From historic accounts we learn that the Nez Perce periodically burned vegetation. They did this for a variety of reasons. Controlled burning of camas meadows tends to increase the number of camas plants and the size of the bulbs. Controlled burning of berry patches reduces shading and competition, increases new growth, and increases the production of berries. Controlled burning of the habitat of willows and other shrubs used in basketry stimulates the plants to send up the long straight shoots desired for weaving. It may also promote more plant species for wildlife browsing.
Fire is a powerful phenomenon with the potential to drastically alter the vegetative cover of any park. The presence or absence of natural fires within a given ecosystem is recognized as a potent factor promoting, holding back or eliminating various components of the ecosystem.
Most natural fires are lightning caused and are recognized as natural phenomenon which must be permitted to continue to influence the ecosystem if truly natural systems are to be perpetuated. Fire may contribute to or hinder the achievement of park objectives. Park fire management programs are designed around resource management objectives and the various management zones of the park.
Did You Know?
During the Bear Paw Battle, Colonel Nelson A. Miles placed a 1.65" Hotchkiss gun on the cutbank hill (left of the tree)to shell the Nez Perce and lay siege to their camp area. Hotchkiss shell and fuse fragments were found on this site and are housed at the Blaine County Museum in Chinook, Montana.