President suggests California politicians complain too much about wildfires

Last year 104 people, including 6 firefighters, were killed on wildfires in California.

Fire tornado Carr Fire
Fire tornado filmed by the Helicopter Coordinator on the Carr Fire July 26, 2018 near Redding, California.

During a visit to the US/Mexico border in California on Friday President Trump was asked if he had a comment about recent lawsuits filed by California about his proposed declaration of a national emergency at the border. According to a report from CNN he replied:

California’s always the first one to complain. And I don’t mean the people of California. They’re fantastic. I’m talking about the politicians in California. They complain.

When their forests go up, they complain. They gotta take care of their forests a lot better. But when the wall – they want the wall in San Diego and they’re always the first one. They were the first one to pull the National Guard. And they need the National Guard.

Wildfires in California in 2018 killed 104 people. Six of those were firefighters.

May they all rest in peace.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Rick. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

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+

13 thoughts on “President suggests California politicians complain too much about wildfires”

  1. I can’t believe that a President would say this! The worst part is, people in this country love him and they think he is doing a good job! Are we a country of bullies now?

  2. Dear Bill,
    I was a land manager and FMO for over 40 years with the US Forest Service and DoD. The President is partially correct California politics is a little crazy and the California Leadership could do a lot more to curtail unwarranted lawsuits by some environmental groups for “Real and Scientific based Wildland / Forest Management. It has taken over 30 years of no management for these fuel loads to get to “catastrophe levels” when a wildfire is ignited. Over 60 %+ of the Forest Service and other Land Management agencies budget are used just for Fire suppression and another 25 % +to deal with these lawsuits against Natural Resource Management plans and actions. This leaves very little funding for BD,KV and Watershed Restoration ,Wildlife Management, Recreation Management as examples. I would be happy to discuss in detail.

    1. James,

      Except of course, that the problem you are speaking of is a federal problem, not a State of California one. And one of the leading contributing factors is years of budget cuts at those land management agencies and the forced transfer of funds out of management to cover suppression costs.

      Some of the lawsuits are no doubt spurious to force an agenda, and should be reduced/blocked, while others are simply trying to force the agencies to follow the laws, which they should be doing. Blanket statements that all lawsuits are equally bad are unproductive at best. As are most statements about natural resources out of this administration.

      1. Cy,
        the problem was not just federal, it involved the state as well. The largest part was federal but the state was equally at fault and they both bowed down to the environmental groups pressures and lawsuits. James makes many good points. Now thirty years later we have major fuel load problems due to the Sierra Club among other environmental groups that got their way. Facts are facts. Like James I worked for the feds but the state as well in the fire service.

        1. Eugene,

          Can you show me a specific example of lawsuits slowing down fuel management on state-controlled land?

          The State of California does direct management on only a couple of small state forests and the state parks. It of course sets the rules for private land management which is largely divided up into industry land and NIPF ownerships. The industry land is generally already intensively managed. The NIPF ownerships are where a majority of the WUI fuel management hasn’t occured and should but I can’t recall much of that being stalled by lawsuits.

          Could the state do more to promote NIPF management? Certainly — make it cheaper and easier to get plans approved and provide incentives. But what specific things do they need to do to get hundreds of thousands of NIPF owners to reduce fuel loads? Especially when most either don’t want the management or are unwilling to pay for it. Blaming the state for that seems less than useful.

          1. Cy,
            you obviously missed the point of my reply. If the environmental groups would.not have wreaked havoc back in the late seventies early eighties on federal and state lands which are in the borders of california. Forest cleanup and sustainable timber harvesting would have continued and we would not have the fuel loads ,catastrophic fire behavior and destruction that we have today. I dont care who owns and manages what. Everyone was involved or there would be heavy fuel loads only on federal land if they were the only ones at fault. You can spout off all your statistics all day long. Facts are facts. Have a great day

          2. The foundation of the problem is mixed ownership of land, forested or non-forested and the lack of coordination and lack of flexibility on how money is allowed to be spent ACROSS those ownership jurisdictions. Break all the barriers down, implement stream-lined decision-making processes for fuels management, especially in a generously defined wildland urban interface, accept relatively low levels of smoke in the air from prescribed burning, provide wider burn windows of time for Rx fire, and get to work.

        2. Just to follow up. Here are the ownership statistics for 2016 from the UCANR website:

          “Of the approximately 33 million acres of forest in California, federal agencies (including the USDA Forest Service and USDI Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service) own and manage 19 million acres (57%). State and local agencies including CalFire, local open space, park and water districts and land trusts own another 3%. 40% of California’s forestland is owned by families, Native American tribes, or companies. Industrial timber companies own 5 million acres (14%). 9 million acres are owned by individuals with nearly 90% of these owners having less than 50 acres of forest land.”

    2. Having experts advising him would go a long way in trying to help with the whole issue/issues of management I think. But threatening to cut a budget does a disservice to all. Being partially right about the management problem is not helpful when people’s lives and homes are at stake. This President doesn’t seem to gather all the right people around him in order to make an informed decision. At least on this. His interview last year on “raking” was horrible. If I were there during that interview I would have had to walk away. He came across as not being fully in touch.

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