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After Massive Bootleg Fire, Klamath Tribal Officials Explore Starting Fire Department


The Klamath Tribe in Oregon wants to create its own fire agency, following this year’s Bootleg Fire which burned much of their ancestral land. 

The Bootleg Fire consumed over 413,000 acres; one fourth of that was Klamath reservation land.

Credit Inciweb
The Bootleg Fire, in early August.

Steve Rondeau is the tribe’s Natural Resources Director.  He told KLCC that the Klamath hope to get funds soon to launch their own fire agency, which would work with other governmental agencies on wildfire management.

“From a tribal perspective, fire is a process upon the landscape and is something we have to live with all the time," said Rondeau.  "So looking back at our practices, we can see a future where our greater society can take lessons from the past, and apply them to these current conditions and we change our environment for the better and prevent some of these mega-fires from actually happening.” 

Rondeau said there’s growing receptiveness to tribal practices such as controlled burns, which have helped limit the size and growth of wildfires.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.