"Last year, wildfires burned 4.25 million acres of
"Western wildfires are becoming more frequent, more destructive and more deadly. This is happening because higher temperatures caused by climate change are leading to increased drought, more insect and disease damage and changing weather patterns. We must do more to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and prepare for the fires we know are ahead of us," said
"The wildfires ripping across the West are not your grandfather's wildfires. They are burning bigger, hotter and made more dangerous by the climate crisis," said
"As wildfire seasons turn into wildfire years, we must take proactive measures now to protect our communities," said
In addition to
What the Wildfire Emergency Act does
The Wildfire Emergency Act has three primary provisions:
Forest restoration projects
The bill authorizes
These forest restoration projects, designed to reduce the potential for wildfires, include removing dead and dying trees, using controlled burns to reduce fuel for larger fires, clearing out invasive and non-native species and creating habitat better suited for wildlife and native species. The federal cost-share of each project is not to exceed 60 percent, which will require partnerships with state, local, water district and private funding sources. The projects must be consistent with all environmental laws; protect large, older trees; reflect the best science on restoring forests; and take climate change into account when planning actions.
Critical infrastructure and energy flexibility
One successful method of preventing large wildfires is temporarily cutting power during times of very high wind. Unfortunately, the effects are often extremely disruptive. The bill authorizes
The grant program will help retrofit key structures like hospitals and police, fire and utility stations so they can function better without power. Funds can also be used to expand the use of distributed energy systems, including microgrids, which will reduce the area that power shutoffs affect.
The bill also expands the
Research, training and disadvantaged communities
The bill establishes one or more Prescribed Fire Centers to coordinate research and training of foresters and forest managers in western states in the latest methods and innovations in controlled burns, a key strategy in reducing the likelihood of catastrophic fires and improving the health of forests.
A new workforce development program will be authorized to assist in developing a career-training pipeline for forestry and fire management workers and establish a training center to teach foresters and fire managers in the latest methods and innovations in practices to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic fires and improve the health of forests.
Broad support for Wildfire Emergency Act
Groups and agencies supporting the Wildfire Emergency Act include the
Nature Conservancy California Executive Director
Defenders of Wildlife Director of Federal Lands
Wilderness Society California Deputy Director
Rural County Representatives of California Senior Regulatory Affairs Advocate