Assemblymember Marie Waldron — California’s 2020 wildfire season set back the state’s fight against climate change, putting more carbon dioxide into the air than millions of passenger vehicles driving over the course of a year. Almost 4.2 million acres burned from 9600 fires, killing 31 people, and emitting an estimated 112 million metric tons of carbon dioxide according to a California Air Resources Board report released Dec. 31st. We have to fight this growing threat, which is why my colleagues and I have introduced legislation that takes a comprehensive approach to preventing and fighting wildfires.
Reducing fuel and increasing defensible space is critical to fire fighting and prevention. Among other provisions, AB 297 (Gallagher) will create a continuous appropriation from the greenhouse gas fund of $500 million for fire reduction projects. AB 380 (Seyarto) will help CalFIRE identify communities at the greatest risk of wildfire and provide regulatory relief so priority fuel reduction projects can be completed in those areas. AB 926 (Mathis) will make roadside vegetation management projects eligible for local assistance grants, and my bill, AB 497, will appropriate money from the General Fund for grants to local fire districts and agencies in high fire risk areas to purchase brush management equipment for use along backcountry roadways. Another bill, AB 648 (Fong) will appropriate $200 million from existing Cap and Trade revenues for fire prevention and forest management programs.
Other bills will encourage better fuel management on privately held lands. AB 910 and 912 (Bigelow) will encourage land owners to better maintain their lands by removing bureaucratic hurdles that stand in the way of fuel reduction, while expanding the acreage permitted under existing forest management regulations to 15,000 acres. AB 575 (Fong) will also encourage brush removal by limiting civil liabilities for supervised prescribed burns unless gross negligence is involved.
These are just a few of the fire-prevention bills introduced this session. Our air quality, economy and quality of life are suffering. A comprehensive, multi-pronged approach is necessary, and this package of bills is an important step in that direction.
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.
Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron, AD 75, 350 W 5th Avenue #110, Escondido, CA 92025 Phone: 760-480-7570