90.1 FM San Luis Obispo | 91.7 FM Paso Robles | 91.1 FM Cayucos | 95.1 FM Lompoc | 90.9 FM Avila
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Northern Chumash Tribe holds first cultural burn in more than a century in San Luis Obispo

Members of the public watch the Northern Chumash Tribe's cultural burn.
Sarina Grossi
Members of the public watch the Northern Chumash Tribe's cultural burn.

Residents in San Luis Obispo might have noticed more smoke in the air Tuesday morning. It was the first cultural burn with a local indigenous tribe in more than 100 years.

The yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash Tribe, with support from Cal Fire, the SLO County Fire Department and SLO City Fire, burned a hillside at the Johnson Ranch Open Space. The controlled burn was about 15 acres wide.

Becca Lucas is a member of the tribe and helped organize the burn. She said the practice has been a part of indigenous culture for more than 10 thousand years.

“We have elders who didn't think they would see fire come back in their lifetime and they got to see it today, and that first light was really, really powerful,” Lucas said.

According to Lucas, cultural burns reduce wildfire risk, revitalize plant life and maintain native ecosystems.

“We've got a lot of potential fuels around us that get ready to be the potential for wildfire come summer,” Lucas said.

The cultural burn was also a training session for firefighters to learn how to better support them. The event is meant to be the first of many cultural burns conducted by the agencies and the tribe.

KCBX Reporter Sarina Grossi is a Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo graduate. At Cal Poly, she worked as a news anchor and reporter for KCPR Radio and as the Digital Manager for Mustang Media Group. Sarina was editor-in-chief of her community college newspaper. In her free time, she likes to read, watch movies, do arts and crafts, and go to thrift and antique stores.
Related Content