Funding Slashed for Proposed Wildfire and Forest Resilience Programs

Credit: “The Barb” by RCRC

On Monday, June 28, the State Legislature reduced the original $1 billion allocated to the Wildfire and Forest Resilience Expenditure Package on June 15th in the 2021-22 State Budget to $458 million, a move coming as a surprise to many stakeholders.

Since the details of the allocations are still being negotiated, it is unclear which programs will receive funding other than $146 million earmarked for fire prevention crews at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) and the California Conservation Corps (CCC) and roughly $75 million in Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Fund (GGRF) dollars for prescribed fire and other programs at CAL FIRE.

The Legislature’s original $1 billion plan included funding for programs such as the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program at the Department of Conservation and the Watershed Improvement Program at the
Sierra Nevada Conservancy, along with local grant funds for community fire prevention projects. The
Legislature proposed $500 million in forest health funds for the 2022-23 State Budget; however, those funds cannot be allocated for future budget years on a one-time basis making the future of the proposal subject to next
year’s State Budget process.

The Legislature and Administration have received considerable backlash for the cut, and the Administration
has since proposed making the remaining $500 million available for wildfire prevention projects on an “as
needed” basis. The proposal also would extend the $200 million annual wildfire expenditure from the GGRF
pursuant to Senate Bill 901 (Dodd, 2018) through 2028.

(Editor’s Note: Apparently
the powers that be discovered
there weren’t enough “shovel
ready” projects available to
spend the original amount of
money proposed to prevent
rather than fight against
wildfires.)

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