Learning about the recent conflagrations in California, President Trump tweeted: “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”
The main stream media, environmentalists, and, of course, celebrities declared the tweet proof of the president’s insanity, fanning the culture war fires by blaming climate change. Some blamed the president himself for dismantling some regulations put in place by environmentalist lobbies.
Who’s right? Why, in the last five years, is California experiencing so many fires?
Articles predating this year’s fire, especially those written after the 2017 fires, put the blame on forest management. Moreover, the Little Hoover Commission, a state funded think tank that makes recommendations to the governor, “found that California’s forests suffer from neglect and mismanagement, resulting in overcrowding that leaves them susceptible to disease, insects and wildfire.” Fire ecologist Sasha Berleman, in a Mother Jones interview, claims that “100 years of fire suppression has led to this huge accumulation of fuel loads, just dead and downed debris from trees and plant material in our forests, and in our woodlands,” says Berleman. “Our forests and woodlands are not healthy, and we’re getting more catastrophic fire behavior.”
Representative Tom McClintock, whose district includes Yosemite Valley and Tahoe National Forest, explained in a Flash Report interview that “ponderous, byzantine laws and regulations administered by a growing cadre of ideological zealots in our land management agencies promised to ‘save the environment.’ The advocates…have dominated our law, our policies, our courts and our federal agencies ever since.” That article outlines federal missteps that “led to America’s forests turning into tinderboxes, starting in the Clinton Administration and made worse, thanks to activist judges, by thwarting reforms attempted by the Bush Administration, and accelerating during the complicit Obama presidency.” (American Greatness.) Regulations put in place in 2012 particularly have lead to more fires in the past five years.
And, according to website American Greatness, California’s oligarchy, described as those who own the state’s land (“utility companies, trial lawyers, Silicon Valley ‘green’ entrepreneurs and billionaires”) plus “public sector unions, senior partners in California’s leftist coalition” benefit from environmentalist policies because they create artificial scarcity: “They pretend that natural disasters are “man-made,” so they can drive up the cost of living and reap the profits when the companies they invest in sell fewer products and services for more money in a rationed, anti-competitive environment.”
Most shocking of all, the switch from fire suppression through land management has resulted in a massive fire fighting industry. “Over the past few decades, the federal government built an industry designed to fight fire, not light it.” County budgets now include purchase and maintenance of fire helicopters and more. The attached chart, from the Oregon Public Broadcasting site, reveals just how shockingly lucrative the fire fighting business has become for the National Forest Service.
Ironically, attempts to create scarcity through environmentalism has resulted in policies that actually hurt the environment. Why? Because the intense fires release much more carbon than do controlled fires. (PBS)
The president knew all this when he made that fiery tweet. He’d been briefed by Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior. And, the president’s tweet got the public talking and researching. It got voters asking why so many had to lose homes and businesses. It got more Californians to realize swamps exist, not just in Washington DC – but in the flood plains of Sacramento, and the mountains and deserts of California.
***Read the White House link on what the administration is doing for the fire effort. It’s massive and includes up to “75 percent of California’s costs for removing debris, conducting emergency activities, providing transitional sheltering,” and more.