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Landowners Could be hit With Firefighting Costs

Landowners on nearly 32 million acres where fire protection is provided by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection may have to jointly pay $50 million in firefighting costs stripped out of the budget that was approved by lawmakers this week. Governor Davis has indicated he will sign it.

The $50 million was pulled from the department’s budget to help balance the state’s $38 billion deficit.

A bill still being finalized for lawmakers´ consideration would let the department recover the money by collecting fees. How is still uncertain, but the fees would likely be charged to landowners.

The department provides fire protection for nearly a third the state’s roughly 100 million acres, mostly in rural areas at lower elevations.