California should expect a ‘fourth dry year’ as drought persists
In this photo taken Friday, Dec. 16, 2015, a man walks out of an underground irrigation pipe as heavy rain falls in Sacramento. A massive and deadly wildfire burning in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains has destroyed thousands of homes, toppled dozens of power lines, and forced thousands of people to flee their homes. As severe drought sweeps the eastern U.S., California’s leaders are bracing for the worst. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
The number of wildfires spreading through the American West has declined, after years of record-breaking dryness, but a new season of extreme weather is just one more challenge Californians face at this time of year.
As California braces for yet another wildfire season, Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers are taking steps to protect more and more of the state from disasters. The governor announced Sunday that he’s extending statewide fire restrictions through Feb. 16. He’s also directing the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to ramp up its response to a catastrophic drought that has fueled an explosive growth in wildfires in recent years.
The governor also signed measures in 2013, 2014 and 2015 to shore up the state’s drought-stricken agriculture industry and water supply by giving growers more leeway to water more acres to ensure water-stressed rivers.
And the state is building on the work of Brown’s predecessor, Democrat Jerry Brown, who in 1988 signed the state’s first law to create a comprehensive approach to reducing wildfire risk. The law included incentives to protect forests and agricultural lands, as well as rules on how those lands are managed.
It also was the first step toward California’s new approach to managing its wildfire risk.
And now, California will make another important step, Brown said Sunday.
“This is a big step for us to take and to get ahead of it. We can’t continue to sit on the sidelines in the face of such great challenge,” Brown said. “We’re going to have to be ready to take it, as we did.”
In the years since the state created the