A coalition of groups representing a variety of interests is calling for action to address California wildfires in the future. Governor Gavin Newsom and the state legislature are being encouraged to provide more funding support in the upcoming budget. The coalition is made up of agricultural, forestry, environmental, and business groups. The group is asking for more than $1.5 billion of stable and sustainable financial support.
More than 9,600 fires burned more than 4.1 million acres in 2020, damaging more than 10,400 structures and causing 31 fatalities. The coalition is comprised of a total of 18 different organizations. In a letter to Governor Newsom, they call for “urgent action” to help mitigate the destruction caused by California wildfires. Signatories of the letter include The Wine Institute, Sierra Business Council, Defenders of Wildlife, and the California Cattlemen’s Association. The funding requested will be focused on mitigating wildfire damage while providing multiple benefits to wildlife, and water quality. More aggression action to prevent wildfires will also strengthen climate resilience.
“Extensive fire suppression and exclusion, development in high fire hazard severity zones, and the spread of non-native vegetation from human activities has left California’s landscapes prone to large, intense fires,” the letter states. “Given the degraded condition of many of our fire-prone landscapes, the scale of the problem currently facing our state, and that climate change is exacerbating this problem, we need to significantly increase, accelerate, and sustain efforts to prepare for and reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire, in addition to ongoing fire suppression activities.
The coalition urges the proposal of $1.5 billion in the 2021-22 state budget to support a variety of fire prevention and preparedness actions. The letter suggests $600 million be used for landscape-scale strategies such as fuel reduction and forest thinning. Investment is also being suggested to expand the use of prescribed fire to return to a more fire-resilient condition. Another $900 million would be used for reducing risk to homes, commercial structures, and communities. The funding would also be used to support building community resilience through improving infrastructure.