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Trump Blames Environmental
Laws For Western Wildfires
Cites Water Diversions, Ignores Climate Change
A firefighter battles flames near Clearlake Oaks, California, on Saturday.
By Ray Cunneff
August 6, 2018
As massive wildfires continue to scorch California and the west, President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a tweet that confounded experts, wrongly blaming environmental laws and the state’s water diversions programs for making the blazes worse.
Although decades-old state and federal forest-management policies have sometimes been cited as exacerbating western wildfires in recent years, experts Sunday were quick to refute Trump’s claim that water policy was to blame. A typical scientific response to Trump's Twitter feed Sunday:
University of California Merced professor and wildfire specialist LeRoy Westerling told the San Francisco Chronicle, “We do manage all of our rivers in California, and all the water is allocated many times over. So I’m not sure what he (Trump) was recommending. . . ."
"Even if we eliminated all habitat for riparian species and fish, and allowed saltwater intrusion into the delta and set up a sprinkler system over the state, that wouldn’t compensate for greater moisture loss from climate change.”
The Mendocino Complex fire, which includes two blazes along the Mendocino National Forest, had scorched more than 273,600 acres as of Monday morning, threatening 15,000 homes, and is now officially the second-largest* in the state's history. It is only 30 percent contained.
Meanwhile, the Ferguson fire has entered Yosemite National Park, which remains largely closed to visitors, and the Carr fire near Redding claimed its seventh life, when a PG&E lineman crashed his vehicle while working with crews to fight the blaze. Overall, more than 470,000 acres have burned in the state, with more than 14,000 firefighters on the front lines.
Last year’s Thomas fire, which consumed 281,000 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, remains the state’s largest on record. The Cedar fire in 2003, now the third-largest, devoured 273,246 acres in San Diego County, according to Cal Fire records, an area almost the size of the City of Los Angeles.
Nine people have been killed by the 18 wildfires currently burning across the state.
Cal Fire Division Chief Chris Anthony told reporters Monday, “It is hard to find the right words to describe how explosive conditions are throughout the state. It is clear to me that firefighters are on the front lines of climate change”.
UPDATE: The Mendocino Complex fire is now the largest wildfire in California history.
- Los Angeles Times - 8/6/2018