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California's Forests Restoration, Where Do We Start

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

Forest wildfire

The 2020 California wildfire season, part of the 2020 Western United States wildfire season, was a record-setting year of wildfires in California. By the end of the year, 9,639 fires[1] had burned 4,397,809 acres (1,779,730 ha),[2][3][3] more than 4% of the state's roughly 100 million acres of land, making 2020 the largest wildfire season recorded in California's modern history (according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection), though roughly equivalent to the pre-1800 levels which averaged around 4.4 million acres yearly and up to 12 million in peak years.[5][6] California's August Complex fire has been described as the first "gigafire", burning over 1 million acres across seven counties, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. The fires destroyed over 10,000 structures[1] and cost over $12.079 billion (2020 USD) in damages, including over $10 billion in property damage and $2.079 billion in fire suppression costs.[4][2] The intensity of the fire season has been attributed in part to over a century of poor forest management[7][8] as well as increased warming due to climate change.[9][10]

On August 18, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency,[11] and on August 19, 2020, reported that the state was battling 367 known fires, many sparked by intense thunderstorms on August 16–17 caused by moisture from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fausto. Response and evacuations were complicated by a historic heatwave and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On August 22, President Trump issued a major disaster declaration (DR-4558), which provides Individual Assistance and/or Public Assistance.

In early September 2020, a combination of a record-breaking heat wave and strong katabatic winds, (including the Jarbo, Diablo, and Santa Ana) caused explosive fire growth. The August Complex became California's largest recorded wildfire.[12] The Creek Fire expanded in the Big Creek drainage area, temporarily trapping hundreds of campers near the Mammoth Pool Reservoir. The North Complex explosively grew in size as the winds fanned it westward, threatening the city of Oroville, triggering mass evacuations, and causing 16 fatalities.[citation needed]

Governor Newsom's request for a federal disaster declaration for six major wildfires was approved on October 17 after having been rejected the previous day.[13][14]

On November 10, 2020, the National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC) reported that there were around 3,400 firefighters plus personnel fighting the wildfires in the United States.


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