All the Feral, Fierce Things: A Wildfire Memoir
Clare is currently working on All the Feral, Fierce Things, a memoir about her rookie season as a wildland firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service. She will address pressing issues facing the fire world – from the extreme difficulties of fighting fire in a climate changed-America to sexual harassment within the Forest Service – while exploring her own personal experiences as a young woman in fire.
In support of her memoir, Clare has been awarded an Anderson Center Residency (2021), the Marcella DeBourg Fellowship (2020), a University of Minnesota – College of Liberal Arts Research and Travel Grant (2019) and O’Rourke Travel Fellowships (2019, 2020).
Clare writes about the restoration of ecocultural fire to the Cloquet Forestry Center by Ojibwe firefighters
November 2022 – Clare wrote about an exciting new collaboration between the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the University of Minnesota: in the spring of 2022, these partners together brought ecocultural fire back to the University’s Cloquet Forestry Center, a fire-adapted forest which had not experienced a burn in 20 years. Before the University began to manage this land in 1909, Ojibwe land stewards frequently burned here – a practice with both cultural and ecological significance.
“Bringing fire back to this landscape isn’t just about the ecological benefits,” said Damon Panek, wildfire operations specialist for the Fond du Lac Band. “For us [as Ojibwe], burning is about fulfilling our role in the relationship we have with the land. We’re doing this for our culture, our identity and our way of life.”
Clare writes for the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network
November 2022 – Clare wrote a post for the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network’s popular fire blog. A resource for practicioners and communities alike, the blog features stories related to wildfire resilience told from a variety of perspectives. Read Clare’s blog post.
In her post, Clare speaks about her background as a wildland firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service, the ways in which her own understanding of fire has evolved over the last decade, and the story she unfolded in her latest piece, “People, Fire and Pines: How Fire Use by the Anishinaabeg Shaped the Boundary Waters.”
Clare speaks to the team at environmental thinktank Dovetail Partners
November 2022 – Clare spoke to the team at Dovetail Partners, an environmental thinktank based in Minneapolis, about her work as an environmental storyteller. Clare presented “The Power of Storytelling,” in which she advocated for the use of narratives to engage and energize readers and drew on her own lessons learned from writing multimedia pieces “The Camp 8 Stand: The Story of the Cloquet Forestry Center’s Old-Growth Red Pines” and “People, Fire and Pines: How Fire Use by the Anishinaabeg Shaped the Boundary Waters.”
Clare releases “People, Fire and Pines: How Fire Use by the Anishinaabeg Shaped the Boundary Waters”
August 2022 – After more than a year of interviews, research and writing, Clare releases “People, Fire and Pines: How Fire Use by the Anishinaabeg Shaped the Boundary Waters.” In this multimedia piece, she explores the false-yet-still-dominant narrative of the Boundary Waters as a wilderness “untrammeled by man,” drawing on the work and knowledge of a range of Ojibwe and non-Ojibwe experts to understand the influence of the Anishinaabeg on the forests of the Boundary Waters.
In telling this story, the relationship between the Anishinaabeg and fire is key. As Ojibwe fire practitioner Damon Panek says in a recent episode of the podcast [Un]Natural Selection, “The Boundary Waters wouldn’t be what it is without [human-lit] fire on the landscape.”
Today, however, the fires historically lit by the Anishinaabeg have been removed from the Boundary Waters. When lightning fires do occur on this landscape (as they did during the summer of 2021), state and federal agencies work hard to suppress them. Ecologically, spiritually and relationally, this absence of fire has been felt across the forests of the Boundary Waters.
In speaking with a range of folks, Clare investigates the questions: Are there ways to live with fire, instead of suppressing it? In what ways, by attempting to live without fire, have we harmfully impacted both land and people? And what can the Boundary Waters – a wilderness frequently defined as free of human influence – teach us about the relationships between people and fire?
To explore these questions with Clare, please read “People, Fire and Pines”!
This project was funded by the Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis.
Clare hosts a discussion about cultural fire with local experts
March 2022 – Clare developed “Talking Fire,” a panel discussion with fire experts Vern Northrup (retired Bureau of Indian Affairs fire operations specialist and Fond du Lac Band elder), Damon Panek (wildfire operations spectialist for the Fond du Lac Band) and Dr. Kurt Kipfmueller (University of Minnesota professor of geography). During the hour-long conversation at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, the fire experts discussed cultural burning in the Great Lake region, Indigenous fire stewardship, fire histories found in tree rings, and more.
Vern Northrup, Kurt Kipfmueller and Damon Panek talking fire
This was the first event in the new Beyond the Lab series which Clare is developing as Communications Manager at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory. The Beyond the Lab series enriches the Lab community’s understanding of environmental science and fluid mechanics while situating these concepts – in this case, about fire – in a holistic context. Earlier in the semester, the Lab heard from Dr. Sally Thompson, an expert in ecohydrology, about fire-water-biodiversity connections at a study site in California, before turning to Vern, Damon and Kurt to deepen understandings of fire as a culturally and ecologically significant practice on the landscape.
Clare joins the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory as Communications Manager
August 2021 – At the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL), engineers and scientists from around the world collaborate across disciplines to solve fluids-related problems involving water and wind. They ask and answer questions about wind turbines, flooding, stormwater, waves and much more. As Communications Manager for SAFL, Clare helps foster connections within the Lab, as well as bringing SAFL’s work to the larger world. SAFL is part of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota.
Examining the relationship between fire, people & pines in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Wilderness
March 2021 – Through a forthcoming multimedia web story, Clare will explore the ties between fire, people and red pines in the Boundary Waters. This project is funded by the Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis.
Writing Rooted in Research for the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station
April 2021 – Clare develops and writes scientific briefs for the Rooted in Research series, released bimonthly by the Northern Research Station. Through these short, compelling articles, Clare delves into the work of Forest Service scientists, highlighting their key management findings.
Exploring the history of the University of Minnesota’s Cloquet Forestry Center
January 2021 – In a collection of six multimedia web stories titled “60 Years at the Cloquet Forestry Center,” Clare tells stories of the CFC’s work, people and life from 1960 to 2020. In the collection, Clare explores the pioneering work of scientists Isabel Ahlgren and Gordy Gullion, highlights the CFC field sessions, which have educated University of Minnesota forestry students for the past 96 years, and dives into Conservation Education Days, a hands-on learning program which has introduced Carlton County 5th graders to forestry since 1968.
To tell these stories, Clare interviewed over 40 foresters, land managers, professors, students and Cloquet-area community members, including members of the Fond du Lac Band on whose reservation the CFC resides. Throughout the collection, audio clips and historical and contemporary photos are integrated into the narratives to help tell these dynamic stories. The collection ends by looking to the future and asking Fond du Lac Band members and CFC staff to envision what changes the coming years will bring to the Cloquet Forestry Center.
Listen to Clare discuss the collection in her talk “Enlivening Research Through Storytelling: An Exploration of the Methods Behind 60 Years at the Cloquet Forestry Center,” presented at the Sustainable Forests Education Cooperative’s 2021 Forestry and Wildlife Research Review.
Six multimedia stories dive into the history of the Cloquet Forestry Center
Clare joins the team behind the Minnesota Forest Resources Council
January 2021 – Established in 1995, the Minnesota Forest Resources Council is a 17-member board which was created to encourage sustainable forestry practices. The Council, comprised of individuals representing a diverse range of forestry interests, develops policy recommendations for the Minnesota Governor and federal, state, and local governments.
As Communications Manager, Clare tells the Council’s stories through newsletters, articles and updated website content. Clare also participates in strategic communications discussions with the Council’s Communications Committee and Executive Director.
Telling the story of Minnesota’s old-growth red pines
January 2020 – In collaboration with the University of Minnesota’s Cloquet Forestry Center (CFC) and the Great Lakes Silviculture Library, Clare tells the historical, ecological and cultural story of an old-growth stand of red pines found on at the CFC. Through archival and contemporary research, in-depth interviews and time in the old-growth stand – known as Camp 8 – Clare crafts a narrative that brings together complex questions about land management in the era of the Anthropocene, historical – yet often overlooked – truths about Indigenous fire stewardship and land tenure, and the role that we – whether as scientists, foresters or engaged citizens – should take as land stewards.
To tell this story, Clare has produced a multimedia article which brings together historical and contemporary photos, video footage of the Camp 8 Stand, maps and more. Read about these old-growth red pines here, watch Clare discuss the multimedia article on the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences Spotlight, or listen to Clare on the Cloquet Forestry Center’s podcast.