Padilla, Lofgren Applaud $81 Million Investment on Wildfire Prevention in California

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and Representative Zoe Lofgren (both D-Calif) applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) announcement that it will invest $80.7 million on wildfire prevention projects in California over the next three years. This includes $28.6 million for California this fiscal year—the most received by any state in today’s announcement. Initial projects to reduce hazardous fuels will be conducted in the Tahoe and Stanislaus National Forests.

This funding announcement follows Padilla and Lofgren’s joint effort with Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to ensure the federal government prioritizes wildfire mitigation projects in California as the Forest Service allocates funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to implement its new 10-year strategy to combat wildfires.

“Today’s announcement that tens of millions of dollars will be invested in new projects by the Forest Service in California is a major step forward,” said Senator Padilla. “This funding will allow the forest service to remove hazardous trees and vegetation and construct new fuel breaks in some of California’s most vulnerable forests. I’m glad the Biden administration heard our calls to prioritize California for wildfire prevention funding. Given the severity and frequency of wildfires are only exacerbated by climate change, we will need to continue to invest in proactive projects to help prevent catastrophic fires and limit their spread.”

“In our home state of California and across the West, communities continue to contend with the reality of increasingly destructive wildfires and nearly year-long fire seasons. This announcement is another important step to getting federal funding to match the scale of the wildfire crisis. I thank the Administration for recognizing the state’s disproportionate need and for making the right investments vital to the public health, public safety, and resiliency of our communities,” said Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, Chair of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation and a senior member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. “We will continue to ensure that California receives its fair share of funding for wildfire prevention- and mitigation-related efforts.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Forest Service’s strategy report released earlier this year identified that a majority of western high-risk firesheds—large forested landscapes with a high likelihood that an ignition could expose homes, communities, and infrastructure to wildfire—are located in California.

California has seen the seven largest fires in state history in just the last four years. Collectively, these devastating fires have burned over 2.5 million acres of land and destroyed or damaged over 30,000 structures. In severe cases, wildfires have been responsible for the destruction of entire California communities.