Hometown California

Episode 27 - Meeting the Challenge of California’s Perennial Wildfires

April 19, 2021 Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) Season 2 Episode 27
Hometown California
Episode 27 - Meeting the Challenge of California’s Perennial Wildfires
Show Notes Transcript

On this  episode of Hometown California, our host, Paul A. Smith, speaks with Staci Heaton, the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) Acting Vice President of Governmental Affairs, about California’s perennial wildfires.

As an RCRC advocate for more than 15 years, Staci’s focus has primarily been fire and forestry issues, things involving climate change, and managing the wildfire issues of California. Together, Paul and Staci discuss factors contributing to the ferocity of the fires, and potential solutions to address this growing problem. 

RCRC has worked tirelessly on the issue of forest management and wildfire prevention for decades. This year, RCRC’s Board of Directors adopted a Wildfire Package, a multipronged collection of legislative proposals, to address the systemic needs forest management and wildfire prevention in the State.

Listen in to hear why more state leaders seem to be taking notice, how short-term needs are being addressed, and what more remains to be done.

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INTRO: [00:00:00] Welcome to Hometown California, a production of the Rural County Representatives of California, advocating for California's rural counties for nearly 50 years. Hometown California, tells the rural story through the eyes of those who live, work, and play in the rural communities of the Golden State. 


PAUL: [00:00:26] This is Hometown California. I'm your host, Paul Smith. Today, I'm joined by Staci Heaton, Acting Vice President for Governmental Affairs here at RCRC, which is, of course, the organization that puts on these podcasts, even though they're known to our listeners as Hometown California. So we are very excited to have Staci here. Staci has over 15 years as an advocate here at RCRC, and she is focused primarily on a lot of regulatory work, some legislative work as well. But what is so special about her is that her focus has been primarily fire and forestry issues, things involving climate change, all the things that we know collectively as managing the wildfire issues that the state has faced, and probably will continue to face, for a number of years. So it's a subject that's very important to RCRC and the member counties of that organization. So first of all, I want to extend a welcome to you, Staci.


STACI: [00:01:21] Thank you. Paul, I'm really excited to be doing this today. 


PAUL: [00:01:24] Yeah, it's always good to have somebody here internally to talk about some of the public policy issues we cover here on Hometown California. So let's get right into it. So California's wildfires, they seem to be perennial, very destructive. They're really not a new phenomenon, but they seem to have grown in intensity over the past several years. Tell our listeners kind of about those most recent fires going back a few years, why we're having what seems to be every year our worst season in California history. 


STACI: [00:01:53] Yes. So the last probably three to four years, I think we've really seen a large uptick in our wildfire, acreage burned and intensity burned for a number of reasons. But I think probably the fire that most people remember is the Camp Fire that happened in 2018. That fire took place in Butte County, which is one of our member counties. And that fire has been the deadliest wildfire in modern California history. There were 85 civilian deaths in that fire. And so it was notable from that standpoint that we really lost a lot of civilian lives. A lot of our Butte County residents died in that fire. More than 150,000 acres burned in that fire, more than 18,000 structures in Paradise, Concow, Magalia and Butte Creek Canyon. Those are all towns and Butte County. And so that was a pretty major wildfire event that got a lot of attention nationally because of how deadly and because of the way that the fire patterns happened in that fire. You just couldn't predict where it was going to go. In 2019, our fire season kind of seemed to die down a little bit in California. We had a few major fire events. The Kincade fire occurred in Sonoma County and that fire burned more than 77,000 acres and destroyed 374 buildings. And that fire was pretty notable because it was really the first fire where we had a fire of that magnitude, plus what we call in California, a Public Safety Power Shutoff event at the same time. That's an event where our utilities are shutting off power to keep from causing a wildfire at the same time. So that was a interesting and a unique issue that we had to deal with in another one of our member counties. And then, of course, in 2020, we had our largest wildfire season to-date where we burned a total of more than four million acres of land in California in just one fire season. And there were a number of fires across California, more than 9,000 individual fires burned in the state. A lot of those were due to lightning strikes. We had the August Complex Fire, and that was California's largest recorded wildfire in history at more than one million acres that burned across a number of our RCRC member counties. And it lasted for three months. And that was just caused by a lightning strike. So, we've gained in intensity, and just a few years ago, California estimated a 78% increase in acreage burned by the end of the century. And we've already gotten there just in those two years. 


PAUL: [00:04:36] Right. So, we're having not just fires that burn homes and structures were having fires that burned land or both. 


STACI: [00:04:42] Yes. 


PAUL: [00:04:42] And they just continue to be ferocious. I'm told that they burn so much hotter. Now, what does that mean? And does that mean we're going to have more acres burned or scarring of the landscape? What does that mean when things are burning that hot? 


STACI: [00:04:56] Well, it really means all of that. Yeah, it means they're going to burn more acreage because the fuels-- and when I say fuels, I mean historically, California before are kind of modern era of the way we manage our lands was managed in a different way. And over the last several decades, we've kind of gotten away from prescribed fire, which is where you go in and you sort of burn the underbrush and you get rid of the fuels that are there to start a fire and to spread a fire. And you've cut down the sort of smaller diameter trees and you've left more space in between larger trees. We've kind of gotten away from that. I like to say that we've hugged the trees into kind of an unhealthy state in a lot of our forests, and particularly on federal lands where we don't really take timber anymore. And that's just due to a--. 


PAUL: [00:05:46] We just don't log. 


STACI: [00:05:47] We don't log. Yeah, that's due to a sea-change in kind of the attitudes towards logging. You don't really say logging in California anymore because that's kind of a dirty word, but just "timber harvesting". And so, it's left the forests in a really unhealthy state. And so, there's a lot of fuel there. There's a lot of stuff to burn. And as the climate has changed in California, gotten drier, we had a long drought in the middle of the 2010s. We also saw a large tree mortality event here in California where over 140 million trees died from a bark beetle infestation. So, you add all those things up, plus the changing wind patterns in California that we've seen where the winds are unpredictable. They blow at a higher rate. 


PAUL: [00:06:32] And they seem to blow all year long. 


STACI: [00:06:34] All year long now. And so, you add all those things up, plus unpredictable storm patterns. We saw last year, like I mentioned, the lightning storms where you just couldn't predict when they were going to happen. And they happened all summer long. And those dry conditions and those high winds, when you get a lightning strike, you're going to have a wildfire like that and it's going to get out of control. 


PAUL: [00:06:55] What about the role of humans? I mean, we're continuing to have more people in the state, and they have to live somewhere. Virtually the entire state is prone to fire. What's that role? 


STACI: [00:07:05] Well, that role is what you're referring to there is what we call the Wildland Urban Interface-- the WUI-- as we like to call it. We're getting more and more people out in the areas where the wild lands meet where people live. And that's just where we've cited building and cited development. And people are living closer to where the wildfires are now, and that's encroaching more and more on forest lands and wild lands. And so, then you have the danger of something like a Paradise happening, where you've got people just living right there on the cusp of where the wildfires are going to happen. And if you don't have proper ways for folks to get out when they need to be evacuated, then you have a situation where it's a very big public safety problem. 


PAUL: [00:07:51] So you've indicated that a number of these fires have been in RCRC member counties. The August Complex Fire. Remind me of where that was. 


STACI: [00:07:59] The August complex fire was- went across Glenn, Mendocino, Lake, Tehama, Trinity, and Shasta. So, it spanned across quite a few of our member counties. 


PAUL: [00:08:08] Yeah, that's a big amount of geography. And obviously, the fires in Butte and Sonoma seem to be perennial. More elaboration of why this is so important to RCRC member counties. 


STACI: [00:08:18] It's important to our member counties because a number of reasons. Number one, the public safety issue, obviously. This endangers our residents and our member counties every single year. But I think an even wider issue is the health of our ecosystems. You know, our member counties with their forested watersheds, they supply the water supply to pretty much the entire state. So, if you live in San Francisco, chances are you're getting your water from somewhere in Tuolumne County in the forests. And that's something really important. These wildfires are also contributing to the air quality problems in California. They're contributing to our climate change problems, our greenhouse gas emissions, and particularly in our member counties too, they're breathing this smoke, once these wildfires happen, very directly and the particulates from the air pollution and losing the money from the recreation that is not available when these fires are happening. So it's an economic burden as well. 


PAUL: [00:09:21] So a lot of people point to land use practices as not just a cause, but a contributing factor to the ferocity of the fires. The fact that they happen, obviously, when you do land use practices, that means structures and you're probably going to lose some structures. Where does local government fit into this conversation? What are those responsibilities and what are those potential remedies? 


STACI: [00:09:45] Well, I think local government fits in and doing responsible development, making sure that any new developments are cited and built in a fire-safe manner. And there are ways and regulations to do that in a way that there's proper fire response, there's proper fuel breaks. When I say fuel breaks, so that if there's an interface with a wildland, that you can do a shaded area fuel break around that so that you've got some distance between the community and the wildland. And other just ways to responsibly develop those lands and work with the state, work with CalFire, work with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, to continue to develop responsibly. 


PAUL: [00:10:31] So you've indicated these have been really difficult fires, particularly in the summertime. And it seems that state leaders over the last several years have really noticed that this needs to be dealt with, particularly the administration. Both the Brown Administration, now the Newsom Administration, but also the Legislature itself. What's new there and what's the future hold with respect to what can the Legislature do? What can those administrative agencies do? What can local governments now do? 


STACI: [00:10:58] Yeah, the Legislature, really-- a sea-change occurred in that attitude, I think, somewhere in 2017 when the Thomas Fire in the Tubb's Fire happened. Those fires occurred and they were also very large-scale wildfires that happened in, let's just say, districts that were more Democratic in nature. And so they got a lot of attention. They were Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Ventura, areas that might get a little more attention from our current Legislature. And so once those fires happened, our Legislature took a little more notice and understood, I think, the problem a little more because it wasn't just happening to rural California. It was happening to areas that were a little more-- that they thought of as a little more suburban, I think, and realized that, oh, the WUI has now stretched out into areas that maybe we hadn't thought of as being wildfire prone. And they've noticed that the WUI has stretched out a lot further than they thought. The Legislature has a lot of bills, a lot of bill proposals this year to continue working on this problem. There has been a few proposals and really good proposals and really good bills that have passed. Senate Bill 901 was a bill that passed in 2018 that made a lot of changes and made certain fire management practices easier in order to manage lands and, particularly on federal lands, eased some state environmental requirements to do forest practice or forest management projects on federal lands, things like that. And there are more proposals that are being considered this year. I think the state needs to look at long-term funding, however, for looking at our forest management and wildfire prevention problems in California. And right now we're kind of looking at this as a year-to-year budget thing, and we really need to look at it as a longer term thing. 


PAUL: [00:12:56] Yeah, these fires are very expensive. And the theory is maybe a little bit of money up front could mitigate the expense, the vastness of that expense, once these fires get to these huge acreage and huge structure losses. Talk a little bit about the role of the federal government. Federal government owns a lot of land in California. A lot of it is forested. A lot of it burns. What is our responsibility as a state and what is our responsibility as local governments in working with the feds? 


STACI: [00:13:23] When we're talking about national forest land, the federal government manages about 20 percent of California's total landmass. So you're talking about a lot of real estate there that has been sort of let overgrow. And so the federal government has a great responsibility. And I know that when we talk to the U.S. Forest Service in particular, the will is there for them to do that work. There are a lot of barriers there still. Their budget situation for a long time was problematic. There were some fixes made to that a few years ago that allowed them to kind of bifurcate their budget so that they're not borrowing from one to pay for the other, borrowing from forest management to pay for fire suppression, et cetera. But there's still some more barriers to getting their lands cleared off, sort of infrastructure. For example, as to even if they clear it, then what do they do with the material? Is it merchantable? Can they sell it? Is there biomass infrastructure that they can take that material to? So, there are still a lot of hurdles to really getting them rolling on getting those lands managed and cleared off. 


PAUL: [00:14:38] So we talked a moment ago about the Legislature. The Legislature itself, the media, the Governor seem a little more focused on this, but really focused on the role of climate change that is impacting the fire season and the ferocity of the fires. We know that's a long-term solution, but is climate change really the only factor in this dynamic? 


STACI: [00:14:58] Absolutely not. 


PAUL: [00:15:00] I mean, you've talked a little bit about the overgrowth of a lot of these public lands, particularly the federal lands. What else is going on here? 


STACI: [00:15:07] Yeah, I mean, climate change is not the cause. It more exacerbates the problem. Really, the cause is the overgrowth and the mismanagement. And, climate change is just sort of something that comes in and stirs the pot and makes it worse. And so as it comes in and dries everything out, then the fires get hotter and more intense, but if you want to have a healthy landscape, with or without climate change, the forest management, the fuels treatment needs to be done. And that's for the quality and quantity of the water supply. It's for the health of the ecosystem. It's for wildlife habitat. It's for everything. Even if climate change weren't a factor, this is something that really governments at all levels should be, and should have been, looking at already. And we're just sort of not really paying much attention to until the catastrophic fires really started to become a problem. 


PAUL: [00:16:01] So it sounds like in the short-term, we have some work to do to either thin the forests, clear out the underbrush that's virtually unvaluable growth that has no market, really has no-- I won't say no purpose because it is an ecosystem, but has very little purpose when you're looking at the forest as a whole. You talked about prescribed burns. Is that probably one of our better options in the very short term to minimize these fires? 


STACI: [00:16:29] It is one option. I mean, there are areas where prescribed burns are probably the optimal thing to do because of the landscape and the terrain. Other areas, mechanical thinning might be a better option. It just really depends on where you're talking about, what the landscape looks like. Some places grazing might be a better option, you know, taking goats or cattle out and letting them graze the land. It just really depends on what that landscape looks like. And, you know, foresters can determine that. And that is something that's above my pay grade. But there's a lot of people that are paid a lot of money to determine those sorts of things. But prescribed fire's one tool in the toolbox, and it's something we're very supportive of, where it's the best option. But, it is a great short-term option for many of the landscapes that need treatment. 


PAUL: [00:17:17] And then coming back to the point we made about local government and land use practices, do we see a scenario where maybe we just don't have no-build zones, or where we do have no-build zones, or you can't rebuild these areas? I know that's being discussed in the Legislature and is somewhat controversial. 


STACI: [00:17:32] It's being discussed, but it's really kind of contradictory to other policies of the state, such as the Rural Housing Needs Assessment, where we're told that we basically have to build by region. So on one hand, the state's telling local governments they have to build and on the other hand, there's other pockets of the government that tell us they don't want local governments to build. So those two pockets need to kind of get together and figure out, I think, what it is they really want local governments to do. 


PAUL: [00:18:00] And I would assume doing some more enhanced safety to that building is not cheap and potentially drives up the cost of rural housing, correct? 


STACI: [00:18:09] It does. And also to retrofit current houses and current structures that are there. That's something we're really interested in, is helping to provide low-income residents in our communities-- and there are a lot of them-- with ways to help them retrofit their current homes to make them more firesafe. And that's something that we're currently working on with members of the Legislature to get funding for. 


PAUL: [00:18:34] Right. Which kind of leads me to one of the other big questions for this discussion is that the RCRC Board of Directors adopted a Wildfire Package-- basically a multipronged collection of legislative proposals-- to address these, you could say, short-term needs. But really, they're systemic. Tell our listeners about the Package, its components and where they are, what they do, how they're funded, what they're designed to address, and really their chance of passage. 


STACI: [00:19:02] The Wildfire Package that we initially passed was meant to be pretty comprehensive and meant to attack several pieces of this puzzle at the funding scale. We wanted to try to enhance the Cap-and-Trade funding, and that's the funding from California's Cap-and-Trade auction that pulls in anywhere from six to eight billion dollars each year from greenhouse gas emissions auctions, those that are high polluter,s for forest management, wildfire prevention activities in California. We're not able to secure an author for our portion of the bill, but we're working with some other authors on proposals that they already have in print to pump up the funding for forest management proposals. And we're also working in the budget framework because the Governor has a billion dollar wildfire resilience proposal that he has, and that he had in his January proposal, and that had a lot of funding for things that we think are vital. And so we're trying to work within that framework and within the Senate and the Assembly and what they're proposing. We also have some bills in print already that aim to codify what was put into the 2018 Forest Carbon Plan that was developed in California. Those were a number of goals and measures that were set by-- including us, but-- a number of state, local, and federal government agencies to address a number of things that go into, or would need to go into, addressing California's wildfire and forest management problems. So anything from increasing biomass utilization in California to increasing pace and scale of forest management on all lands, including state and federal, to just doing more shaded fuel breaks around communities to, you know, you name it, it's in there. And it is explicitly aimed at reducing carbon emissions and increasing carbon sequestration on forests and wild lands. But the side effect of that, of course, being decreasing catastrophic wildfires. So it would codify a number of the things and put them into statute and require the California Natural Resources Agency to report to the Legislature on that annually. 


PAUL: [00:21:29] On one hand, there is an infrastructure, a policy infrastructure, in place that just needs funding or better funding, or more secure funding, to carry out a mitigation and a minimization of these fires. And then on the other side, there's also efforts to change policy, change law to make this problem less of a problem, particularly in the short term. And it's just a matter of bringing these things together and seeing how they play out. 


STACI: [00:21:55] It really is. And I mean, the state is still working. We're still working with the state too on other measures. The Governor's Forest Management Task Force has already taken the Forest Carbon Plan even further. They released an Action Plan in January. And from what we understand, they're working with one of the members of the Legislature to try and codify that plan. And it takes the Forest Carbon Plan even further. So, we told them that we'd be happy to work with them on that as well. So, the idea of comprehensive forest management and wildfire prevention in California is certainly something that's being worked on at every level of government. It's just a matter of sort of getting everybody on the same page and trying to get everybody to kind of work together instead of focusing on all the little nitpicky stuff. 


PAUL: [00:22:44] So you kind of hinted to my next question, and that is kind of, what's the resistance to doing all this? 


STACI: [00:22:49] You know, every time you work with a government policy thing and always gets hung up in the nitpicky details, you know. So, when you're talking about a budget, it's whose district gets the biggest pot or then you have an environmental group like maybe the Sierra Club might swoop in and not want you to cut any trees down ever. And then that kind of mucks up the works or, there's always little nitpicky things. And right now, I think everyone is as on the same page as I've ever seen it here in California with regard to managing the forests and preventing wildfires. And I think we've seen so much-- and I'll say I'll use the word tragedy because it is-- we've seen so much tragedy in this space at this point that I don't think we can afford not to work on this and make progress. I mean and I mean real progress in a short time span that I'm hopeful we will actually see some real things get done. 


PAUL: [00:23:50] So, Staci, recently the Governor and the Legislature announced a large fire package, nearly five hundred million dollars. What's that for?


STACI: [00:24:00] The$536 million dollars-- that's what the actual dollar amount is-- is going to go to a number of things, including money to CalFire for state forest health programs for them to use for their own programs. But there's a substantial amount of dollars in there for local community fire prevention grants. So that's money to go out to firesafe councils, resource conservation districts, to go to local fire preventions, community fuel breaks, those sorts of things. That's $123 million dollars. So that's a lot of money out to communities to do fire prevention projects. There's money in there, $25 million dollars for programs to assist homeowners with fire prevention retrofits-- what we've come to know as "home hardening"-- so low income residents can retrofit their homes to make them more fire safe in case there is a wildfire. There's money for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, which is an agency that we work with a lot to help them implement their watershed improvement program. There is sixteen million dollars for the Climate Catalyst Fund, which is a new idea to help stimulate the wood products industry in California, something that's pretty important if you believe in biomass or you believe in woody byproducts utilization, which we are also big proponents of. And there's also some substantial dollars in there to develop the forest management workforce in California, so, to train people to go out and thin trees, do prescribe fire, to work out in the forests. And so that's not only to help manage the forest, but also to create jobs, a lot of those out in our communities. So some substantial dollars there as well. 


PAUL: [00:25:38] So is this money one-time money for this year, or is some of this ongoing? What are those type of commitments from a dollar standpoint in future fire years. 


STACI: [00:25:46] It is one-time money for this year. All of it. Some of it is from the General Fund. Most of it is from the General Fund. There is a $125 million dollar commitment in there from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. That's the money that comes from the state's Cap-and-Trade auction. At first, the Senate was trying to get all the money to come from the General Fund, but the Assembly kind of fought for that money. That's part of the 2018 Senate Bill, 901 commitment that the Legislature made to do two hundred million dollars a year from that fund every year for five years. So that commitment is being made after all. So that's part of that $536 million dollars. But it is just a one-time funding commitment. There's no long-term funding here. 


PAUL: [00:26:30] So when the Governor announced this recently, he was doing it from a number of fire prone areas of the state. What other things is the Governor looking at in addition to the moneys that he and the Legislature are appropriating? What else is he doing? What are the other tools that he's going to use to manage what will be a very difficult fire season? 


STACI: [00:26:50] Well, the Governor is allocating a substantial amount of money to the state's fire suppression efforts. That mostly goes through CalFire. So he's beefing up, again, our fire suppression, our number of firefighters, our number of helicopters, and things like that that we use to fight fires during fire season. The Governor's also spending a substantial amount of effort to educate people on how to prepare for wildfire, to do their defensible space, to harden their homes, to make sure that they evacuate when they're told-- just to get the educational process out there to help people be ready in case there is a wildfire in their area. So the state is beefing up their efforts so that, because of how bad the 2020 wildfire season was, that people are really prepared in case there is a wildfire in their area. 


PAUL: [00:27:37] So we've talked about RCRC making this a priority. It's been a priority of the organization for many years, many decades. How does this recent development in terms of the fire package that the Legislature and the Governor have agreed to, how does that align with our goals? And what RCRC has been advocating for? 


STACI: [00:27:54] Well, RCRC has been a longtime supporter of more funding, obviously, to fire prevention and fuels treatment projects across the state. So this is, as of now, the largest one-time funding allocation we have seen in the forest management and fuels treatment arena since I've been working in this space anyway. So this is a pretty big win as far as getting both the Administration and the Legislature to make a substantial allocation to forest health and fuels treatment. 


PAUL: [00:28:28] So it's kind of doing a lot of the things that we've asked for for many years, both committing dollars as well as understanding where those dollars should go in the programs that they should fund. 


STACI: [00:28:37] Absolutely. I consider this a big win for anybody that's been advocating for more dollars spent to help prevent wildfires and make our forest more resilient. And RCRC's been a huge force, I think, behind that. 


PAUL: [00:28:49] And so will some of these programs and allocations kind of be managed by the Governor's Taskforce where he has created this task force-- started in the Brown Administration, carried forward in the Newsom Administration-- this taskforce of local leaders, fire, state fire leaders, and others. How will they interact with this new package? 


STACI: [00:29:08] Yeah, the Governor also announced the relaunch of the Forest Management Taskforce. And what is happening is they are sort of scaling back the taskforce. They have realigned the leadership team to expand the state and federal agencies, but also including local governments. And RCRC leadership is part of that. So, Governor Newsom has named and included RCRC Chair, Stacy Coreless, as part of the leadership team of the Forest Management Taskforce, which is something that's going to be very beneficial to our rural counties, who are frankly, the ones that have suffered a lot of the most devastating wildfires. And, the purpose of that is so that the Forest Management Taskforce can now go forth and implement their Action Plan. And a lot of us have worked for a few years now to help develop the Forest Management Action-- Taskforce Action Plan, which was released in January, which is really an expanded roadmap. And it expands on the state's Forest Carbon Plan that was released in 2018, to go out and do the fire prevention, forest management, fuels treatment efforts that are so desperately needed in the state. Now, the task orce can hold those agencies accountable that are responsible for carrying out those actions.


PAUL: [00:30:27] Any other thoughts about where we go from here in meeting this upcoming fire season? 


STACI: [00:30:32] Well, this is a good start in meeting this upcoming fire season. I mean, I think that people just being as prepared and ready as they can is paramount at this point. I think that the challenge now is getting long-term funding for future fire seasons and future forest management projects. This huge one-time investment is great, but it doesn't solve our long-term problem. And we know we have a budget windfall and a revenue windfall in the state this year, which is why it's making this possible. But a one-time investment isn't really going to get us where we need to go with our state's fire prevention efforts. So I think the most important thing is we start looking at long-term sustainable funding for fire prevention now. 


PAUL: [00:31:14] Yeah. So in the remaining minutes we have Staci, it looks like we're going into another really difficult fire year. Thus far, as we talk here in April, we've gotten very little rain in the rainy periods of California and-- enough rain to grow stuff, but not enough rain to keep from having, basically, infernos across the state. What's your thoughts here as we head into fire season just another month or so away, as to what we can do and what our listeners can do to better prepare themselves, both individually as people who live in rural California, but also making good public policy decisions?


STACI: [00:31:51] So, just as individuals, make sure you're plugged in to CalFire. That would be a main recommendation. Make your houses as firesafe as possible. There are a lot of websites out there and a lot of good resources where you can find out how to do that. If you have a local firesafe council they're also very helpful in helping to aid you to do that. If you're told to evacuate, evacuate. That's very important. And then also keep plugged in with your state representatives and urge them to support measures in this space to help get good forest management and fire prevention policy across the finish line, because we need that local support and the residents urging them and citizens urging them to really get something done on this, because really we can't afford to keep swirling around and getting things caught up in the little nitpicky details. And we need to get some things across the finish line, some real things. So, yeah, that would be my suggestion. 


PAUL: [00:32:53] Yeah, it's going to be, I say, a tough year to experience what is a looming fire season that's probably going to be quite deadly. But it's stuff we need to talk about. It's an issue that affects virtually every corner of rural California and, basically every aspect of California. Not just where the fires occur, but the aftermath of it as well. I think our listeners really want to applaud you and RCRC in leading an effort to try to tackle what is a very difficult issue. Thank you for coming in today. Really appreciate your comments. 


STACI: [00:33:25] Yes, and my pleasure, anytime.


PAUL: [00:33:26] You've been listening to Hometown California, a production of the Rural County Representatives of California. Subscribe now so you don't miss an episode, and be sure to rate and review this podcast. I'm your host, Paul Smith, and thanks for listening.