California Governor Gavin Newsom made a deal with lawmakers on Thursday to release $ 536 million to protect wildfires as the state faces more drought and higher fire risk experts warn of a potential disaster like last year's historic infernos.
The fund would provide improved protection in all parts of California and would pay for forest care, a protected area, home resilience and crop management.
"With California facing another very dry year, it is important that we start over to reduce our risk of fire," Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Speaker Anthony Rendon said in a joint statement.
In a statement sent to the tweet, Atkins added that each dollar spent to prevent "save $ 6- $ 7 from corruption."
"But this is about money," he said in a tweet. "It's about lives, homes, and livelihoods."
Last month, Newssom approved more than $ 80 million in emergency funding to hire an additional 1,400 firefighters and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, to strengthen oil management and firefighting efforts. Newsom's 2021 budget raised $ 1 billion to fund wildfires and forest management, according to the attorney general's office.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, California Environment Secretary Wade Crowfoot applauded the government's efforts to combat the fire but said more needed to be done as climate change continued to threaten the environment.
Firefighters from Cal Fire retreated to prevent the fire from spreading to a Blue Ridge Fire residence in Chino, California, on October 27, 2020. Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images file
"Science is clear: Warm temperatures in winter and summer temperatures create a dangerous and challenging situation for wildfires," he said. "Obviously there is a lot that needs to be done to create opportunities for wildfires."
Crowfoot added that he expects this summer to be "the same" as last year.
“We can’t make a sugarcoat that this summer is going to be a challenge,” he said. "We are coming out of our second consecutive dry winter."
Wildfire prevention measures come after a catastrophic fire last year that burned more than 4 million acres [4 million ha] nationwide, demolished hundreds of structures and covered the entire country with heavy, thick smoke that lasted for several weeks.
On Thursday, the National Weather Service warned that 92 percent of California was facing drought conditions. Severe drought conditions are particularly severe in Southern California, which receives below average rainfall during the winter months.
According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, the warmer and drier climate has led to premature melting of ice and acceleration across the West. More than 99 percent of the state is in an unusually dry or drought-prone phase, raising concerns about whether it is possible when temperatures rise by three digits as they did last year.
Last month, California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla and 21 members of Congress sent a letter to the Department of Agriculture and Central Affairs requesting that they change their agencies to work throughout the year as firefighters as the fire season becomes a year of fire.
The letter asks the two departments to appoint other firefighters from time to time as permanent residents. Currently, many wild firefighters work only during the fire season, historically running for about six months out of the year. Most of those firefighters are classified as forest professionals who do not receive the same pay and benefits as local and local firefighters.
"As California and the West continue to fight the times of history of devastating wildfires, it has become clear that we are entering a 'normal' period when fierce wildfires are wreaking havoc in almost a year of fires," officials said. book.