Last week (5/4), the California Senate discussed allocating $5 billion over 5 years to fund Cal Fire to log, clear, herbicide, or burn 500,000 acres of habitat per year throughout California.
Under the approved Vegetation Treatment Program, the public will not be able to comment or object to any habitat clearance projects Cal Fire decides to implement.Cal Fire will have free rein and billions of dollars to target every forest and native shrubland in the state.
There are three things you can do to help bring Cal Fire back under control.
1. Become informed. Please visit our website to explore the issue and the recommendations we have made to develop a rational fire risk reduction policy without destroying the natural environment.
2. Contact your state representatives (instructions below).
3. Support our lawsuit. Our best hope to stop Cal Fire from locking out the public and preventing objective oversight is our ongoing lawsuit. Please make a donation to help with our legal costs. We will take this to the State Supreme Court if necessary, so the costs will be significant.
How and What to Write to Your State Representatives
Governor Newsom and the legislature are determined to clear as much habitat as possible with the false premise that such action will prevent wildfires. The science doesn’t support this approach, but facts cannot effectively counter massive lobbying by timber and clearance corporations and the Cal Fire bureaucracy, arguably the most powerful government entity in the state.
At this point, we doubt we can stop the money flow, but we might be able to put some restrictions on what they do with it. In particular, we can try to stop them from causing further damage to or eliminating native chaparral. There is a chance to add some language to SB 456 (Laird) and/or SB 63 (Stern) that will provide the needed protection.
Getting this language into legislation and passed will take heavy and successful lobbying on behalf of citizens and major environmental groups. Otherwise, much of what remains of California’s intact, native shrublands will be threatened with elimination, especially chaparral.
Here’s how to find your state senator and assembly member and send an email urging the incorporation of the above language into:
Find your state representative here.
Suggested email language:
I value California’s most characteristic habitat, the chaparral. These native shrublands support much of California’s priceless biodiversity, sequester massive amounts of carbon, and provide irreplaceable recreation and health benefits to our communities. I also value effective efforts to help reduce fire risk to our homes and families by using science-based strategies that focus directly in and around communities to make them fire resilient. Clearing vast areas of native shrublands through burning, clearing, and herbicide use is not the answer and will only make matters worse by spreading flammable weeds and taking funds away from community-focused fire safe programs.
Therefore, I urge you to support including the following language in SB 456 and/or SB 63:
“Consistent with California’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan’s differentiation of chaparral and shrublands from conifer forests in terms of appropriate management approaches and risk of type conversion, treatments in chaparral and shrublands shall consist solely of removal of flammable non-native, invasive species and restoration of native species in damaged or type-converted vegetation, properly thinned defensible space of 100-ft around threatened structuresand/or communities, strategic fuel breaks within 1,000 feet of communities at risk, ignition control along roadways, and maintenance of fire roads that provide firefighting access to communities. To protect biodiversity, intact, old-growth chaparral (older than 50-years-old) shall be avoided to the greatest extent possible.”
Give them 5 days. If you don’t hear back from them, send you message again and ask that they respond to your concerns.
Thank you for your help.
For additional information:
Why prescribed burns are a disaster for chaparral.
Why large “fuel” treatments can increase fire risk and destroy habitat unnecessarily.
To see what is at stake and what Cal Fire is planning to do to the beautiful chaparral landscape above Santa Barbara shown in the photo below, please see our next blog post, Cal Fire is Out of Control Part II.