We need to be much more proactive in tackling megafires in California.
Our circumstances have shifted very quickly. Even five years ago, we didn't have a broadly felt "wildfire season" in California, though wildfires were always present for directly impacted communities.
But a changing climate, combined with decades of mismanaged forests, have led us to a genuine crisis.
The impact of wildfires — measured on economic, public health, and environmental dimensions — is massive. Ultimately wildfires are a profound challenge to the state's quality of life, and an example of a fast-moving climate-driven problem we must handle proactively.
We need the state and federal government to commit significantly more resources to mitigation work. Traditionally we spend ninety percent of our budget putting out fires instead of managing the landscape proactively. Rather than making this a zero-sum budget fight, we have to boost our mitigation spending while maintaining our firefighting spending.
Dollars alone will not solve the problem. We need to be able to spend those dollars quickly and effectively. To do this, we must reduce red tape that has accumulated over the decades.
We also need to increase the productivity of this work by tapping into technology in both the government and the private sector. This will allow us to manage more land for fewer dollars.