Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that in defiance of the Trump administration, he's pulling a bunch of California National Guard troops from the southern border and putting them to work for CalFire doing forest thinning and fire prevention work.
Heeding Trump's own advice following the Camp Fire, it seems, Newsom and CalFire are stepping up fuels-thinning and forest management programs ahead of this year's fire season.
The Associated Press reports that 110 troops will go to work for CalFire, receiving 11 days of training starting in April and then joining firefighters in at least 35 fuel-reduction projects around the state. (KPIX says in a clip at that same link that Newsom is pulling "all but about 100 troops" from the border, though, which would be more like 240 people.)
"They will be boots on the ground doing fuels projects alongside Cal Fire crews,” says California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Mike Mohler, speaking to the AP. “We’ve had them out for flood fighting, several different operations, but this would be the first time their mission would be fuels thinning and forest management."
National Guard troops have been deployed for firefighting in California before. As the AP notes, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger deployed them in July 2008 after lightning storms sparked hundreds of fires across the state in what CalFire now refers to as "The 2008 Siege."
In total, CalFire has plans to thin flammable brush and trees across 140 square miles of the state, about double what they usually do in the spring. However officials estimate that some 23,438 square miles of wildlands need thinning, and Mohler says "It’s not a problem that’s going to get fixed overnight."