A national logging organization is backing President Donald Trump’s claim that poor forest management is to blame for California’s deadly wildfires.
The American Loggers’ Council, a “coalition of state and regional logging associations and councils” spanning more than 30 states, said that Trump is correct and that forest management should not be a political issue. The group said that interventions like logging, thinning, grazing, and controlled burning are necessary to reduce wildfire risks.
“President Trump blamed poor forest management for wildfires in California and throughout the West, and there is truth to statements he has made,” Daniel Dructor, executive vice president of the organization, told the Washington Times.
Loggers back Trump
A political debate has raged over the causes of recent disastrous wildfires in California, which have been some of the worst in the state’s history. Trump drew criticism for a controversial tweet in which he blamed poor forest management for the blaze and threatened to cut off federal funding for forest management in the state if things did not improve.
The president pointed to bad forest management again while visiting the state to see the devastation, although he acknowledged that other factors were involved and promised federal help. While the left has accused Trump of ignoring what they consider to be the real cause — climate change — the logging council says that Trump is right.
“Others focus solely on climate change, but there is truth that drought and changing conditions are contributing to the problem,” Dructor said. “It’s time to rise above political posturing and recognize that active forest management — including logging, thinning, grazing and controlled burning — are tools that can and must be used to reduce fire risks and help mitigate the impacts to landscapes.”
The council agreed with Trump that there is an oversupply of fuel in California’s forests, noting that 60 to 80 million acres of forest are at “high, to very high, risk of catastrophic wildfire.” Pointing to data from the U.S. Forest Service, the group said that thinning and controlled burning have been proven effective at reducing the severity of wildfires, but “only a small fraction of high-risk acres are being treated.”
“Boots on the ground” know best
The council advised that the federal government must expand cooperation with private logging contractors to tackle the crisis.
“The federal government does not have resources to treat every forest by itself,” Dructor said. “Yet America’s forest sector has the infrastructure to manage and improve the health of our federal forests. The raw excess material from overgrown forests can provide renewable energy and a number of American-made products and provide thousands of family-wage jobs.”
Loggers are the “boots on the ground” in the fight against wildfires and know best, council president Chris Potts said.
“We work in the woods every day, we understand forestry and see the dangers every day, and we know what needs to be done,” he continued. “Without forests, we are out of business. That’s why we’ll continue to work with Republicans and Democrats on needed reforms that will help to sustain our forests and protect our forests and communities from wildfire.”
The recent Camp Fire, which tore apart northern California in the deadliest blaze in the state’s history, was finally put out over the weekend after killing at least 85 people, destroying 14,000 homes, and reducing the city of Paradise to an ash heap. The Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Venutra counties — which started the same day as the Camp Fire — was contained a few days before, after killing three people and burning through some 1,500 buildings.
About 250 people displaced by the Camp Fire are still missing.