I found this article from 2013. It’s interesting because it demonstrates that the brush discussion in California has been ongoing for years. Maybe the 2018 fires will focus the attentions of the authorities on this annual problem.
Back in 2013, the state produced its Environmental Impact Report that detailed the potential effects of the state’s brush-clearing efforts for decades to come. California wanted to clean brushwood to prevent the spread of bushfires. The state’s strategies included: prescribed burns, using sheep and goats to control weeds, mechanical thinning, sending out California Conservation Corps hand crews and, in some cases, spraying herbicides after the initial clearing.
Concerned environmental groups disagreed, citing their special interest: botany, birds, etc, as the reason for not focusing fire prevention on brush, but on regulations for people. They wanted the state to concentrate on better land use planning: defensible space, stricter fire-safe building codes and full funding of fire crews
“They’ve got to get away from this vegetation treatment myopia,” said Rick Halsey, director of the Escondido-based Chaparral Institute.
The proposed statewide push for more brush clearing to prevent wildfires triggered environmentalists dissent because the proposed mix of strategies included “prescribed burns and applying herbicides” and they countered that, “too much clearing threatened irreparable harm to the environment and would actually fuel bigger fires if more flammable invasive weeds and brush take root.”
“You have to have vegetation management. Why? Because the population is growing,” said George Gentry, executive officer of the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“People have to expect one of two things,” he continued. “They’re going to have to expect a large-scale fire that San Diego has already seen or they’re going to have to accept some form of treatment to help mitigate those large-scale fires. That’s the choices we’re basically faced with.”
This video is from over a week ago. And still the fires burn.