The governor restored nearly $7 million in funds to the California Department of Forestry, filling a gap that Deputy Director Jim Wright said would have forced his agency to either ground a few of its fast-attack planes, mothball some fire engines, or both.
The money is coming out of a one-time windfall of more than $2 billion from an improved economy, at a time when heavy rains have increased the growth of brush and grass in fire-prone California.
Carroll Wills of the California Professional Firefighters called it an "acknowledgment that California has critical needs in protecting against catastrophic wildfires."
The governor had publicly vowed last month to reverse the cuts, in the name of public safety, after being questioned at a news conference about Oakland Tribune reports that his original 2005-06 budget proposal would have forced firefighting cutbacks.
"We want the full fleets out there and to protect the people from fires," Schwarzenegger said.
During the fire season of 2003-04, California blazes killed 17 people and destroyed more than 2,300 homes.
Schwarzenegger also augmented his original proposed budget, which allocated funds to replace 40 CDF fire engines, with another $5 million to buy 20 additional replacement engines. Of the state's fleet of 335 engines, nearly half are old enough they need to be replaced.
Another $5 million in the governor's updated budget will go to the Office of Emergency Services for 20 extra engines that will be loaned to local government agencies for routine use until they are needed for duty by CDF.
Contact Sacramento Bureau Chief Steve Geissinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.