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Fire Returned: Part 2 | North State wildfire concerns | Sexual harassment at state Capitol

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The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Monday, June 13.

Fire Returned: Fire is for everyone

Putting fire on the ground at the right place at the right time is healthy for the environment and can make communities safer from wildfire. But the practice of cultural and prescribed burning takes training and knowledge. One of the ways to start learning about fire is to attend a Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX), which brings people together to “burn and learn” from each other.

Erin Banwell is a TREX coach and co-director of fire management at the Watershed Research Training Center in Hayfork. She said getting people trained in how to conduct prescribed burns is essential.

“To me, fire is life,” she said. “So all of our ecosystems are fire adapted. You know, Indigenous peoples have been managing these ecosystems since time immemorial. I mean, fire is necessary to keep our ecosystems healthy, and if our ecosystems aren't healthy, we're not healthy either. So I just think it's the most essential and basic tool to use to keep everyone safe.”

Considering how severe wildfires have been in California, Banwell said she knows it seems counterintuitive to think of fire as something that keeps people safe from fire.

“But that's really what it is at the end of the day,” she said. “It’s the more fire that's in ecosystems on a frequent return interval, the less explosive wildfires we have.”

The state has a goal to treat a million acres per year by 2025, but Banwell said the acreage will only be reached by increasing local capacity to perform prescribed burns. She said her organization is focused on building workforce capacity by training people who work with Prescribed Burn Associations in counties like Butte and Plumas.

This story is part of NSPR’s 'Fire Returned' series. Read or listen to the full story in today’s Headlines. 

— Sarah Bohannon, NSPR

Officials warn high temperatures, dry vegetation bring wildfire risk

As summer approaches, much of the North State will be at a higher risk of wildfire. The National Weather Service expects elevated fire weather conditions in the valley through Tuesday. Cal Fire-Butte County Public Information Officer Rick Carhart says wildfire becomes a concern in the area every year once temperatures heat up and dry out vegetation.

“What it really comes down to is, are we going to get those fires that start in the wrong place at the wrong time?” Carhart said. “And are they going to grow and become a major fire that causes evacuations and causes a major event in the county?"

Carhart encouraged Butte County residents to go to the Sheriff Office’s new online evacuation zone map and learn their zone number. Officials also say to make sure if you live in a fire-prone area that you’re signed up for emergency alerts in your county.

— Alec Stutson, NSPR

Group calls for hearing on sexual misconduct at state Legislature

Survivors of sexual harassment and assault at the hands of state legislative staff members are calling for changes to the way their claims are investigated.

Faith Pulido was working as a consultant for the Senate Democratic Caucus in 2020, when she says she was inappropriately touched by a colleague. She was concerned about possible retaliation and didn’t initially report the incident, but she eventually wrote to the Workplace Conduct Unit, which investigates claims of misconduct in the state Legislature.

“After my investigation was completed, the Workplace Conduct Unit did substantiate my claim that I was assaulted,” Pulido said. “So they said, yes, we also found in our objective investigation that you were sexually assaulted by a co-worker.”

Even though her claim was substantiated, she says her attacker still has his job and has not faced any discipline. So, Pulido co-founded a new organization called Stop Sexual Harassment in Politics. The group is calling for a public hearing on how the Workplace Conduct Unit operates.

— Keith Mizuguchi (KQED), The California Report

Stories from NPR partner stations are edited by NSPR Staff for digital presentation and credited as requested.

In other news

  • Don’t look now, but COVID is still around: “LassenCares reports eight new community cases, none currently hospitalized, 67 deaths and 6,263 total cases. One-fourth ... o[f] the active cases are fully vaccinated residents.” — Lassen County Times
  • James Gallagher honors Jesus Center at Capitol: “Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) honored the Jesus Center as a California Nonprofit of the Year during California Nonprofits Day on Wednesday.” — Chico Enterprise-Record

In case you missed it

Headlines is published every weekday morning at 8:30 a.m. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and NPR One. Theme song Borough is courtesy of Blue Dot Sessions

Sarah is an award-winning reporter, producer and editor. She’s worked at North State Public Radio for six years and was previously the station’s News Director before leaving to study at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
A graduate of California State University, Chico, Andre Byik is an award-winning journalist who has reported in Northern California since 2012. He joined North State Public Radio in 2020, following roles at the Chico Enterprise-Record and Chico News & Review.
Angel Huracha has been a part of the journalism field since 2006 and has covered a range of topics. He is a graduate of Chico State with a Bachelor's degree in news-editorial and public relations with a minor in English.