Guest essay by Larry Hamlin
A new February 22, 2019 report was issued by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) which announces a plan that the state of California needs to implement to address forest management and community development actions required immediately to accomplish reductions in risks of future wildfires.
Specifically the report notes that: “an epidemic of dead and dying trees, and the proliferation of new homes in the wildland urban interface (WUI) magnify the threat and place substantially more people and property at risk than in preceding decades.”
The report contains a prioritized listing of recommendations requiring implementation including suspending regulatory requirements to allow these fuel reduction projects to be completed in 2019, enable the increased use of prescribed fires to thin out dense brush areas, set specific priorities for removal of dead trees and excessive forest undergrowth needed to reduce fuel and restore forest health, etc.
Additionally the report identifies 35 specific high priority fuel reduction areas in the state meriting immediate action that cover more than 90.000 acres of forest lands.
The report notes that more than 25 million acres of California wild lands are identified as being under very high or extreme fire threat and extending those risk assessments to cover over half the state.
Further the report estimates that as many as 15 million acres of California forest need some form of restoration.
The ability to achieve the reports actions will require priority funding of these initiatives by the Governor and Legislature as well as the cooperation and support from dozens of state agencies and regulatory bodies that are identified in the report.
The AP article discussing the new Ca. Fire report notes the criticism by President Trump of the states forest management polices noting: “Republican President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized California’s Democratic officials for not doing a good enough job managing its forests and has threatened to cut off California’s federal disaster funding.”
Many of the states government and political leaders as well as newspapers like the Los Angeles Times have tried to blame nebulous “climate change” as an excuse for California’s recent wildfires and even criticized those addressing California’s poor forest management and community development policies as being huge contributors to these wildfires. The Cal Fire report clearly lays out actions steps that deal with and address new forest management and community development actions that are required to be undertaken.
The Cal Fire report can be found here and is well worth reading.