CSAC Bulletin Article

Forest Management Working Group Meets For First Time Under New Governor

January 24, 2019

On January 14, the State’s Forest Management Task Force met for the first time this year. This was also the first time the group had met under the new administration. The Task Force heard presentations from the Board of Forestry, the Governor’s Office, and the CPUC on key legislation and rulemakings related to forest management.

Board of Forestry Rulemaking Updates:

Matt Dias, Executive Officer at the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, provided an update on the three key Board rulemakings including:

The two SB 901 rulemakings will be using the emergency rulemaking procedure which shortens the implementation timeline. The land survey regulations will be conducted in conjunction with the Office of the State Fire Marshall in an attempt to identify communities that are risk of fire. The Board is expected to release a 45 day notice for the land survey rulemaking in the next few months. This rulemaking is not an emergency rulemaking and has been in development for several years.

Governor’s Office Legislative Updates:

Terry O’Brien from the Governor’s Office highlighted several newly introduced bills that will deal with wildfire prevention and fire issues. Many of these bills have not yet been assigned to a committee and are subject to change. These bills included:

AB 38 (Wood): This bill would require the State Fire Marshall to develop building standards for buildings in very high fire hazard severity zones by no later than July 2020.

SB 45 (Allen): This bill would enact the Wildfire, Drought, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020 and authorize bonds in an unspecified amount to finance projects to restore fire damaged areas, reduce wildfire risk, create healthy forest and watersheds, reduce climate impacts on urban areas and vulnerable populations, protect water supply and water quality, reduce flood risk, protect wildlife from climate impacts, improve climate resilience of agricultural lands, and protect coastal lands and resources.

AB 144 (Aguiar-Curry): Existing law establishes the Forest Health Task Force and requires the task force on or before July 1, 2020 to develop recommendations for the siting of additional wood product manufacturing facilities. The law also specifies that in developing those recommendations, the location and activities of the mass timber production facilities should be located in areas that are near the locations of large landscape fires and in areas identified as federal opportunity zones or in areas that have an average household income of 5 percent below the state’s median household income. This bill would recast the median household income threshold from 5 percent below to at or below 5 percent of the state’s median household income.

CPUC Rulemaking Updates:

Deputy Director of the Safety and Enforcement, Lee Palmer also provided an update from the CPUC regarding their wildfire mitigation efforts and current wildfire related rulemakings. These rulemakings include:

These two rulemakings are separate, however the public safety power shutoff rulemaking will impact the wildfire mitigation plans because those plans are required to include shut off procedures. The rulemakings are occurring simultaneously. In addition to the description of the two current rulemakings, Deputy Director Palmer also discussed ESRB-8, which was adopted in July 2018, which creates rules that utilities must follow in the event of a de-energization during periods of extreme fire hazard and strong winds.

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