SACRAMENTO – “This is just the beginning.”
That's how Senator Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles), the Chairman of the Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee and a member of the Senate Wildfire Working Group reacted to the Legislature’s passage of and the Governor’s signature on a $536 million Early Action Wildfire Budget.
The $536 million package for the first time, focuses attention on Southern California specific wildfire prevention efforts, including $12 million for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to manage the risks from public lands on neighboring communities. Stern’s motion in the Senate Budget Subcommittee for this funding survived final negotiations and earned Governor Newsom’s signature.
“We finally succeeded in making the case to the Governor and the rest of California that our fire problems in this region are unique—that we must focus on home and community hardening, public land management, and restoring the power of native ecologies in our chaparral by removing invasive grasses. While prescribed fire and dead tree clearance may work in the northern redwood forests, that’s not going to prevent the next Woolsey Fire.”
Stern’s office said they would be conducting outreach in the weeks ahead with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and other state and local agencies that’ll be administering the funding, looking for shovel-ready proposals around community hardening, ecologically restorative vegetation management, volunteer training, and battery backup power.
Stern also has three major wildfire resilience bills still pending in the Senate. SB55 would limit risky new developments in high fire risk zones. SB63 would establish a Wildfire Resilience Corps to help train community based fire prevention work. SB45 is a $5.6 billion climate resilience bond that would double down on wildfire investments secured this week, in addition to other climate and infrastructure investments.