Jul 17 2008
“I very much appreciated the opportunity to travel in Marine One with the President and the Governor, and to be able to look at various areas in the Shasta-Redding area and see the damage done by the fires.
We traveled in over 100-degree heat, and saw how dry the countryside is, and how low Lake Shasta is. We were able to meet with firefighters and jumpers, as well as Eagle Scouts – all of whom are really doing a super job.
I’d like to extend my grateful thanks to every firefighter, jumper, Cal Fire and Forest Service person who has helped in these unusual fires.
I’ve never seen a time when 8,000 dry lightning strikes in a weekend started what eventually would become 1,781 fires, but that has been the case in California. And it has precipitated a long and dedicated effort by more than 20,000 firefighters – not only from our state, but from some 40 states and the District of Columbia, as well as crews from Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Greece. To them, I give my thanks.
I did have the opportunity to discuss with the President, and with Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, the need for additional funding, and I’ve asked for an additional $910 million in emergency federal fire funding.
This year the Forest Service has spent more than $704 million, more than half the $1.2 billion available this year. And the Forest Service definitely needs this money. We are just beginning fire season, and we must be alert and see that we have the necessary equipment and manpower.
The ruggedness of the terrain was a real-life demonstration of how important air assets are. And I have made the request of both the President and the Secretary of Defense that we are able to have two C-130s permanently based at Point Mugu and available for firefighting. Unless we are able to get an air asset over a fire in a short period of time, ground forces cannot reach it for several hours, and it burns and becomes out of control.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the President and the Governor. And I’ll do everything I can to be of help.”