Story at a glance
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Thursday announced a deal with state legislature leadership to draw down $536 million to kick off projects to prepare for the upcoming wildfire season.
- The funds will be used to increase efforts to thin forests, build fuel breaks around vulnerable communities and invest in infrastructure hardening to protect structures.
- More than 4.2 million acres burned across the state last year.
California plans to spend more than half a billion dollars on forest management to reduce the risk of fires after a devastating wildfire season.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Thursday announced a deal with state legislature leadership to draw down $536 million to kick off projects to prepare for the upcoming wildfire season. The new plan is in budget legislation Newsom said will be considered by lawmakers as early as Monday and signed by Tuesday.
“The hots are getting hotter, the dries are getting drier, there’s a new reality. You don’t believe in climate change? You don’t believe in science? You believe your own damn eyes,” Newsom said during a news conference with the state’s senate and assembly leaders Thursday.
“Something is happening as it relates to the issue of climate and that’s exacerbating conditions and making the challenge of wildfire suppression and prevention that much more ominous,” the governor said.
The funds will be used to increase efforts to thin forests, build fuel breaks around vulnerable communities and invest in infrastructure hardening to protect structures.
Newsom last month authorized more than $80 million in emergency funds to hire an additional 1,4000 firefighters with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to bolster wildfire response efforts. Newsom’s 2021 budget proposed $1 billion to support wildfire and forest management.
California experienced a record-breaking wildfire season last year as nearly 10,000 fires burned more than 4.2 million acres across the state. Five of the six largest wildfires in the state’s history occurred last year.
State leaders attributed the devastating season to warming winter and summer temperatures across the American west that are creating more challenging and dangerous wildfire conditions.
Meanwhile, California is slipping further into more serious levels of drought. On Thursday, the National Weather Service warned that 92 percent of the state is experiencing drought conditions and severe drought conditions expanded across parts of southern California.
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