NPR’s Ari Shapiro talks with Don Hankins, a fire expert at California State University, Chico, about how Native Americans’ “cultural burning” could be folded into the state’s fire management plans.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
This year, wildfires have burned more than 4 million acres in California. That’s more than any other year since record-keeping began in the 1930s. Long before that, 4 million acres might have burned in a typical year. California’s Indigenous people intentionally set fires centuries ago. They were known as cultural burns. Don Hankins is a Plains Miwok fire expert and professor at Chico State University in California. He says cultural burns cleared out forests, helping prevent the megafires we’re seeing now, and they helped biodiversity.
DON HANKINS: You know, one of the bigger things that we’re really missing in California in terms of habitat conditions is the fine-grained mosaic that fires do create. So that fine-grained mosaic