California Giving Out $170 Million in Cap-And-Trade Revenue to Help Prevent Wildfires

August 15, 2018

As the largest wildfire in California history continues to spread, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has announced it will be administering grants amounting to more than $170 million from cap-and-trade funds to advance fire prevention and improve forest health in the state. UC Berkeley will receive $3.6 million, the biggest portion of a combined $7.4 million going to six groups in Bay Area counties. It's unclear how Berkeley will spend the money, but this reporter notes the funds are approximately the same amount that had been awarded -- and subsequently withdrawn -- for thinning and removing eucalyptus trees in the hills near campus. However, the campus also manages five research forests elsewhere in the state, so perhaps that's where the money would go. Noting that the state needs to ramp up its vegetation management to lessen wildfire risk, ARE/ESPM Professor J. Keith Gilless says: "One of the things we need in California moving forward is striking a better balance between carbon sequestration in forests and the risk associated with that densely stocked carbon sequestration. ... We need to figure out ways to do vegetation management that are socially acceptable with the smallest public subsidy possible." More