California to activate National Guard to help reduce wildfire risk

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has put together a list of 35 projects around the state where they intend to reduce the wildfire risk for residents. This follows multiple large fire disasters in 2017 and 2018 that killed over 100 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes. In many areas those not directly affected by the flames were exposed to hazardous levels of smoke for days or weeks at a time.

The State will establish incident bases in proximity to vulnerable communities and coordinate fuels treatment operations from those facilities utilizing the Incident Command System. The Governor will activate the National Guard to help complete the work.

The projects, identified and planned at the local level, are intended to reduce the public safety risk for over 200 communities. Examples of work to be done include removal of hazardous dead trees, vegetation clearing, creation of fuel breaks and community defensible spaces, and establishment of ingress and egress corridors. CAL FIRE believes these projects can be implemented immediately if their recommendations are taken to enable the work.

Recognizing that entry level employees in California are not highly compensated, and often have challenges finding affordable housing in areas where they work, the state will provide additional government housing for seasonal state employees working on forest management and fuels reduction.

In addition to large-scale fuel reduction projects near communities, CAL FIRE understands that residents have to also do their part to reduce the flammable material in their home ignition zone within 100 feet of structures, and especially immediately adjacent — within 5 feet.

Details on the projects can be found online at CAL FIRE expects to keep the list updated.

Priority Landscapes wildfire protection
(Click to see a larger version)

The entire 28-page report about this new initiative can be found here.

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. Google+

5 thoughts on “California to activate National Guard to help reduce wildfire risk”

  1. How many of those over 200 communities are at risk predominately because of inadequate planning and zoning, building codes, and poor development decisions by local governments? Until that changes; policy, programs, budgets, and assets for wildfire management will be tied to the problems of the WUI. Local governments and their risky development regulations and decisions are expanding the problems in the WUI faster than the forestry and fire protection communities can deal with it.

    California is only one example of what’s wrong around the US. Here in Colorado it’s just as bad except we don’t have as big a budget or as many assets to address the same problems. With a few exceptions, front range development is creating all of the same WUI problems all over again. We’re already in a hole. The local governments have to stop digging it deeper…

    The definition of insanity attributed to Einstein is “repeating the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.”

    1. I think bean is right. Poor planning on the part of communities has led to a widespread problem in areas of California and also Colorado. I’m sure it’s like that in a lot of areas out west because of demand from people who want to live in these areas because of the warmer weather or beautiful surroundings or both. Governments need to listen to the experts on the subject of building in zones where fire and soil erosion is predominant.

    2. It isn’t so much poor planning and zoining as it is living in a country where this sort of development forms the basis for the economy, particularly at the local level. And it isn’t just a fire issue — look at Phoenix where they continue to approve new developments for 100’s of thousands of new homes when they don’t have access to enough water.

      WUI development is driven by 2 factors — our view of private property rights and the demand to continue to grow development to feed the tax base. Every small, medium, and large town and city in the country promotes growth as the only possible economic path forward.

      We need a new vision of what a sustainable economy looks like. One that does not require infinite growth on a finite planet.

  2. I believe you folks are on the right track. I’ve done years worth of fuel reduction work up here in Montana and we’ve been very fortunate thus far in our fire seasons. Would love to come down and give you folks a hand. Hopefully you will put up a list of projects we can bid on, maybe I could bring my experience down and help out.

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