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The human and fire connectionAuthor(s): Theresa B. Jain
Source: estern Forester. March/April/May: 10-11.
Publication Series: Magazines or Trade Publications
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
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DescriptionWe refer to fire as a natural disturbance, but unlike other disturbances such as forest insects and diseases, fire has had an intimate relationship with humans. Fire facilitated human evolution over two million years ago when our ancestors began to use fire to cook. Fire empowered our furbearers to adapt to cold climates, allowing humans to disperse and settle into North America when they migrated over the land bridge on the Bering Strait. American Indians used fire throughout North America because it was an ideal tool to chase away predators, clear land, facilitate travel, and increase hunting opportunities. Tribes also used fire to regenerate edible plants such as berry bushes and camas for food and to rejuvenate beargrass and willow to produce supple materials for basketry. American Indians used fire to fell trees, and shape canoes, weapons shafts, and bows. Finally, fire was used as an instrument of war or as a ruse to escape from warring tribes. Tribes rarely extinguished fires and they allowed fires to burn hundreds to thousands of acres. Human- and lightening-ignited fires contributed to landscape diversity.
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CitationJain, Theresa B. 2014. The human and fire connection. Western Forester. March/April/May: 10-11.
Keywordsfire, human relationship
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