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How Native Americans used fire to manage prairies and wetlands

Dr. M. Kat Anderson will discuss how Native Americans used fire to manage prairies and wetlands on the Olympic Peninsula. Anderson’s free presentation will be held Thursday, May 25 from 1o a.m. to noon at Purce Hall 1 at The Evergreen State College.

Anderson earned a Ph.D. in Wildland Resource Science from UC Berkeley and has conducted field work with tribes in California and Washington for more than 25 years. She is the author of Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources.

Prairies and wetlands were of crucial importance to Native Americans living on the Olympic Peninsula. Prior to European contact, the indigenous people managed these open environments mainly with fire to benefit the plants and animals they harvested for foods, medicines, and fiber. Human-set fires maintained and, in some cases expanded, the biologically rich environments of prairies and wetlands.

Based upon extensive ethnographic interviews and review of the historic literature, Anderson will offer a historical overview with an eye toward how today’s private landowners and forest managers could mimick indigenous burning practices. The author will also discuss the value of prioritizing habitat diversity as a management goal, pursuing restoration projects focused on increasing the abundance of ethnobotanically important plants, and collaborating with tribes in restoring these practices to the land.

For more information, check out Evergreen’s website here.

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