Senator Wieckowski's statement on wildfire, emergency response and preparedness

January 31, 2019

SACRAMENTO – State Senator Bob Wieckowski, the chairman of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation, made the following statement following today’s informational hearing on Wildfire and Emergency Response and Preparedness.

“California wildfires have become more catastrophic as a result of climate change, more people living in combustible areas and more fuel for the fires to burn,” Wieckowski said. “The state has ramped up resources and funding because as our climate is changing, our policies must change too. Although California has more than 30 million acres of forests, and the state only owns 3 percent of those, we have no choice but to responsibly combat these wildfire emergencies.

“The state has increased spending on forest health and fire prevention activities five-fold since the 2014-2015 budget, invested in additional equipment, including new helicopters, to fight the fires, and raised funding for local fire prevention grants.  We are also providing millions in funding for prescribed fires and fuel reduction, local fire response and urban forestry.

“The Governor’s budget includes proposals for additional resources, such as more air tankers, improved communication alerts and better use of technology. In the months ahead, as we take a more detailed review, I look forward to exploring these and other issues, including consideration of eliminating the suspension of the State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fee, increased prevention efforts, ensuring the health and safety of firefighters, and debris removal.”