Newsom signs $536M emergency spending plan to prepare for wildfire season


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — On the step of a fire truck, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a $536 million emergency spending plan for fire prevention projects across the state.

“This is just a down payment,” Newsom said. “This gets the ball rolling. This is early action. This, by no means, no stretch of the imagination, is the final word on the state of California’s effort to lean into this wildfire season.” 

The money is meant for forest management, home hardening against fire and workforce training. 

Funds will be released to state agencies and relevant local community groups like fire safety councils. 

Cal Fire Director Thom Porter and the rest of his agency is bracing for another potentially brutal fire season. 

“I’m very concerned that we are in drought conditions, that we are seeing dry fuels in some cases historically or never-before-seen live fuel moisture,” Porter said. 

Tuesday’s bill signing was on a dried-up boat ramp facing burnt land from last year’s Bear and North Complex fire.

None of the area’s lawmakers were at the event.

Paradise-area Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen said the spending plan falls short in a statement released Tuesday.

“This is only a drop in the bucket to fight wildfire – simply a band aid on an open wound,” Nielsen said in the statement.

As California continues to see abnormally dry conditions, Newsom said he’s not yet ready to declare a drought-related state of emergency, saying the administration has the flexibility to deal with current conditions without it. 

“We are prepared to move very quickly when we are prepared to move,” Newsom.

The emergency funds are a piece of Newsom’s overall $1 billion budget proposal dedicated to fire prevention.

Hiring is also underway for 1,400 extra firefighters for this year’s fire season. 

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