My opponent Assemblywoman Monique Limon beats the drum that the root cause of all our wildfire problems is climate change, while the evidence does not bear this out. While it’s true that climate change is extending our fire season, according to the United States Geologic Survey (USGS), there is no correlation between past climates and the amount of area burned in any given year. In fact, in the early 1900s and prior, before California and the United States Forest Service started putting fires out, it is estimated that up to 4 million acres a year burned in California. And while 2020 is considered a severe fire season for the modern era, the total acreage burned this year currently sits at just over half that amount. Last year, only 158,000 acres burned in 2019, and as further reference, 2018 saw 1.67 million acres burned.
The problem instead is a lack of investment in forest and vegetation management, and over-regulation of forestry practices that could help keep our forests resilient to fire. I promise to author BILLS that appropriate an adaptation strategy to provide a more consistent investment in vegetation and forest management and an honest review of regulatory hurdles such as CEQA that could allow our forests to remain sustainable and provide habitat, while remaining fire resilient.