Traditional Land Management Practices
To date restoration efforts in Ku' wah-dah-wilth (meaning “comes back to life” in the Wiyot language) have included the enhancement of five acres of seasonal wetlands and ten acres of wet meadow, and eight acres of reforested upland areas that have been planted with over 9,000 native trees, berries, shrubs, medicinal herbs and basketry plants.
As a means to honor and promote traditional Indian ways of caring for the land, Ku’ wah-dah-wilth Restoration Area is managed through the use of fire, propagation, pruning, and coppicing. UIHS does not use pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or other chemicals in managing the area. The restoration area acts as a community outdoor classroom for sharing cultural traditions and creating wellness for our community.
UIHS has restored the historic oxbow seasonal wetalnds that were filled by colonizing farmers in the turn of the century to increase the area for cattle to graze. UIHS used aireal and historic photos as well as interviewed elders about the original condition of the land prior to restoration efforts that began in 1998. UIHS re-excavated the wetalnds increasing their size to over six acres of wetlands throughout the 40 acre site. The restoration team at UIHS intensively removed the exotic vegetation and replaced them with native wetland plants including a wide variety of grasses, sedges, rushes, and aquatic plants.
UIHS has been working hard over the past ten years to restore the grasslands/meadows at Potawot to include a variety of native grasses and forbs. UIHS uses fire as a method of restoring the meadows as opposed to applying pesticides and using large mowers. The re-introduction of native grasses has been very challanging due to the intense competition and strong establishment of the non-native grasses that were introduced for fodder.
UIHS began restoration efforts by planting a variety of native broadleaf and decidous trees on the site. When UIHS originally purchased the property in 1997, there was not a single native tree on the site. To date, UIHS has planted over 4,000 native trees including Sitka Spruce, Coast Redwood, Shore Pine, Red Alder, Big-leaf Maple, Black Cottonwood, Douglas-fir, Western Hemlock, and Western Red-Cedar. The upland areas were clustered and each planted with species that are commonly seen living amongst one another in their natural native composition. The trees will help to create structure and microclimatic conditions on the site and will allow for the re-introduction of a variety of understory species such as ferns and forest ground covers.