Sen. Dodd: Controlled Burn Expansion Bill Clears Committee

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

SACRAMENTO – Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would help protect California from devastating wildfires through the expanded use of prescribed burning cleared the Senate Judiciary committee today.

“We know controlled burning is one of the best ways to reduce combustible fuels in our tinder-dry forests,” Sen. Dodd said. “It was used by native Californians for millennia and is one of the preferred methods of wildfire prevention today. My bill will expand our use of this proven tool and make our state safer as we face ever-worsening conditions caused by drought and climate change.”

Prescribed burning is the controlled application of fire to the land to reduce wildfire hazards, clear downed trees, control plant diseases and improve wildlife habitats. It is conducted by trained professionals – or burn bosses -- and is one of the most cost-effective tools to manage wildfire. Rarely have prescribed burns caused unintended damage.

However, the inability to get insurance over liability concerns has prevented more widespread use, causing a buildup in our forests of brush and unhealthy trees. Senate Bill 332 would encourage more controlled burns by raising the legal standard for seeking state suppression costs, requiring a showing of gross negligence rather than simple negligence.

The bill is supported by a broad coalition including ranchers, conservationists and tribal governments. It passed the Senate Judiciary committee on a 10 to 0 vote with one member absent.

“The time is really right for this,” Lenya Quinn-Davidson, fire advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension and director of Northern California Prescribed Fire Council, testified before the committee. “Liability is one of our biggest barriers. Prescribed fires have innumerable public benefits. I thank Sen. Dodd for his leadership on this.”


Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Yolo, Sonoma, Solano, Sacramento and Contra Costa counties. More information on Senator Bill Dodd can be found at