Wednesday, December 31, 2008

California spent $1 billion on fires in 2008

The 30,000 acre Freeway Complex fire near Corona, California, Nov, 2008; Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times

Half of the $1.4 billion that the U.S. Forest Service spent on wildfires in 2008 was spent in California. From the Los Angeles Times:
Wildfire spending in California continued its upward climb this year, driven by one of the worst fire seasons in the state's history.

Almost a quarter of all the wild land that burned across the country in 2008 was in California -- roughly 1.4 million acres.

The fires, fought at a huge cost to taxpayers, failed to translate into any meaningful reforms at the state or federal level despite efforts in Sacramento and Washington.

Lawmakers introduced a number of measures dealing with land use, fire prevention and protection. But the proposals stalled, or in the case of one major state bill, were vetoed.

In fiscal 2008, half of the $1.4 billion that the U.S. Forest Service spent nationally on wildfire suppression was spent in California alone. State fire expenditures topped $1 billion.

"I think we've seen unprecedented fires," said Ruben Grijalva, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Much of the California acreage burned in early summer, when an unusually fierce dry-lightning storm sparked more than 2,000 wildfires from Monterey County to the Oregon border. The biggest blaze scorched the mountainous Big Sur coast, forcing evacuations and closing California 1.

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