Thanks to Bob Zybach for this piece from the Eugene Weekly. It talks about “what is “restoration” and what is the role of Native Americans and their traditional management techniques.
Here’s an excerpt. the original story is here.
A Human Dilemma
Current restoration objectives for the West Eugene Wetlands tend to center around creating habitat for threatened and endangered species, such as Fender’s blue butterfly. This often involves removing invasive plants like blackberry and ivy, and introducing native plants that are beneficial to species at risk.
For the most part, land managers and restoration ecologists — including those who oversee the Wetlands — tend to focus on restoring natural functions, not so much on returning a landscape to any particular previous state. Ecologists study the relationships between natural elements such as native species, soil quality and the ability of nutrients to flow through a system, and attempt to restore as many of these elements as possible to ensure biodiversity.
“What you’re restoring a landscape to is a really important question,” says Emily Steele, a restoration ecologist with the city of Eugene. “And you’ll hear a lot of different things from different people. We’re trying to get the habitat back to a state where it can be self sufficient and resilient, so that it will require less management from people.”
But restoring land using traditional Native American methods involves preserving culturally important native plants with the intention of using them — for basketry, food or canoes.
Zybach, who is an expert in Indian burning patterns in the Willamette Valley, says that because ecosystems in the Willamette Valley evolved alongside human activity, they function best when people are using them.“Restoration doesn’t mean a return to natural functions; it means a return to a previous condition,” he says. “Natural to people often means no humans. But if we’re not interrelating with the environment, something’s wrong. You have to have people tending the land.”
“When you restore a landscape, that would include cultural use,” says Lewis. “There’s an assumption that plants, animals and humans are separate, but in ecology we know that they’re interrelated. That traditional landscape is almost gone, and you want to preserve what’s endangered. It’s a cultural landscape; people were involved in it, therefore, you want people to come back in.”