Washington, DC – Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) sent a letter to the Trump Administration urging the Department of Agriculture and U.S. Forest Service to include the East Bay of San Francisco, and communities like it, when undertaking wildfire planning and prevention in California.
“At a time when the President is hostile to the State of California and threatened to pull federal emergency funding meant for wildfire victims, we need a concrete understanding of what specific steps the Trump Administration is taking to ensure the Bay Area is included in wildfire planning efforts,” said Congressman DeSaulnier.
Last year, Congress gave new authority to federal agencies to address wildfire risks and better manage forests (Division O, Title II of P.L. 115-141). While many of these pertain to federal forest lands, agencies are also directed to undertake wildfire hazard severity mapping for communities for areas that are “adjacent to National Forest System lands” or “affected by wildland fire, as determined by the Secretary.” Depending on how agencies interpret these guidelines, it could leave areas like parts of Contra Costa County – which are classified as having medium to high risk of wildfires – un-helped.
“Part of what is so special about the Bay Area is that it is home to both 7 million people and large areas of natural open spaces. With wildfires now a threat statewide and year-round, and with climate change adding to their impacts, we cannot lose sight of the need to do prevention and risk mitigation on lands close to our population centers, including in many areas of Contra Costa County,” DeSaulnier concluded.
“The East Bay Regional Park District’s professional firefighters and operational staff are on-guard as dramatic weather-related events have extended the threat of wildfire. Rep. DeSaulnier should be applauded for his tireless efforts to address the wildfire risk in our suburban and urban communities,” said East Bay Regional Park District General Manager Robert Doyle.
“We are grateful for the important work of the U.S. Forest Service wildfire teams working with state and local firefighters to halt the wildfires in California this past year. As proactive, preventative work is critical to these ongoing efforts focused on wildfires, it will be important that the U.S. Forest Service, state and local wildfire teams also work together to look at the communities of Contra Costa County and the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, even though this area does not contain lands under the National Forest System, because this area is densely populated and next to large open space areas rich in conservation values,” said Ted Clement, Executive Director of Save Mount Diablo.
A copy of DeSaulnier’s letter can be found here.