Historically, 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 the sprouting of the plants, 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 sprouts desired for weaving.
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?
Camas, a relative of the lily family, has been gathered by the Nez Perce for generations. The bulbs are rich in protein and are still prepared and blessed according to traditional practices.