Trump, California Leaders Discussed Wildfire Prevention (#GotBitcoin)
President Trump arrived in California on Saturday to survey damage being caused by the deadliest and most destructive fires in the state’s history, with preventing future infernos set to be a focus of his meetings with state officials.
“We talked about forest management,” he told reporters after departure from Washington in the morning. “It’s a big issue, it’s a big issue, a very expensive issue, but very, very inexpensive when you compare it to even one of these horrible fires, and we’ll save a lot of lives,” he added.
Land-management experts say forests have become overgrown with trees and underbrush due to a mix of human influences, including a past federal policy of putting out fires, rather than letting them burn.
After decades of butting heads, some environmentalists and logging supporters have largely come to agreement that forests need to be logged more to prevent large, deadly fires.
On Saturday, as he departed the White House, Mr. Trump said the main aim of his visit is to show support for the first responders.
“I wanted to be with the firefighters and the FEMA first responders,” he said, adding that as planned he met with California Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-Elect Gavin Newsom. “Many more people are missing than anyone thought possible.”
Accompanying Mr. Trump to California were California congressmen Kevin McCarthy, the outgoing House majority leader; Rep. Doug LaMalfa; and Rep. Kevin Calvert.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Mr. LaMalfa said that forest management does not mean clear cutting of trees, but rather thinning and creating buffers around populated areas.
“Without forest management, things can go wrong,” he said. “The president wants to get something done on this…We need to be a lot more aggressive.”
The visit comes a week after the president first said that the fires were a product of “gross mismanagement” and threatened to revoke federal funding as the fires ravaged more than 100,000 acres in California.
The current fires are hitting populated areas along the edges of forests and brush lands, including the 148,000-acre Camp Fire in Northern California’s Butte County. Officials said the fires were about 55% contained as of Saturday morning.
The destruction has killed at least 71 people, hundreds are missing and more than 9,800 homes have been destroyed.
The Camp Fire and the 98,400-acre Woolsey Fire in Southern California were fueled by fierce winds in unusually dry weather, which turned much of the state into a tinderbox.
While in Paris a week ago, Mr. Trump said he believed the fires have been handled poorly.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” he said. “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!
Mr. Brown’s office fired back at the president’s comments at the time.
“Our focus is on the Californians impacted by these fires and the first responders and firefighters working around the clock to save lives and property — not on the president’s inane and uninformed tweets,” Evan Westrup, the governor’s press secretary, told ABC News last week.
Mr. Trump changed his tone in recent days and pledged his support for the state and Mr. Brown. “We are with him, and the people of California, all the way!” Mr. Trump tweeted on Wednesday.
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