This report synthesizes information to help promote the distinctive ecological and cultural benefits provided by California black oak. Production of abundant, high-quality acorns desired by Native Americans in California, as well as other valued services, requires the presence of mature, broad-crowned trees with low fuel levels and low pest levels. Although black oaks are vulnerable to intense fires, they depend on low-intensity, more frequent fires to reduce competition from conifers, pest loads, and build-up of fuels that promote intense fires. Traditional burning by Native Americans helped to promote these conditions historically; however, in many areas that have become overly dense, thinning, out-of-season burns, or relatively severe fires may be needed to reopen the forest and reduce fuel levels before a more customary use of fire can maintain desired outcomes. Applying a landscape-scale approach to black oak restoration can help sustain tribal values and wildlife habitat, as well as promote greater ecological resilience to drought and wildfire during this time of a warming climate.
Long, Jonathan W.; Anderson, M. Kat; Quinn-Davidson, Lenya; Goode, Ron W.; Lake, Frank K.; Skinner, Carl N. 2016. Restoring California black oak ecosystems to promote tribal values and wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW GTR-252. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. 110 p.