Sen. Dodd: Pair of Wildfire Safety Bills Approved in Committee
SACRAMENTO – With what promises to be another challenging California wildfire season ahead, Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, today announced the committee passage of two bills – one that would allow Native American tribes to play a larger role in conducting controlled burns, a proven wildfire prevention method, and another that would help develop statewide wildfire mitigation plans, limiting the destructiveness of future infernos.
“We all know the seriousness of the wildfire threat in California,” Sen. Dodd said. “We must do everything in our power to prevent and prepare for them. That includes having the best tools in our toolbox to attack the problem. These proposals will help our communities become safer and more resilient. I thank committee members for their support. ”
Amid a rise in wildfires over the past decade, California has set a goal of thinning a million acres of state and federal forestland each year. Tribal governments, which have jurisdiction over hundreds of thousands of wooded acres, traditionally employ trained burn bosses to carry out their controlled burns. However, regulatory hurdles add costs and prevent tribes from completing the work as quickly as possible.
Under Sen. Dodd’s proposal, Senate Bill 310, the process for these tribal governments would be streamlined. Instead of seeking separate approval from the state for each individual burn, the Secretary of Natural Resources would be authorized to reach agreements with California Native American tribes to waive state permitting and regulatory requirements related to cultural burning within the tribe’s ancestral territories.
“Native Americans have been conducting controlled burns with great success for thousands of years,” Sen. Dodd said. “My bill will help tribes participate in this time-tested form of wildfire prevention on tribal lands. It is an important piece of the puzzle for keep California safe.”
A second bill, SB 436, would create the Wildfire Mitigation Planning Act. Among other things, the bill requires the state Office of Emergency Services to develop a wildfire risk mitigation planning framework for state agencies, electric utilities and other organizations to collaboratively plan and implement wildfire risk mitigation actions. It would also forecast future wildfire risk and help target improvements to maximize the effectiveness.
Both bills passed committee votes unanimously this week.
“With the cycle of heavy rains and prolonged drought, we cannot take our eyes off the risks that major wildfires present to communities across the state,” Sen. Dodd said. “Wildfires don’t respect county lines or utility service areas, so we need a coordinated and comprehensive approach to keeping California safe.”
Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Yolo, Sonoma, Contra Costa, and Sacramento counties. You can learn more about the district and Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.