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California governor signs early budget action in anticipation of wildfire season

Gov. Newsom recently announced $536 million planned to fight wildfires.

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom visited Butte County today to sign his proposed $536 million for wildfire mitigation and forest management projects.

"We’re here for the long haul, not just during wildfire season. This is a never ending challenge," Gov. Newsom said at the press conference in Butte County.

Newsom was joined by Cal Fire personnel as well members of the state legislature as he explained the reasoning for expanding the wildfire preparedness budget and starting the preparations for the upcoming wildfire season early.

"We have to change our approach, change our strategies," Newsom said.

Earlier this month, Newsom and legislative leaders said they intend to add the money to this fiscal year's budget before considering even more in the new spending plan that takes effect July 1. Advocates say the spending will more than double $200 million in recent annual spending.

State officials are rushing to thin forests, build fuel breaks around vulnerable communities and allow for planned burns before a dry winter turns into a tinder-dry summer. Last year's record-setting wildfire season charred more than 4% of the state.

Newsom also talked about allocating more money to mutual aid, giving money to businesses and community organizations that need it to deal with the impending wildfire season.

One of the key differences this year from last year and some of the more recent fire seasons is that there is more help from the federal government. Newsom said that instead of combatting with the federal government about needing help for fire season, this year he is working with the Biden Administration to get the resources California needs.

"While last year wasn't the deadliest or most destructive wildfire season, it was the most burned," Newsom said. "We're always breaking records and this year, we are too: by investing into preparation."

After signing the legislative package, the governor will tour wildfire preparedness work that's currently under way in Butte County.

Earlier this year, Newsom also approved $80.74 million for 1,399 additional firefighters to help to bolster fuels management and wildfire response efforts. That number breaks down to 1,256 seasonal firefighters, 119 firefighters to staff Cal Fire’s helicopter attack crews, and 24 seasonal firefighters for California National Guard hand crews, according to a press release.

The full press conference can be viewed below.

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