By Assemblymember Marie Waldron
2020 was California’s worst year ever for wildfires – 3 Specif3 people died and 4.2 billion acres burned. This year is on track to be even worse.
Thankfully, the Legislature has responded to this crisis with a historic investment in wildfire prevention and response. With $200 million per year in ongoing funding, California’s land managers and firefighters will have the resources to turn the tide against our state’s deadly wildfires.
Until recently, this funding was in doubt. The Governor’s budget proposal contained little for wildfires, and the Legislature cancelled a hearing to review strategies for wildfire prevention.
In response to these concerning developments, I joined members of my caucus to advocate for solutions that will protect property, animals and the environment, and most importantly, save lives. Our proposals would secure badly-needed funding and encourage better vegetation management.
Specifically, we asked for three things:
- $500 million for Fire Prevention and Forest Health Grants,
- An exemption from red tape that slows down these projects, and
- $200 million per year for the next five years for wildfire prevention and mitigation.
Through our advocacy, the $200 million in ongoing funding was included in the state’s updated budget. Still, there is much work to do.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – especially when it comes to wildfires. For example, California’s 2020 budget included $203 million for fire prevention, but spent $2.3 billion on wildfire response.
While the $200 million per year we secured is a good start, California must continue investing in fire safety and make it easier to reduce fuels that feed these blazes.
As fire season approaches, there is no more critical public safety issue than preventing and suppressing wildfires. I will continue working with colleagues from both parties to ensure we have the resources to prevent wildfire disasters.
Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.