Land management's influence on forest structure and composition in California’s Klamath Mountains

Presenter: Dr. Clarke Knight, US Geological Survey
This webinar explores the idea that for millennia, forest ecosystems in California have been shaped by fire from both natural processes and Indigenous land management. However, the notion of climatic variation as a primary controller of the pre-colonial landscape remains pervasive. Understanding the relative influence of climate and Indigenous burning on the fire regime is key because contemporary forest policy and management are informed by historical baselines. This need is particularly acute in California, where 20th-century fire suppression, coupled with a warming climate, has caused forest densification and increasingly large wildfires that threaten forest ecosystem integrity and management of the forests as part of climate mitigation efforts. This webinar will discuss research on climatic versus anthropogenic influence on forest conditions over 3 millennia in the western Klamath Mountains—the ancestral territories of the Karuk and Yurok Tribes— combining paleoenvironmental data with Western and Indigenous knowledge.
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