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By Vince Fong

Critical legislation to help California communities reduce catastrophic wildfire risks passes the assembly


June 10, 2023

Assemblyman Vince Fong.

To help prevent catastrophic wildfires across California, Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Central Valley) introduced two critical pieces of legislation - Assembly Bills 295 and 297. Both measures passed out of the Assembly this week with unanimous bipartisan support.

"The state is heading into fire season, and my legislative proposals will continue the critical work to reduce fire risks to protect our communities," Assemblyman Fong said. "These bills will help reduce wildfire hazards and support local fire prevention efforts by streamlining permits to fast track forest management projects."

In his support for Assemblyman Vince Fong's efforts, George Gentry of the California Forestry Association said, "Calforests applauds the State Assembly's passage of Assembly Bills 295 and 297, which will help expedite crucial wildfire prevention projects in fire prone communities and along state highways.

"Calforests members are especially appreciative of Assemblymember Fong's continued leadership on wildfire prevention and thank him for his work on these practical and common sense measures that will facilitate much needed projects for California."

Specifically, Assembly Bill 295 requires the state to start roadside maintenance projects within 90 days at the request of local governments to prevent the loss or impairment of life, health, property, or essential public services. AB 295 will prevent disastrous wildfires from starting along the state's highways by helping prioritize CalTrans' efforts to implement defensible space maintenance projects.

Assembly Bill 297 further accelerates wildfire prevention projects by advancing CalFIRE payments to organizations and fire departments responsible for removing overgrown brush. AB 297 helps the state meet its goal of treating 500,000 acres of forest annually.

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President and Chief Executive Officer of the Rural County Representatives of California Patrick Blacklock stated, "AB 297 ensures communities can continue to jumpstart local fire prevention projects to safeguard residents from the impacts of wildfires. The bill is a simple but vital component for wildfire mitigation in our most vulnerable areas."

AB 295 and AB 297 will now move to the Senate for further consideration.

Assemblyman Vince Fong represents the 32nd Assembly District, which encompasses Kern and Tulare Counties.

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