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California Forests. (Photo: Wikipedia)

California’s Two Forestry Entities: What’s the Difference?

Preventing wildfires, promoting conservation, developing the general forest policy of the state

By Chris Micheli, September 2, 2020 6:18 am

California has two forestry-related entities: Board of Forestry and Fire Protection and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. What’s the difference?

Board of Forestry and Fire Protection

Public Resources Code Division 1, Chapter 2.5, Article 2, Section 730 provides there is in the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection a State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection that consists of nine members who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

Public Resources Code Section 731.1 provides a legislative declaration that “some individuals appointed as member of the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection are required to be chosen from backgrounds in the forest products and range livestock industries in order to represent and further the interests of those industries and that this representation and furtherance serves the general public interest.

According to the Board, it is responsible for developing the general forest policy of the state, determining the guidance policies of the Department, and representing the state’s interest in federal forestland in California. Together, the Board and the Department work to carry out the California Legislature’s mandate to protect and enhance the state’s unique forest and wildland resources.

The requirements regarding the Commission members is intended to create a balanced approach to forest land policy in this state. The terms of office are four years and the terms are staggered. Five members are required to establish a quorum in order to conduct business officially. Their meetings are generally open to the public. A full-time executive officer run the Board. The Board has three committees which conduct much of their business: Management, Forest Practices, and Resource Protection.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Public Resources Code Division 1, Chapter 2.5 established the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Article 1 concerns the Department’s organization and general powers, as set forth in Sections 700 to 717. Section 701 provides that there is in the Resources Agency the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection which is under the control of an executive officer who is known as the Director of CAL FIRE.

The Director is appointed by the Governor and hold office at the pleasure of the Governor. The Director’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate. The law provides for two Deputy Directors – the first is exempt from civil service, while the second one is appointed in accordance with the Civil Service Act and who must be a registered professional forester.

According to CAL FIRE, there are more than 31 million acres of wildlands that are protected by their crews. Preventing wildfires in the State Responsibility Area (SRA) is a vital part of CAL FIRE’s mission. Because of the Department’s size and major incident management experience, it is often asked to assist or take the lead in disasters.

In addition, as part of the CAL FIRE team since 1995, the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) supports the CAL FIRE mission to protect life and property through fire prevention engineering programs, law and code enforcement and education. The OSFM, State Fire Training, and CAL FIRE Academy programs provide training education and certification programs for the California Fire Service.

Finally, CAL FIRE Foresters promote conservation and the importance of the State’s trees and forests to Californians of all ages. CAL FIRE manages eight Demonstration State Forests that provide for commercial timber production, public recreation, and research and demonstration of good forest management practices.

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5 thoughts on “California’s Two Forestry Entities: What’s the Difference?

  1. Too bad we don’t have a real Forestry Program operating in the Sierra National Forests. Millions of dead Ponderosa Pines are dead from drought with no harvesting and great fire danger. No allowance of tree thinning or forest clearance. No sawmills like the old days. Extreme Environmental groups and Liberal Judges decree policy and management practices which are basically – leave it alone and let it burn. Sad days for our forests.

  2. Preventing wildfires in the State Responsibility Area (SRA) is a vital part of CAL FIRE’s mission? Maybe it’s time to prevent wildfires by clearing over grown underbrush and by allowing logging companies to thin the forests and remove dead trees?

  3. Perhaps the author should have pointed out the difference between State Responsibility Lands and Federal Responsibility Lands. The Public at Large does not understand the difference and does not understand the recognize the different and competing land use management strategies at play. Without that knowledge, you have left California’s agencies as a target.

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