To Reduce Wildfire Threat, Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher Proposes Plan to Protect Southern California’s Trees From Destructive Beetles
SACRAMENTO – (Tuesday, February 6, 2018) – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) today introduced a bill to help prevent future deadly wildfires that are caused when trees dry up into kindling after being killed by beetles that have become a scourge of the Southern California countryside.
Assembly Bill 2054 would create an action plan to mitigate the damages caused by the destructive beetle known as the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer. This beetle bores into a tree and brings with it a fungus that can cause the tree to wither, die and contribute to the dry, hazardous conditions that become ripe for disaster during wildfire season. Because of the recent drought, many trees aren’t in optimal health and thus are particularly vulnerable to this fungus. The Shot Hole Borer beetle is most prevalently found in Southern California and cite by experts as being a culprit for the death of trees in the region. Statewide, there are believed to be 129 million dead trees.
“We must take care of our trees so our trees can continue to take care of us,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher said. “These beetles are more than a nuisance. They’re a direct threat to millions of trees all over our state, whether it’s in the avocado groves of North County or an urban park in San Diego. The more dead trees, the worse our air quality and the greater the wildfire danger.”
AB 2054 would establish a framework for a coordinated statewide effort. It would instruct the Invasive Species Council of California and the California Invasive Species Advisory Committee to coordinate with state and local agencies and stakeholder groups to develop a plan to cure or suppress the disease spread by this beetle.
Once this plan is created, the state would support local efforts with actions such as providing matching grants for local agencies involved in suppressing the beetle, restoring trees that are destroyed because of it, and conducting research related to identification of infected trees and prevention methods.
For more information on this issue or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher, contact Alex Roth at 619-228-3253.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher represents California’s 80th Assembly District, located in southern San Diego County, including the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, and National City. She serves as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace, and Vice Chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. For more information on Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher visit https://a80.asmdc.org/