Rural Areas in California Requested Help for Reducing Wildfire Risks

Domagoj Vidovic

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Representatives of California’s counties are requesting improved measures to cut wildfire risks in the state’s less populated areas.

More than $1 billion was retreated of wildfire prevention efforts, cutting the figure by more than half. 

“The ostensible exemptions of wildfire rebuilds and accessory dwelling units from these requirements are fatally unclear.” — Tracy Rhine, senior legislative advocate for Rural County Representatives of California

She also said that some regulations established by the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection negatively affect rural communities wishing to rebuild after fire damages and create extra expenses:

“The ostensible exemptions of wildfire rebuilds and accessory dwelling units from these requirements are fatally unclear. Rebuilding an existing home or business creates no new impact, no heightened fire risk, and no increased fire serve a need. There is no nexus to require upgrades to existing public roads as a condition of rebuilding these structures”.

Rhine was also talking about all road requirements, like width and grading or steepness, must be fulfilled when a private citizen wants to rebuild their property after fire damage. Any damaged bridges need to be removed.

Staci Heaton, senior regulatory affairs advocate for the rural counties, agreed with Rhine. She said funding for rebuilds, clear and dispose of fire fuel, and pre-fire property management is a big issue.

“Our counties preparing for fire seasons expect the worst and prepare for evacuations. In the interim, they try to do as much fire preparation as they can. How do they fund all of this? Most fire-prone counties are also our most rural and remote; those that have the fewest resources and the most challenges competing for grant money,” - Stacy Heaton

Both of them said the situation is the same every year and that no correct actions were taken.

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