is endemic to many of the plant communities found
in Poly Canyon. However, there are few records of
fire in the canyon. Because indigenous peoples of
other continents used fire to reduce the density of
brush and to encourage the growth of certain plants
for forage by the animals they hunted, it has been
assumed that California's native peoples also did
so. California's native peoples used fire to reduce
the density of the brush. They also set fires to encourage
the growth of certain plants, particularly in grasslands.
The stems of certain grasses were valuable for basketry.
Seeds of some grasses were important food either for
the people or for the animals they hunted. Chumash
knew that a light burn would eliminate competition
for the oak seedlings and saplings whose acorns they
would eventually harvest. This also could apply to
the seeds and fruits of chia and islay, both of which
were highly valued by the Chumash. Whether local Chumash
practiced this in Poly Canyon has not been determined.
also used fire, though for a different purpose. They
burned areas, especially chaparral and coastal scrub,
in order to convert the land to agricultural use.
If this was done in Poly Canyon, the land's main use
would have been pastures for livestock as it is too
steep and hilly, and water is available too intermittently
to cultivate crops on a large scale.
records do not report more than two fires in the canyon
over the last one hundred or so years. The first,
on June 9, 1975, consumed approximately 15 acres of
chamise chaparral located "900 feet to the left [east]
of the 'P'."
second was the Highway 41 or Cerro Alto fire of mid-August
1994 that burned along the northern and northeastern
edges of the canyon (the hill and ridge above the
train tracks and just below the tracks to the road).
Numerous scientific studies of these burned areas