President renews his attack on California and “forrest” management

Pilot Fire
A dozer tender on the Pilot Fire in Southern California, August 7, 2016. Jeff Zimmerman photo.

This morning when I saw a tweet that appeared to be from President Trump that threatened to “send no more money” to California at first I thought it was sent by a parody account. The fact that “Forrest” was misspelled, not once but twice, and capitalized, made it seem unlikely that the leader of the free world could misspell the word. Then I saw the little blue checkmark, indicating that it is a verified account.

I made a screengrab of the tweet in case it was deleted, and shortly after that, it was. Here is the original version:

Trump President forrest
Tweet by President Trump which was deleted Jan. 9, 2019.

About 50 minutes after sending the Forrest tweet he deleted the first version and sent a revised copy that was exactly the same, but this time spelling “Forest fires” correctly.

If our President is going to try to influence how state or federal land management agencies manage their forests, he needs to know enough about the issue to spell the word correctly.

Mr. Trump has made the threat of cutting off funds to California related to wildfires on other occasions, including November 10, 2018 and October 17, 2018.

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 a portion of what he said to them about fires, according to the Post:

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 sounds like the firefighters were mopping up, using tools to stir duff and burning materials so that it can cool, or so water can be more efficiently applied. He also has advocated raking the forest floors. But reducing the threat of wildfires is much more complicated than raking. On December 28, 2018 I wrote about some of the complexities involved in preventing homes from burning during a wildfire, and the fact that home owners, planners, and local jurisdictions have the responsibility to design structures, infrastructure, and communities that can live with wildfires. Treating fuels near residential areas using mechanical methods or prescribed burning is also necessary. More logging is not the answer.

According to a 2015 report by the Congressional Research Service the federal government manages 46 percent of the land in California. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection manages or has fire protection responsibility for about 30 percent.

In August the President tweeted about California,“Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!”

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Sacramento Bee on August 7, 2018:

The Trump administration’s own budget request for the current fiscal year and the coming one proposed slashing tens of millions of dollars from the Department of Interior and U.S. Forest Service budgets dedicated to the kind of tree clearing and other forest management work experts say is needed. And it’s just one example of how the federal government is still not prioritizing fire mitigation to the scale that is needed, according to forestry experts.

“I think for a number of years the feds were more ahead of this dilemma, at least in discussions,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at the University of California, Berkeley. But “I have to say right now, I think the state is moving ahead. It’s certainly being more innovative, it’s doing more policy work.”

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

16 thoughts on “President renews his attack on California and “forrest” management”

  1. What can possibly be more frightening than extreme fire danger or a raging wildfire? A “leader” of the Free World that cannot spell. One that is utterly reactive and self-absorbed. As a 70-year-old I have never felt such discomfort, fright, at how POTUS wields power and metes it out. These are dangerous times whether it be wildfire risk or (fill in the blank)! LR

  2. It’s very terrifying to see the pettiness coming from the WH. Both parties have always been petty, but for the POTUS to stoop to this level is frightening.

    Even more frightening that his complete disregard for science is his idea that he knows more about everything than anybody else. This man has never earned a callous, slept outside, ate MREs. We have have furloughed perms that spend the winter on trainings, Rx projects, fuels projects, and they are now looking at 3-6+ weeks of non productivity with fire season around the corner. Odd that the POTUS whines about mismanagement and then shuts down the agencies that spend the winter doing the leg work for fuels work.

    Politics aside, this man is not fit to lead.

  3. Somebody please tell the toddler-in-chief that you can’t undeclare a disaster… he’s ALREADY approved the funding!

  4. Interesting that Trump blames forest mismanagement when global warming is a more significant factor, and will undoubtedly become the major factor in the near future. Yet Trump thinks anthropogenic global warming is a fraud and has doubled down on national priorities that will make it worse. Trump, then, is threatening to take away FEMA funds for a problem he’s actively making worse.

  5. The president’s hatred of California runs so deep, that he will use any excuse to threaten to cut off federal funds if the state doesn’t do as he says. When he threatened to make data from federal satellites unavailable to California Governor Brown’s answer was to the point: fine, we’ll launch our own satellites. If Donald Trump wants to pick one of his usual childish fights with the state of California he should be aware that we are unimpressed by his intellect and unmoved by his bullying. We are also well aware that our federal taxes pay not only our own way but cover the needs of several other states as well. Hey we’re glad to help…after all we’re trying to complete the building of the greatest nation ever to grace our planet! We will continue down this road with or without Mr. Trump and FEMA money, whether he threatens to hold out on us or not, because we know what we’re doing…and he doesn’t.

  6. Interesting.. #4 of RULES in posting: 4. Religion and politics will not be discussed, unless it directly affects wildland fire or firefighters. What does the incorrectly spelled word directly affect firefighters? It doesn’t, just another excuse to slam the President. Your own rules Billy!

  7. Oh this is going to get crazier before it ends I’m afraid. It is very shameful. But…I’m still proud to be an American even though he has caused us to look bad in the eyes of the world. Meanwhile. I too won’t have any work until they All settle this. And I mean. All of the kids in D.C.

  8. It’s a common misspelling. I have to stop and double-take every time I write Sherrif … er … Sheriff. Neither looks rite wright now, but if you know what the wrighter means, the word has done its job.
    Lets don’t go French on this, Bill. The French have apoplexy over the minutia of their language.
    (Sometimes I, too, go off into asterisks over there, their, to, too, two, and tu-tu. 😉

    Desmond, of course.

    1. Robert, no not really. He’s complaining because it’s a democratic leaning state, with a democratic governor. He’s playing politics. As did Zinke. He doesn’t care to listen to anyone in the FS, or BLM or with anyone fire science knowledge or experience.

  9. Bill, I’m sorry to say, but you are ignoring a very important part of the fuel triangle-fuel. To the uneducated: a fire needs 3 things to burn: Oxygen, heat, & fuel. Perhaps it’s time for a refresher?

    I am here to educate about the fuel component, & am discouraged at the misguidance that Bill continues to give on this point, coupled with the blind following.

    Forest fuels aren’t restricted to the understory, & past human activity (logging), coupled with lack of management, & fire suppression for the last 100 years have increased forest densities anywhere from 2-100+ fold from historical averages. Don’t pee on my leg & tell me it’s raining. Don’t tell me the overstocked western federal forests have no contribution to the explosive growth, size, & carrying potential of today’s fires.

    You easily pay for understory fuels reduction treatments with sensible, science-based forest management. I see, in the daily paper, CA pledged $1B. for fuels reduction to “clear dead trees that serve as fuel.” With the 100’s of MILLIONS of dead trees they have experienced in the last decade, they probably left this $ on the table long ago. We should be making money, or at the minimum, pay the way for fuels treatment. Government, from the municipal, to state, & federal level in CA continue to make tree removal an increasingly expensive endeavor endangering the very forest & trees they claim to protect.

  10. While I called my elected officials with my feelings about the Presidents uninformed, hurtful, thoughtless Tweet probably mis-aimed at Pelosi, a large firefighter organization in California issued this reasoned response: https://yubanet.com/regional/california-professional-firefighters-president-responds-to-presidents-threat-to-cut-off-aid-to-fire-victims . I hope you find it valuable and thought provoking reading. Let us not forget the thousands who have lost their homes, business, employment, security or the ones who paid the ultimate price.

  11. Let’s be completely honest here — the current President is extravagantly uninformed about forest management problems and lacks the capacity to learn about them. 19 million acres of California forest lands are owned and managed by the federal government (USFS, NPS, BLM, etc..) and the State of California has no direct say about their management. That’s 57% of the forest area of the state that is directly the President’s responsibility to manage.

    The state itself directly manages less than 4% of the forested area in parks, state forests, etc.. The rest is privately owned by forest industry (5 million acres) and private individuals (9 million acres) and tribes, families, and land trusts. Those last ownerships are of course governed by state rules for forest management but they are also controlled by people with many different goals for their land. Many of those private owners have less than 50 acres and are not interested in or capable of forest management and often object to forest management activities on adjacent properties.

    I suspect we’d be better off just ignoring Trump’s opinion about “forrest” management because it will continue to be uninformed, and frankly unintelligent. He won’t read and he won’t listen to people who do know about the topic.

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