Ojibwe firefighters restore fire to the Cloquet Forestry Center

Firefighters executing a prescribed burn of the forest

This spring, a team of firefighters lit the first prescribed fires at the U of M's Cloquet Forestry Center (CFC) in 20 years. Vern Northrup, an elder of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and a firefighter with two decades of experience, sparked the first burn. These efforts restored fire to the CFC, a 3,400-acre forest within the Fond du Lac Reservation which Northrup's ancestors would have once regularly stewarded with fire—a practice rooted in both Ojibwe culture and landscape management.

This collaboration between the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the University of Minnesota opens a new chapter and embraces the role of Indigenous fire in shaping CFC's forests.

Read the story from the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and watch the video below.