Prescribed fire, a critical tool in curbing catastrophic megafires in California, faces one less obstacle with the passage of SB926. Science shows that controlled burns, beneficial fire applied by fire practitioners, can increase the health and resiliency of a forest and reduce severe wildfire damage. However, a major obstacle to increasing the pace and scale of prescribed fire is the inability of practitioners to procure the necessary liability insurance.
The passage of Senator Dodd’s Senate Bill 926 removes this barrier by establishing and continuously funding through January 2028 a Prescribed Fire Claims Fund to pay for damages in the unlikely event that a prescribed fire escapes beyond fire lines. The fund will serve as a “backstop” for the private insurance market.
The $20 million to establish a pilot Prescribed Fire Claims Fund will increase the use of prescribed fire in California, helping to reduce growing megafire risks in the face of rising temperatures and dryer conditions due to climate change. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) applauds the leadership of Governor Gavin Newsom, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, Senator Bill Dodd, Assemblymember Laura Friedman and Assemblymember Jim Wood.
“If we are going to restore our forests at pace and scale, we need to reduce barriers to prescribed burning – our most effective long-term landscape fire management tool,” said Jay Ziegler, Director of Policy and External affairs at TNC. “Science shows prescribed fire is critical to curbing catastrophic megafires in California, and SB 926 will help us do more of it. We appreciate Sen. Dodd’s steadfast leadership on establishing a Prescribed Fire Claims Fund.”
TNC is a proud sponsor of SB 926 and sees its passage as an important step toward reducing the risk of megafires and promoting healthier, more resilient forests.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories—37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners—we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.