All: please continue to participate in the Climate Change discussion.. I’m hoping to continue that concurrently with our usual stuff and spend time listening and reflecting.
Anyway, back to the California Interagency Treatment Dashboard. There’s an E&E News story on this. It is a very cool dashboard, but it’s a beta so I recommend that people interested in California play with it and give feedback to them. It wasn’t really transparent to me how to get acres treated for fuels without also getting planting, but clearly the reporter on this E&E News story did, so it’s possible.
California is still far from its goal of thinning vegetation to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire on 1 million acres a year by 2025, according to a new tally that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration released Tuesday.
Just over 545,000 acres saw some kind of wildfire preparedness work in 2022, mostly mechanically cutting down brush and trees but also controlled fire and grazing, by the Forest Service, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, private timber companies, tribes, local governments, and nonprofits.
The numbers show that a sizable gap remains before California reaches its target of 1 million acres treated annually, despite the increases in funding touted by Newsom. The Democratic governor set the goal in 2020 to reduce damages and emissions from catastrophic wildfires.
“The only way we’re going to reach our target and reach it sustainably is to ramp up to do much bigger projects,” said Patrick Wright, the director of the administration’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force. “You’re starting to see that in most areas of the state, but it’s challenging.”
The numbers released Tuesday mark the first time California has aggregated and detailed its data on wildfire prevention efforts. They were spurred in part by a round of bad publicity the Newsom administration received for the way it counted its fuel reduction work in 2021.
The administration’s wildfire task force sought transparency to avoid more negative headlines, said Wright. Its dashboard breaks out data by activity type, like controlled fire or grazing; by organization; and by type of landscape, in addition to project acres. The goal, Wright said, is to provide more information to firefighting and wildfire preparedness agencies.
But it also provides insights not previously tallied, including that private timber companies account for nearly half of the entire footprint of wildfire prevention efforts in the state.
The task force’s dashboard shows that Cal Fire is the largest user of prescribed fire, at 33,000 acres in 2021.
And while Cal Fire has already met its part of the goal after steadily ramping up its use of prescribed fire, the Forest Service must still roughly quadruple its efforts by 2025 to reach its target.
Also, note that (some targeted) grazing counts as a fuel treatment. It would be interesting to find out what qualifies, if someone wants to look into it.