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California governor signs bill to increase wildfire funding

California governor signs bill to increase wildfire funding

16.04.2021 | Zoe Gujral | U. Pittsburgh School of Law, US APRIL 14, 2021 04:55:40 PM | 45

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill allocating $536 million to fight wildfires in California on Tuesday. The funding is $200 million more than he originally sought.

While California’s wildfire season occurs in the summer and fall, dry conditions this past winter have already produced a few wildfires. As such, in addition to handling recent fires, much of the bill focuses on wildfire suppression and allocates funding for projects such as restoring ecological health, creating fuel breaks around vulnerable communities, and other such measures. Last year’s wildfire season impacted over 4 percent of the state, killed 33 people and destroyed 10,500 buildings. 2018 saw the deadliest wildfire on record, in which 85 people died.

Over the course of last year, California spent over $9 billion tackling forest fires. The hope is that by allocating 7 times more money to fire suppression projects, the overall cost to both life and funding will be reduced. Of the $536 million, over three-quarters goes to local governments and organizations. It stands to reason that local governments have a better idea of what measures best suit their communities. The government of California intends to ensure shovel-ready projects can begin as soon as funding is available. Newsom also has a number of wildfire-related executive orders prepared and ready for signature as soon as he needs them.

It is unclear what, if any, funding has been directed at reducing the number of overall wildfires. Human carelessness, not nature, causes the vast majority of wildfires. Last year’s El Dorado Fire was caused by a pyrotechnic display at a gender reveal party. In the end, the fire effected over 8,600 acres.

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