SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — State lawmakers held an oversight hearing Tuesday into Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration’s wildfire prevention efforts.
Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter testified at the hearing one last time before retiring at the end of the week.
“Every acre in California can and will burn someday,” Porter said.
As a member of a long line of foresters in his family, Porter commended the Newsom administration’s investment and work into managing California forests.
“With every fiber of my being, we are on the right path,” Porter said.
His testimony came in front of the Assembly Budget Committee on Climate Crisis, Resources and Energy.
The hearing was originally scheduled earlier in the fall after an NPR report found Newsom’s administration significantly overstated the number of acres burned in high-priority forest management projects.
Chief porter took the blame.
In Tuesday’s update, other members of Newsom’s administration explained the uses of the more than $1.5 billion dollars allocated this year to forest management and wildfire prevention projects, about a third of that was released in April to launch 260 new high-priority projects.
Republicans pressed the panel for the number of acres in those specific projects treated so far.
The administration didn’t have that information at the hearing.
“A big problem here is transparency and really knowing what we’re doing on the ground with this money,” said Assembly member James Gallagher, R-Yuba City.
Porter told lawmakers that Cal Fire estimates between 250,000-320,000 acres have been treated over the last three to four years, the majority of which is on private land.
The forest management task force’s separate goal is to burn half a million acres by 2025.
Other foresters who testified at the hearing said more accountability is needed on this work.
While porter said he’s proud of the work underway, in his final push to lawmakers, he said more focus needs to also be put on reforestation.
“We need to actively get trees back in the ground,” Porter explained. “That’s going to require attention and effort if we want to meet our climate goals down the road.”
Lawmakers said they will continue oversight work when the new legislative session starts in January.