Wildfire Conservancy Study: Prop 30 Could Save 300,000 – 500,000 Acres a Year From Wildfire, Prevent Fatalities, Protect Forests, and Clean Our Toxic Smoky Air

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Contact: Steven Maviglio, 916-607-8340

WILDFIRE CONSERVANCY STUDY: PROP 30 COULD SAVE 300,000 – 500,000 ACRES A YEAR FROM WILDFIRE, PREVENT FATALITIES, PROTECT FORESTS, AND CLEAN OUR TOXIC SMOKY AIR

Separate Economic Analysis Shows Prop 30 Would Save $12 – 23 Billion Annually in Economic Losses, Health Care Costs and Government Spending

SACRAMENTO, CA  – A report released today from the nonprofit Wildfire Conservancy says passing Proposition 30 could result in fewer and smaller wildfires, save lives and property, and improve forest health throughout the state. Prop 30 is a California November ballot measure that will provide more than $20 billion in funding over the next two decades for the hiring of additional state firefighters, firefighting equipment and wildfire prevention programs like forest management. 

While not taking a position on the ballot measure, the nonprofit group of academics, firefighters, and forestry officials concludes, “the level of additional funding proposed can potentially provide significant and meaningful changes to wildland and wildland urban interface fires in California.” The roughly $1 billion in annual wildfire funding from Prop 30 represents a substantial increase to recent CAL FIRE budgets that have ranged between $2 billion to $4 billion annually.

The study found that passage of Proposition 30, the Clean Air Initiative, would bolster the number of state firefighters and could reduce the number of large (greater than 10 acres) wildfires by 150 a year, help prevent up to 500,000 acres per year from being burned, and avoid up to 12 million metric tons of carbon emissions. It also said the measure would result in: 

  • A decrease in overall response times, and initial and extended attack effectiveness;
  • An increase in forest/ecosystem health;
  • An increase in the resilience of our natural environment;
  • A decrease in the total number of ignitions that occur each year;
  • A decrease in those ignitions becoming large-scale wildfires;
  • A decrease of hundreds of thousands of acres lost each year;
  • A decrease in the risk and severity of wildfires across millions of acres;
  • A decrease in hazardous, toxic, and carcinogenic exposures for firefighters;
  • A decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from wildfires;
  • An increase in community resilience and hardening;
  • A decrease in homes, lives, and infrastructure lost each year; and
  • A decrease in job loss after wildfire has destroyed entire communities

The study also found that increased firefighter staffing provided by Prop 30 would have a “significant impact on reducing both the prevalence and impacts of megafires,” noting it could reduce the number of large (greater than 10 acres) wildfires by 150 each year, prevent up to 500,000 acres from being burned per year, and avoid up to 12 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

Also, the support of community resilience programs funded by Prop 30 “could avoid structure and property damage by expanding defensible space and structure/infrastructure hardening programs for 50,000 homes over 20 years.”

Lastly, the study found Prop 30 could benefit the health of state firefighters, noting “there are unquestionably significant benefits in the overall reduction in the prevalence of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease and cancers, and improved mental health.”

“With wildfires raging across the state, it is clear we need to invest heavily in resources in preventing and managing firefighters and getting more boots on the ground,” says Tim Edwards, President of the Wildfire Conservancy, which includes members from the U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE, the International of Firefighters, and National Institute of Standards and Technology. “The innovative approach of the Clean Air Initiative can significantly reduce carbon emissions and particulate pollution and help us more effectively fight wildfires at the same time. It is real climate action that will benefit our families, our firefighters and our forests.”

“The increase in extreme wildfires is a major driver of particle pollution and a key reason Californians face some of the worst air pollution challenges in the country,” said Will Barrett, National Senior Director of Clean Air Advocacy with the American Lung Association. “Voting yes on Proposition 30 gives voters the chance to demand more resources to help prevent and appropriately respond to catastrophic wildfires and to promote cleaner, healthier air for all California families.”

A separate analysis by Brad Williams, the former Chief Economist and Director of Economic and Fiscal Forecasting for the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, found that using the average of 400,000 fewer acres burned from the Wildfire Conservancy report, Prop 30 will result in an economic benefit to Californians of $11.8 billion in a typical year and as much as $23 billion annually. The benefit includes avoided loss of life, health, structures, business activity, and resources, as well as savings to federal, state, and local governments.

 The $11.8 billion economic benefit assumes that most, but not all, of the reduction in acres burned is in rural locations, where losses to structures and business activity are relatively limited. If even one of the avoided or curtailed fires is on the scale of some of California’s most destructive fires, the savings would be over $23 billion.  

The Act generates up to $5 billion per year over 20 years for programs to reduce carbon and

particulate emissions from transportation and wildfires. Eighty percent of this funding goes to accelerate the state’s transition to zero-emission transportation; the remaining 20% goes to the prevention and suppression of wildfires and to community resilience programs.

The report focuses solely on the impacts that wildfire prevention, suppression and resilience programs would have on decreasing the prevalence of extreme wildfires in California, with an emphasis on risk, carbon emissions, air pollutants, community resilience and firefighter health and safety.

A complete copy of the report can be found here.

Screen today’s press conference here, password 9@^$U7iC.

For more information about Prop 30, visit www.YESon30.org. 

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