Several times over the last month President Trump has expressed his opinions about wildland fire management. On two occasions he said forests were being mismanaged in California, but did not specify exactly how, or if he was referring to the half of the forested land in the state that is managed by the federal government, or possibly the state managed lands, or private property. He also threatened twice to cut funding in the state because “forest management is so poor”, but it was not clear what funds he wants to reduce.
On November 27 Mr. Trump expanded on his wildfire management opinions in a lengthy interview with two reporters from the Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey. Below is what he said to them about fires, according to the Post:
“The fire in California, where I was, if you looked at the floor, the floor of the fire they have trees that were fallen, they did no forest management, no forest maintenance, and you can light — you can take a match like this and light a tree trunk when that thing is laying there for more than 14 or 15 months. And it’s a massive problem in California. … You go to other places where they have denser trees — it’s more dense, where the trees are more flammable — they don’t have forest fires like this, because they maintain. And it was very interesting, I was watching the firemen and they’re raking brush — you know the tumbleweed and brush and all this stuff that’s growing underneath. It’s on fire and they’re raking it working so hard, and they’re raking all this stuff. If that was raked in the beginning, there’d be nothing to catch on fire. It’s very interesting to see. A lot of the trees, they took tremendous burn at the bottom, but they didn’t catch on fire. The bottom is all burned but they didn’t catch on fire because they sucked the water, they’re wet. You need forest management, and they don’t have it.”
This quote was in the Post’s Fact Checker column, written by Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo, in which they checked a number of statements made in the interview. If you scroll down you will see what the authors determined to be factual, or not, in the President’s comments about fire.
This reminds me of how fictional President Josiah Edward “Jed” Bartlet of the TV series The West Wing handled a controversial wildfire issue. (Spoiler. It was very different.)
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kelly.
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