North Coast State Senator Mike McGuire held a virtual town hall meeting at noon Monday to discuss the wildfire prevention measures the state is taking.
âLet’s be honest,â McGuire said at the public meeting. âNorthern California, particularly the North Coast and the North Bay, has experienced some of the most devastating impacts of wildfires compared to any other region in the United States of America. And what we do know is that the era of mega fires is here. Thousands of homes and buildings in the past six years, since 2015, more than 2.5 million acres have burned between the Oregon border and the Golden Gate Bridge. “
One of the central points of the discussion between McGuire and Mary Small of the California Coastal Conservancy concerns projects that deal with vegetation management. He noted that in April, the Legislature approved $ 536 million to increase fire response and that projects scheduled to begin in June and July will improve forest fire prevention. And state lawmakers aim to authorize an additional $ 500 million by the end of June.
âVegetation management makes our neighborhoods or cities safer from fires,â McGuire said. âIt could mean spending money to remove dead and dying trees. The state estimates that there are 120 million dead or dying trees. â¦ It has been incredibly frightening over the past few years and that is why we are moving this record $ 1 billion to help make communities safer from fires.
Small said the Coastal Conservancy received $ 12 million in early action funding.
âWe’ve received 80 proposals asking for $ 40 million in funding, so there’s a lot of work to be done,â Small said. “We will have a special board meeting on June 7 and we plan to recommend approximately 33 projects to our board, finding projects from Trinity County to San Diego.”
McGuire also said other firefighters will be working with Cal Fire.
âWe are hiring an additional 1,200 seasonal firefighters from Cal Fire just for this fire season,â he says. “This is going to literally mean dozens of additional positions on top of what we had in 2020 on the North Coast … dozens of additional positions between Humboldt, Del Norte, Lake, Mendocino, as well as Sonoma County.”
McGuire added that state parks will also receive funding to fight wildfires.
âAs we have seen in the past, if a fire enters the park, what will it do for neighborhoods and communities,â he said. “So there will be tens of millions of dollars going to state parks for forest fire prevention and vegetation management projects.”
McGuire also highlighted some of the laws he has worked on in recent years, including setting up backup power for cell towers and a more coordinated notification system to alert residents of wildfires.