Trump was right: California’s forests have been grossly mismanaged

President Trump was right about forest management.

Why do I care? I have spent a great deal of my life caring for the land. I spent two years working as a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service. I spent two years working as a firefighter for Cal Fire (then it was the California Department of Forestry and Fire protection, before the word forestry became politically incorrect). I have worked as a river guide for the San Joaquin River Parkway. I have worked as a forester under contract to PG&E. In addition to other studies I have a forestry degree from Reedley College. I have managed my own rangeland. I have consulted on the management of various types of open space for fun and profit.

I still have many friends who work in wildland firefighting. Some of these people got into this line of work because of me. A few years ago we lost a friend who was fighting a wildfire. My son is currently in a fire academy and hopes to follow me and his grandfather into wildland firefighting.

I have a very visceral emotional response every time I see bad management putting our firefighters, citizens, property and the environment in danger.

Trump tweeted:

“With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart!”

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

Celebrities, public employee unions and average people responded harshly.

Trump is right. We do have a management problem on the state, federal level and local levels (in that order). This can be broken down into six key areas where we have failed: Access, logging, grazing, endangered species, water quality and air pollution.

▪ Access: There has long been a push to block access and create wilderness areas. This makes access more difficult during emergencies. This stops firewood scavenging in the national forests. Firewood collection creates mini fuel breaks along any open forest road. Only dead and down trees are legal to collect.

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