This week, when President Donald Trump visited California to be briefed on the fires, media headlined articles hit him: “Trump Again Rejects Science During California Wildfire Briefing”, “Another presidential assault on science as fires and pandemic rage” and “California Fires: Trump Denies Reality of Climate Change”.
Nor do the articles report that forest health experts recommend between 50 and 70 trees per acre to protect areas against fire risk, while California has more than 500-1,000 trees per acre. They have not discussed legislation like the 2002 forest management bill designed to “make seven million acres of forests safer from fires” that was killed by environmental lobbyists.
When reports began to blame a gender reveal party for starting the recent fires and that man made actions were responsible for more than 90 percent of California fires, the media then began reporting on land management.
On the topic of land management, the media relentlessly ridiculed Trump for discussing industry-known raking techniques used to manage forests. The media has also been quick to point out that California is made up of primarily federal land.
Federal land management began declining in the late 1980s. A large part is attributed to bureaucratic red tape from decades of stringent federal regulations. Multiple bills have been introduced to provide litigation relief for forest management projects. In 2019, Trump was once again ripped for reducing the regulatory barriers to allow for certain necessary natural resource projects to occur.
The irony of focusing on Trump’s response to the wildfires also calls into question presidential nominee Joe Biden’s 47 years in public office as well as the fact that vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris represents one of the most climate progressive states in the country.
With Harris’ California enjoying virtually uninterrupted Democratic political power for decades, paired with eight years of Joe Biden serving as vice president to an administration that could have reduced barriers to federal forest management at any time — the California fire paradox for the media is where to place the blame.
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Author: Stephanie H. Freedman