This bill would enact the Wildfire, Drought, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020, which, if approved by the voters, would authorize the issuance of bonds in an amount of $4,300,000,000 pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law to finance projects to restore fire damaged areas, reduce wildfire risk, create healthy forest and watersheds, reduce climate impacts on urban areas and vulnerable populations, protect water supply and water quality, protect rivers, lakes, and streams, reduce flood risk, protect fish and wildlife from climate impacts, improve climate resilience of agricultural lands, and protect coastal lands and resources.
Climate change is increasing the frequency of natural disasters and the associated destruction. To ensure that California can meet these challenges, it is critical to address the ongoing and continued threat of climate change and important plan for future threats to the state park system.
The wildfire season is becoming longer and more intense each year due to hotter temperatures and wide scale tree death resulting from prolonged drought. In fact, between 2010-2017 an estimated 129 million trees died, leaving behind massive amounts of highly combustible fuel. This phenomenon has led to the worst fires on record. Over the 13 months starting in October of 2017 the state endured four massive fires that caused 118 deaths, burned 700,000 acres, and destroyed 27,000 properties. In 2017 multiple state parks sustained fire damage and then again in 2018 more state parkland was destroyed by fires.
In California, frequent coastal flooding exacerbated by sea-level rise is expected to threaten nearly half a million people, $100 billion in property, and 3500 miles of roads within the next 80 years. The number of hazardous sites, like wastewater plants, which are susceptible to 100-year flood events is expected to increase by nearly 2.5 times over a similar period, drastically increasing the risk of pollutant disasters if adaptation measures are not taken.
Droughts are an expected feature of California’s arid climate, but the four-year period between fall 2011 and fall 2015, which correlated with the hottest two years on record in 2014 and 2015, was the driest since record keeping began in 1895. The winter of 2017 provided only a brief respite before historic rainfall lows again in the winter of 2018.