EHL helped debunk the use of excessive vegetation clearing to promote fire safety.
The Desert Sun covered the use of prescribed burns to reduce fuel loads (“Will coronavirus precautions hamper our ability to fight California wildfires later?” March 25, 2020). A fire expert was quoted on the difference between forest systems in the Sierra Nevada and habitats in Southern California, where fires are wind-rather than fuel-driven. EHL was also quoted.
Dan Silver, executive director of the Endangered Habitats League, said the state had already gone too far with its approval of controlled burns. “We don’t see prescribed burning as having any practical role right now," he said, speaking specifically about scrubland. "These habitats are already burning too frequently. If you do prescribed burns, all you do is accelerate the conversion to very flammable weeds.”
His organization, alongside the nonprofit California Chaparral Institute, launched litigation in late January against the state, asking it to reconsider extensive use of landscape-level fire prevention techniques, including controlled burns.
The Sonoma County Gazette
published an op-ed by EHL that commented on CalFire’s Vegetation Treatment Program boondoggle, which would waste enormous sums of taxpayer money on failed fire hazard reduction strategies (“Costly New Wildfire Suppression Won’t Prevent Catastrophic Fires,” March 7, 2020). Like here
Instead of wholesale clearing of habitat that does nothing to stop the wind-driven fires that cause loss of life and property, EHL recommended more logical efforts including:
- funding to support hardening of existing structures, preventing and controlling ignitions though early detection,
- improving early warning and evacuation systems,
- enforcing defensible space around houses, and
- creating strategic fuel breaks to act as access routes and staging areas for firefighters.
Also, a letter from EHL was published in the Los Angeles Times on December 7, 2019, noting the need for state legislation to reduce the ability of irresponsible local governments to keep putting more and more new housing into high fire danger locations.
The San Diego Union Tribune covered the aftermath of two San Diego land use ballot measures (“Defeat of 2 housing measures leaves questions on future,” March 29, 2019). EHL’s Dan Silver was quoted.
“To me, the defeat of Measure A will historically be viewed as a real tragedy for planning in the whole region,” Silver said. He and others maintain it would have forced the development community to work more collaboratively with environmental and community groups as well as with cities and the county.”