Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke traveled to California Monday to advocate against some of the “bad environmental laws” that President Donald Trump has charged with exacerbating the state’s wildfires.
Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue met with firefighters and local officials in Redding, California — a city left scarred by the Carr Fire earlier in 2018 — to advocate for more logging and clearing in forests, The Sacramento Bee reports.
The Carr Fire is still active and has destroyed more than 1,000 structures.
“We need to manage our forests, we need to reduce the fuels,” Zinke said at a press conference, according to The Sacramento Bee.
“The public lands belong to everybody, not just the special interest groups,” he said.
This was in reference to environmentalists who lobby against active forest management and use litigation to place logging projects on hold or stop them altogether.
Trump targeted California’s environmental policies in a tweet Aug. 5, blaming them for making wildfires “so much worse.”
Trump wrote these laws “aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized,” which is instead “being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!”
“They’re using the opportunity of fires … to advance some backward-looking approaches to the environment,” Sierra Club California director Kathryn Phillips told The Sacramento Bee.
State officials pressed the Trump administration cabinet members on the effects of climate change on wildfires and the fire season in general.
“It doesn’t matter whether you believe or don’t believe in climate change.
“What is important is we manage our forests,” Zinke said.
“This is not a debate about climate change. There’s no doubt the [fire] season is getting longer, the temperatures are getting hotter.”
Forest and wildlife experts agree with Zinke. Global warming might play a small role but is not one of the significant factors, University of Washington climate scientist Cliff Mass told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Global warming may contribute slightly, but the key factors are mismanaged forests, years of fire suppression, increased population, people living where they should not, invasive flammable species, and the fact that California has always had fire,” Mass said.
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