Newsom Declares State Of Emergency Ahead Of Fire Season

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency to speed up forest management ahead of the next wildfire season. Newsom has signed an order allowing fire officials to bypass environmental and other regulations to clear dead trees and vegetation more quickly. It will apply to 35 projects across 90,000 acres. The projects are prioritized for socioeconomic and risk factors, and the project at the very top of the list is called the “Highway 44 Fuel Break”. Officials have not yet specified any of the locations, but they say the Highway 44 project will be 1,124 acres and will affect 3 communities with a combined population of 8,833 people. There are two other Shasta County projects. Listed at number 10 on the priorities list is the “West Redding Fuels Reduction”, which is 3,091 acres and will affect 7 communities with a population of 114,607 people. The project listed at number 12 will presumably be in Happy Valley, as it’s called the “China Gulch Fuel Break”. It’s 530 acres and will affect 8 communities with a population of 88,610 people Newsom says the number of dead trees is increasing the state’s wildfire risk. California experienced two of its deadliest and most destructive wildfire seasons in 2017 and 2018. Kathryn Phillips of the Sierra Club says waiving environmental regulations could have unintended consequences. Newsom is spending $50 million on public outreach around disaster preparedness and response in disadvantaged communities. He’s also making it easier for state government to work with the private sector on innovative wildfire solutions. Republican North State Congressman Doug LaMalfa released a statement applauding the Governor’s decision.

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