Trump Has a Good Point on California Wildfires; Forest Management Needs Improvement

The mainstream media has savaged Trump for his "heartless" tweet in the wake of raging southern California wildfires, but his criticism of California forest management practices is entirely valid.

Trump has recently blamed poor forest management for California’s raging wildfires (Wikipedia).

In this bizarre age in which we live, every social justice warrior with a social media account is now an expert on every political, economic, social, cultural, and scientific subject…especially when it comes to Trump. The latest source of the American Left’s outrage: Trump’s criticism of California’s forest management, in the wake of raging wildfires which are threatening vast swathes of southern California.

With some minimal research, it becomes readily apparent that there is at least some element of truth to what Trump is saying. Bad forest management is a serious problem, and environmentalists have encouraged policies that increase the proliferation of wildfires in California and the West. The Forest Service has devoted scant resources to thinning trees and clearing brush…both of which are essential to reduce the number and severity of wildfires.

An article in Busines Insider outlines the details of exactly what is wrong with forest management:

“Tom Bonnicksen, a retired forestry expert and fire researcher, told the San Francisco Chronicle that indeed, a lack of forest management was partly to blame for the fires’ intense heat and rapid spread. ‘There are millions and millions and millions of dollars going into fighting fires,” Bonnicksen said, “but there are not millions and millions and millions of dollars going into preventing the fires.’ That lack of oversight has left forests with an overabundance of smaller trees and shrubbery, which can be among the first vegetation to fuel a fire, while larger trees take much longer to return. A healthy forest, experts told the paper, should have 60-80 trees per acre, while the forests around Paradise — home to 27,000 people that is now completely charred— have as much as 2,000 per acre.”

Don’t tell any of this information to the myriad blue state, college-educated, coastal-dwelling, Jon Stewart/Steven Colbert/Bill Maher-loving Trump-haters. They are in a perpetual state of hysterics over Trump’s supposed “War on Science” but this is one scientific analysis that they are not interested in hearing about.

But here is the really troubling thing: If you are an academic who studies the subject…even if you agree with Trump that serious reform of forestry management is needed, the vast majority will keep their mouths shut. Speaking out in support of Trump today on any subject is tantamount to a death sentence. In our Stalinist academic climate there is little freedom of speech for unpopular (read: conservative, libertarian, classical liberal, anti-establishment) opinions: you will not get hired, you will not get tenure, you will not get funding. Only academic projects coming from a leftist, Marxist, socialist orientation are approved, and are funded with our tax dollars.

These fires are not Trump’s fault. They may, however, be exacerbated by bad policies encouraged by environmentalists, and implemented by the Forest Service.

And here’s the kicker.

Trump, despite what you may hear in the media, didn’t threaten to abandon people suffering from wildfires. He threatened to cut funding for the forest service, until they get their act together. Perhaps Professor Bonnicksen is wrong, but from my perspective,there is ample logical and scientific basis to blame forest management for California’s wildfires. Trump is not making this up. Bad forest management, encouraged by environmental activists, has contributed to the proliferation of wildfires and their increased severity over the past decade.

Professor Thomas Straka, of Clemson University, had this to say about the Forest Service in general, in an op-ed written in the Washington Times a few months ago:

“As wildfires became an increasing and more costly problem over the last few decades, the Forest Service has been required to fund wildfire suppression activities by borrowing from other parts of its budget, curtailing other important forest management activities, including reducing small timber and brush levels in forest stands that made them more susceptible to wildfires. It was a “Catch 22,” which was fixed in this year’s Omnibus Appropriations bill. Now the Forest Service and Department of the Interior will be allowed to use natural disaster funding to fight catastrophic wildfires, allowing them to better address other urgent management needs. It almost seems the Forest Service is being rewarded for creating its own natural disasters. President Trump tweeted on Sunday about “bad environmental regulations” making California wildfires “much worse,” specifically mentioning the need to clear trees from the forest and water resource issues. I won’t comment on the water issues, but as a forestry professor I know he is right about the trees.”

Again, there are two sides to every story, but Professors Bonnicksen and Straka clearly suggest that Trump is not just making this up. Instead of focusing on the science of forestry management (which could help to save lives and millions in property damage), the social justice warriors, American Left, and Democratic Party are obsessing over the insensitivity of Trump’s tweets, in what boils down to yet one more Trump haters’ pity party.

If you’re going to rip on Trump 24/7 and rage about his “War on Science” it might behoove you to at least examine the science of forest management. Trump may not be a forestry expert, but he’s also hardly off base with his criticisms.

We don’t need a president who makes us want to sit around the fire toasting marshmallows and singing “Kumbaya,”…we need a president who will tell the American public the truth about the serious problems facing our nation…regardless of political correctness.

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