Governor’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force Meets Amid Events for Wildfire Preparedness Week
SANTA ROSA – California announced $98.4 million in forest health grants today at the first in-person meeting of Governor Newsom’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force. The announcement came as the state released a new report tracking investments in wildfire resilience supported by the $1.5 billion package approved by the Governor and the Legislature in 2021.
The 2021 package – including $536 million in “early action” funding – allowed California to accelerate forest health and fire prevention projects throughout the state. In less than a year, the state allocated funding to launch more than 553 wildfire resilience projects and activities ranging from fuels breaks to home-hardening to reforestation.
“California, along with states throughout the West, is on the frontlines of extreme climate impacts that are driving more destructive wildfires – and our state is taking aggressive action to protect communities and make our forests more resilient,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “We’re investing in community-based projects that will protect lives and property, and restore forest health across the state. Together with local, state, tribal and federal partners, we’ll continue to scale up our work to tackle this challenge head-on.”
“We’ve greatly expanded wildfire resilience activities to combat the scale and speed of the wildfire crisis,” said California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot, who co-chairs the Task Force with U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. “We’re grateful for the leadership of Governor Newsom and the Legislature to provide immediate help to communities seeking to improve their safety and the health of their forests.”
In conjunction with the Task Force meeting and events throughout the state for Wildfire Preparedness Week, CAL FIRE announced $98.4 million in grants for landscape-scale, regionally based land management projects to restore the health and resilience to existing and recently burned forests throughout California while enhancing long-term carbon storage.
CAL FIRE’s Forest Health Program awarded 22 grants to local and regional partners implementing projects on state, local, tribal, federal, and private lands spanning over 55,000 acres and 14 counties. Fuels reduction and prescribed fire treatments funded under these grants are aimed at reducing excess vegetation and returning forest and oak woodlands to a more fire-, drought-, and pest-resilient condition.
Several projects include work within landscapes severely burned in recent wildfires. Three projects located in Plumas and Lassen counties will restore and reforest approximately 24,000 acres burned in the 2021 Dixie Fire; another project targets 1,990 acres located in the headwaters of the Wild and Scenic North Fork Eel River that burned in the 2020 August Complex; and finally, 1,690 acres burned in the 2020 North Complex Fire in Butte County will be reforested.
“Timely and proactive restoration and reforestation of these burned acres will accelerate their recovery and help ensure that our forests return and are not replaced by more fire-prone shrubs,” said Deputy Director for Resource Management, Matthew Reischman. “Reforestation will result in planting approximately 2.5 million trees over the next four years.”
Governor Newsom relaunched the Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force in April 2021 to deliver on the key commitments in the Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan (Action Plan), which was issued in January 2021 to provide a comprehensive framework for the state’s forest health and fire prevention programs. The Action Plan is a broadly supported strategy to reduce wildfire risk for vulnerable communities, improve the health of forests and wildlands, and accelerate action to combat climate change.
The newly expanded Task Force also includes CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld, Governor’s Office of Planning and Research Director Sam Assefa, CAL FIRE Chief Joe Tyler, California State Association of Counties President James Gore, Rural Counties Representatives of California (RCRC) Chair Stacy Corless, Richard Barhydt of Pacific Southwest Research Station and Don Hankins of the Indigenous Stewardship Network.