AP NEWS

The San Diego Union Tribune: Wildfires: Agency’s plan doesn’t do enough to limit risks

March 20, 2019

One of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to ask the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire, to craft a plan to address the giant wildfires that have become all too regular deadly, costly ordeals in the Golden State. Now the plan is out.

Its strongest point is its call to double the amount of forest land the state clears annually of dead trees and vegetation that can fuel wildfires. The 90,000 acres to be cleared would be at 35 priority sites identified by local Cal Fire crews. Cal Fire officials emphasized this would not be the clear-cutting that some forest experts think promotes blazes but a more “surgical” removal of flammable matter.

Given that California wildfires killed more than 100 people and destroyed nearly 18,000 homes and businesses last year, an all-of-the-above approach to firefighting makes sense.

The strategies of thinning forests and protecting homes should both be pursued. And a hard look should be taken at whether Cal Fire and other fire agencies have enough resources. If they don’t, that should also be addressed.

— The San Diego Union-Tribune