Newsom unveils $536 million plan for California wildfires

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Following a record-setting wildfire season, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday revealed a $536 million plan to help California prevent future fires.

The measure would help boost forest health, improve defensible space and protect homes against fires, while also investing in fire prevention grants and prevention workforce training. It also includes vegetation management on public and private lands, community-focus prevention efforts and economic relief for the forestry economy.

The funding package, introduced as Senate Bill 85 and Assembly Bill 79, also is backed by Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood).

“With California facing another extremely dry year, it is critical that we get a head start on reducing our fire risk,” Newsom, Atkins and Rendon wrote in a joint statement. “We are doing that by investing more than half a billion dollars on projects and programs that provide improved fire prevention for all parts of California.”

The announcement comes a week after Newsom said the state will hire nearly 1,400 additional firefighters.

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Experts worry an unusually dry winter could bring another devastating fire season. San Francisco is in the second driest two-year period in recorded history, and the just-ending rainy season is the third driest ever in California. In more bad news, the annual April 1 Sierra snowpack survey registered a disappointing 59% of the historical average, a low number for the second straight year.

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Last year, 4.2 million acres burned throughout the state, the most in modern times. Smoke billowed across California, and in September mixed with the marine layer and turned Bay Area skies an apocalyptic orange.

Most of the money announced Thursday would come from the general fund, with $125 million coming from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds. The lawmakers acknowledged more is needed, and said they expect additional funding as discussions continue around the 2021-2022 budget. The governor’s budget proposes a total of $1 billion to fight and prevent wildfires and support forest management.

Newsom is scheduled to speak about the upcoming wildfire season at 12:45 p.m. Thursday in Fresno County.

TODAY: As California prepares for another challenging wildfire year, Governor @GavinNewsom will highlight the state’s wildfire preparedness …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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