April 12, 2021 - The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) reports last Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom and California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot announced the relaunch of the Governor’s Forest Management Task Force, which will feature a new collaborative leadership structure utilizing experts at all levels of government, including RCRC Chair Supervisor Stacy Corless, Mono County. The Task Force was initially formed in 2018 as a follow-up to the Tree Mortality Task Force to implement the provisions of the state’s Forest Carbon Plan. The relaunch of the Task Force will focus on implementing the California’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan, released in January 2021, in an attempt to make better progress than the state has achieved on the Forest Carbon Plan.
In order to implement the Action Plan, the Governor, in concert with Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, also announced a $536 million funding plan for wildfire prevention, forest management and restoration, home hardening and community fire mitigation efforts, and woody biomass utilization that will be allocated in the current budget year before the start of the 2021 wildfire season. The funds include $125 million in Greenhous Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) dollars to fulfill the Legislature’s second year of commitments under Senate Bill 901 (Dodd, 2018), which promised five consecutive years of $200 million annual appropriations from the GGRF for forest health programs. Funding in the plan includes:
- $155 million to CAL FIRE for state forest health programs;
- $123 million to CAL FIRE for local community fire prevention grants;
- $25 million to CAL FIRE and CalOES for programs to assist homeowners with fire prevention retrofits (home hardening);
- $2 million to CAL FIRE to fortify defensible space inspection activities;
- $20 million to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to implement projects in high fire risk areas;
- $16 million for the Climate Catalyst Fund to help stimulate industries with low-interest finance for low carbon projects and programs such as woody biomass utilization or methane capture technologies;
- $3 million to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to develop strategies to encourage the use and development of new wood products; and,
- $6 million to CAL FIRE and the Workforce Development Board to help develop the state’s forest health and wildfire prevention workforce.
According to Governor Newsom, the funding proposal, which is in print in Senate Bill 85 and Assembly Bill 79, could be approved by the Legislature as early as Monday, April 12 and signed by the Governor the following day. The official announcement on the early action wildfire funding can be found on Governor Gavin Newsom’s website here.