On his first full day in office, Governor Gavin Newsom held a press conference in Placer County to announce a comprehensive plan to address California’s wildfire and emergency response deficiencies in light of 2018’s devastating wildfire season.
Governor Newsom, accompanied by California Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci, California Highway Patrol Commissioner Warren Stanley, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) Director Thom Porter, and local officials, including RCRC Board of Directors Member and Placer County Supervisor Jim Holmes, announced plans for a historic investment in wildfire prevention, emergency preparedness, and forest health that would include upgrades in state communication and fire detection technologies, public education and outreach on disaster preparedness, and a full funding of the $200 million investment in forest health and resilience promised in Senate Bill 901 (Dodd) last year.
The Governor also issued two Executive Orders, one ordering CAL FIRE to prepare a report exploring all waivers and exemptions that would be feasible and necessary for the Governor to execute in order to maximize the state’s ability to prevent wildfires, and the other to enable the state to more readily procure emergency management technology and equipment. Released on Thursday, the Governor’s 2019-20 proposed State Budget backed the Governor’s promises from the press event, allocating more than $400 million to wildfire prevention, forest health, and emergency response programs in 2019-20.
Governor Newsom also permanently appointed Chief Thom Porter as Director of CAL FIRE during the press event on Tuesday. Chief Porter has been serving as Acting Director since former Director Ken Pimlott’s retirement on December 14, 2018. Chief Porter is a long-time CAL FIRE employee, having been involved with the Forest Health Task Force and Tree Mortality Task Force, and is a Registered Professional Forester.