USA – SACRAMENTO – With another hot and dry fire season on the horizon and potential drought settling in over California, preparedness efforts throughout the state are underway. In anticipation of this, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and the Senate’s Wildfire Working Group have released a plan and introduced a budget framework to prioritize fire prevention and response efforts.
The “Blueprint for a Fire Safe California” is a comprehensive policy outline that includes a four-pronged approach to wildfire resiliency and response for the Golden State.
“With more than 11 million Californians living in high-risk fire zones, and learning from past fire seasons, we know that we have to do all we can to help protect our communities and natural resources from potential devastation,” Pro Tem Atkins said. “I appreciate the leadership of Senators Rubio and McGuire on these pressing issues, and the hard work by my colleagues in the working group, who have dedicated countless hours to crafting legislation and this comprehensive plan.”
California has experienced record devastation wrought by the worst wildfire seasons in history over the past decade. In 2020, more than 4 million acres – 4 percent of land in California – burned in a record-setting year. The smoke from these fires generated the equivalent emissions of 28 million vehicles and blanketed many parts of the state with unhealthy smoke for weeks.
The Senate’s Wildfire Working Group has been meeting for two years and is co-chaired by Senators Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) and Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) with Senators Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Henry I. Stern (D-Los Angeles), have developed the Senate’s Blueprint for a Fire Safe California.
The plan hinges on four key areas of focus: Training and deploying a fire resiliency workforce; implementing a modern-day vegetation, forest management, and community hardening plan; expanding consumer access to the homeowners’ insurance market; and developing a short and long-term funding plan here in the State of California.
The policy priorities outlined in the Senate’s plan will be accomplished through legislation and the budget.
As part of the Blueprint, the State Senate Budget Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy approved a $573 million budget framework on wildfire prevention and response on Tuesday. This framework lays out the Senate’s Budget Subcommittee priorities for early budget action and builds upon Governor Newsom’s $323 million early budget proposal. This fiscal framework will be part of negotiations to move a wildfire prevention and response budget bill in the coming weeks and not wait until the traditional budget approval process in June.
The full “Blueprint for a Fire Safe California” can be found here.
Here is what the Senate’s Wildfire Working Group says about the Blueprint:
Wildfire Working Group Co-Chair Senator Mike McGuire: “California is experiencing a never ending crisis every summer and fall, losing tens of thousands of homes over the last decade and millions of acres of land burned over by massive wildfires. The Legislature and Governor must move with urgency to pass an early budget focused on wildfire prevention and response in the coming weeks, along with a legislative package that will make communities more resilient to the size and scope of mega fires. The Senate is committed to both these actions and this Blueprint lays out an aggressive plan to help keep Californians safe and our communities strong.”