California has pledged to allocate around $500 million this fiscal year to forest management as a result of devastating wildfire seasons.
Groups of 12-person crews, equipped with chainsaws and axes, are set to thin the state’s 33 million acres of forests by eliminating pines, redwoods, and firs on the forest floors, in hopes that it will minimize the chances of wildfires to ravage thousands of acres, as reported by Bloomberg. According to the Hill, in April Gov. Gavin Newsome, D-Calif., disclosed a deal with state lawmakers to allocate $536 million to prepare for the upcoming wildfire season and “increase efforts to thin forests, build fuel breaks around vulnerable communities and invest in infrastructure hardening to protect structures.”
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In March, Newsom authorized over $80 million in emergency funds to employ 1,4000 firefighters with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, while arranging $1 billion to support wildfire and forest management in his 2021 budget. Originally reported by Cal Fire, which tracks wildfires in the state of California, the state experienced one of the worst wildfire seasons in 2020. The death toll due to wildfires rose to 31 fatalities, 37 non-fatal injuries were reported and roughly 10,000 fires burned through more than 4.2 million acres, as noted by The Hill.
California’s tactic to combat and minimize the damage of wildfires is similar to what then-president Donald Trump advised The Golden State to do back in 2018, which provoked criticism and backlash. In a rally last year in Pennsylvania, Trump further commented on the wildfires stating, “’They’re starting again in California. I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests — there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up (in flames),” as mentioned by The Daily Mail. The Daily Mail further reports state officials claiming that thinning California’s forests will certainly be a long-term task, but Newsom is optimistic that forests will be thinned out at a rate of one million acres annually by 2025.