“When COVID-19 blew a hole in California’s spending plans last spring, one of the things state budget-cutters took an axe to was wildfire prevention.
A $100-million pilot project to outfit older homes with fire-resistant materials was dropped. Another $165 million earmarked for community protection and wildland fuel-reduction fell to less than $10 million.
A few months later, the August siege of dry lightning turned 2020 into a record-shattering wildfire year. The state’s emergency firefighting costs are expected to hit $1.3 billion, pushing the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s total spending this fiscal year to more than $3 billion.
The numbers highlight the enormous chasm between what state and federal agencies spend on firefighting and what they spend on reducing California’s wildfire hazard — a persistent gap that critics say ensures a self-perpetuating cycle of destruction.”