Tree Mortality Funding-More Money on the Way
March 18, 2016
The Assembly and the Senate budget subcommittees met this week to discuss budget items related to California’s tree mortality crisis. This follows a joint February informational hearing on the topic where the Committees invited speakers, including a Tuolumne county supervisor, to speak to varying aspects of the tree mortality crisis to better understand the threats California’s forests face and the actions the Administration is taking to respond to those threats.
The 2015-16 state budget included $5 million in local grants from the State Responsibility Area (SRA) Fire Prevention Fund aimed at funding local entities’ efforts to augment CAL FIRE’s ongoing fire prevention activities. On February 1, 2016, CAL FIRE announced the award of 19 SRA Fund grants in six counties that have been greatly affected by tree mortality.
Over $1.7 million was approved for local projects focused on the removal of dead and dying trees in order to reduce the wildfire threat around homes within the counties of Fresno, Kern, Madera, Mariposa, Tulare and Tuolumne. The remaining $3.2 million of grant funds will be awarded following the established review process over the next couple of months and will support projects that contribute to fire prevention efforts around homes across the State within the State Responsibility Area.
The final proposed rule package is available for comment on the Cal Fire website. So far this year, CAL FIRE has received 178 applications, requesting nearly $13 million in SRA grant funds. Currently, there is a fund balance of $43.5 million. The Assembly Committee approved $10 million from the SRA Fire Prevention Fund for two years for local grants to assist with dead tree removal within the SRA.
In addition to SRA grants, the Senate budget subcommittee took up the Governor’s proposal to include $140 million from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund account for CAL Fire to support landscape-scale forest health and resilience programs. This item was held open.