County asks governor for more firefighting money

   The San Diego County Board of Supervisors were joined by 16 mayors from throughout San Diego County in support of a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger asking him to increase firefighting resources through an executive order for the upcoming fire season.

   Spearheaded by Chairwoman Pam Slater-Price and Vice Chairman Bill Horn, the regional fire coalition support letter outlines reasons the officials believe additional firefighting resources must be secured for the county. The letter specifies potential local impacts of state budget reductions on the regional mutual aid system and aerial firefighting staff, and the expected abundance of dry brush in the backcountry.

   If initiated, the governor’s executive order could bring $5 million to $6 million more in funding for regional fire protection on top of the $26 million already allocated to CalFire San Diego and the County’s CalFire contracts.Previous executive orders from the governor have allowed CalFire to fully staff each of the 26 state fire engines in the county.

   “The next major wildfire won’t wait until the state fully funds our regional fire needs,” said Slater-Price. “I thank my fellow elected leaders in calling on Governor Schwarzenegger to fund these critical resources to protect our residents and lands.

   “Times are tough and hitting every government in the pocketbook, but fire protection for San Diego County isn’t a luxury — it’s an absolute necessity.”

   “The wildfires that engulfed San Diego in 2003 and 2007 burned over 745,000 acres,” the letter states. “According to some estimates, 65 to 75 percent of rural vegetation could still burn following years of drought, high temperatures and old fuel age. This preexisting danger will be compounded as new plant life, resulting from heavy rains this winter, dies off during summer and fall. To make matters worse, a newly arrived insect, the Gold Spotted Oak Borer, is devastating our region’s large oak trees.”

   “I hope the governor will sign the executive order and give CalFire San Diego the tools it needs to be ready for peak fire season,” said Horn.

   
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