Governor Signs Sen. Dodd’s Controlled Burn Bill
SACRAMENTO – Amid another season of devastating wildfires, Gov. Gavin Newsom today signed legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that will help prevent future loss of life and property by expanding the use of prescribed burning to control combustible fuels.
“Today we take an important step toward protecting our state from the kinds of wildfires that have been so destructive over the past few years,” said Sen. Dodd. “Controlled burning is a valuable tool in addressing the buildup of fuels in our parched forests and wildlands. Its use can save us from ever-worsening conditions caused by drought and climate change. I thank the governor for seeing the value in this new law.”
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, concern over being billed for wildfire suppression costs 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 was supported by a broad coalition including ranchers, conservationists and tribal governments. It passed the Assembly and Senate with overwhelming, bipartisan support before being signed by the governor. The bill builds on legislation Sen. Dodd advocated to create a $20 million insurance pilot program to encourage prescribed burning.
“The passage of SB332 is monumental,” said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, fire advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension and director of Northern California Prescribed Fire Council. “Those of us who work on prescribed fire have felt the need for these changes for years, but we never thought we’d see them happen. We are so thankful to Sen. Dodd for his vision and leadership, which will effect real, positive change around prescribed burning and fire resiliency in California.”
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 www.senate.ca.gov/dodd.