After landing at Sacramento McClellan Airport September 14, 2020 to meet with Governor Gavin Newsom about the California fires, the president stopped to talk to reporters. With a P-3 air tanker in the background, he recognized the assistance the federal government is providing. He also talked about how dry trees explode and a subject he has brought up many times, forest management. (Truth check: trees do not explode, whether from being dry, or during a fire. Except — it can happen when struck by lightning.)
McClellan is a very busy air tanker base these days reloading large and very large air tankers. Sometimes airports are completely shut down when the President is on the ground anywhere nearby, so I asked @SocalAirOps if it was closed during the visit and the answer was no, T-944 (the 747) took off while the President was on the ground. And @JudyMichelson1 chimed in to say T-107 (an MD-87) also took off.
The transcript below of the Presidents’s remarks begins a few seconds after he stepped in front of the reporters. He also spoke to reporters at least one other time while at Sacramento.
President: …Washington state and Oregon and I think they’ll go very well. I think they are doing an incredible job. This is one of the biggest burns we’ve ever seen and we have to do a lot about forest management. Obviously forest management in California is very important and now it extends to Washington and extends also to Oregon. There has to be good, strong, forest management which I’ve been talking about for three years with the state so hopefully they’ll start doing that. In the meantime we’re helping them up, out in a very big way. We have the best people in the world doing this. We have all of our people from FEMA, we have law enforcement here. We have the Army Corps of Engineers. We have basically some other military and military operatives that do this. And I’m going to meet with the Governor right now Gavin Newsom. We’ve worked very well together. I’ve approved the emergency declaration as you know. And I think we’ll have a very good meeting.
Reporter: What would you like to see specifically done on the issue of forest management, and is it possible that it’s also forest management and climate change, it’s both things at the same time.
President: I think something’s possible. I think a lot of things are possible. But with regard to the forest, when trees fall down after a short period of time, about 18 months, they become very dry, they become really like a match stick and they get up you know there’s no more water pouring through and they become very, very they just explode. They can explode. Also leaves. When you have years of leaves, dried leaves on the ground it just sets it up. It’s really a fuel for a fire. So they have to do something about it.
They also have to do cuts, I mean people don’t like to do cuts but they have to do cuts in between, so if you do have a fire and it gets away you’ll have a 50-yard cut in between, so it won’t be able to catch to the other side, they don’t do that.
If you go to other countries, you go to Austria, you go to Finland, you go to many different countries and they don’t have fires. I was talking to the head of a major country and he said, “We’re a forest nation. We consider ourselves a forest nation.” This was in Europe. I said that’s a beautiful term. He said, “We have trees that are far more explosive.” He meant explosive in terms of fire. But we have trees that are far more explosive than they have in California, and we don’t have any problem, because we manage our forests.” So we have to do that in California too.
(end of transcript)
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