|The Land Conversation
Traditional Land Management Research: Example Program Sequence
The idea behind this program is to apply local American Indian knowledge to land
management programs. I believe one of the best initial opportunities for fieldwork will
involve working with willows (Salix spp.) in riparian areas, as the example below
assumes. Other possibilities include working in oak woodlands to increase acorn
production, or in grasslands to enhance basket grass production.
Basic sequence for willow management program:
1. Interview elders, basketmakers, and other users of willows about the species
used and desirable plant characteristics. Use historical landscape photographs, aerial
photos, plant specimens, and artifacts to stimulate memories of field sites and desired
plant habits. Combine open-ended interview questions about plants and animals with
clusters of focused questions on particular topics.
2. Cross-reference the information obtained from interviews with testimony from
other Native American people within the region. Also cross-check with varied sources
of data, such as archaeological studies, written accounts, published ethnographic
literature, archived field notes, and ecological field experiments. And ask the overriding
question, how does this account fit into a coherent STORY, or a theory about how land
and people interact? Make the interview transcripts and tapes, and any plant
specimens collected during interviews available to all those who participated in the
interviews, and to youth programs and schools.
3. Propose questions for ecological field experimentation. In collaboration with all
partner agencies, design experiments. For example, based on information gained from
background research, we might extensively prune or coppice willow trees in order to
stimulate the growth of young shoots. Will the trees’ root systems expand, and will the
actual willow tract increase in extent? How will such changes in the vegetation affect
nesting species such as the Least Bell’s Vireo?
4. Identify experimental sites on tribal, private, or state park land. Write a scope of
work for the on-site project, to include descriptions of appropriate timing of the work to
avoid negative impacts on endangered species.
5. Map the sites using GPS data and take initial measurements, such as vegetation
transects and recorded birdcalls.
6. Apply appropriately timed treatment to the plants.
7. Measure results. Publish and share the results with all collaborating agencies.
8. Generate additional experimental questions and repeat the process.
Please note that California State Parks has accepted
The Land Conversation's research and restoration
proposal for the Sentenac Cienega area. For more
information, download the proposal as a Word
This research program was made possible by a grant to the Southern California
Tribal Chairmen's Association -- a partner of The Land Conversation, Inc. -- from the
Blasker-Rose-Miah Fund and the Colonel Frank C. Wood Fund at the San Diego