California’s wildfire reality needs this new plan

A wildfire rages in Buck Meadows, in the Yosemite National ParkWildfires in California, which for the first time in living memory know no season — the state is dry at all times of the year — are vastly different from the old notion of “forest” fires in mostly unpopulated places.

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That’s why a fresh initiative out of Sacramento in Gov. Jerry Brown’s May revision of his budget forecast is right to include $96 million in new annual spending, from various funding sources, to support up-to-date firefighting that acknowledges new climate and exurban-growth realities. That modest but important spending will come in addition to $160 million proposed in January to use money from the environmental cap-and-trade funds on timberland-management improvements and fire protection in state and national forests.

Forest fires of what can now be thought of as the old-fashioned, Smokey Bear variety, do indeed still occur, often in remote wilderness areas of California’s many mountain ranges, often sparked by old-fashioned causes such as lightning. And they still need to be fought, or at least monitored. In fact, because of increased dryness and ever-vaster fires throughout the nation’s West, almost the entire budget of the United States Forest Service in recent years has been devoted to fighting wildfires.

But think back to the most recent devastating fires of several months back in California — they were not exactly in the Sierra Nevada.

October’s wine country wildfires in the end became the most financially harmful in our state’s history, with insurance claims of almost $10 billion. The state Insurance Department says that means the several related fires centered in Sonoma and Napa counties went past those in the suburban Oakland Hills fire of 1991 to become the most expensive every in California. …

Click here to read the full editorial from the Orange County Register


  1. CaliExpat says

    Most of the wildfires are being caused by homeless and illegal
    Immigrant campfires…
    They were talking about that on John & Ken’s radio show on KFI the other day…

  2. For 200 years the Spanish grazed their flocks on the hillsides in early Spring and Summer. The dry brush that was fuel for these recent fires was fodder for the cows and sheep instead. That all changed 40 years ago when Governor Brown ver. 1.0 decided that the hillsides were better off in their natural state and not used as pastures, over the objections of every land use expert in the western states. We now have his destructive legacy that has cost the state and insurance companies billions of dollars. It is high time to acknowledge the natural hillsides policy as a serious mistake and return to the more responsible and better managed policy that has served us well for 200 years or even longer if the husbandry of the native Americans is included in the reckoning.

  3. tomsquawk says

    “timberland-management improvements and fire protection in state and national forests” Good idea. Now, let’s extend that to private property that is not properly managed. I live on protected open space but you should see what grows contiguous to it; alot of fuel.

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