California’s Gavin Newsom bungles wildfire prevention effort
As the recall effort against California Gavin Newsom inches closer to reality, a new report on Newsom’s bungling of wildfire prevention and control efforts may add one more reason for Golden State voters to send him packing:
…as California approaches what could be the worst wildfire season on record, it does so with little evidence of the year-round attention Newsom promised.
An investigation from CapRadio and NPR’s California Newsroom found the governor has misrepresented his accomplishments and even disinvested in wildfire prevention. The investigation found Newsom overstated, by an astounding 690%, the number of acres treated with fuel breaks and prescribed burns in the very forestry projects he said needed to be prioritized to protect the state’s most vulnerable communities. Newsom has claimed that 35 “priority projects” carried out as a result of his executive order resulted in fire prevention work on 90,000 acres. But the state’s own data show the actual number is 11,399.
Overall, California’s response has faltered under Newsom. After an initial jump during his first year in office, data obtained by CapRadio and NPR’s California Newsroom show Cal Fire’s fuel reduction output dropped by half in 2020, to levels below Gov. Jerry Brown’s final year in office. At the same time, Newsom slashed roughly $150 million from Cal Fire’s wildfire prevention budget.
Facing the prospect of a state in flames this summer, and a recall election in the fall, Newsom is pouring on the cash to make up for lost time and effort:
With the state enjoying an unexpected surplus, Newsom proposed $1.2 billion in “wildfire resiliency” funding in the upcoming budget. Experts say the increase in prevention spending could help the state get closer to a less-dangerous wildfire season over time. But they also expressed concern over whether the state will sustain that commitment for years to come. “We are in a deep hole,” Wara said, “and it is going to take us many years of sustained effort to get out.”
You can read the entire investigative piece here.