(TNS) — Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in California on Friday and waived environmental regulations to expedite nearly three dozen local forest management projects to protect communities from the deadly wildfires that have decimated regions up and down the state.
The governor's action marks the latest effort by the state to offset the possibility of catastrophe after back-to-back years of savage wildfires that killed more than 100 people and burned nearly 2 million acres in total. The projects will cost a total of $35 million, which will be paid with forest management funds in the 2018-19 budget.
"The increasing wildfire risks we face as a state means we simply can't wait until a fire starts in order to start deploying emergency resources," Newsom said before making his announcement at a news conference in Lake County on Friday morning. "California needs sustained focus and immediate action in order to better protect our communities."
Critics voiced concern about the governor's decision to suspend guidelines put in place to protect the environment and the precedent his executive order might set. Some argued that regulations do not pose a problem and the state should have prioritized the projects earlier.