Governor’s Wildfire Proposal Clears Path for Jackson Bill

May 10, 2018

SACRAMENTO –Following the release of the Governor’s Executive Order today, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), who represents the area devastated by the Thomas Fire, released the following statement:

“I am pleased that the Governor and I share a vision that if we hope to reduce the risk of wildfires in the age of climate change, we must radically shift our forest management practices. My Senate Bill 1260 clears the path for greater and more frequent wildfire fuel reduction and prescribed burns, which will help protect communities throughout the state from catastrophic wildfires,” said Senator Jackson.

Senate Bill 1260, which Jackson introduced earlier this year in response to the devastating wildfires in 2017, clears the path for responsible wildfire fuel reduction by authorizing federal, state and private landowners to implement prescribed burning on federally and privately owned property in the state. Additionally, the bill creates training standards for personnel authorized to conduct prescribed burns and clarifies liability for landowners operating under a CAL FIRE permit.

The bill also allows the state’s fire agency to provide input during subdivision planning in fire hazard regions, and calls on the California Air Resources Board to develop an air quality and smoke monitoring program for prescribed burns.

2017 was the deadliest and most destructive year for wildfires on record in California. In addition to loss of life and property, California spent nearly $1.8 billion fighting the major 2017 wildfires. While wildfires are a fact of life in California, higher temperatures and drier conditions linked to climate change have contributed to more frequent and severe fires throughout the state.

In addition, as a result of climate change and extended drought conditions, over 129 million trees have died in California forests since 2010. These dead trees increase the risk of catastrophic wildfires by serving as fuel and allowing fires to spread rapidly.

Many states and the federal government have begun taking measures to increase the use of controlled burning, also known as prescribed burning, as a way to reduce the vegetation buildup that can act as a fuel for wildfires. Prescribed burns help reduce the risk and severity of wildfires and lessen the loss of life and property.

Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management, Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.