AB 2029: A win for rural communities

As we look at the condition of our forests today, we see that they are in dire need of restoration and management, especially in our national forests.  With the increased tree mortality, drought and increased risk of wildfire, the need to protect our forests is critical to protecting public safety and water supply.

As private forest landowners, we have many tools in our toolbox to manage our lands for economic and environmental values and it’s paramount that we manage forests in a way to protect those values.

Protecting them from catastrophic wildfire, has become an increasingly important effort.

And that’s why we’re proud to have worked with Assemblyman Brian Dahle on a bill that extends the forest fire prevention pilot program.  The Governor signed AB 2029, which extends a 2013 pilot project that exempted private landowners from having to file a costly Timber Harvesting Plan on thinning projects for wildfire prevention.

Oftentimes the low value material from thinning projects doesn’t cover the cost of the project.  So although it’s important for forest health and fire prevention, it creates a financial burden for forest landowners.

AB 2029, allows landowners to conduct small-scale thinning projects up to 300-acres without having to file a THP if certain criteria are met.  It requires landowners to meet the same rigorous environmental protection requirements of a full THP and it includes the same oversight, it just eliminates the red tape of a document that averages about $40,000. The bill increased the size of harvestable trees to 26-inches, as long as the average stand increases in size; and, expanded the eligibility use to areas of high fire risk, including the counties of Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Humboldt, Inyo, Kern, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne and Yuba.  AB 2029 extends the sunset date of the pilot project to 2021, and requires Cal Fire to study the effectiveness of all exemptions and emergency notices.

The purpose of the bill is to restore forests to healthy conditions that are more resilient to wildfire and disease, and to ultimately protect communities.

We at Calforests work on an everyday basis to represent private land owners, most of which are family owned operations.  We work to ensure that we have the necessary tools to effectively manage our lands in a way that is both protective of wildlife and the environment, and economically productive.  We’re thankful that we have advocates in the legislature that represent rural voices and we’ll continue to work on issues that impact our forestland owners’ and their ability to manage their lands.  AB 2029 provides us with a critical tool to do that.