SACRAMENTO – As California braces for another challenging wildfire season, legislation advanced today from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would enhance wildfire prevention through implementation of a $20 million prescribed fire claims fund.
“Prescribed fire has proven to be a cost-effective way to minimize the intensity and scope of wildfires,” said Dodd said. “That’s why I wrote the law last year to encourage greater use of prescribed fires. My new proposal would enhance our use of this time-tested technique by establishing guidelines for a fund to cover some costs for prescribed fire professionals. Its passage today is a step toward achieving California’s goal of treating 500,000 acres annually to manage our forests.”
Prescribed fire, also known as controlled burning, has been used for centuries to clear tinder-dry 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 new bill, Senate Bill 926, would create standards for a fund to help cover costs. It is a follow-up to Senate Bill 332, 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 Natural Resources committee with overwhelming after previously being approved by the full Senate.
“Science shows that prescribed fire is critical to curbing catastrophic megafires in California,” said Jay Ziegler, director of policy and external affairs at The Nature Conservancy. “In the big picture, if we are going to restore our forests at a pace and scale, we need to reduce barriers to burning, our most effective long-term landscape fire management tool. SB 926 will do that. We thank Sen. Dodd for his leadership on SB 926 to establish a prescribed fire claims fund.”
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.