Last Friday, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 901 (Dodd), a comprehensive forest health bill aimed at reducing future wildfire risk and improving the condition of California’s forests and wildlands. The contents of the bill originated in the Wildfire Preparedness and Response Conference Committee (Committee), a special committee convened to examine the practices and equipment of investor-owned utilities (IOUs) related to high-severity wildfires, and also to assess the ability of the IOUs to absorb their liability costs when found negligent in a destructive wildfire event. At the urging of RCRC and other stakeholders, the Committee eventually turned its attention to general forest health issues.
Championed largely by Assembly Members Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) and Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), the final legislation included several components to help manage and restore the state’s forest and wildlands, as well as a $1 billion investment from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund over the next five years for forest health programs.
The Governor also signed a number of additional measures connected to forest health and wildfire prevention, including Senate Bill 1260 (Jackson), a bill to encourage and empower the state to increase use of prescribed burning to promote more resilient forests, as well as Senate Bill 1079 (Monning), which allows for up to 25 percent advanced payment of grant funds from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for forest health projects to various agencies, including local governments. The suite of bills represents a significant step forward for forest health and wildfire prevention policy in California.
The full list of forest health and wildfire legislation signed by the Governor can be accessed here.