Project overview: Reintroduce traditional fire-tending practices in El Capitan grove to provide learning and cultural exchanges between fire staff and cultural fire practitioners.
How your support helps: Traditionally, Native Americans burned oak groves semi-annually to encourage the renewal of favorable understory species, decrease the number of competing conifers, open the understory to aid in gathering acorns, reduce pests, and for other cultural reasons.
The Conservancy-funded black oak Tribal stewardship project, from 2021–2023, allowed a renewal of Tribal stewardship, traditional ecological knowledge regeneration, and restoration of connection between the groves and Tribal people who depend on acorns for spiritual, ceremonial, and nutritional health and well-being.
Ongoing consultation is needed with subject-matter experts and Tribal representatives to ensure we restore these groves with the best management practices and science available. In addition, research will be conducted to study the amount of carbon present in soils before and after the prescribed broadcast cultural burns, and to continue assessing acorn quality/seedling viability in research plots.
This year: In 2024–2025, funding will support additional Tribal fire practitioners to take the required training and have the necessary supplies to help incorporate and strengthen traditional fire practices to build on successes in managing black oak, a cultural keystone species. Reintroducing traditional fire–tending practices also will provide learning and cultural exchanges between fire staff and cultural fire practitioners.
Project partners: Yosemite National Park, Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Great Basin Institute, Yosemite Fire