This was a part of the Lake States Fire Science "INTERN" Webinar March 2019.
Blueberry plants (Vaccinium angustifolium and V. myrtilloides) are culturally important to the Ojibwe people of the Great Lakes region, who have gathered berries for sustenance and income for generations. Berry camps were especially important following widespread clearcutting and resulting slash fires around the turn of the last century (Norrgard, 2009). Since that time, succession and fire suppression in fire-dependent communities have inhibited blueberry plant growth and berry production. Thus lack of fire in fire-dependent ecosystems has important social impacts to Native American communities, in addition to effects on ecosystem function. Because of this, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe (LLBO) has expressed a desire to restore blueberry habitat across the landscape and assess management methods aimed at doing so. As part of addressing this broad objective, and to better meet their trust obligations to the LLBO, the USDA Forest Service Chippewa National Forest (CNF) actively works with the LLBO Division of Resource Management (DRM) to identify opportunities to use forest management, including prescribed fire, to restore and enhance blueberry production on the Leech Lake Reservation.