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Project ID: 17-2-01-3

Year: 2017

Date Started: 09/01/2017

Ending Date:  08/31/2019

Title: Forest management and socio-economic implications of prescribed burning by Yurok and Karuk Indians

Project Proposal Abstract: The Yurok and Karuk Tribes of the Klamath River watershed in Northwest California are now conducting prescribed burns within their ancestral territories in collaboration with the Six Rivers National Forest, Fire Learning Network, and local fire councils. Distinctive from other agencies and groups, these Tribes aim primarily to increase the availability of fire-dependent cultural and subsistence resources (e.g., basketry materials, acorns, and deer), and secondarily to reduce wildfire risk. Although these prescribed burns currently comprise only ~150 ha/yr, Tribal and USDA Forest Service fire managers intend to greatly expand their use across this mixed hardwood and conifer forest landscape. This integration of indigenous resource availability with prescribed fire benefits by multiple regional agencies creates an unprecedented opportunity to analyze the socio-economic and cultural benefits of these burns beyond the benefits of reducing fuels and wildfire risk. Given the historic legacy of fire suppression and exclusion as well as current regulatory constraints to prescribed fire, this project aims to quantify the costs and benefits of prescribed fire contrasted with the economic trade-offs of fire suppression. Costs assessed will include plan development, preparation and implementation, labor expenditures, and equipment and supplies. In comparison with wildfire and non-burned areas, relative benefits generated from prescribed burns will evaluate if prescribed fire reduces Tribal members travel time to harvest locations and increases harvest rates of fire-dependent resources. Furthermore, effects of current and projected prescribed burns on generating timber product revenues, reducing burn probabilities, and fire suppression costs will be incorporated into these cost/benefit analyses. Additional analyses will examine the potential effects of land use and ownership (e.g., public, private, and Tribal lands) on prescribed burn and harvest site selection, and the identification of policy constraints and opportunities to expand prescribed fires in both area and extent. Data collection methods employed combine semi-structured interviews with e30% of Tribal households within this study region, participant observation of harvesting trips and prescribed burns along with key-informant interviews with fire managers. These methods compliment the ecological studies that I am conducting in my dissertation research. This project proposes to evaluate socio-economic trade-offs of prescribed burn across scales. Burn and harvest area maps will be generated and then included in geospatial models of prescribed burn effects. Given that this project was developed in close consultation with Tribal and Fire councils as well as Six Rivers National Forest researchers and fire managers, this distinctive and timely case study integrates the fire management objectives of American Indians with the USDA Forest Service and local communities. Thus, project results are expected to be of direct application and major interest for diverse agencies and groups. To facilitate dissemination and outreach of project findings, I will provide accessible summary reports and present results with discussions designed for these partners and collaborators as well as the academic community.

Principal Investigator: Lisa M. Curran

Agency/Organization: Stanford University

Branch or Dept: Department of Anthropology

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Matthew C. Ho

Stanford University

Budget Contact

Jennifer C. Kidwell

Stanford University

Department of Anthropology

Student Investigator

Tony A. Marks-Block

Stanford University

Department of Anthropology

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network









Yurok Tribe




Karuk Tribe of California




Six Rivers National Forest




Private lands

Project Deliverables

There is no final report available for this project.
There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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