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PG&E Donates US$5 Million to U.S. Forest Service to Reduce Wildfire Risk

May 6, 2020
Support will fund fuel-reduction projects in six national forests in California.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) has donated nearly US$5 million to the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, to fund fuel-reduction projects and purchase equipment that will be used in six national forests located throughout the state. The funds are part of the PG&E's continuing efforts to further mitigate wildfire risks across Northern and Central California.

The U.S. Forest Service intends to use the funds for fuel-reduction projects in 5870 acres through the various forests. Projects will include prescribed pile burning, mechanical thinning, and bio-mass removal for mulching.

Additionally, the funds will allow the Forest Service to purchase new fuel-reducing equipment such as machine saws, mastication heads, grapple machinery, wood chippers, and trailers, which will enable more in-house work and faster reaction times to complete needed work.

The program will fund and facilitate the completion of required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) surveys and documentation needed to treat the forests with fuel-reduction activities.

"The PG&E is focused on public safety and finding additional ways to reduce the risk of wildfires. It will take all of us — community leaders, first responders, federal agencies, state leaders, and energy companies — working together to provide customers and communities with the safest energy possible, given California's rapidly changing environment. Our support of the Forest Service is one example of how partnerships benefit all of us," said Debbie Powell, vice president of asset risk management and the PG&E's Community Wildfire Safety Program.

California faces an increasing threat from catastrophic wildfires, severe weather, and higher temperatures, as recent state and federal climate assessments warn the threat is only growing. In 2012, only 15% of the PG&E's service area was designated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as having an elevated wildfire risk. Today, it is more than 50%.

Multiple factors contribute to wildfire risk and an extended fire season across the PG&E's service area. Prolonged periods of high temperatures, extreme dryness, tinder-dry grass, and record-high winds combined with vast tree mortality following a historic five-year drought are increasing the number of wildfires and making them more dangerous.

"We appreciate the PG&E's generous contribution to the U.S Forest Services fuel-reduction efforts," said Brian Rhodes, deputy director of fire and aviation management for the Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service. "Six national forests located within the PG&E's service area, from Six Rivers in the north to Sequoia in the Sierra Nevada, will be less prone to wildfires because of this work and equipment."

Other national forests that are part of this effort include Shasta, Plumas, Stanislaus, and Los Padres. For more information on the PG&E's Community Wildfire Safety Program, visit here.

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