2023 National Experiment Station Section Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – Group Award

Cloquet Forestry Center, University of Minnesota

Group Members: Lane Johnson, Kyle Gill, Rachel Olesiak, and Andrew David

For several years, the staff at the Cloquet Forestry Center (CFC) have been working with

representatives from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Fond du Lac Nation, and the University of Minnesota to employ prescribed fire on the experimental forest. This effort was led by the CFC to restore both the cultural and the ecological benefits of fire on the forest ecosystem. In early 2022, the program was formalized in a memorandum of understanding, which set the stage for collaborative burns at the CFC. In May of 2022, CFC staff and firefighters from the Fond du Lac Band, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and The Nature Conservancy gathered to burn 75 acres at the CFC. For many, the burns were long-awaited: they signified both the return of fire to a fire-adapted ecosystem and the restoration of the deeply rooted Ojibwe cultural practice of burning.

This partnership emphasized community-informed research to address critical issues in natural resource management in Minnesota to meet ecological and cultural objectives. Through building this relationship, the CFC has created a tribal nation partnership model that showcases joint learning and collaboration in a respectful and productive way creating pathways for sustainable long-term relationships and stewardship of the land.


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