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CAL FIRE working to improve safety of forests

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has recommended actions to maximize safety and improve forest health in the coming months and longer term.

In a 45-day report to Gov. Gavin Newsom in response to Executive Order N-05-19, CAL FIRE identified high priority fuel reduction projects and other measures to protect more than 200 of California’s most wildfire-vulnerable communities and put the state on a path toward long-term wildfire prevention and forest health.

“California is increasingly at risk of wildfire, and certain populations are particularly vulnerable given the location of their communities and socioeconomic factors such as age and lack of mobility,” CAL FIRE Director Thom Porter said in the report.

“The tragic loss of lives and property in the town of Paradise during last year’s Camp Fire makes that clear. California needs an all-of-the-above approach to protect public safety and improve the health of our forest ecosystems.”

The CAL FIRE report identifies more than 30 local projects that can be addressed urgently in partnership with communities to make a difference this coming wildfire season. Examples include removal of hazardous dead trees, vegetation clearing, creation of fuel breaks and community defensible spaces, and creation of access corridors.

The report also recommends actions to accelerate measures such as home-hardening by educating the public and promoting use of CAL FIRE’s Ready for Wildfire App, which recommends steps residents can take to create defensible space and make their homes more resilient to wind-driven embers and other fire risk.

Most of these steps can be taken in Madera County.

The report notes that California experienced the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in its history in 2017 and 2018, which killed more than 100 people, destroyed more than 22,700 structures, and burned over 1.8 million acres. More than 25 million acres of California wild lands are classified as under very high or extreme fire threat, and the proliferation of new homes in the wild land urban interface magnify the threat and place substantially more people and property at risk than in preceding decades.

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