The following is a press release issued by the Office of California State Senator Bill Dodd:
As wildfire season continued to unfold today with a string of blazes across California, the state Assembly approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would enhance wildfire prevention through implementation of a $20 million prescribed fire claims fund.
“Clearing our forests of tinder-dry brush and weeds has proven to be a cost-effective way to minimize the intensity and scope of wildfires,” said Dodd said. “It’s why I wrote the law last year to encourage more prescribed fires. Now we can enhance our use of this time-tested technique by establishing guidelines for a fund to cover some costs borne by prescribed fire professionals. The Assembly’s approval today takes us a step closer to achieving our goal.”
Prescribed fire, also known as controlled burning, has been used for centuries to clear dead trees and brush that are known to fuel runaway wildfires. Rarely do prescribed fires escape their bounds and cause damage to neighboring properties. Yet affordable insurance is difficult to secure, preventing property owners from treating their land. Sen. Dodd’s bill, Senate Bill 926, would create standards for a fund to help cover costs. It is a follow-up to Senate Bill 332, also written by Sen. Dodd and signed into law last year, which protects landowners and prescribed fire managers from having to pay fire suppression expenses unless they have acted with gross negligence.
SB 926 is sponsored by The Nature Conservancy. It passed the Assembly today and heads next to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his signature following a concurrence vote in the Senate.
“If we are going to restore our forests at a pace and scale, we need to reduce barriers to prescribed burning — our most effective long-term landscape fire management tool,” said Jay Ziegler, director of policy and external affairs at The Nature Conservancy. “Science shows prescribed fire is critical to curbing catastrophic megafires in California. SB 926 will help us do more of it. We appreciate Sen. Dodd’s leadership on establishing a prescribed fire claims fund.”