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AJR-20 Wildifres: forested lands: federal policy.(2021-2022)

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AJR20:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Joint Resolution
No. 20


Introduced by Assembly Member Megan Dahle
(Principal coauthor: Senator Dahle)

August 30, 2021


Relative to wildfires.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AJR 20, as introduced, Megan Dahle. Wildifres: forested lands: federal policy.
This resolution, among other things, would urge President Joe Biden to take immediate action to direct his administration, specifically the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, to review and update all forest management and fire suppression policies to today’s best practices and consider current and future climate and drought conditions.
Fiscal Committee: NO  

WHEREAS, As of August 17, 2021, the Dixie Fire has grown to be the largest wildfire in California’s known fire history, has burned over 600,000 acres, and resulted in the total destruction of the town of Greenville; and
WHEREAS, Reports indicate that the Tamarack Fire on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest was put in monitor status by the United States Forest Service (USFS) upon discovery on July 4, 2021, and had no immediate suppression action until sometime after July 10, 2021, and this fire burned over 68,000 acres with no reported containment, threatening nearby communities and forcing evacuations; and
WHEREAS, Federal officials admitted that a similar failure to initially suppress the Lava Fire upon discovery allowed for the blaze to spread to over 26,000 acres since it started on June 24, 2021; and
WHEREAS, The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection manages fires started on state and some private and local lands and uses a direct attack method with a goal of extinguishing the fire, as compared to the USFS, which uses a box method that often increases the size and severity of the fire; and
WHEREAS, The USFS has written directives that call for the use of “managed fire” when wildland fires occur, to maximize the management role of fire in the forest; and
WHEREAS, The federal National Environmental Policy Act (Chapter 55 (commencing with Section 4321) of Title 42 of the United States Code) (NEPA) requires agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions before making decisions and the move from forest management to fire management has never had a public hearing or input on the change in management and the impacts of those changes on water, fisheries, and air quality; and
WHEREAS, The USFS is required to have a plan that guides all actions on the forest and the use of “managed fire” does not meet the requirements of forest planning; and
WHEREAS, Fire has been a part California’s forest history and the last 100 years of fire suppression has changed the ecology of the forest to a crowded, disease-prone state; and
WHEREAS, The use of drip torches and aerial ignition with the use of helicopters and drones in areas of heavy fuel loads are a clear and present danger to the air quality and health of nearby communities; and
WHEREAS, The use of the “managed fire” policy does not take into consideration current and projected climate and drought impacts, and coupled with improper and ineffective forest and timber management practices, has directly contributed to some of the largest wildfires in California’s history; and
WHEREAS, The forests managed by USFS have seen an increase in the size and severity of fires in California and their “managed fire” policy creates a serious threat to California communities and residents; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly and the Senate of the State of California, jointly, That the Legislature, in the interest of protecting our residents and communities, forest and wildlands, wildlife habitat, watershed, air quality, human health and safety, and private property, urges the United States Forest Service to extend the recently issued policy of Chief Randy Moore to aggressively put out all fires until a full federal National Environmental Policy Act process can be conducted; and be it further
Resolved, That the Legislature urges President Joe Biden to take immediate action to direct his administration, specifically the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, to review and update all forest management and fire suppression policies to today’s best practices and consider current and future climate and drought conditions; and be it further.
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the Members of Congress from all of the western states, the Chief of the United States Forest Service, the Director of the National Park Service, and the Deputy Director, Policy and Programs of the Bureau of Land Management.