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Trump Blames Devastating Fire Season on Forest Mismanagement During California Tour



MCCLELLAN PARK, Calif. — President Donald Trump visited the Golden State on Monday where he met with local officials to discuss this year’s devastating fire season. The hundreds of fires raging across the West Coast have burned over 3.3 million acres in California alone.

Ahead of a briefing with Cal Fire officials, Trump reiterated his belief that the forest fires could be attributed to poor forest management. It’s a message that the president has leaned on during previous massive fire seasons.

“When you have years of leaves, dried leaves on the ground, it just sets it up,” Trump told reporters. “It’s really a fuel for a fire. So they have to do something about it.”

It was a similar statement to one the president made over the weekend, the first time in weeks Trump made any mention of the fires.

“I spoke to the folks in Oregon, Washington. They’re really having — they’ve never had anything like this. But, you know, it is about forest management. Please remember the words, very simple, ‘forest management,'” Trump said at a campaign rally in Nevada on Saturday.

While Gov. Gavin Newsom agreed during Monday’s press conference that forest management in the state might be lacking, he added it is “self-evident that climate change is real and that is exacerbating this.”

Trump was met with calls from multiple officials to take action on climate change, starting by acknowledging its role in California’s unprecedented fire season.

“We want to work with you to really recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests and actually work together with that science,” Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, said in the meeting, later adding, “If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and say it’s all about vegetation management we are not going to succeed together in protecting Californians.”

“It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch,” Trump responded.

Trump has frequently and vocally expressed his skepticism that climate change is responsible for increasingly dangerous fire seasons across the country.

In 2018, when asked about a study conducted by his own administration that warned of the catastrophic impact of climate change, the president responded, “I don’t believe it.”

The same year, Trump blamed California’s fires on forest mismanagement, even threatening to stop federal aid to the state, although he never followed through.

Scientists have repeatedly stated that while forest management can play a role in preventing forest fires, climate change is certainly a large contributing factor.

Across the country, former Vice President Joe Biden delivered a blistering condemnation of the president’s inaction on climate change.

Speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, Biden slammed President Trump’s leadership on the environment, calling the president a “climate arsonist” mere hours ahead of Trump’s trip to California to survey wildfire damage.

“It shouldn’t be so bad,” Biden said, “that millions of Americans live in the shadow of an orange sky and are left asking, is doomsday here?”

Biden warned against what a second Trump term would spell for the economy, saying that “Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused these fires and record floods and hurricanes, but if he gets a second term, these hellish events will continue to become more common, more devastating, and more deadly.”

Biden pulled no punches in his attacks on the president, saying that Trump “fails to protect us – from the pandemic, from an economic free fall, from racial unrest, from the ravages of climate change. It’s clear that we’re not safe from Donald Trump’s America. This is Donald Trump’s America. He’s in charge.”

“If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze?”

Speaking about his environmental plan, Biden said that “when Donald Trump thinks about climate change he thinks ‘hoax.’ When I think about it, I think ‘jobs,'” going on to detail how his administration would create “good paying union jobs to put Americans to work, building a stronger, more climate-resilient nation.”