Living Downstream

From fire comes new plant life at Pepperwood smIn this podcast, “Firing Forests to Save Them: Could Native Traditions Save Lives?,” you heard about the value of Native American traditions like conducting controlled burns to lessen the severity of larger fires, clear habitat for animals, manage invasive weeds and keep local basket-making traditions alive. Want to know more about how controlled burns are conducted, and why they aren’t standard operating procedure everywhere? We’ve got some answers.

Also, learn more about the father of modern environmentalism John Muir and learn about other issues discussed in this podcast below.

How do controlled prescribed burns work? What does a prescribed burn look like? Iowa State University answers these questions in a video where firefighters conduct a prescribed burn operation. In the video, firefighters explain the elements needed to safely and properly conduct a controlled burn, the tools used, how the burns are lit and how they’re put out. 

[Image: From fire comes new plant life at Pepperwood Preserve.]

Clint McKay, an Indigenous Californian and citizen of the Dry Creek Band of Pomo, has been trying to teach non-native people that some fire is a good thing. But since controlled burns are such a good thing, why aren’t they used more? Extensive federal guidelines require that proper weather conditions be met, and that there are enough available crews to fight the fire should it get out of control. Fire officials must also receive permission from air regulators so they’re not adding to unsafe air quality, according to KQED Science. 

KQED Science discusses these limiting factors of prescribed burns as well as plans to increase prescribed fires in California, where wildfires have ravaged communities. 

McKay’s sentiment that humans are part of the land and shouldn’t just be leaving it alone is a contrast to the “leave the land alone” philosophy dating back to John Muir. Muir, considered the father of modern environmentalism, was raised as a Christian and his philosophy stems from the spiritual connection he saw between God and nature, according to an article by Santa Clara University. The article discusses the life, accomplishments and influence of John Muir

To read more about the basket-weaving traditions critical to native culture, Harvey Mudd College discusses the Hupa and Yurok basketry process and designs. The Hupa, Yurok, Karuk, Wintu and other northwestern California Native tribal members live in the coastal mountains between Eureka and Crescent city.  

In this podcast, journalist Allison Herrera takes you to Redwood Canyon and Pepperwood Preserve. Before the Tubbs fire in 2017, controlled burns were planned for certain areas of Pepperwood Preserve. Pepperwood has a Native Advisory Council that works with local tribal elders, including Clint McKay, and learns from their nature management practices. 

Pepperwood Preserve’s environmental education program, conservation initiatives and sentinel site objectives are discussed in depth on their website.

A quick guide to the resources linked on this page:

Environmental News

  • Perscribed Burn USDA
    November 14, 2019

    California Burning Podcast: The Science of Fire Behavior

    The Camp Fire was the most destructive fire in California’s history. 19,000 homes were destroyed and at least 85 people were killed. But with so many fuel-laden forests, the question becomes not why this happened, but why we haven’t seen more disasters of this scale? Matt Fidler, the creator of the…
  • halloween guy kid
    November 05, 2019

    'Halloween Do-Over' Brings Joy to Healdsburg After Fire

    by Matt Villano When it became clear that Healdsburg was downgrading its evacuation status on Halloween, two local women figured most people would miss out on the typical trick-or-treat experience. The women, Elena Halvorsen and Mandy Carpenter, both have kids in the local public school, and both…
  • Mustard Row 60X36 c Bill Gittins 2019 smaller
    October 23, 2019

    Survivors of Camp Fire and Tubbs Fire Look Back and Ahead

    Over the past two weeks, art lovers have been visiting studios throughout Sonoma County. Art Trails, which organizes the visits, was about to start two years ago, when the Tubbs Fire raced through Santa Rosa. Artist Bill Gittins was ready to display several hundred of his paintings and prints but…
  • October 14, 2019

    Fire Survivors React to Power Shut-off

    Millions of Californians had their power shut off last week by Pacific Gas and Electric Company as a way to help prevent wildfires from starting during dangerous conditions. As part of a five-part series dedicated to the anniversaries of the Tubbs and Camp Fires, we look into how these two…
  • Prevent Wildfires
    October 03, 2019

    Smokey the Bear Has Affected Forest Management for Decades

    Fire season in California has been getting longer and more intense. One major reason for the severity is fire suppression. Putting out fires is a message officials have touted for more than a century. But as Matt Fidler, the creator of the new radio series “California Burning” tell us, the message…
  • IMG 1777
    Sep 06, 2019

    Study Shows Climate Change Could Threaten Oyster Habitat

    Research from the University of California at Davis published last month shows that climate change could dramatically shrink oyster habitat. KRCB’s…
  • Pepperwood preserve
    Aug 29, 2019

    Controlled Burns Could Help Prevent California's Megafires

    Over the past two years, California has been devastated by the worst wildfires in its history. As those fires continue to grow in frequency and…
  • whale2
    Jul 29, 2019

    Gray Whale Mystery

    Are Gray Whales the Canary in the Climate Coal Mine? WATCH VIDEO. NorCal Public Media explores the mystery of Gray Whales washing up on California…
  • IMG 1282
    Jun 27, 2019

    Experts Showcase Fire Resistant Building Materials

    As we head into summer, homeowners are looking for ways to protect their properties from wildfire. KRCB's Adia White attended an event at the Santa…
  • background carrots carrying 1327211
    Jun 12, 2019

    Why Food Reformers Have Mixed Feelings About Eco-Labels

    Dan Charles June 12, 2019 Hear this Morning Edition Story Take a walk through the grocery story; the packages are talking to you, proclaiming their…
  • 1024px John C Boyle Dam Gates Open
    Jun 08, 2019

    Living Downstream: The Klamath Water Wars

    This is the story of a 15-year conflict over what would be the biggest dam removal ever, a modern cowboys and Indians tale that shows how victories…
  • Jun 07, 2019

    Against All Odds, Paradise Students Graduate on Home Campus

    Around two hundred graduates walked across the Paradise High football field on Thursday night. They were all smiles and laughter, proving that the…
  • San Bernadino
    Jun 04, 2019

    Grist Finds Link Between Pollution and Infant Death in San Bernardino

    The online shopping economy appears to be having a deadly impact on children’s health in San Bernardino County. A new investigation by Grist Magazine…
  • SMART Train 2017 Santa Rosa wikimedia resize
    May 30, 2019

    Citizen Input Sought for Santa Rosa's Future

    In 2009, Santa Rosa created a state-mandated plan that looked ahead to the year 2035. The plan made certain assumptions, and was created to optimize…
  • def space zones
    May 29, 2019

    Sonoma County Inspects Rural Properties for Fire Safety

    Sonoma County is inspecting homes and properties to make sure that owners have cleared weeds and cut overgrown grass on their lots. This is the first…
  • 1200px Ferrari carano vineyard in Dry Creek
    May 24, 2019

    KRCB TV Highlights the Wine Industry’s Unsung Heroes

    From the history of the region to the people behind the scenes, there are many untold stories about winemaking in the North Bay. In the Independent…
  • IMG 0992
    May 23, 2019

    Local Activists Bring Green New Deal Principles to Sonoma

    Environmental activists and concerned community members rallied at a town hall last week to discuss options for confronting climate change. The event…

Northern California
Public Media Newsletter

Get the latest updates on programs and events.