In a recent column, R.V. Scheide complains that I have done “Nothing for the 1st District” to address the growing crisis of wildfires and community safety in the North State.
He should try doing some research before writing his next column.
This year, as a member of the Wildfire Preparedness Conference Committee, I was very closely involved in the negotiations that led to Senate Bill 901, which will invest $1 billion in state money over the next five years in wildfire prevention, response and recovery. This is the largest state investment in fuel breaks, prescribed fire, and other wildfire-safety measures in many years, maybe ever. It also streamlines state regulations that add to the cost of urgently needed work to keep communities safe, and raises the safety standards for electric utilities.
In 2016, I won an amendment to Senate Bill 859 that helped prevent the closure of biomass power plants around the North State, helping preserve critical infrastructure that helps us manage our forests. Those contracts were further extended by SB 901. (Scheide could have learned about that effort from past articles on ANewsCafe.com.)
I am a longtime supporter and former board member of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a state agency that has worked tirelessly to promote the importance of restoring and enhancing our mountain forests for the benefit of both downstream water users and neighboring communities.
In the past six years in the Legislature, I have brought more than a hundred other members from both parties to the 1st Assembly District to give them a firsthand understanding of rural Northern California and the issues our residents face. Dozens have been on the Klamath Alliance for Resources and the Environment’s tour in Siskiyou County to spend a few days in the woods and see what modern forestry is like on the ground. That effort to build relationships and educate my fellow members of the Legislature has paid real dividends.
It is heartbreaking that our wildfire risk had to reach a deadly crisis point before a majority of the Legislature woke up to the need. It took many years of neglect for our landscape to reach the state it is in. Making our communities safe again will take time and we have much more work to do. I will continue doing all I can to steer state resources toward this vital effort.
Assemblyman, 1st District