that burned 23 square miles (60 square kilometers) in southern Oregon last September. That fire damaged land where many of the Klamath tribal members hunt, fish and gather. The fire also burned the tribes’ cemetery and at least one tribal member’s house, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported in September.”

by ForestWatch on JULY 30, 2021:

“The Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, the nation’s largest to date, has burned nearly 400,000 acres since starting on July 6 and merging with the smaller Log Fire on July 19. An independent analysis of the landscape that has burned so far has revealed that tens of thousands of acres of recent thinning, fuel breaks, and other forest management failed to stop or slow the fire’s rapid spread.”

Given the 20-30-million acres of grass and brush choked remote wilderness terrain in just OR & CA (smoke jumper territory) that has resulted from the collapsed herbivory fromanother gov. agency’s failure (F&W), suggesting RxFire as a solution is like suggesting a pair of tweezers to a pipe-fitter working with 4″ steel pipe.

The insurance industry analysts/credit ratings folks at AM BEST spent $50k of their own money producing a short documentary about wildfire and a solution they believe is useful: AM BEST: https://www.ambest.com/video/video.aspx?s=1&rc=wildhorses323

For those readers who may not be aware, I fully appreciate and understand the pain and loss that comes from catastrophic wildfire. While I was working as a volunteer with CALFIRE commanders on the Camp Creek fire-line (goal-line defense for the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument) for 9-days straight during the deadly Klamathon Fire (38,000 acres 2018), my wife and best friend of 47-years was unknowingly being poisoned by novel toxins in the smoke (per Oregon Medical Examiner on her Death Certificate).

A week after the Klamathon Fire ended, these smoke-based toxins triggered a deadly neurological degenerative disease that killed her. She stayed behind during the fire evacuation to support my efforts with CALFIRE.

Recent history teaches us an important lesson in how well ‘indigenous burning’ worked-out during the Slater/Devils Fire, which ignited in the middle of Karuk tribal lands.. where fuels were supposedly managed by ‘indigenous knowledge and burning’…

On average over the past decade, wildfires are getting far worse. Increases in frequency, size and intensity are seen across the western U.S. and north into Canada.

The question arises; with the $-billions in tax-dollars being spent, and massive increases in spending every year, why hasn’t this destructive trend been curbed?

The reason is simple: the genesis of the problem hasn’t been properly addressed, and it’s not climate, even though climate does influence the flammability of grass and brush fuels.

The genesis of the wildfire problem is the collapsed herbivory according to numerous published studies, which are being ignored in favor of profiting from wildfire.

Article continues on Siskiyou.News

Examples of Published Science regarding benefits of herbivory for wildfire prevention:

1.https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2017.0443
2.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/354384640_Effects_of_large_herbivores_on_fir
e_regimes_and_wildfire_mitigation
3.https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/large-herbivores-can-help-prevent-massivewildfires/

From NPR National News:
Wildfires In the West Are Putting Parched Tribal Lands In Growing
Danger

“The fire in the Fremont-Winema National Forest was burning through a region where the
Klamath Tribes — comprised of three distinct indigenous peoples — have lived for
millennia.
“There is definitely extensive damage to the forest where we have our treaty rights,”
said Don Gentry, the chairman of the Klamath Tribal Council in Chiloquin, Oregon,
which is located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of the Bootleg Fire.
“I am sure we have lost a number of deer to the fire,” he said. “We are definitely
concerned. I know there are cultural resource areas and sensitive areas that are
likely the fire is going through.”

The Klamath Tribes have been impacted by wildfires before, including one that burned 23
square miles (60 square kilometers) in southern Oregon last September. That fire damaged
land where many of the Klamath tribal members hunt, fish and gather. The fire also burned
the tribes’ cemetery and at least one tribal member’s house, Oregon Public Broadcasting
reported in September.”

by ForestWatch on JULY 30, 2021:
“The Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, the nation’s largest to date, has burned
nearly 400,000 acres since starting on July 6 and merging with the smaller
Log Fire on July 19. An independent analysis of the landscape that has
burned so far has revealed that tens of thousands of acres of recent thinning,
fuel breaks, and other forest management failed to stop or slow the fire’s
rapid spread.”

Given the 20-30-million acres of grass and brush choked remote wilderness terrain in just
OR & CA (smoke jumper territory) that has resulted from the collapsed herbivory from
another gov. agency’s failure (F&W), suggesting RxFire as a solution is like suggesting a
pair of tweezers to a pipe-fitter working with 4″ steel pipe.

The insurance industry analysts/credit ratings folks at AM BEST spent $50k of their own
money producing a short documentary about wildfire and a solution they believe is
useful: AM BEST: https://www.ambest.com/video/video.aspx?s=1&rc=wildhorses323

For those readers who may not be aware, I fully appreciate and understand the pain and
loss that comes from catastrophic wildfire. While I was working as a volunteer with CALFIRE
commanders on the Camp Creek fire-line (goal-line defense for the Cascade Siskiyou
National Monument) for 9-days straight during the deadly Klamathon Fire (38,000 acres
2018), my wife and best friend of 47-years was unknowingly being poisoned by novel toxins
in the smoke (per Oregon Medical Examiner on her Death Certificate).

A week after the Klamathon Fire ended, these smoke-based toxins triggered a deadly
neurological degenerative disease that killed her. She stayed behind during the fire
evacuation to support my efforts with CALFIRE.

Recent history teaches us an important lesson in how well ‘indigenous burning’ worked-out
during the Slater/Devils Fire, which ignited in the middle of Karuk tribal lands.. where
fuels were supposedly managed by ‘indigenous knowledge and burning’…

It’s a shocking revelation to see how gov. agencies and the people who worked at these agencies have failed, and continue to fail, to understand the critical role that nature’s herbivory plays in managing key wildfire fuels (grass and brush). A role that humankind cannot fill or duplicate. Some humans seem to have great difficulty in admitting that Nature is very good at managing her ecosystems in a natural and balanced manner, and in response to changing environmental conditions.

And even in light of the fact that compiled data now shows that over 60% of all wildfires involve these same fuels (grass and brush), which in decades past, were very effectively managed by large-bodied herbivores (>2-million deer now missing in OR & CA), resulting in fires that previous burned low and slow as a result of reduced, herbivory managed fuels, resulting in ‘natural fire’ that keeps a forest healthy.

Sources of ignition (nature or man) are generally beyond our control… But grass and brush fuels can be cost-effectively managed by herbivory.

And as new science explains, smoke, any smoke, is really BAD:

Research found that inhaling fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from wildland fires resulted in 52,500 to 55,700 deaths between 2008 and 2018, with an associated economic impact of $432 billion to $456 billion. More here:

www.siskiyou.news

A groundbreaking study by UCLA researchers, published in the journal Science Advances, has uncovered a shocking reality: thousands more Californians than previously estimated are dying each year due to the…

And we can begin to immediately fill the huge grazing gap with wild horses available from the BLM holding and ongoing roundups.

This plan serves several purposes: 1) Saves spending $150-million/year feeding wild horses grass that have been taken off the landscape (primarily in Nevada); and, 2) Wild Horses available free of charge from the Bureau of Land Management (under Law) can cost-effectively mitigate the grass and brush wildfire fuels that are instigating and enhancing catastrophically hot wildfires; and 3) Relocating wild horses away from livestock grazing areas creates more livestock grazing in areas where grazing competition is intense (Nevada is a prime example); and, 4) American wild horses deserve to be wild and free, pursuant to President Richard Nixon who signed the 1971 Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act into law. Few Americans realize, there are now less than 80,000 American wild horses left living wild in the western United States. And in areas where they are managed (ignorantly by the BLM) commingled with livestock production, they compete for grass and brush that livestock producers want for cattle and sheep.

2/3rds of all remaining wild horses are located in just one state, Nevada, which is overgrazed due to the aggregate of herbivores (deer, elk, horses, cattle, sheep and others (grasshoppers, crickets and rabbits). Nevada has too many herbaceous consuming critters. In OR & CA we are desperately depleted of herbivores. If your neighbor has too many lawnmowers and you have none for your overgrown lawn, what’s the obvious solution?

It’s really that simple.

In closing, here is the article about Senator Ron Wyden’s new ‘Burn America bill’ (that’s what I have named it), that the Bill Meyer Show posted online for folks to read:

https://kmed.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2024/06/Capt-William-E-Simpson-Is-Money-Driving-The-Rush-To-Burn-America.pdf


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