The President spoke about firefighting and forest management after landing at Sacramento

President remarks at MCC September 14, 2020
Upon landing at Sacramento McClellan Airport the President talked about firefighting and forest management September 14, 2020. A P-3 air tanker can be seen in the background.

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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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+

86 thoughts on “The President spoke about firefighting and forest management after landing at Sacramento”

  1. Interesting he didn’t comment about the federally owned land that are managed directly by the federal government with federal employees. Where is the funding for increased forest management and fuels reduction? The fire staff can’t even keep up with the suppression side and they are also responsible for the prevention largely too.

    1. The federal government gave up trying due to the lawsuits brought against them by the Sierra Club and all the red tape required in California.

      1. Just to clarify a point, the Federal government’s management of the National Forests isn’t directly affected by California state law. State law only applies to private lands within the state and state-owned lands.

        1. The State prevents controlled burns all the time, because the public doesn’t like the smoke from them. This is what happens after decades of suppression. Forests need fire to remain healthy. To make matters worse, the Urban-Interface has moved completely into forested areas, resulting in no defensible space from forest to city. States and localities allow that sprawl without acknowledging the threat of dropping thousands of houses, in close proximity, in densely forested areas.
          The state has a great deal of onus by it’s regulatory requirements.

      2. Trying what? I don’t think the Sierra Club sues to stop fuels reduction projects. The federal government has failed to maintain a workforce able to do the job. It’s a total failure of the federal government top to bottom

        1. The FS has, for [at least] the past 40 years, been sued consistently by “environmental” org’s to stop proposed logging and thinning projects. Including, post-burn timber salvage, keeping those operations “on hold” (Court Injunctions) until the burned and/or downed trees were no longer salvageable. And if you believe any of the (pseudo) enviro-groups are using all those donations they get, for good… think again! The heads of these org’s live in multimillion dollar houses, & are notorious for their mega-parties, PAC’s, and other less-than-environmental activities.
          Have you not heard or seen their promotions(?)! “SAVE THE TREES” lol
          My spouse dealt with this in the FS from start to finish of his multifaceted Forestry career, incl. all areas of Forest Management, Timber Program Leader, Fire, FMO, Silviculture, IMT- FBAN Type I,II,III teams, and too many more to list. Now my middle kid deals with the aftermath in Cali as Asst Engine Boss,
          USFS. I know hundreds of other Foresters who can tell you the same.

          1. As usual, people cherry pick and take things out of context, according to their political biases and agendas. Legitimate environmental groups have been against thinning in the Redwoods where it hurts rather than helps, not in pine and fir forests. But then people take that as if it’s being applied to every forest.
            The problems we’re having with forest fires now are human caused, both due to the incredible amount of CO2 we’ve added to the atmosphere since we started digging up and burning hydrocarbons, and due to having put out every fire we possibly could for over a hundred years.
            “Why was the King Fire so large and so intense? The scientific research is clear: For over a century the Forest Service logged large fire-resistant trees and clearcut, while putting out every fire. Now there’s an enormous build-up of forest fuels. The frequent and mostly low and moderate intensity fires under which the Sierra Nevada evolved have been replaced by larger and more severe fires, which burn even the large trees which usually survived. The highest priority ecological need in the Sierra is prescribed fire, to maintain forest fuels at the level they should be.” – Sierra Club

  2. Oh boy-

    Sad –

    Help is needed –

    I am just a housewife hiker and I recognize it.

    This is a non-political response but hanging my head down low shaking it.

  3. It seems that Mr. Trump knows very little about forest management. I am sure we could improve. The countries he mentioned all have a lot more rain and snow than we do. I have been to those countries and their climate is not at all like our West Coast. But, of course, with climate change they could become similar.
    The Federal forests are over 50% of the forest lands in the state of California so the Feds should be doing at least 50% of the work. Probably about the same percentage in most of the Western states.

  4. Did anyone mention to him that the majority of the forest lands burning up in the West are US Forest Service/Bureau of Land Management forests that he controls?

    1. Or that HUMIDITY is low at this time of year In this area of our country? I grew up in Ga. Few fires, VERY HIGH humidity! I know no one can actually tell this man anything, as he doesn’t listen, but Climate change is happening! IT’S REAL!

    2. Dept of interior not Trump. Do your research. This is a planet. It’s changeing. The dept of interior need to bring back logging clean up million of dead fallen trees they are fuel hotter then standing dead. Forest service need to go do their jobs manage the forest. Stop with all the crap. Stop with the lies.

      1. Debbie, wow, the president runs the government, the buck stops with him. He is the boss.

        And it is not the Dept of Interior (and actually, Deb, it is the Department of Agriculture that you should be referencing) that is going out in public denying climate change by deflecting the blame of the wildfires on exploding trees.

        Please, support your statement with facts.

      2. This started with the shift in policy from the Regan administration when the cut in board feet reached a peak to the Clinton administration when Thomas was appointed Chief of the FS and policy shifted from intensive management to “ecosystem management” and protection of forests. All ecosystems have natural fire regimes and the policy for much of the 20th century was to prevent all fires. Burning was part of the ecosystem before the 20th century. Preventing fire was a major disturbance of the ecosystems. As protection of the forests has led to denser stands of trees and much accumulation of understory fuels, wildfires have increased in number, size, and intensity. The result has been that the FS spend its budget fighting wildfires and does not have the resources to manage the forests. Prescribed Fire is the most cost and ecologically effective management tool, but there are many barriers to implementing prescribed burns at the scale needed to effectively manage the forests. Commercial logging and livestock grazing are also cost effective management practices that are frequently limited by policy and regulations.

        Reading the comments on this blog it appears that many persons are focusing on climate change, which we cannot manage and not on the things that we could manage and that would allow us to adapt to whatever climate may be in the future. Weather has always exhibited great variability across seasons and years, but climate, the 30-year average of weather, tends to change slowly. These fires will be followed by floods, erosion, and ecosystem degradation that could have been prevented by effective management of the ecosystem.

  5. Trump: 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 highly doubt that there are no fires in Europe.
    From Cal Fire website: “While wildfires are a natural part of California’s landscape, the fire season in California and across the West is starting earlier and ending later each year. Climate change is considered a key driver of this trend. Warmer spring and summer temperatures, reduced snowpack, and earlier spring snowmelt create longer and more intense dry seasons that increase moisture stress on vegetation and make forests more susceptible to severe wildfire.

    “The length of fire season is estimated to have increased by 75 days across the Sierras and seems to correspond with an increase in the extent of forest fires across the state.”

  6. There is absolutely nothing political about incompetence. But incompetence in leadership directly effects wildland firefighting and the firefighters and civilians involved. The comments today by our president at McClellan demonstrate gross incompetence. You would never see a senior CalFire or USFS official speak like this, or even a Battalion Chief (or even a seasonal wildland firefighter that started last week). The comments show a real lack of understanding, not just about forest management and wildland firefighting (which a US president is not required to understand), but the basic geography and climate of the western states (which a US president SHOULD understand). Really, these comments, like so many others by the president, show a generally low level of cognitive function and absolutely no leadership or vision about where we need to go. Politics has nothing to do with this.

  7. That’s not my experience. I have video taken from a wildlife camera of a tree exploding in the heat. Rothermel theorized that the moisture in the tree is superheated and caused the rapid expansion of gasses that go boom. Very dramatic. Not just lightning. So he is correct that in the super heated conditions of the flaming front trees explode. Plus the rapid expansion of fire in area ignitions have the appearance of exploding. It’s a fair observation. So I don’t fault his statement. It’s correct.

      1. UPDATE: Mr. Carroll sent me the video with permission to post it on YouTube.

        During the September, 2018 Roosevelt Fire in the Bridger Teton National Forest in Wyoming Tom and Kitty Drean’s wildlife camera was burned off the base of a tree and landed on the ground facing up. It captured in a series of still photos of multiple limbs on the tree burning at at time.

            1. My apologies I thought I would give it a try and post a link to that great article simply titled,
              The Worst Fire Season Ever. Again.
              It was in a Los Angeles newspaper, that goes by the name of the city of angels.

              1. Thanks! For some reason, clicking on the link may have had something to do with it. I tried pasting in the URL, and that worked.

                I was born in East LA, so maybe my native status helped? Not!

              2. Check it out Bill & Wendy, Trees might still have the ability to explode according to my Smoke jumping Fire management friend on the Taos Pueblo home of the Hotshot crew the snow flakes that rescued Smoky the Bear from a hot wind driven exploding crown fire near Acoma Pueblo in the 50’s

                Enjoy! Rene Romero is the real Wildland fighting deal for sure!

              3. Cool Wayne, I am glad that you could view that article in the times. The newspaper is clearly showing much improved article writing lately.
                Boy our local San Gabriel (Bobcat Fire & Lake Fire and more) and San Bernardino (Apple Fire & El Dorado Fire) transverse coastal ranges in the LA Basin are seeing quite a good number of new fires with some impressive explosive growth rates lately.💥
                That said, I thought that the la times wildfire news article Worst Fire season ever. Again, had an interesting way to size up the losses to landscape as well as the losses of those structures at risk and then make some excellent slick comparison graphics of the major fires of the decade to show us just how “explosive” wildfire in California has become in the last ten years.
                Speaking of explosive material here Wayne, of course I mean the recent new fire science discovery by our president of the mysterious & mythical exploding trees in those horribly unmanaged Federal forest wildlands in the west.
                This wild new fire science phenomenon of, all the presidents trees falling down in coniferous forests in the west and within a few hours of their down time, they just simply explode for whatever reason.
                Clearly here this exploding trees discussion is getting at some of the best Wildland fire professionals in the business & by that fact I do mean Bill Gabbert and his total disbelief in the presidents statements on camera regarding exploding trees.
                Just like Bill, I too was guilty of this opinion of non belief that trees once & for all do not actually explode, that is until I read an excellent article today about the super legit career veteran Wildland Fire fighter Rene Romero of Taos Pueblo. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing & reading in that article.
                And now everyone who’s still paying attention has to click on the link below and open that article to find out the answer to the million dollar question of this lengthy comment thread on “The President speaks out about wildfire in California”.
                Obviously this was an outtake draft I created for us to bring a little levity and light fun into this terrifying fire science wonder of exploding trees.
                Bill please come out some time to Taos and stay at Las Posadas El Salto where I run the volunteer Fire sub station called “The Wildland Urban Underground Fire Station of El Salto and we’ll go on a fire science field trip together to the Taos Pueblo to meet Rene Romero and Marvin Lefthand of their Wildland Fire fighting program.
                You’ll certainly be amongst some of the most experienced and oldest Fire managers the world has ever known. Over a thousand years plus of safe, successful and very effective Rx Fire put down on those incredibly beautiful sovereign nation tribal lands in Taos, “the place of the red willows”
                This adventure to Taos should hopefully leave you feeling quite impressed at what these guys do best when it comes to playing with fire.
                Jamie B.

              4. Sorry, but I apparently didn’t past the LAT piece into a text file and lost it before reading it. I tried the same trick, but only got the flashing screen.

    1. Color me a bit skeptical about the superheating idea from a fire. When you apply an external heat source to a tree, the inside only heats up through conduction and wood is not a very good conductor of heat. Water could be converted to steam fast enough to build up an internal pressure only in a wet tree that had an immense amount of energy applied internally in a short period of time before the vapor could escape or be driven out. It’s why lightning can “explode” a tree (or at least a part of it).

      It might be possible for a tree with large internal cavity to become filled with volatile gases from pyrolysis of the heated material in and around the cavity which then ignites and explodes but I suspect that would be rare. It’s similar to what happens in a building fire where the gases are kept from combusting because of low oxygen levels and then ignite explosively once oxygen is introduced.

      I could believe it a bit more readily from eucalyptus producing volatile gases which get trapped in pockets internally that then ignite with explosive force but I’m not sure how the physics of that would work in a solid tree because of the small intercellular spaces.

      I just assumed Trump was using the term as hyperbole since he seems to do that quite a bit.

      1. Cy, that is what happened in the 1991 Oakland Hills fire. There were lots of dead eucalyptus trees that were planted because they are fast growing. They were dead but still full of eucalyptus oil, and they became fire bombs.

      2. Exactly Cy, what a quality fire science teacher you are with your comments on wood combustion or exploding, if you will, when it gets exposed to very high temperatures.
        The Oakland hills fire comes to my mind when I think of exploding vegetation in a hot wind driven wildfire.
        Please do correct me if I am wrong on these items here, but because of the dry grassy available fuels and the old Eucalyptus trees growing on the steep hills in that fire, the fire itself reached incredibly hot temperatures.
        This was a perfect mix of the high winds that occurred that day & also the high temps of that summer day and the Eucalyptus trees torching or exploding if you will.
        Also interesting to fact check here is what it exactly did to some of the residents who were trying to out run that 2000 degree fire front. I seem to remember from some where, that same 2000 degree plus fire sucked all the available oxygen out of the air and it stopped people running in their tracks & killed people by the super heated air literally boiling them from inside out, as they were caught running away from the fires path. Am I remotely on track with that story?
        Nonetheless, what temperature does wood spontaneously combust? Possibly 400-600 degrees, I believe. Spontaneous combustion is explosive, but doesn’t constitute what a big lightning strike can do to a very old conifer. I tend to agree with Bill on exploding trees. I just thought I would add a little to this discussion.
        The point I believe here is, the torching of a canopy of forest conifers in a fast moving, ripping hot crown fire is obviously explosive to the eye.
        What the president said about the incredible devastation from these unprecedented (yet again) wildfires is absolutely hollow & worthless & so sophomoric that I don’t feel we need to give his comments any more of our attention or anymore of our valuable time. There are some far more pressing issues confronting us this week after the insane record breaking weather events we just saw go down last week & the weeks before that.
        It was very unnerving to me to witness what happened. It certainly marked a new climate change milestone for me. It should do the same for everyone else in this country, but it won’t.
        It should make it loud and very clear that we are experiencing what the vital science has been trying to tell us for 30 years now and we have largely ignored the warnings.
        However I will continue to do my part with reducing my overall carbon footprint, as I have no children and work from home to back up that said commitment to our future.
        I awoke to well over a foot of snow in my back yard that’s located at the 8500 elevation mark in the Sangre de Cristo mountains above Taos NM, it was the same day that Denver got hit with the record early snowfall. It easily smashed the earliest snowfall record by three weeks approximately. That’s just nuts to me especially after the many weeks of hundred degree temperatures, the day before the storm hit us.
        Poor Gavin Newsom is certainly going through a year of unbelievable unrelenting disasters, like no other governor of this country has ever experienced possibly.
        Coupled with the current insane pandemic crisis and basically the whole state of California seeing so much mega fire all at once, I don’t know how that man gets up in the morning to head out for another day of work, only to be briefed by Cal Fire, on another insane complex fire that decided to take off in the freak Diablo wind event last week.
        Hats off to that man, big time, because I truly have never seen anything like what he’s been dealing with since March of 2020. & of course as well as in 2017, 2018, with those incredibly destructive fires of Santa Rosa & Paradise California.
        I also do want to thank Bill, for somehow keeping up with all of the mind boggling amount of huge wild fires this season in the west. I honestly have to say that I got so weary and overwhelmed by reading about so much wildfire happening in California, so fast. How do you keep up your energy in times like this, to produce such quality journalism when it’s totally non stop? Amazing work Bill.
        We still have September, October and November & December in California to go. Unless we see some significant Autumn rainfall events soon. It does not look like that’s going to happen.
        It’s a scary thought to me, that the annual classic Fall Santa Ana & Diablo wind events haven’t even started yet.
        Thanks for sharing all of the amazing wildfire today stories that you cover. You truly have made me a much more educated student of fire, for sure.
        Please stay smart & stay safe, all of you amazing fire fighters, who are working now on those huge fires in Oregon, California & Washington and thanks for doing the crazy thankless job of protecting what we all love the most, our lives & our homes that might be at risk up in the WUI & our precious irreplaceable wilderness resources, as well as our critical municipal resources at risk.
        It’s going to take a mandatory conscription service in this country to be able to have adequate enough fire resources available to fight all of these wildfires if things keep up on this recording breaking pace in the west.
        Jamie B.

        1. Thanks, Jamie, for taking the time to write a clear, concise, and factual statement in response to this article. I am continuously amazed at people -who have the ability to do research and discern between fact and fiction- who continue to turn a blind eye and make excuses. Even when it it their sons, daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who will pay the price. 🙁

    2. Let’s see the video Frank, otherwise us professionals will continue to be dumbfounded by our leadership’s stunning lack of knowledge about a serious national threat that is actually largely preventable

      1. Explode is a poor word to use here.
        The follage on a green conifer can heat to the the point where it is off gassing and the tree can burst into flame spontainiously.
        I watched this happen on a ridge during the Iron Complex Firesabove Junction City California. I believe that was 2008.
        Yes talking about forest management from a political point of view and actually funding the professionals who do on the ground work are different kinds of realities.

    1. Please state what you believe this means in your own terms:

      “The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, skepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”

      Thomas Huxley (Darwin’s Bulldog)

  8. It really doesn’t matter because soon the west coast will be a desert with no trees , no water, and very few people. Some say I am pesimistic, I’m 83 yrs old, but the rapidity of climate change is affecting the whole planet. May be science might yield some ways to mitigate climate change but we need leadership that has some understanding of science before that can happen.

  9. Watch out. When it finally dawns on him that the federal government controls half of it, he’ll be looking to sell it off to logging, mining, or oil exploration companies as fast as possible.

  10. tanker was delayed 20+ minutes after air force one had landed pretty sure tanker realy could have taken off it they wanted to let it

  11. Say what you will, obviously the POTUS does not speak in the same terminology as some of us, however it’s obvious that he see’s that it’s bad, I believe that he has now witnessed at least a couple of very devastating seasons on the west coast. We can inject climate change all we want but the truth is it’s not just climate change, there are many factors such as the 10 am policy that was in place for decades, encroachment (WUI) we keep extending into the wildland, greater populations are interfacing with the wildland, prolonged droughts, which have been occurring for centuries, (Heat Wave+New Starts+Wind Event+lack of resources=Unprecedented (Again)) So Cal for the most part is a desert, there are a great many reasons why we are having these so called unprecedented fire seasons, climate change is a factor to be sure. And lastly I have seen enough fire to know that at times things do appear to be blowing up, I would venture to say that there are a great many who would agree in light of what they have witnessed over the last 10 days or so. I am pleased to see the POTUS make an effort to be there even if he does not get the lingo, he’s not an expert “Right” just saying…..Not Knocking anyone just my 2 cents is all…

    My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who have been greatly impacted by these recent fires, I for one can not imagine what they are going thru, my prayers are also with those doing the work, there is still a ways to go yet.
    I am a retired fed, recently, we used to say from time to time, Wow! there will never be a fire like this again, this is a one off, Grad Prix, Old, Cedar and so on, those are small in comparison to what we have seen these last 10 yrs, it’s not likely to improve anytime soon…..Peace….

    1. Amen …..couldn’t have been said better………Fire is a industry out west…..more trees then we have ever had and when they burn ……replanted by man not allowed to regenerate naturally as they should be…….more fuel more Fire .

    2. Thanks for a very thoughtful response. I offer two observations. First, forest and fuels management are actionable items in the present. Climate change may or may not be actionable and certainly not in the next decade. So why not focus land management on things that we definitely can control.
      Second, everyone focuses only on the trees with no consideration of changes in fine fuels resulting from drastic reductions in grazing. The reduced herbivory and sheep and goats over the past 60 years are major contributors to the increased spread and difficulties with control as well as accumulation of understory ladder fuels. Management of these fuels has been greatly restricted on federal land the past 50 years by federal regulations and activist environmental groups “protecting” endangered species and the environment. If these issues are not effectively addressed, the trend in increased wildfires will continue regardless of climate.
      These two issues have much to do with the trend for increased wildfires throughout rangelands across the us and Australia.

    3. OK, Richard and Frank, where is the proof?

      You two and the president can make blanket statements all day long (and unfortunate for our nation, some will believe you) but when called on to provide evidence to back up your statements, none of you has yet to produce. Why is that? Facts, please.

      I think I will stand by the experts.

      Trump said:
      “With regard to the forest, when trees fall down, after a short period of time, about 18 months, they become very dry and like a match stick,” the president declared. “There is no more water pouring through them. They just explode. They can explode.”

  12. Something that alarms me is the amount of focus on climate change by the left. I say that as someone who believes it is real and needs to be discussed. But….climate change is the longer term thing to address, not the short to medium term thing. As a resident near Payson, Arizona in Tonto NF, I’m worried about Next fire season and thinking about what needs to be done Right Now to try to make it at least slightly better. It means we need money and lots of it to support and expand upon programs that have had success. I’m proud of our folks locally – they do great with what they have, but they have nowhere near enough help.

    1. I agree that we need both long term (addressing climate change), AND short term (clearing fuels, prescribed burns) to get the wildfire season under control. However I am concerned that fuel clearing is going to be translated into large scale logging for profit. I laugh when I read peoples opinions that native Americans managed forest fires by clear cutting, and therefore we should do the same, as if our modern society is anything remotely like the native Americans. In my opinion we need to understand what the balance is between clearing forests and leaving vegetation that sequesters carbon. Furthermore, we should be looking at reducing dairy which produces methane gases responsible for most of the tree kill in the Sierra, and farming which has had a devastating effect on the water supply in California. A huge portion of farming output is exported, which in my opinion means waste in the form of overproduction. Additionally we should slow growth in California, and especially growth that impacts defensible space.
      I realize that these would have a huge impact on California’s economy, but what are the consequences if we continue on our current path.
      IMHO and with respect.

      1. I share George’s fears. The Shrub also thought getting rid of trees by “thinning” was the way to go. But unfortunately, thinning the smaller trees where they might “ladder” a fire into the overstory crowns will not pay off as well. Buy “real” Christmas trees? Does our dear well-coifed President have any idea of the scale, frequency, and cost. Does he understand that forests are full of growing things in places that have carrying capacities that limit growth, but until that point is reached (decades or more) the response to cutting is more growth of Class I fuels?

        Unfortunately, fantasy beats reality every time.

        “People WANT to be humbugged.” P. T. Barnum

          1. I don’t know of any evidence that methane from dairy operations (much as I despise them) is killing Sierra forests. There are some areas where CO2 is emerging from the earth in the vicinity of the Mammoth Caldera and killing trees. Has anyone studied when the phenomenon started at the various sites? Dendrochronoligists, arise!

            Methane is consumed by methanotropic bacteria. About fifty years ago I read a paper that had concluded that a lot of atmospheric methane was so consumed, but I never looked the phenomenon up again to verify its veracity. The question in my mind remains the contextual boundaries, especially whether or not they could be active in the upper atmosphere and be practical for intentionally reducing this greenhouse gas and the changes in emissions and concentrations in the upper atmosphere through time. I gleaned these references from Wikipedia, but haven’t read them yet, so I’m glad you brought up the topic:

            Oremland, R. S.; Culbertson, C. W. (1992). “Importance of methane-oxidizing bacteria in the methane budget as revealed by the use of a specific inhibitor”. Nature. 356 (6368): 421–423. Bibcode:1992Natur.356..421O. doi:10.1038/356421a0. S2CID 4234351.

            Holmes, AJ; Roslev, P; McDonald, IR; Iversen, N; Henriksen, K; Murrell, JC (1999). “Characterization of methanotrophic bacterial populations in soils showing atmospheric methane uptake”. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 65 (8): 3312–8. doi:10.1128/AEM.65.8.3312-3318.1999. PMC 91497. PMID 10427012.

            Maybe someone else knows more about CO2 emissions into the atmosphere from the earth’s crust. There are a few known CO2 geysers on earth, but I don’t know how much is emitted without forming geysers, or, for that matter, from them.

            Come to think of it, I wonder if enough of it could be concentrated in the heartwood of a tree being killed by it to cause an explosion? Anything to prove the Most High Grand Panjandrum correct . . .

            I wonder if anyone has studied the variations in CH4 emissions in DC?

  13. The comments so far are amazing in showing either bias for or against Pres. Trump.
    I think it’s a healthy beginning to see him in CA listening to some folks that know what they’re talking about. Having fought fire and been on Type I Fire Teams, I can tell you that trees absolutely can explode, but I understand those who have trouble believing it because they just do not have extensive fire behavior knowledge to “see that as a possibility.” As for his comment on “forest management,” he is absolutely right. Having been a forester my entire career, getting back to some level of forest management where the revenues can be used for fuel reduction work, fisheries and wildlife projects, is a good thing. For 25 years, we’ve allowed forest fuels to build to the tipping point and now we’re paying the price and the entire West Coast is suffering the consequences.

    1. That suff about “…forest management where the revenues can be used for fuel reduction work.” never worked in the 32 years I worked for the FS. Also, in the 20 years I worked fires as everything from squad leader and foreman of an IH Crew to Division Supervisor, I never heard of a tree exploding, except in response to a lightning strike. So Ted, could you maybe examine the possibility that you are being conned once again?

    2. He was in CA observing the damage from the Paradise Fire. I do not think he is listening. He doesn’t believe in climate change or global warming, your choice. He said “I don’t think science knows.” He wants someone to blame, and that unfortunately is all the men and women who put their lives on the line every year, that they’re not doing enough, weather conditions are of no consequence.

  14. Jeff, the president has had enough time in office to “learn” about forest fires and how they are caused. He is also very aware of climate change. He has chosen to ignore the science here and in many other areas. That is his choice, he is the president. Your implication that he is on a learning curve about the wildfires that have been burning out of control his entire presidency is extremely misled.

    .“With regard to the forest, when trees fall down, after a short period of time, about 18 months, they become very dry and like a match stick,” the president declared. “There is no more water pouring through them. They just explode. They can explode.”

    Are trees exploding on their own the reason for forest fires? No. Three factors can cause a tree to explode: Cold, lightning, forest fires (already existing). (Would love to see your video, Frank – I would also like to see your stats on how likely this is to actually be the cause of all these fires).

    Can forest management help the severity of the fires? Most likely, but where it the funding? But as Lenore stated, 50% of these forests are owned and operated by the federal government. Where is the funding?

    I am connected to the wildland firefighting community and I know that they are working extremely hard among such harsh conditions (massive fires in addition to out of control pandemic). I appreciate what they do and hope for their sake, as well as homeowners, wildlife, and the planet’s that we begin to take climate change seriously and implement a real action plan BEFORE it is too late.

  15. I’m afraid his statement about fires in Europe is incorrect. From the European Environment Agency. “Large forest fires in recent years have affected various regions in northern and western Europe in which fires were not prevalent in the past. More European countries suffered from large forest fires in 2018 than ever before, and Sweden experienced the worst fire season in reporting history. The unprecedented forest fires in several European countries in 2017 and 2018 coincided with record droughts and heatwaves in these years.
    More severe fire weather and, as a consequence, substantial expansion of the fire-prone area and longer fire seasons are projected in most regions of Europe, in particular for high emissions scenarios. The increase in fire danger is projected to be particularly large in western-central Europe, but the absolute fire danger remains highest in southern Europe. Adaptation measures, such as improved fire prevention and suppression, can substantially reduce fire risks.” Since the Federal Government owns such as large amount of the forests and wild lands in the west, I think they should review their forest management plans and get funding in place to take care of the land under their care. Washington has a twenty year forest management plan and I’m sure Oregon and California as well as other states have something similar. It would help if the utility companies would also step up and maintain their power lines and keep trees from growing in the buffer zones.

  16. In the wake of the Camp fire of 2018 President Trump first referred to Finland as a forest nation that didn’t suffer wildfires like the ones California was then experiencing. All his statement proved was that he was ignorant of world geography and associated climates. In that same 2018 statement to the press he talked about how Californians needed to do a better job of “raking” the “floors” of the forest. Proving his ignorance on the subjects of fire prevention and forest management. Today he described how dead trees lying on the ground can “explode”.
    It’s also clear after today’s remarks that he has no clue that the federal government is the single largest land owner in the state, and much of the intermountain west. It was laughably clear in 2018; and it’s equally clear here in 2020 that the man is totally ignorant when it comes to world geography, climate, forest management, the extent of his government’s responsibilities, fire prevention and the dynamics of fire behavior. Why anybody puts any stock in anything he has to say on any of those topics is beyond me. Exploding trees!! Good grief.

  17. I am a small LLC here in Colorado where the beetle kill forest is running wild. We have to pay to cut out the fuel wood by contracting with our local BLM office or National Forrest service. That leaves us making very little money to do a job that is not only dangerous, but very much needed. If there was grant money for small time companies like myself to go out and cut the fuel wood it would go a long way to keeping small time logging operations like mine in business and it would be a win win for local forestry and fire mitigation.
    CW Timber Products LLC.

  18. Finland has a Boreal climate classification. California, for the most part, is a Subtropical Dry climate classification. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. There isn’t any! How many heatwaves does Finland deal with? How many raging Santa Ana type wind events do they have? Trump knows nothing about climate or basic meteorology. He knows only what he’s handed on a sheet of paper.

  19. The native Americans set controlled burns for centuries. I hear there are pilot programs where the elders are consulting Cal Fire and other agencies on how to do this. This is long overdue.

  20. He mentions the European countries as models, willing to bet he won’t bother with the environmental safeguards used there.

  21. I worked timber management and fought fires on the Plumas in the late fifties and early sixties. I surveyed timber over a lot of that area. What I do know is that GP left a lot of slash, which is hell to deal with–only one of a whole herd of elephants in the room. Dry, they contribute to the flame-front advance, throw big embers, foster crown fires, and burn for a long, long time. They also just pushed over the kind of sticks they’re taking out of there now to make skid trail, pushing more down on the way back just to watch ’em fall. They left those for the next fire too. Now they’re about the biggest they’ve got–say sixteen-inchers that weren’t even seedlings then. Huge areas like that were clear-cut. They didn’t even leave seed trees. Twenty-five years later, nothing much but lots of dry slash, alders and unmerchantable stuff. The huge log decks of as much as 13 foot butt cuts (I measured, some were larger) of sugar pine (Doug fir, white fir, red fir, piss fir, ponderosa at the Feather Falls Mill at Brush Creek took a strike on one deck and burned like a fuse until it was all a pile of ashes 4-6 feet deep. By the time I got there from Oroville, it was about burned out, and the Ranger Station was empty–nary a living soul but me. I went on another ten miles or so to my camp and bedded down. One option to moving would be to build a self-contained fire suppression system for your house, inside and out, with its own (say, ten thousand gallon tank?) water supply, thermocouples, remote control, and steel pipe system inside (including the attic) and out. Window insulation and drenching, deck-soaker, etc. But remember, CONTEXT is everything. Take my advice–don’t take my advice. The biggest thing we had were converted TBM’s dropping borate.

    1. Yes, that was a good one. Amazing how some people will neglect their home and let the fuels pile right up on and around their home. In thinking about my own home, since it is in a new (and still under construction) housing tract, the only thing that concerns me now is all of the fences between the homes are wood. There is between 5 and 10 feet of space from the house to the fence. I wonder if I should be thinking about replacing the fences on both sides with block or some other FR material.

      1. I must confess that I have a similar problem. I had my old, dried out cedar fence replaced with metal within about 12 feet of the house. I’ve got more to do, and am trying to design an on-site, independent fire suppression system. The big problem is my neighbor whose fence is built on her property, and leaning over mine. Pretty hypocritical, eh?

  22. The trees do explode due to the intense heat generated by the fire. Fact check: Trump’s statement is correct.

    1. Wow, Richard, you have learned from the top, haven’t you? You have been asked SEVERAL times to produce evidence to back up your blanket statements….still waiting. Sorry if I don’t just take your word for it, I am an independent thinker.

      1. Uh, oh! You’re in big trouble. People who think are getting fired all over the place. Fantasy beats reality every time, and truth is impotent in the face of persistently repeated lies. Trees do go up pretty fast, but they don’t meet the definition of “explode.” Let Richard explain just what he means by “explode.”

  23. Wow, “exploding” trees even made it to this section. In my 37 (+ 6 more) fire seasons I too have never witnessed a tree “exploding”. I however have heard and read in the media and elsewhere about “explosive” fires and trees “exploding” into flames. And, no I don’t have any links to specific articles/videos regarding this.

    Kind of humorous how fire and fuels management has suddenly become some sort of dumb idea around here. Our fire management issues have been coming for over 100 years. We’re between a rock and a hard place on fire suppression.

    To borrow from Smokey.
    Remember, only you can postpone forest fires.

    1. What’s interesting are the parallels with the fires going on in the economy as well, and finding ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place there too, due to living beyond our means and borrowing ourselves into oblivion where we even have to borrow or print the money to pay the interest on our massive debt now. Both problems due to myopic mismanagement, always trying to get what we want right now without any concern about long term survival. Same thing with so many corporations – always concentrating on next quarter’s returns rather than what’s actually going to sustain the company in the decades to come. Just human nature I guess.

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

    Maybe the discussion could take a turn in the direction of wildfire today and take a systematic look at the relevant elements? Personally, I’d rather be reading about the issues than the personalities.

  25. lol at everybody pretending like prescribed burns are easy. Probably shouldn’t have build out that far in the WUI, but even then, it takes tons of personnel with tons of expertise at the right time of year under the right conditions to do a *small* burn. And that’s after you manually clear the underbrush to keep the fuels low. Cough up the dough and the personnel.

    1. As Jack Cohen has said, I believe, “Start at the structure and work outwards.” Anybody got any real data on Rx burns and the payoffs/costs (including that resulting from those that get away?)

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