Bill Mcclane, Bach, Peters discussed on In Defense of Plants Podcast


So yeah, it's a really fun project. And I got a shout out, Bill mcclane, again, this retired botanist and just the quotes that he came. He found. We're just like, they're just, I mean, if you go back and if you all want to go back and read this paper, it is just so much fun to hear what the heck was happening out there on the landscape. It was so interesting. Yeah, it's really red. And I mean, we're buddies, right? And I know you and I really respect the work you do, but even if I didn't know all this about you, I don't think I would Bach at saying this is a really amazing paper that takes a lot of interesting historical social sciences and combines it with hard ecology to almost show you sort of a, I hesitate to say prescription for what the landscape should be in this region, but it gives you a better idea of what was going on and what you sort of moving forward, what we can kind of think about in terms of how these ecosystems change and our influence by our actions. But as someone who's done the research and literature reviews and spent hours agonizing over data, how do you take quotes and letters and all of these very anecdotal sort of data points, so to speak and turn them into data that's usable in this context. I mean, what was that process like for you? Was it a learning curve? Or was it something that's kind of like, oh no, we'll just kind of code it as X, Y, and Z and go from there. Well, here's another familiar pet peeve of yours and mine with research is that you're probably not going to go into it thinking I'm going to spend 20 years in a library or I'm going to get ten year or I'm going to get a grant based on this. So you have to have some patience and flexibility, which the modern research world will not allow you for a type of thing. But turning that into data in this particular thing was like it was kind of question driven based on a lot of a couple of debates that were happening with our modern sort of management world. Specifically, I can talk about when is the best time of the year to burn? When did things burn historically? And one of the most tangible results we said is that the burn season historically was October and November in a part of the world. After first freeze, you'd kill back the annual, the vegetation dried out and you get a little dry period. And that primarily wouldn't burn. So you can talk all you want about late summer burns in this part of the world or spring burns. They probably did happen, but they were probably much much rare and much smaller in scale, most likely. So there are a couple of small things like that. Okay, where do we have? We threw out actually a lot of the accounts. We got because they didn't have a tangible variables that we could use. What time of the year was it, you know, what direction was the wind blowing? Where was the fire in the country? What day of the year was it? How big of an area did burn? Was it just, you know, small or was it a huge area? So we sort of said, okay, let's take those data points and try to make something interesting and useful out of those. Lightning. What was the cost? So that was another big thing. You know, you saw a clear trend going from this is exclusively Native American fire for hunting. Then it became Native American fire for I got a bunch of white people on my trail, tracking me in the military, and I'm literally burning to cover up my tracks so they can't track me, you know? Yeah, yeah, right. Or like I'm trying to actually keep these Europeans out of here, and I'm burning because I know they freak out by fire and we know how to manage fire. We know how to deal with fire, right? And then it turned into the source was, you know, all the things we talked about Europeans escaping from their campsite or something like that or it burned over a fire line. And then it became really, really huge source was locomotives like when there was steam powered coal locomotives were going through their little spark and then boom, you know? So that was kind of a fun thing to be able to track that data and say, what was the source? Of fires too. Wow. I mean, you're catching Succession in a lot of different ways. Culturally, historically, actual ecologically, so to speak. And I'm sure landscape context plays a big role in this. And so did you have to kind of also factor in how much the landscape was changing because of European settlement in the context of like you said, when you let a fire today goes two acres and then it Peters out when it hits an industrial cornfield, but historically that could have raged on for thousands of acres. Yeah, that's a great question. And we weren't able to fact that into the fire necessarily what was happening in real time. But it became apparent in some of the quotes like you could just tell, you know, you're talking about grass fires and then you're talking about wheat stubble, or people talking about, well, I just planted these acres of cool season grasses poa and brome around my house to keep the fires away, you know, as much as I can. But then they would talk about this came up over and over and over again was..

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