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California wildfires: Is Trump right when he blames forest managers?

President Trump has blamed “poor forest management” in California for the wildfires that have swept across the state.

In a couple of tweets, he has suggested that the state has not managed its forests properly, despite receiving “billions of dollars” each year.

The comments came shortly after he issued an emergency declaration to allow US federal government funds to be used to tackle three blazes in the state.

There was an angry response from firefighters, including the president of the California Professional Firefighters, who said the assertion forest management policy was to blame was “dangerously wrong”.

The International Federation of Firefighters – which represents members across the US and Canada – attacked President Trump for suggesting he might cut off funding.

Some of those fighting the recent fires have also pointed out that fires have started in open scrub or grassland rather than in forests.

The comments have also been criticised by some experts who say they ignore the bigger picture of climate change and population shifts in the state.

But is there any substance in the president’s remarks about forest management? Continue reading “California wildfires: Is Trump right when he blames forest managers?”

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California timber industry may be a ‘piece of the puzzle’ to help reduce state’s raging wildfires

Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images

As California wildfires rage, politicians, timber companies and environmentalists are debating whether to thin overly dense forest lands that fuel the state’s deadly infernos.

About one-third of California is covered by forests, most of it owned by the U.S. government. Last year was the most destructive and deadly wildfire season in the state’s history. And 2018 through July is one-third higher in acreage burned than a year ago, according to Cal Fire.

Some believe the state’s timber industry could be part of the solution by selectively thinning forests of trees. Timber harvesting has fallen sharply in California since the 1990s.

Despite opposition from some environmental groups, there’s talk of the need to remove more barriers to logging given that wildfires have become bigger, deadlier and faster moving. California’s timber laws are considered the most stringent in the nation.

“You’ve got a lot of fuel, you’ve got dead and dying trees, and a lot of hot weather — and it’s a recipe for disaster,” said Assemblyman Jim Wood of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, a member of the Senate and Assembly conference committee on wildfire preparedness and response. He represents a district with forested areas where October’s wine country firestorms ripped through neighborhoods and destroyed thousands of homes and claimed 31 lives.

The U.S. Forest Service estimates that California has 129 million dead trees, most in the central and southern Sierras. Insects and drought are to blame for the high numbers.

California requires investor-owned utilities to buy biomass power from dead trees in high-hazard forested zones.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to completely prevent forest fires, but I think we can mitigate the damage that they cause,” said Wood. “It’s a strategy and it will take resources. As a state, we haven’t committed as much to that, and that’s part of the reason we find ourselves where we are.”

Continue reading “California timber industry may be a ‘piece of the puzzle’ to help reduce state’s raging wildfires”