CEQA Law Denied Clearing of Forest to Prevent Wildfires in Berry Creek Resulting in Human and Animal Lives Lost

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Over three million acres charred and lives have been unnecessarily lost across California. Today, the Butte Fire Safe Council made public to KRCR TV Redding/Chico that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) prevented fire mitigation to clear access roads in Berry Creek, a rural community destroyed in the North Complex West Zone Fire.

“We lost another community because of powerful environmental extremists and inaction of the Newsom Administration and the California Legislature on CEQA reform,” said Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama). “Anger doesn’t begin to describe my reaction to this nonsense. Delays caused by CEQA resulted in human and animal lives lost, billions in property damage and triggered millions of dollars of state spending that could have applied elsewhere.”

“It is my intention to introduce legislation to exempt projects like these directed at saving lives, properties and animals when the Legislature reconvenes,” Senator Nielsen added.  

The town of Berry Creek was a high-risk area as determined by the Butte Fire Safe Council in 2018. A grant of $836,365 was given to cut back vegetation and clear the access roads as part of an escape route. The money was also intended to create fuel breaks in ridge-top areas. 

CEQA delayed the clearing of 120 acres of dry brush by 18 months.

“It is incomprehensible that policy makers continue to ignore the need to balance environmental laws and the protection of human and animal lives, while CEQA exemptions have been made to build massive sports stadiums,” Senator Nielsen said.