Through ITEK certification, we partner with professional stewardship & restoration crews that offer a unique skill set combining place-based traditional knowledge and expertise in native plants, ecosystems, and cultural fire with conventional certifications for forestry, hazard tree removal, wildland fuels reduction, and prescribed burns. We offer fee-based vegetation management services as well as training with local & Tribal crews to provide high-quality, living wage jobs in preserve management, maintenance, and restoration contracting.
This program aims to re-introduce the critical human element of Indigenous knowledge and tending of Northern California ecosystems that has been missing since colonization in 1850. Northern California has been a poster child for climate change-related impacts in recent years, as record-breaking wildfires and droughts have destroyed whole towns and devastated forests in our area (Camp and Carr Fires in 2018, North Complex Fire in 2020, Dixie Fire in 2021, and many others). The severity of these dramatic impacts have a basis in the removal of human stewardship from native ecosystems over nearly two centuries through the genocide of Indigenous peoples and the outlawing of Native cultural practices, including controlled (cultural) fire to renew fire-adapted native plants and mitigate the size and severity of wildfires.
Ali Meders-Knight, Executive Director of California Open Lands, is a Mechoopda Tribal member in the area now known as Chico, California, and has led outdoor education and ITEK (Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge) certification programs in Indigenous land stewardship for over 20 years. Through her community initiative TEK Chico (tekchico.org), she has been engaged in community stewardship, integrating Indigenous knowledge into local workforce development and conservation of public lands. We intend to extend these efforts to all California Open Lands properties throughout Northern California by organizing local Indigenous-led workforces to care for each of our reserves, integrating climate adaptation, food sovereignty, biodiversity, and cultural burning to improve the resilience of land and community.
The program will consist of three main elements: