California residents have experienced a devastating wildfire season this year, with more than 900 wildfires occurring compared to the same time frame in 2020, which was already recorded as a record-breaking season where more than 4% of the state’s land was ravaged by flames.
In response to the threat, California State Governor Gavin Newsom proposed an additional $2 billion in funding to fight against wildfire and prevent them from happening. The amount of money set aside for the effort has become double that of the proposed fund from January.
“Clearly we recognize we need to step up our efforts here in the state of California and that’s what we began to do early this year,” Newsom said on Monday.
Officials said mountains and foothills across the state could have above-average wildfires potential from June to August and said the risk could stay until the fall. Southwest Coordination Center meteorologist Chuck Maxwell said California was unlike the rest of the Southwestern region of the country that observed cool and moist conditions in the last month.
Compared to last year, the wildfires this year have already burned through more than five times of land. But while the number of wildfires has increased compared to previous years, the severity of the blazes has reduced. This year, about 24 square miles of the area was burned compared to 6,653 square miles last year.
Cal Fire’s prescribed burns, fires that it sets off on purpose, have also been hampered by the number of wildfires last year. The agency was only able to burn about 17 square miles of land through April 30, a drop of almost 60% compared to the previous year, the Associated Press reported.
“Prescribed burns are a big part of our strategy,” Newsom said while adding $50 million in the budget to support the efforts. Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter said prescribed burns are the most cost-effective tools for clearing overgrown and invasive non-native plants.