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Karuk Tribe Calls On Governor Newsom To Allow Traditional Fire Management

Cecilio Ricardo / USFS
The Mendocino fire last year, pictured here, was the largest fire in California's history. The Karuk tribe believes their fire plan will reduce the size of wildfires.

Tribal fire management practices were essentially outlawed 100 years ago. But the Karuk tribe is looking to change that.

The Karuk say their traditional ways of preventing forest fires are better than current methods used by California State. Those traditions involve burning areas of the forest frequently and at varying intensities. The Karuk believe this promotes healthy forest growth.

The tribe is calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to allow them to use their age-old methods of fire prevention. The tribe's Bill Tripp says the people of California have been resistant to the idea of prescribed fires.

"We do understand that people have become afraid of fire and 100 years of fire exclusion has enabled conditions to develop that truly makes fire a dangerous and scary proposition," he says.

Tripp says their plan for fire prevention is a lot more free form. It allows for traditional tribal methods to determine where to prescribe fires.

The tribe plans on working with outside groups to get their fire management plan implemented. They hope Governor Newsom will recognize the history and effectiveness of the tribal fire practices.