The risk of wildfire is a way of life in California, and experts predict it may worsen with climate change altering seasonal conditions that exacerbate wildfires. The wildfire outlook 2022 is a cautionary tale for Californians as the fire season begins.
Fire season is the time when wildfires are most likely to happen. Historically fire season in California spans from May to October, but the season has been starting earlier and ending later in recent years.
Read on to learn more about the wildfire outlook for 2022.
The California Wildfire Outlook 2022
In recent years, local weather conditions have led to an increase in wildfire activity in California, challenging resources and threatening lives and property. The drought map shows dire conditions in the entire state. All of California is under some form of warning, with major swaths of the state in an extreme drought.
The drought monitor estimates around 37 million people live in drought areas. As conditions worsen and the land dries out even more, the vegetation dies and becomes a fuel source for wildfires.
Recent years have been particularly challenging for the state, with 2020 being one of the worst years in history for wildfires. With more than 4 million acres burned and 5 of the 6 largest fires recorded, 2020 broke records in destructive ways.
CalFire has reported at least 14 wildfires in 2022 so far, with an estimated 6500 acres burned. The agency notes moderate to severe drought conditions exist across the state. When combined with a lack of precipitation and above-average temperatures, the risk of wildfire increases.
Wildfire Mitigation Steps
There are steps communities are taking across the state to manage their fire risk. CalFire works year-round on fire prevention by cutting back vegetation and creating a defensible space around homes and other buildings.
Some of California’s forests are controlled by the federal government while others are state-owned, so some operations are managed jointly. CalFire brought in seasonal crews earlier in the year to begin preparing for wildfire season and the governor proposed close to $3 billion in wildfire management funds.
Wildfire Resiliency and Action Plans
California’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan is a comprehensive, goal-oriented action plan designed to tackle the increasing risk of wildfire and provide communities with resiliency plans. The action plan has three main goals:
1.) Restore the health and resilience of California forests, grasslands, and natural places.
The state’s plan to improve the health and vitality of natural spaces takes a multifaceted approach. The plan calls for 500,000 acres of land to be treated annually for wildfire prevention, along with increases in sustainable timber harvests and the restoration of state and private lands. California has also increased funds to small private landowners through programs like its Forest Stewardship Program and the Wildfire Resilience Program. Finally, the plan expands forest management on state lands and increases the use of prescribed fires as a vegetation management tool.
2.) Improve the fire safety of Californian communities.
Through this goal, state agencies will offer more assistance and partnerships to local communities to combat their risk of wildfire. This starts with developing a common framework to apply in each area. Fire-adapted communities are those that have prepared for wildfire risk by taking a series of actions in vital areas, including landscape preparation; community engagement; safety and evacuation plans; resident and community mitigation; and public health.
3.) Sustain the economic vitality of rural forested areas.
California has established conservation and environmental resiliency goals through executive orders as part of the state’s climate change strategy. This builds forest management into strategy, ensuring it remains at the forefront of California’s conservation efforts. Parts of the plan to ensure the economic vitality of the region include creating a sustainable wood product market and expanding outdoor recreational opportunities in California’s forests.
The action plan also outlines ways to drive innovation and measure progress. Continued studies on forest management, climate change, and wildfire mitigation are supported through government grants. State-of-the-art modeling and monitoring tools are available and are being distributed throughout the state.
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