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AB-1431 Forestry: forest carbon and resilience goals.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 07/14/2021 09:00 PM
AB1431:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  July 14, 2021
Amended  IN  Assembly  May 03, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1431


Introduced by Assembly Member Frazier

February 19, 2021


An act to add Article 7.9 (commencing with Section 4599) to Chapter 8 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Public Resources Code, relating to forestry.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1431, as amended, Frazier. Forestry: forest carbon and resilience goals.
Existing law requires the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to implement various fire protection programs intended to protect forest resources and prevent uncontrolled wildfires.
This bill would establish state goals for fuel treatment and fuels treatment, vegetation management, as specified. and wildfire risk reduction, including, but not limited to, increasing vegetation management on nonfederal lands and urging the federal government to increase vegetation management on federal lands, as provided, and increasing the pace and scale of home hardening efforts to harden at least 100,000 existing homes per year by 2025. The bill would require that the established vegetation management goals be for activities that improve fire resiliency and reduce fire spread, duration, and intensity, fuel ignitability, or ignition of tree crowns, as applicable, and would require the state to implement, or cause to be implemented, the established vegetation management and home hardening goals in a specified manner, including prioritizing the implementation of these goals in the most vulnerable communities. The bill would require the Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency, on or before January 1, 2023, and annually thereafter, to submit to the appropriate policy and budget committees of the Legislature a report on the progress made towards achieving those state goals.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Wildfires have grown larger and increased in intensity and destructiveness over the last several decades. Forest fires have increased from an average of about 60,000 acres annually between the 1950s and 1990s to 175,000 acres annually in the 2000s and over 1,000,000 acres annually this decade. These high-intensity wildfires are far more damaging than the low-intensity wildfires that historically played an important role in the forest ecosystem.
(b) Since 2017, California’s wildfires have caused 186 deaths and destroyed over 45,000 structures, including much of the Town of Paradise in 2018.
(c) Wildfires result in significant emissions of greenhouse gases. In 2020, California’s wildfires have burned over 4,000,000 acres and released over 90,000,000 metric tons of emissions of greenhouse gases, according to preliminary estimates. That is more than all of the emissions of greenhouse gases from industrial sources in 2018, well over half one-half of the emissions of greenhouse gases from the entire transportation sector, more than double all of the emissions of greenhouse gases from the commercial and residential sectors, and nearly three times the emissions of greenhouse gases from agriculture. The 2020 wildfires also caused widespread hazardous air quality for extended periods of time.
(d) Vegetation management and fuels treatment strategies, including prescribed fire, mechanical thinning, and woody biomass utilization, have been deemed by numerous forest and climate scientists to reduce and avoid greenhouse gas emissions associated with high-severity wildfires.
(e) In May of 2018, a broad representation of local, state, and federal agencies finalized the California Forest Carbon Plan, a comprehensive strategy to restore the resilience of California’s forests, forested watersheds, and wildlands while reducing the impacts of climate change and criteria pollutants from catastrophic wildfires.
(f) The California Forest Carbon Plan, while currently providing a theoretical roadmap to reducing the state’s wildfire risk and forest carbon emissions through both active avoidance of emissions of greenhouse gases and carbon sequestration, is not binding and therefore not as effective as it should be for meeting California’s greenhouse gases gas emissions reductions goals.
(g) On January 8, 2021, the Governor’s Forest Management Task Force released the California’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan, a comprehensive action plan to reduce wildfire risk for vulnerable communities, improve the health of forests and wildlands, and accelerate action to combat climate change.
(h) The codification of the Codifying the goals outlined in the California Forest Carbon Plan and the California’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan pursuant to this act will elevate the importance of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants from the forest and wildland sector commensurate with the urgency of achieving those goals.

SEC. 2.

 Article 7.9 (commencing with Section 4599) is added to Chapter 8 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Public Resources Code, to read:
Article  7.9. California Forest Carbon and Resilience Goals

4599.
 (a) Building upon the objectives outlined in the “California Forest Carbon Plan: Managing Our Forest Landscapes in a Changing Climate” released by the Forest Climate Action Team in May of 2018 and the “California’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan” released by the Governor’s Forest Management Task Force in January of 2021, the Legislature hereby establishes as state goals for fuel treatment and fuels treatment, vegetation management management, and wildfire risk reduction all of the following:
(1) Increase forest restoration and fuels treatment Use all fuels reduction methods to run up to 100,000 acres per year on nonfederal lands by 2025. 2025, in support of the goal specified in paragraph (4).
(2) Increase the area reforested annually by 25 percent above 2018 levels. levels by 2030.
(3) By 2025, expand areas of high priority high-priority habitat by 5 percent above current 2018 levels, as provided in the “State Wildlife Action Plan.”
(4) Increase vegetation management to 500,000 acres per year on nonfederal lands by 2025.
(5) Urge the federal government to achieve similar treatment levels increase vegetation management to 500,000 acres per year on federal lands.
(6) Expand Create a sustainable wood products manufacturing market in the state.
(7) Increase carbon storage through increased use of durable wood products in buildings.
(8) Streamline the planning and permitting for forest restoration and forest health projects. Improve regulatory processes to increase the pace and scale of ecological restoration and stewardship.
(9) Develop a comprehensive program to assist private forest landowners.
(10) Increase by 10 percent above 2018 levels by 2030 the acreage of forest land protected by conservation easements that include specific management objectives to maintain and improve forest health and reduce the risk of wildfire through the promotion of a more natural tree density, to make improvements that increase the land’s ability to increase carbon sequestration, and to provide for the retention of larger trees and growth of larger trees over time. Conservation easements shall focus on areas that are threatened by development and that can effectively sequester and store resilient carbon while providing wildlife habitat, protecting watershed values, and supporting other forest ecosystem benefits.
(11) By 2030, significantly increase California’s the state’s total urban tree canopy, canopy by 10 percent above 2018 levels, targeting disadvantaged and low-income communities and low-canopy areas. areas, with a preference for planting species and varieties that are resilient to the impacts of climate change.
(12) Increase the pace and scale of home hardening efforts to harden at least 100,000 existing homes per year by 2025.
(b) (1) All vegetation management goals established in this article shall be for activities that improve the fire resiliency of the landscape where they are conducted and reduce the fire spread, duration, and intensity, fuel ignitability, or ignition of tree crowns, as applicable.
(2) The state shall implement, or cause to be implemented, the vegetation management goals established pursuant to this article as follows:
(A) The type of treatment shall be appropriate to each ecosystem, as determined by the best available science.
(B) Treatments of chaparral, coastal sage scrub, and other native shrublands shall do both of the following:
(i) Be designed, implemented, and maintained to avoid type conversion and the spread of invasive and nonnative species. For purposes of this clause, “type conversion” means an outcome in which a significant reduction or extirpation of the dominant native plant species occurs as a result of treatments that provide opportunities for nonnative species to colonize and spread due to disturbance events, including fire and vegetation removal.
(ii) Consist solely of removal of flammable nonnative, invasive species, restoration of native species in damaged or type-converted vegetation, the creation or maintenance of defensible space of 100 feet around structures or communities, the creation or maintenance of strategic fuel breaks within 1,000 feet of communities at risk, ignition control along roadways, or maintenance of fire roads that provide firefighting access to communities.
(C) The state shall prioritize treatments in areas that provide the greatest risk reductions to the most vulnerable communities.
(3) The state shall implement, or cause to be implemented, the home hardening goal established in paragraph (12) of subdivision (a) in a manner that prioritizes hardening homes in the most vulnerable communities.
(c) Notwithstanding Section 10231.5 of the Government Code, on or before January 1, 2023, and annually thereafter, the Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency shall submit a report to the appropriate policy and budget committees of the Legislature on progress made towards achieving the goals described established in subdivision (a).