On Tuesday the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (BFFP) accepted a new program that makes tree clearing and tree thinning permits easier to approve.
The easier to receive permits are designed to either stop or slow down wildfire growth in a timely and efficient manner. Among the time saving measures implemented include using already approved environmental analyses and getting rid of several regulations previously needed for tree clearing.
In addition to the new BFFP permits for firebreaks, the California Vegetation Treatment Program (CalVTP) is also implemented other wildfire reducing measures, including increased fuel treatment and forest restoration projects.
According to Governor Gavin Newsom, the timeline for cutting down a large swath of a forested area as a fire break has gone down from an average of four years to less than a year thanks to the new tree clearing permit parameters and the CalVTP program.
“I commend the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection for working with the environmental community, state regulators and public safety officials to develop a long-term solution to increase the pace and scale of critical vegetation treatment in a way that safely and responsibly protects our environment,” stated Governor Newsom. “The scale of the wildfire crisis in California is unprecedented, and we need a response to match the scale and severity of this challenge.”
The new regulations by the BFFP have been praised for making fighting wildfires easier in the future but also criticized for not doing enough for larger-scale fires.
“In layman’s terms this is going to protect large swaths of forests,” noted Joseph Ford, a firefighter who has helped fight several wildfires. “When you take out a lot of a forest in a line, it can’t spread anymore. And this makes it easier for large parts to be cut down. You know how they say you have to spend money to make money? Well in this case you have to destroy trees to save trees.”
“Actually it does even better because they’re putting money in to save forests.”
“The only thing this doesn’t do is protect against really bad ones. We’re talking Camp Fire sized wildfires with high winds. If the wind is strong enough it can send embers across fire breaks, or have enough trees fall down that it can carry the fire over.”
“Also you have to worry about regrowth, because if enough grows up and brush accumulates, you basically have tinder everywhere. Especially if a bunch of grass grows and dries out in a few years.”
The new BBFP measures approved on Tuesday have been noted that they have begun to fulfill demands of better wildfire prevention from both Governor Newsom and President Trump.
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