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Bigelow: Bill Would Help Thin Forest

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Sacramento, CA — Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, along with a Bay Area Democrat, is introducing a bill designed to reduce the amount of fuels on private forest land.

Assembly Bill 350 would increase the diameter of trees that qualify to be cleared under the state’s Forest Fire Prevention Exemption Law, which was approved in 2003. It would increase the diameter of the trees that are allowed to be cleared in “special circumstances” from the current 18 and 24 inches, to a proposed 28 to 34 inches.

Bigelow says it would help reduce the threat of devastating wildfires. It is co-authored by Democrat Bob Wieckowski of Fremont.

According to information from Bigelow’s office, the legislature created the Forest Fire Prevention Exemption in 2003 because of the devastating wildfires that had spread across Southern California. The exemption to the Timber Harvest Plan is designed to get landowners to engage in forest thinning projects to reduce the threat and intensity of wildfires.

“This is a bipartisan issue,” claims Bigelow. “We’re working to reduce the risks of forest fires throughout California and we’re putting people back to work.”

Bigelow says the 2003 legislation has not achieved the goal of adequate forest thinning. He says there are 550,000 acres of private timberland that is overgrown and in need of thinning.

Bigelow’s 5th District covers both Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties.