Gov. Gavin Newsom with Cal Fire officials
Gov. Gavin Newsom with Cal Fire officials. File photo courtesy of the governor’s office

Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency on Friday and directed California officials to expedite 35 forest management projects to protect 200 communities at risk.

“The increasing wildfire risks we face as a state mean we simply can’t wait until a fire starts in order to start deploying emergency resources,” said Newsom. “California needs sustained focus and immediate action in order to better protect our communities.”

The emergency declaration follows the release of a report earlier this month by Cal Fire that identified 35 priority fuel-reduction projects that can be implemented immediately to help reduce the risk of wildfire.

Two of the projects are in San Diego country: fuel breaks to stop the spread of fires near the Crest community east of El Cajon and the Guatay community north of Pine Valley.

The state of emergency provides time-saving waivers of administrative and regulatory requirements to permit action in the next 12 months to address community vulnerability and fuel buildup.

The governor also announced a $50 million public campaign on wildfire preparedness to build resiliency among vulnerable populations at the greatest risk for natural disasters

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.