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Klamath Tribal Food Security News 
Summer 2020
KDNR and UCB research team setting up new research plots this summer. Photo credit: J. Sowerwine

In this issue:   
  • Klamath wildfire response & call to solidarity
  • Dispatches from the field
  • Dive into smoke and fire dynamics & needs
  • Community news, events & resources
Response and relief fundraising for Klamath wildfires
Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost loved ones or homes or have been evacuated or otherwise impacted by the fires burning across the Western United States. In Karuk Aboriginal Territory, the Slater/Devil Fires have had devastating impacts, burning over 150,000 acres and 150 homes, killing two people and displacing many Karuk Tribal members. They triggered widespread evacuations and led to very hazardous air quality conditions for multiple days in a row. The Red Salmon Complex has burned over 120,000 acres on the other end of Karuk Territory. Both fire complexes are still active as of this publication. Many KDNR colleagues and other community members have been working day and night to provide on-the-ground support, including distributing food, clothing, supplies and providing shelter to the Happy Camp community and those individuals and families impacted by the fires. For additional timely updates on the status of the fires, contact and visit the YouTube channel "August Complex Fire 2020."

Call to Action
 In solidarity with the affected communities, we are lifting up the Karuk Tribe-Slater Fire Relief fund which supports locally-driven relief efforts to shelter, feed, and rehome those who have lost homes, to provide clean-up supplies, N95 masks, and air purifiers, and to procure and distribute other resources & supplies to support ongoing rebuilding and structure protection activities. If you are able, please donate and soon! Any amount matters.

Call to Understanding Given the devastation being wrought by these catastrophic fires, we want to draw attention to the importance of Indigenous fire stewardship and Karuk leadership around the use of fire as a management tool. KDNR director, Bill Tripp, recently published this excellent piece in the Guardian about how Indigenous knowledge and cultural fire stewardship are critical in preventing and mitigating catastrophic mega-fires (also read the conversation below with Bill, special for this newsletter). KDNR leads the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership (WKRP), a consortium of Tribal, federal, state, and non-governmental organizations and landowners committed to maintaining resilient Klamath ecosystems, communities and economies. The WKRP combines cutting-edge fire ecology and forest management techniques with Karuk Indigenous Ecological knowledge and management practices to pilot the implementation and monitoring of prescribed burning and fuels treatments designed to benefit cultural foods and fibers, wildlife habitat, and community wildfire protection.
Dispatches from the field from the Agroecosystem Resilience Initiative: xúus nu'éethti
Establishing new plots & patches
Despite challenges due to COVID and the onslaught of fire season this summer, the Karuk Agroecosystem Resilience Initiative: xúus nu'éethti team had a successful, albeit delayed, field season this summer establishing and conducting vegetation baseline assessments in three new hectare-sized plots as well as three new "focal
Some of our focal plants: manzanita, hazel, sugar pine & tanoak

patches," smaller plots that have an abundance of culturally important plants we are closely monitoring. "Focal plants" include black oak, hazel, tanoak, manzanita, paper nut, red huckleberry, and sugar pine. We also revisited our existing plots to conduct "seasonal and riparian surveys " to assess the condition of the habitat, water availability, and culturally important plants at different times throughout the year. The overarching goal of these "Agroecosystem Condition Assessments" are to understand contemporary patterns of cultural food and fiber species diversity, distribution, abundance and quality as well as biotic and abiotic agroecosystem conditions. We assess both climate vulnerability and climate resilience of specific management areas that are representative of different plant communities and habitat types across Karuk Aboriginal Territory. The data will help inform land management decisions in these areas that are actively being managed and studied by KDNR over time. 

Growing the Karuk herbaria
Teammate Shay Bourque, Environment Higher Education and Research Division Coordinator, collected multiple 2020 'voucher specimens' for the growing Karuk herbarium collection. Geo-referenced, these voucher specimens will enable the Tribe to track any changes in location, characteristics, health, and even genetic makeup of valued cultural species. See below for two examples of living and vouchered specimens.

Karuk: apkas'árarar; English: Yellow iris; Latin binomial: Iris pseudacorus

Karuk: tayiith, English: Indian potato or Blue dick, Latin binomial: Dichelostemma capitatum

4th year of funding!
KDNR is happy to relay that we have obtained a 4th year of funding to carry on the work of the Karuk Agroecosystem Resilience Initiative! These funds will support KDNR staff and Karuk Cultural Practitioners in further seasons of agroecological condition assessments in our long-term monitoring plots. Through this, we'll be able to get more kids and youth out to these plots, getting them involved in data collection and research. In our additional year of work, we will tie into the research of the "SAFE in Rural California" project (read more below). In this extended timeline, we will have the time and space to connect multiple ongoing KDNR efforts and community needs around cultural plants, climate change, fire and smoke, water quality, and local sustainable energy. From 2018 until now, we've been establishing baseline data and baseline knowledge through the Agroecosystem Resilience Initiative. We want to make our monitoring and harvest sites and treatments permanent, truly long-term, and even expand their reach into the Karuk Ancestral Territory. KDNR is looking forward to continuing the work!
This support comes from the Tribal Government Challenge Planning Grant Program, which is funded by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and administered by the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC).
Fire & smoke research and practice in the Klamath Basin
BillTime to overhaul our systems: a conversation with Bill Tripp
Let's start with the current situation. Two weeks ago, smoke readings at local monitoring stations in the Klamath Basin were well in excess of 700 AQI (for more on AQI). This is "beyond hazardous" according to Bill Tripp, KDNR Director of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy. Our harsh and traumatic reality of ongoing hazardous smoke amidst devastating wildfires comes amidst ongoing, strengthening calls for careful, caring pathways out of our current fire and smoke cycles (see here for a recent example of such a call). Bill notes that the Clean Air Act's regulations on human-caused smoke actually is feeding into the problems we're living through now and getting in the way of getting ahead. 

While the terms 'fire exclusion' and 'climate change' are being bandied about a lot these past few weeks across California, Bill points to the root cause of "removing Indigenous people from the ecosystem." Read on...

"We need to resolve the fact that our solutions to today's problems are considered unnatural. Fire exclusion is unnatural. I can't say I completely understand the politics of individuals and how that is in play in the discussion, nor do I feel I need to, because I know my story and I respect the story of others. It is, after all, the outcomes of our collective action that will ultimately be the measure of our resolve." - Bill Tripp

SAFECentering land management and community wellbeing: the SAFE project
This year, the Karuk Tribe (KDNR), Blue Lake Rancheria (Sustainability Office) and Schatz Energy Center (Schatz Center at HSU) have come together around their shared motivation to provide resilient technology that helps people manage smoke, air quality, and energy. The realities, needs, and visions around fire sit squarely in the middle of that. Their 2.5 year project, funded by the California Strategic Growth Council, is titled "Smoke, Air, Fire, Energy (SAFE) in Rural California: Energy and Air Quality Infrastructure for Climate-smart Communities." Peter Alstone, Faculty Scientist at the Schatz Center, notes that the project was developed to lift up the particular strengths of each partner. The Karuk Tribe has a long history and practice of using fire on the landscape and understanding how good fire can be beneficial. The Blue Lake Rancheria is a regional leader in deploying advanced microgrids for the community. Researchers through the Schatz Center hold expertise on designing clean energy systems and doing analysis and design for air quality systems. Read more here...
Local news
Klamath dams removal still stalled. Time to make noise
While attention has shifted to fires and the upcoming elections, advocacy for the Klamath dams removal continues. Currently, the situation appears to be stalled with much depending on PacifiCorp's next move. Read here for the Klamath Tribal Council's opinion piece and that of the Karuk Tribal and Yurok Tribal Chairs (Russel 'Buster' Attebery and Joseph James, respectively). Listen as well to the Sept 7 interview with Karuk General Counsel Amy Bowers Cordalis. How to unstall the process? Perhaps it's time to make some noise, according to Yurok Tribe's senior water policy analyst Mike Belchik.

Bad algal blooms on the Klamath
Speaking of dam removal, this summer has been bad for algal blooms on the Klamath River. Read here to better understand why.
Events & resources of interest
"Advocacy & Water Protection in Native California" recorded summer series
This summer, Humboldt State University's Native American Studies (NAS) Department and Save California Salmon partnered to lead a well-curated and attended Advocacy & Water Protection Speaker Series and Certification Program. The entire series was recorded and you can view all those recordings along with supporting material in Module 1, Module 2, and Module 3. As a reader of this newsletter, you may be particularly interested in:
Two-part forum series: "The University of California Land Grab" (Sept - Oct)
Organized by UC Berkeley Native American Student Development, UC Berkeley, Environmental Science, Policy, & Management, Berkeley Food Institute, and more, this two-part series tackles a gnarly, essential issue to all Californians. Registration free and open to all: register here for part 2 on Oct 23rd. View part 1 here: "A Legacy of Profit from Indigenous Land."

First Nations Development Institute's 2020 Native Lands Stewardship series (ongoing)
This ongoing series has touched on data management, mapping, and decolonizing food thus far. We particularly recommend "Decolonizing Regenerative Agriculture" (webinar #3). To watch a previous webinar, click on the registration link and after entering your information, you will be able to view the recording.

Two new public satellite imagery tools
Do you enjoy (and perhaps use for work) satellite imagery to understand fire and weather in your community and across the lands you reside in and care for? Check out these two new online tools: California Forest Observatory and EO Browser.
Missed an issue? See what your Karuk-UCB Food Security team has been doing here.

Keep in touch! Find upcoming events, see photos, ask questions, let your neighbors know what's going on in the foodshed! All that and more on the Foodshed Facebook page.

Wondering what, where and when to plant? Visit the Mid Klamath Watershed Council's Foodshed pages for excellent free information on the vegetables and fruits that grow best here, along with planting calendars, soil, and disease prevention advice.

The Karuk Tribe's Sípnuuk Digital Library, Archives and Museum supports food security and sovereignty with information on our regional food security issues, solutions and knowledge of traditional and contemporary foods and materials. Easy to use and open to all - sign up now!

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