With almost 40 million people residing in California and growth spreading into areas that were once-wild, some of the greatest resources of the state toward preventing wildfires can not be used.
There is increasing agreement that the state needs to measure its use of forest management through prescribed burns and vegetation removal in an effort to lessen the effects of wildfires.
In March, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that a state of emergency on wildfires, made to simplify forest-thinning jobs and other programs. In May 2018, former Gov. Jerry Brown called for decreasing the quantity of forest land treated every year from California from 2023. The country raised the money it spent on those attempts, together with the Legislature earmarking $1 billion within five years in capital generated by the carbon trading program of the state. The Trump administration has also pledged to handle forests.
Among the biggest complications in forest management are California’s stringent environmental regulations.
Forest treatment projects must acquire approvals . Butte County Fire Safe Council Executive Director Calli-Jane DeAnda stated the environmental review process uses up 10 to 15% of grant funds local fire agencies get for forest management projects. The testimonials can carry years.
The nation has been working since 2010 on an EIR that could insure all vegetation treatments in California under one environmental document. It would identify environmentally sound processes for natural landscapes. Then, if a job were proposed that met the guidelines for its landscape, it could be approved via a”checklist scenario,” based on Board of Forestry Executive Director Matt Dias.
Some projects would not fit the template,” he stated, and would require more review, however, the idea is to get projects approved and moving forward in a matter of months instead of years. A target has been set to finish the record by the end of the year.
Some groups say state officials are pursuing the route altogether.
Rick Halsey of this California Chaparral Institute stated Cal Fire should put more attention on making communities more flame resistant, so not on vegetation.
“We have a home ignition difficulty,” he explained,”not a vegetation control issue.”
He said it makes more sense to devote some of their control bucks on fireproofing measures such as vents that were ember-resistant and flame resistant rooftops.
“We have got to quit looking in different directions than where individuals are, and honestly Cal Fire isn’t doing a good job at this,” he said. “The fundamental issue is they’re a plant control agency… they are not to the construction item. They need to appear at the entire picture”
He said infrequent although high-intensity fires are needed by chaparral. Vegetation removal won’t help that process. About all individuals are able to do to help the chaparral is to quit putting it on fire.
“There are many people about the landscape causing a lot of supernatural ignitions,” he said.