In order to view this page properly, you need a browser that supports CSS Grid. Please try the latest versions of Chrome or Firefox.

Leok Po Demonstration & Workshop 2023

This Event is over.

Please sign up for our newsletter or keep checking back with our Current Events page to see what's up next.

Date(s): November 10 (Public) November 11-12 (Fire Professionals)

Time(s): 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Location: Cache Creek Nature Preserve, YochaDehe Tribal lands (see map)

Sponsored by: Cache Creek Conservancy and the Tending & Gathering Garden Advisory Committee

Funding for the event is provided by CalFIRE; CEMEX; Granite Construction, Inc.; Teichert, Inc.; Vulcan Materials; Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation; and Yolo County.

For more information contact: Nancy Ullrey, executive director of Cache Creek Conservancy, 530-661-1070 or [email protected]

Cost: Free

We’ve reached our capacity. Thanks for your interest.

Review of the 2023 workshop: The Many Impacts of Leok Po

The Cache Creek Conservancy, in partnership with Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, is offering another Leok Po (Good Fire) workshop and burn demonstrations about the use and importance of beneficial fire using indigenous traditional ecological knowledge (TEK).

This workshop combines cultural sensitivity and awareness training about California tribal cultural practices related to “Good Fire,” workforce development training for existing and future fire management professionals, and public education to build support for the use of beneficial fire using TEK.

Leok Po (pronounced lay-oak poe) in the Wintun language means “Good Fire”. This demonstration and workshop will showcase California Native American use of fire to enhance cultural resources and help restore the environment. 

The controlled nature of cultural burns allows this group to protect a patch of California Poppies – Leok Po 2022

Recent wildfires in California and the passage of SB 332 (Dodd) have sparked interest in TEK, specifically about the use of low-intensity fire. There is a need to educate fire professionals and the public about the difference between cultural burns and beneficial burns (formally called prescribed burns). Both kinds of fire can be good for the ecosystem, and in some ways the results are similar, but the intention and purpose of each differs.

Cultural burns are to promote new growth in native plants to keep them healthy and of beneficial use for Native American practices e.g., baskets or food or medicine. Cultural burns tend to be less intense, with cooler and lower flames than proscribed burns. They are started using natural materials like tule or cattail fluff.

Beneficial fires are used by fire professionals and cultural experts for several reasons, including fuel load reduction, biodiversity, subsistence, and ceremonial activities. Beneficial (proscribed) burns are started with petroleum-based propellants using drip torches, although they are still greatly less hot and intense than wildfires.

Most California native plants are adapted to fire and in some instances, require fire to start seed generation. The photos above show the process with a California Redbud at the Tending & Gathering Garden in 2022.

Both types of fire also help ecosystem processes by adding nutrients and minerals into the landscape.

Cultural Experts and Educators

Diana Almendariz: (Wintun, Nisenan, Hupa), cultural expert and natural and cultural history expert

Danny Manning: (Mountain Maidu) cultural expert, professional firefighter

Melinda Adams: (San Carlos Apache), cultural practitioner and Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Science

Ali Meders-Knight squatting close to the ground in a field of native grasses

Ali Meders-Knight: Mechoopda traditional basket weaver, expert in Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and executive director of California Open Lands. Ms. Meders-Knight will present only on Friday, November 10.

Photo from California Open Lands in Chico, where Ali Meders-Knight is the Executive Director.

Workshop Details

Cultural Awareness Workshop

The Cultural Awareness Workshop is open to both the public and to fire professionals. It will be held at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve on Friday, November 10, 2023.

If you are not a fire professional, but would like to participate in making and controlling fires, you should wear cotton or natural materials. Synthetic materials will melt if a spark gets on them. NO rubber-soled shoes, like tennis shoes. They can melt. It’s better to wear hard-soled shoes or hiking boots.

If you plan to stay back and stick to the trails, tennis shoes will be fine.

Schedule for Friday, November 10th

8:00 AMSign-in and coffee
8:30 AMWelcome and Opening Circle
9:00 AMCultural Awareness Tables and Discussions featuring Diana Almendariz, Danny Manning, Melinda Adams, and Ali Meders-Knight
NoonLunch (provided for pre-registered attendees only)
1:00 PMCultural Burn Demonstration in the Tending and Gathering Garden with Diana Almendariz and her family
3:00 PMClosing Circle
Note: The schedule is weather permitting and flexible, meaning some activities may take more or less time than scheduled. Activities should finish by 4:00 PM.

Cultural Burn Practices (Fire Professionals only)

Cultural Burn Practices will be held at various location in Yocha Dehe tribal lands near Brooks, CA and are open to fire professionals only. These practice demonstrations will be on Saturday, November 11 and Sunday, November 12, 2023.

If you have fire experience and would like to participate in the burn at Brooks, please register using the Fire Department option even if you are not employed by a fire department. Please use the task box on the registration to list your experience.

Schedule for Saturday and Sunday

Activities begin at 8:00 AM and should finish by 4:00 PM.

Logistics for All Workshops

Coffee and water will be available. Lunch will be provided only for people who have pre-registered.

Portable restrooms will be available.

Be sure to bring your own sunglasses, hat and sunscreen as needed.

Please register for any or all days using the form below.

You should see a registration form in the green box below. If you don’t, please feel free to Contact Us directly.

We’ve reached our capacity. Thanks for your interest.

Previous Leok Po Events

Leok Po Demonstration & Workshop 2022 (click to see more photos and information)

A group of people walking away down a road at Cache Creek Nature Preserve

Carrying the Fire: A fire crew carries fire in a bucket to a new area to be burned (center of line, red shirt). The fire was from the original fire set by cultural practitioner Danny Manning. Earlier in the day, fire started by practitioner Diana Almendariz was transferred to her daughter, Christine Almendariz to a different site, who then transferred the flames to her daughter (Diana’s granddaughter), Julie Almendariz. This was both a literal and symbolic passing of knowledge from one generation to the next, and the carrying of the flame shown above continues that tradition.

Fires and Poppies: Cultural fire tends to be low intensity, and here a flame approaches some late blooming California poppies. There was a cry to “save the poppies” from the fire (even though California poppies are fire adapted). With such a low intensity flame, fire crew members were able to redirect the flame so it went around the poppies and they were unscathed.

A small fire burning California Poppies
Melinda Adams carrying a tule bundle with a burning field in the background

Melinda Adams and tule bundles: Native American cultural practitioner Melinda Adams brings extra dried tule to help keep the fires lit at the recent Leok Po event. With rain a few days before and cooler temperatures, the dry grasses had too much moisture to burn without some additional fuel.

Shingle Springs fire crew: The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians sent 20 fire crew members to the Leok Po. They are in the Tending and Gathering awaiting orders to assist with the burns that happened there.

A line of fire fire fighters in dry shrubs in the Tending & Gathering Garden
A fire fighter leaning over to add fuel to a small fire

Tending the Fire: A member of the Shingle Springs fire crew adds dried tule to the flames to keep the fire going in one area of the Cache Creek Nature Preserve.

Posted on October 4th, 2023 by Cache Creek Conservancy

Posted in: Events, Past
Tags: , , , , , , , ,