News From Native California Volume 31, Issue 3 - Page 19

in a long history of sometimes tumultuous change to which these practitioners have responded. In that sense, they are the ultimate adaptive managers. There will always be big fires in Southern California, especially during Santa Ana wind episodes, but when they burn, they do not have to be as destructive as was the Thomas Fire. The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy—a framework for federal, state, local, and tribal fire agencies to collaborate—puts forward three key goals: to respond effectively and efficiently to wildfires; to develop fire-adapted communities; and to restore and maintain land- scapes. Much funding and training and many news stories have focused on the first goal, firefighting, even as wildfires appear to be increasing in frequency. Some journalists and columnists have recently focused more attention on the second goal, fire adaptation—and it is absolutely necessary to better fireproof our communities and homes with appropriate build- ing materials, rooftop sprinkler systems, and adequate defensible space surrounding them. To extend the idea of defensible space to rural and remote landscapes would be to approach the third goal, fire restoration. When forests and shrublands are thinned and opened (with hand tools, with chainsaws and tractors, or with prescribed and cultural fire), and especially when they are thinned and opened in a targeted, strategic fashion that accounts for wind corridors, potential wildfire behavior, and good locations for cultivat- ing important plants such as oaks and herbaceous foods, medicines, and materials, then not only will groundwater levels rise and more of these cultural and natural resources survive big fires, but firefighters will have more fuel breaks and safety zones to aid in their defense of lives, homes, and homelands. mudslides. For federal, state, and local agencies to help bring the restoration of tribal fire to a broader scale in California, they must collaborate with tribal practitioners at every step in the process—after all, it’s not cultural fire without the culture. And to successfully collaborate with Native people whose practices have so often been ignored or actively sup- pressed, non-Native fire scientists and managers will need to acknowledge Indigenous knowledge as valid, act in accor- dance with the diverse local traditions of the tribes in their areas, and maintain a willingness to share decision-making power and an openness to learning from knowledge that is sometimes shared in unfamiliar formats. The required invest- ment of funds, time, and effort into Indigenous fire will help to prevent a reoccurrence of recent tragedies and will return many other benefits to the people and land of our state. It is time for the era of deliberate suppression of cultural burning practices to end. Cultural fire suppression has culminated in a social, unnatural disaster. Chumash people have worked with tribes in Northern California on cultural burns, and they are ready to apply the knowledge gained to cultural burns in Southern Califor- nia in the aftermath of the Thomas Fire and the Montecito SPR IN G 2 018 ▼ 17