From The Toni Times | May 2021 (State Senator Toni Atkins)
Last year’s fire season was the largest in California’s history, burning more than 4 million acres and devastating communities in diverse landscapes throughout the state. With another hot and dry fire season on the horizon, combined with a lack of rainfall and low snowpack, the state’s wildfire preparedness efforts are already underway. In partnership with the Assembly and the Governor, the Senate passed a groundbreaking $536 million wildfire package that enables the state to take urgent action to support wildfire suppression, improve forest health, and build resilience in communities to help protect Californians from catastrophic wildfires across the state. For every dollar we spend on wildfire prevention, our state saves $6 to $7 in damage.
This wildfire package will fund much needed programs and projects throughout the state, including here in the 39th Senate District. San Diego residents will benefit from increased funding for home and structural hardening, grants for small farmers and rural landowners in East County for vegetation management, and fire prevention and management at state parks. Your local cities and the county will have information as soon as it is available for specific fire reduction programs. The package also includes a $12 million grant for the San Diego River Conservancy for on-the-ground wildfire-related investments. The conservancy has several projects that these funds will help implement, including projects to reduce fires, smoke, and protect natural landscapes and property.
The state is pursuing sustainable approaches to thinning California’s vulnerable landscapes, half of which will be funded under this landmark legislation. Furthermore, the state’s iBank will work collaboratively with other state agencies to accelerate the application process for to the Climate Catalyst Fund. The fund will provide loans, loan guarantees and other credit support to encourage private-sector innovations in technology, business models, and infrastructure and supply chains in woody biomass markets.
Here in San Diego County, we are no strangers to the devastating impacts of wildfires. In addition to the loss of homes and property, wildfires pollute our air so severely that even walking down the street can be dangerous for vulnerable populations. The impending challenges of this year’s fire season are daunting but together we can take action in our communities to help limit the spread of fires. Organizations like the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County have numerous resources for folks interested in making their homes and businesses more wildfire resilient, and for updates on local fires. I encourage all my constituents to consider how they can make their home or business more fire safe. Make sure your evacuation plan is current and that each member of your household or staff at work knows how to get to a safe location.