California Dedicates $ 536 Million to Fighting Catastrophic Wildfire

California approves $ 536 million for forest management projects and efforts to reduce wildfires before the worst happens. Fire season Governor Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders said Thursday that a strike would take place later this year. According to supporters, this was more than double the recent annual spending, and the state’s premature anticipation of a pandemic budget shortage led to a complete withdrawal of wildfire preparedness subsidies last year.

Armed with an unexpected multi-billion dollar surplus, lawmakers plan to add that money to this year’s budget before further consideration in a new spending plan coming into effect on July 1.

Parliamentarians “want to move forward more aggressively,” said Newsam, who immediately allocated more than half of the $ 1 billion he was trying to start in the second half of this year. It “will run these projects … so we are preparing for the next wildfire season.”

In January, Newsom proposed spending $ 323 million on forest health and fire protection projects this spring.

Authorities rush to thin forests to create fuel breaks around vulnerable communities and tolerate planned burns before the dry winter turns into a dry summer at the crater.last year’s Record wildfire season It burned more than 4% of the state, destroyed nearly 10,500 buildings and killed 33 people.

Earlier this month, the governor used his emergency powers to approve about $ 81 million to hire about 1,400 additional firefighters. He said firefighting and mitigation efforts have been added to many of the state’s long-term efforts to combat climate change, which is exacerbating fires and droughts.

Legislators agreed on Thursday that more short-term and long-term spending on vegetation management on both public and private lands, freeing up space around homes, wildfires, fire protection grants, and preventive workforce training. He said he would expand the governor’s January budget by reducing vulnerabilities to. It also includes $ 25 million in stimulus to the devastated forestry economy.

Leaders also recognize that fires can occur not only in forests, but also in grasslands and pastures, so the package contains all types of fire-prone terrain and vegetation, and is a populous area. Includes incentives for preventative efforts to protect.

The new plan is assembly And Senate The budget bill, which Newsom said, will be considered by lawmakers as early as Monday so that the bill can be signed on Tuesday.

In a joint statement, three Republicans representing rural fire-prone areas said that the forest management project included the same parts as last year, saying, “Not enough, at all. [does] Not aware of the urgency of the situation. “

Paul Mason, vice president of policy and incentives for Pacific Forest Trust, a non-profit land trust and think tank, said: Promote forest conservation. “It will need to be in the billions.”

In addition to spending part of the budget plunge on fire preparedness, lawmakers should find a stable source of funding for the future.

“It will take years to restore the resilience of California’s forest landscape, just as it took a century to cause the current fire problem,” Mason said.

Climate change and extreme weather


Newsome wears a red state fire engine and a yellow uniform working behind him while talking outdoors from a podium set up in front of a logging area in the Shaver Lake area of ​​Fresno County. I was surrounded by other members.

He said there a previously completed fuel break helped contain it. Creek fire During September. This was one of the largest fires in the state last year, destroying nearly 900 buildings in Fresno and Madera counties and burning more than 537 square miles.

Legislators have already split most of what Newsom said would be a temporary surplus of $ 15 billion in January, most of which are schools and millions of low- to middle-income Californians. Used for state economic stimulus, including a $ 600 payment to.

However, the state expects additional $ 26 billion in federal aid, and there are few restrictions on how it can be used. Mason and Newsom said the new Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration should also invest more in forest projects, given that more than half of California’s forest areas are owned by the federal government.

This is a change from the last few years when Newsom felt he was a “sparring partner” for the US Forest Service and accused Democratic state officials of poor forest management.

State officials said they wanted to get a $ 75 million federal disaster relief grant to match the money the state spends to mitigate wildfire vulnerability.

Democratic Senator Bill Dodd, a member of the Senate Wildfire Working Group, said the new spending package includes more than $ 280 million for forest management. $ 200 million for a fuel break. $ 30 million to strengthen the community and home.

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California Dedicates $ 536 Million to Fighting Catastrophic Wildfire

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