Staff Report

As part of its continuing efforts to further mitigate wildfire risks across Northern and Central California, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has donated nearly $5 million to the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, to fund fuel-reduction projects and purchase equipment that will be used in six national forests located throughout the state.

Los Padres National Forest will receive $1,681,000 in funding, the highest amount of the six. Other national forests to get funding will be Plumas ($1,250,000), Six Rivers ($850,000), Stanislaus ($603,000), Sequoias ($433,500) and Shasta ($167,000).

The U.S. Forest Service intends to use the funds for fuel-reduction projects in 5,870 acres through the various forests. Projects will include prescribed pile burning, mechanical thinning and bio-mass removal for mulching.

Additionally, the funds will allow the Forest Service to purchase new fuel-reducing equipment such as machine saws, mastication heads, grapple machinery, wood chippers and trailers, which will enable more in-house work and faster reaction times to complete needed work.

The program will fund and facilitate the completion of required NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) surveys and documentation needed to treat the forests with fuel reduction activities.

“PG&E is focused on public safety and finding additional ways to reduce the risk of wildfires,” said Debbie Powell, Vice President of Asset Risk Management and PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program. “It will take all of us — community leaders, first responders, federal agencies, state leaders and energy companies – working together to provide customers and communities with the safest energy possible given California’s rapidly changing environment. Our support of the Forest Service is one example of how partnerships benefit all of us.” 

California faces an increasing threat from catastrophic wildfires, severe weather and higher temperatures, and recent state and federal climate assessments warn the threat is only growing. In 2012, just 15 percent of PG&E’s service area was designated by the California Public Utilities Commission as having an elevated wildfire risk. Today, it’s more than 50 percent.

“We appreciate PG&E’s generous contribution to the U.S Forest Services fuel-reduction efforts,” said Brian Rhodes, Deputy Director of Fire & Aviation Management for the Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service. “Six national forests located within PG&E’s service area, from Six Rivers in the north to Sequoia in the Sierra Nevada, will be less prone to wildfires due to this work and equipment.”