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Bill of the Week: AB 297 (Fong) – Wildfires: local assistance grant program: advance payments

RCRC is supporting Assembly Bill 297, authored by Assembly Member Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), which extends CAL FIRE’s ability to offer advance payments of up to 25 percent of the total grant reward from its Wildfire Prevention Grants program to January 1, 2034.

Mitigating wildfire risk in the wildland-urban interface is increasingly important as California’s fire severity worsens statewide due to climate change and the continued need to improve the health of the state’s forests and wildlands. CAL FIRE’s Wildfire Prevention Grants Program funds projects to mitigate wildfire risk around communities and to educate homeowners about home hardening and other necessary risk reduction measures to help safeguard them from the impacts of wildfire. Currently, the program can offer advance payments for up to 25 percent of the total grant amount to expedite projects; however, the advance payment provision will sunset on January 1, 2024.

AB 297 would extend the advance payment sunset to January 1, 2034, enabling CAL FIRE to continue providing advance payments in order to expedite community wildfire mitigation efforts statewide. RCRC’s letter of support is available here. For more information, please contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate Staci Heaton at sheaton@rcrcnet.org.


This could be a big help in getting fuel reduction and home hardening projects for our FireWise Communities, but would have to move quickly. Does the County FireSafe Council or OR3 have the ability to help with this? Also, I suppose it is an unknown whether the bill will pass and get signed into law before the January 1,2024 sunset deadline.

Becky Steinbruner suggests we write letters to our Assembly members urging support of AB 297, and extending the January 1, 2024 deadline for the 25% advance payment to support grant-funded work.