Bill Text

PDF |Add To My Favorites |Track Bill | print page

AB-2551 Forest and Wildland Health Improvement and Fire Prevention Program: joint prescribed burning operations.(2017-2018)

SHARE THIS:share this bill in Facebookshare this bill in Twitter
Date Published: 05/01/2018 10:00 AM
AB2551:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 30, 2018
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 12, 2018

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 2551


Introduced by Assembly Member Wood Assembly Members Wood and Patterson
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Eggman and Limón)

February 15, 2018


An act to add Article 4 (commencing with Section 4495) to Chapter 7 of, and to add Article 5 (commencing with Section 4665) to Chapter 9 of, Part 2 of Division 4 of the Public Resources Code, relating to forestry and fire prevention.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 2551, as amended, Wood. Forest and Wildland Health Improvement and Fire Prevention Program: joint prescribed burning operations.
Existing law requires the Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention to implement various fire prevention programs intended to protect forest resources and prevent uncontrolled wildfires. The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 requires all moneys, except for fines and penalties, collected by the State Air Resources Board from the auction or sale of allowances as part of a market-based compliance mechanism to be deposited in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and to be available, upon appropriation by the Legislature, as specified, for greenhouse gas emissions reduction activities.
This bill would require the department to establish, implement, and administer the Forest and Wildland Health Improvement and Fire Prevention Program, as prescribed. The bill would require the department to take specified actions to implement and administer programs that are intended to promote forest and wildland health, restoration, and resilience, and improve fire outcomes, prevention, and preparedness throughout the state. The bill would also require the department, to the extent feasible, to collaborate with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to utilize correctional officers and conservation crews for vegetation management and fire prevention activities.
The bill would require that not less than 18% of all the moneys in the fund be made available annually, upon appropriation in the annual budget act, to the department for projects that improve or restore forest and wildland health and fire resiliency and activities implemented pursuant to the program that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state caused by uncontrolled forest fires, that, upon appropriation by the Legislature, an amount not exceeding $250,000,000 from the fund be made available to the Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention, for expenditure without regard to fiscal year, for projects that improve or restore forest and wildland health and fire resiliency, to be allocated for fire prevention activities, as prescribed.
The bill would authorize the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection to enter into an agreement with the owner or any other person who has legal control of any property, any public agency with regulatory or natural resource management authority over any property that is included within any wildland, or any nonprofit organization to conduct joint prescribed burning operations that serve the public interest and are beneficial to the state. The bill would require the agreement to adhere to specified requirements and would require each prescribed burn to be for one or more specified purposes.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) California’s forestlands and wildlands are our largest, safest, and most expandable carbon sink, also providing many other critical services including water supply.
(2) Current forest and wildland conditions across much of the state are unhealthy, unstable, and lack resilience to disturbance, with no historical precedent.
(3) Current forest and wildland conditions, combined with climate-driven drought and extreme weather events, also create conditions for uncharacteristically intense forest fires with adverse impacts to watershed health.
(4) The large quantities of smoke from these extreme fire events have a significant impact on air quality and public health, far greater than would occur under a more natural fire regime.
(5) Restoring health and resilience to our forests and wildlands is an urgent priority to protect water supplies, public health and safety, and to meet our climate goals.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to do all of the following:
(1) Coordinate policies, actions, and investments to restore and maintain resilience on the landscape to achieve state climate, water, public safety, and wildlife goals.
(2) Increase the use of prescribed burning in the state.
(3) Create partnerships between the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for year-round vegetation management and fire protection activities.

SEC. 2.

 Article 4 (commencing with Section 4495) is added to Chapter 7 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Public Resources Code, to read:
Article  4. Burning with Cooperators

4495.
 The director may enter into an agreement with the owner or any other person who has legal control of any property, any public agency with regulatory or natural resource management authority over any property that is included within any wildland, or any nonprofit organization to conduct joint prescribed burning operations that serve the public interest and are beneficial to the state. The agreement shall establish guidelines for the cooperative management of joint prescribed burning operations and shall require the completion of a project agreement for each prescribed burn, which shall include all of the following:
(a) A list of all participants.
(b) A joint prescribed burn plan.
(c) A display of the project costs to be assumed by each participant.
(d) A summary of the benefits to be received by each participant.

4496.
 To be considered for the public interest and beneficial to the state, each prescribed burn, pursuant to Section 4495, shall be for any of the following purposes or any combination of the following purposes:
(a) Prevention of high-intensity wildland fires through reduction of the volume and continuity of wildland fuels.
(b) Watershed management.
(c) Range improvement.
(d) Vegetation management.
(e) Forest improvement.
(f) Wildlife habitat improvement.
(g) Air quality maintenance.

SEC. 3.

 Article 5 (commencing with Section 4665) is added to Chapter 9 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Public Resources Code, to read:
Article  5. FOREST AND WILDLAND HEALTH IMPROVEMENT AND FIRE PREVENTION PROGRAM

4665.
 (a) The department shall establish, implement, and administer the Forest and Wildland Health Improvement and Fire Prevention Program.
(b) The department shall take all of the following actions to implement and administer programs that are intended to promote forest and wildland health, restoration, and resilience, and improve fire outcomes, prevention, and preparedness throughout the state:
(1) Identify funding sources that can be used to cover the cost of program activities.
(2) Evaluate existing statewide fire suppression goals and propose changes to those goals to promote a fire regime that restores and maintains healthy, resilient, adaptive forests and wildlands, including greater use of prescribed or managed burns or joint prescribed burning operations under appropriate weather conditions. conditions, and evaluate the use of managed burns under appropriate weather conditions.
(3) Develop and implement training programs that use prescribed burns as a training opportunity as well as a fuel reduction and ecological restoration tool.
(4) Establish an interagency working group, including, but not limited to, members from the department, the State Air Resources Board, regional air quality management districts, landowners, conservation organizations, and Native American tribal representatives. The group shall investigate barriers to the use of prescribed burns and shall develop recommendations for actions that may be taken to restore more natural fire regimes.

(5)Procure liability insurance that will enable the department to use private contract fire suppression personnel in certain circumstances.

(5) Identify and reduce barriers for forest landowners to use prescribed fire on their land.
(6) (A) Evaluate revegetation programs and emergency erosion control efforts to avoid spreading nonnative plants and focus on restoring natural ecosystems and enhancing fire resiliency in the state’s forests and wildlands.
(B) Emphasize use of native plants and actions to maintain and support native species.
(c) In implementing projects to restore forest health and resilience, as identified in Section 4799.05, the department shall prioritize investments that support one or more of the following purposes:
(1) Simultaneously advance multiple state goals that rely on resilient natural landscapes, including enhanced public safety, healthy source watersheds to secure future water supplies, carbon-rich forests resilient to recurring fires, and habitat conditions that facilitate wildlife adaptation.
(2) Enhance the resilience and reliability of the source watersheds of greatest significance to the state’s utilized water supply, both urban and agricultural, under the climate conditions projected for the year 2100.
(3) Result in a durable commitment to manage for a climate-resilient condition. condition, consistent with the requirements of Section 4799.05.
(4) Include and leverage funding beyond general obligation and state funding.

(5)Improve the ecological function and resilience of source watersheds.

(5) Protect and enhance the resiliency and ecological function of rare habitats, including old growth forests and oak woodlands.
(6) Implement a geographically or spatially explicit forest or watershed restoration plan.
(d) To the extent feasible, the department shall collaborate with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to utilize correctional officers and conservation crews for vegetation management and fire prevention activities.

4666.
 Upon appropriation by the Legislature, an amount not exceeding two hundred fifty million dollars ($250,000,000) from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, created pursuant to Section 16428.8 of the Government Code, shall be made available to the department, for expenditure without regard to fiscal year, for projects that improve or restore forest and wildland health and fire resiliency, to be allocated for any or all of the following activities:
(a) Implementation of the program created pursuant to this article, including funding priority projects identified in subdivision (c) of Section 4665.
(b) (1) Vegetation management, including mechanical thinning, prescribed fire, and the removal of materials for beneficial use on private, public, or tribal lands, and, where applicable, to implement projects pursuant to the federal Good Neighbor Authority.
(2) For purposes of this subdivision, the federal Good Neighbor Authority means an authorization set forth in the federal Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-79), which authorizes the United States Forest Service to enter into cooperative agreements or contracts with any state or Puerto Rico to allow the states to perform watershed restoration and forest management services on National Forest Service lands.
(c) Conservation easements that ensure the development of diverse, natural, climate-resilient conditions, including older native forest structure and composition.
(d) Community wildfire protection efforts funded through local assistance grants.
(e) Public education and outreach related to the activities identified in this section.

SEC. 4.

(a)Not less than 18 percent of all moneys in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, created pursuant to Section 16428.8 of the Government Code, shall be made available annually, upon appropriation in the annual budget act, to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for projects that improve or restore forest and wildland health and fire resiliency and activities implemented under Article 5 (commencing with Section 4665) of Chapter 9 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Public Resources Code that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state caused by uncontrolled forest fires.

(b)To achieve the priority purposes identified in subdivision (c) of Section 4665 of the Public Resources Code, and to the extent consistent with other legal requirements, funds made available pursuant to subdivision (a) may be granted for any of the following project activities:

(1)(A)Vegetation management, including mechanical thinning, prescribed fire, and the removal of materials for beneficial use on private, public, or tribal lands, and, where applicable, to implement projects pursuant to the federal Good Neighbor Authority.

(B)For purposes of this paragraph, the federal Good Neighbor Authority means an authorization set forth in the federal Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-79), which authorizes the United States Forest Service to enter into cooperative agreements or contracts with any state and Puerto Rico to allow the states to perform watershed restoration and forest management services on National Forest Service lands.

(2)Conservation easements that ensure the development of diverse, natural, climate-resilient conditions, including older native forest structure and composition.

(3)Community wildfire protection efforts funded through the Fire Prevention Grant Program.

(4)Public education and outreach related to the activities identified in this subdivision.