Agencies object to CAL FIRE’s draft vegetation treatment plan

At least two agencies have filed criticisms of a draft Environmental Impact Report developed by California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The plan for the California Statewide Vegetation Treatment Program determines how vegetation would be managed to lower the risk of catastrophic wildfires on 38 million acres of state responsibility land. After it is approved, individual thinning, herbicide, or prescribed fire projects would not have to obtain separate approvals under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Below is an excerpt from an editorial in the LA Times:

…For all its length, though, the report is disturbingly vague about what the state proposes to do and where. Many wildfire experts say the study is outdated on the science of fire ecology and treats very different natural landscapes as though they were the same. The state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife responded to the report with serious criticisms, saying among other things that the plan could cause substantial environmental damage. A letter from the National Park Service is downright scathing, slamming the report for numerous inaccuracies, accusing Cal Fire of ignoring important scientific studies and openly questioning whether the plan even meets the legal requirements for this type of EIR.

“If implemented, the proposed program would cause significant, irreversible and unmitigable environmental impacts to natural resources in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area on a large scale, while producing few if any of the fire safety benefits stated as goals of the program. As such, it would represent a very poor use of public funds,” wrote Robert S. Taylor Jr., a fire specialist with the Park Service. “I strongly recommend that Cal Fire withdraw the current proposal and produce a new one based on best available science.”


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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.