Chico State Professor discusses wildfire


Dr. Don Hankins answers a question from an audience member following his presentation at Chico Creek Nature Center on Thursday night. Photo credit: Brian Luong

Chico Creek Nature Center was filled to capacity on Thursday night during “The Fire Next Time,” a presentation in collaboration with Chico State’s Big Chico Creek Ecological Preserves. The presentation covered fire related topics including fire behavior, the benefits that fire has with wildlife and how political policy and perception affects fire laws.

The presentation was lead by Dr. Don Hankins, a Professor of Geography and Planning at Chico State. During his presentation, Hankins informed listeners about the many misconceptions about the science behind fires and the weather. Hankins, a Forest Ranch resident, was an evacuee of the Camp Fire along with many others in the room.

“Regardless of what you may hear in the media, climate change is happening,” Hankins said.

Hankins also covered topics such as wildlife, showing pictures that he had taken while down in Paradise on Nov. 10, two days after the Camp Fire had initially burned through Paradise. While there helping with veterinary work, he recalled hearing the sounds of many local birds such as robins and clickers that had already began reoccupying the area. Hankins also showed the audience a picture of three roaming bucks in a backyard area that he had taken while searching for a charred cat.

Hankins stated that many animals are tolerant of fires and are genetically adapted to be able to respond to fire situations.

“It’s not always doom and gloom,” Hankins said.

Hankins also spoke on not only the effects of wildfire but also of prescribed fires. Prescribed fires help maintain areas by reducing the amount of fuels that may contribute to a large wildfire, helps with disease control and allows for new growth of different plant species.

Dr. Don Hankins listens to audience questions following his presentation Thursday night at the Chico Creek Nature Center. Photo credit: Brian Luong

After the presentation, he held a 30 minute question and answer session. A majority of the questions were directed about what individuals can do to help prevent large wildfires, the long term effects of the Camp Fire on communities and wildlife and what the next steps are that can be taken to recover.

Brian Luong can be reached at [email protected] or @brianluongorion on Twitter.