NPR finds Gavin Newsom 'misled,' 'overstated' California wildfire prevention efforts: 'Response has faltered'

Media top headlines June 23

The New York Times editing a headline about NFL player Carl Nassib coming out as gay, The Washington Post issuing ‘clarifications’ on story about Critical Race Theory opponent Chris Rufo, and the media getting slammed for using Dems’ talking points after Senate voting bill vote round out today’s top media headlines

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, D., misled the public on the state’s wildfire prevention efforts ahead of what is shaping up to be one of the worst fire seasons in the state’s history, according to an investigation by CapRadio and NPR’s California Newsroom.

Despite the governor pledging to reform California’s approach to wildfire prevention in 2019, the investigation concluded there was “little evidence” the governor actually put those plans in motion and that he severely overstated the work done on 35 “priority projects.” He claimed the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection accomplished work on 90,000 acres throughout hundreds of vulnerable communities, when it found only 13% of that figure had been completed.

“The investigation found Newsom overstated, by an astounding 690%, the number of acres treated with fuel breaks and prescribed burns in the very forestry projects he said needed to be prioritized to protect the state’s most vulnerable communities,” Scott Rodd wrote of the findings. “Newsom has claimed that 35 ‘priority projects’ carried out as a result of his executive order resulted in fire prevention work on 90,000 acres. But the state’s own data show the actual number is 11,399.”

Rodd shared an image he obtained via the agency that he said puts the governor’s underachievement in perspective.

According to data obtained by the researchers, Cal Fire’s fuel reduction output dropped by half in 2020 and Newsom slashed about $150 million from the department’s wildfire prevention budget. 

The report goes on to cite wildfire experts who warn the state has done inadequate preparation for the 2021 wildfire season.

“California’s response has faltered under Newsom,” Rodd concluded.

Since taking office, Newsom has consistently attributed California blazes to the effects of climate change.

“Climate change has created a new reality in the State of California…Wildfires don’t discriminate – they are a rural, suburban and urban danger,” the governor said in 2019. “We all have an individual responsibility to step up and step in for our communities as we confront new and growing threats.”

“We do not have time to deny the reality of climate change,” Newsom later urged.

California Republicans pushed back at Newsom’s assessment and argued his forest mismanagement was the real culprit.

“The Democrats who control this state, have been in charge of the legislature, and hold every statewide office have failed to take care of forestry management in California,” Assemblyman James Gallagher told Fox News host Tucker Carlson last September. “We have overgrown forests with brush piles ten feet high and dead and dying trees and it’s a tinderbox waiting for a spark.”

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Rodd tweeted in a follow-up to his reporting that Newsom is proposing over $1 billion for wildfire prevention in the upcoming state budget, which he said could make a “dent” in fuel reductions, but it “must be sustained to make a lasting impact.”
 

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