State Officials Introduce New Plan to Mitigate Wildfire Risk

SACRAMENTO -- After more than 10 years of planning, the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection has announced a plan to increase vegetation treatment projects in order to reduce wildfire risk, which includes thinning projects.

"We’ve been working on it for about a decade and we feel the time is right to move forward," said Keith Gilless, chair of the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The board says the plan will include prescribing burning, fuel reduction and retrofitting old buildings to better withstand wildfires.

"This document is the foundation for ensuring that we’re meeting the California Environmental Quality Act. That we’re not damaging the precious resources of the state when we’re undertaking these projects," said Cal Fire Director Thom Porter.

Cal Fire said it currently treats 250,000 acres a year but the new plan will allow it to double that number. But it won’t happen overnight.

"We’re hoping to be available for public comment about May or June and our goal is to get this certified by the end of this year," Gilless said.

Still, Cal Fire warns that doesn’t mean it won’t be working to prevent wildfires in the meantime.

"We will continue to do fuel reduction project work, prescribed burning and all of those types of activities between now and then under different environmental documentation," Porter said.

Officials said they expect push back on the plan from environmentalist. Anyone interested in weighing in will be able to voice concerns during public comment this summer.

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