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Governor signs $536 million wildfire and forest resiliency budget package

Bulk of the funding goes to state, but cities also eligible for funding on wildfire prevention and urban forestry grants

April 14, 2021
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed into law SB 85 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review), a $536 million wildfire and forest resiliency budget package in hopes of helping California prepare for another dry wildfire season. 
The funds come from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund ($125.3 million) and General Fund ($411 million) dollars.
This budget package was put on a fast track through the Legislature, as the bill was amended into its current form on April 8, passed by the Legislature on April 12, and signed into law by the Governor the following day. There was an attempt to pass a $500 million wildfire funding package at the end of session last year that failed to come to fruition. As evident in the Governor’s January budget proposal, wildfire prevention and mitigation continues to be a priority for state lawmakers this year.
While the bulk of these funds are directed towards the state, cities will be eligible for several large pots of funding for home hardening, urban forestry, and wildfire prevention. Notable items for cities within this funding package are: 
  • $342 million to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, including but not limited to:
    • $123 million for fire prevention grants to reduce wildfire risk to homes and communities
    • $10 million for urban forestry to provide grants to local governments to plant trees, improve the management of urban forests, and better utilize wood waste
    • $2 million for defensive space inspectors in the State Responsibility Area lands to ensure that structures are in compliance with state defensible space requirements.
  • $25 million for the California Office of Emergency Services for assisting low income and disadvantaged homeowners with home hardening programs.
  • $16 million for the Climate Catalyst Revolving Loan Fund. Eligible uses for this fund include: providing loans, loan guarantees, and other credit support to encourage the development of businesses that utilize wood and forest biomass and encouraging private-sector innovations in technology, business models, infrastructure, and supply chains in woody biomass markets.
  • $50 million to the Department of Conservation for the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program, which provides block grants to regional and statewide entities to engage with communities, develop project priority plans, prepare projects to be shovel-ready, and implement demonstration projects.
Cal Cities will continue to monitor the state budget process and provide an updated analysis of the Governor’s May revision to his initial budget proposal.

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