Trump and Zinke Discuss Wildfires: What could possibly go wrong?

Official Transcript from Trump’s Cabinet Meeting (08/16/18)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I would like to ask Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior, who I actually watched this morning, as he was giving a rundown on the horrible fires that are taking place mostly in California, and I thought what he said was so true and actually rather incredible. People don’t hear it, they don’t hear it like it is. There are things you can do about those fires before they start, and you wouldn’t have nearly the damage and the problems. We are spending a fortune in California because of poor maintenance and because frankly, they are sending a lot of water out to the pacific to protect the smelt and by the way, it’s not working. The smelt is not doing well. But we are sending millions and millions of gallons right out into the Pacific Ocean. Beautiful, clean water coming up from the north or coming down from the north, and I thought Ryan was great this morning so before we start on a couple of other things we will be discussing today, including very importantly, schools and education, I would ask you to give maybe a little recap of what you said this morning on television.

INTERIOR SECRETARY RYAN ZINKE: Thank you, Mr. President. First, our firefighters, 30,000 of them, are doing spectacular things. They have had six deaths related and we forget that firefighters, while they are on the front lines, their homes and families are in jeopardy, and our hearts and prayers need to be with our front line firefighters that are out there every day. It is a matter of gross mismanagement. There is no question. The density of our forest is historical. If you don’t believe me, believe your own eyes. Go out and take a look at our forest. Take a drive out there and look at the dead and dying timber. It’s been in gross mismanagement for decades but we are burning our forests, destroying our habitat and destroying our communities and neighborhoods by these catastrophic fires of 200,000, 300,000 acres. Thus far, there’s 5.7 million acres of our public lands that have been destroyed at a cost of about $3 billion this fiscal year. Americans deserve to go out and recreate rather than evacuate, so we went out, Secretary Perdue and I went out to California. We are committed to reestablishing sound science, best practices for the greatest good for all of us. But sound, active management, Mr. President, is the path that you have laid, it’s clear. This is unacceptable that year after year, we are watching our forests burn, our habitat destroyed and our communities devastated, and it is absolutely preventable, and public lands are for everybody to enjoy and not just held hostage by these special interest groups. Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Ryan was saying it’s not a global warming thing. It’s a management situation and one of the elements that he talked about was the fact that we have fallen trees and instead of removing those fallen trees, which get to be extremely combustible, instead of removing them, gently removing them, beautifully removing them, we leave them to burn and actually, in many cases, catch fire much easier than a healthy tree, a healthy growing tree. Could you just discuss that for a second?

SECRETARY ZINKE: Well, Mr. President, we import lumber in this country, yet there are billions of board feet that are on the forest floor rotting. Rotting. And whether you’re a global warmest advocate or denier, it doesn’t make a difference when you have rotting timber, when housing prices are going up, when a lot of Americans are right at the border of affording a house, yet we are wasting billions of board feet for not being able to bring them to a local lumber mill. It is unconscionable we would do that to our citizens. Mr. President, we are actively engaged. Secretary Perdue and I, we went out to California- we are joined at the hip to make sure we actively manage our forests, remove the dead and dying timber, replant diversity of species and on the salvage operations, 5.7 million acres. A lot of that can be salvaged if we get to it in the first year. We are going to do it, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Just to add, just to conclude, especially when Canada is charging us a lot of money to bring their timber down into our country, so ridiculous. [NOTE: In April 2017 President Trump placed a 20.83% tariff on Canadian lumber. – mk] Here we have it. We’re not even talking about cutting down trees. Which in certain areas, we can’t do. We are talking about trees lying on the floor, creating a tremendous hazard and a tremendous fire hazard, and death trap. So, I thought they were great points. Thank you very much, Ryan. Appreciate it.

7 thoughts on “Trump and Zinke Discuss Wildfires: What could possibly go wrong?”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Matthew. Wow. Lots of voodoo myths there. Sending water to the Pacific. Entirely preventable wildfires. Public lands held hostage. I hope Mr. Ryan can find some markets for 5.7 million acres of timber he plans to thin. The Forest Service will welcome that big budget boost, huh?

  2. Keep talking Secretary Zinke!

    “The only endangered species happens to be a logger.” – Secretary Ryan Zinke (SOURCE)

    FACT: Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke oversees the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which officially lists 1,464 fish and wildlife species and 948 plant species as threatened or endangered.

  3. Sounds like they all need some lessons in how process is accomplished. If you go into these things without a careful and comprehensive approach, such plans are doomed to fail. I think the powers that be are over-confident in their ability to craft a set of plans that will survive the courts. You cannot do an “end run” when the out-of-bounds line is right there. I’m sure we’ll start seeing some desperate actions, which result in other desperate actions. The tangle of rules, laws, policies and directives will prevent what these three appear to want to do. Will they outsource fieldwork? Will they hire more inexperienced Temporaries? Will they direct OPM to abolish rules for Temporaries? Will Wildlife Biologists be issued paintguns? Will they try using firefighters as timbermarkers, yet AGAIN?!? Will loggers be allowed to pick their own trees to cut? (All of these things won’t even be considered until the court battles have been won)

  4. With the use of “Designation by Prescription” loggers are being allowed to pick their own trees to cut provided the end result of the prescription is met.

    • BUT… Is THAT what America wants?? (instead of qualified and skilled Forest Service employees selecting the trees? Remember the Biscuit Fire?)

      Additionally, how can we be assured that Forest Service personnel are also skilled and ‘adequate’? The real answer is that we cannot be sure.

    • Makes sense to me. Loggers, when required, have a good sense how a thinned forest looks. It is much better than having all the leave trees marked with big bright red painted lines around them.

  5. The various permutations of the Softwood Lumber Agreement have provided entire careers worth of work for forest economists and others in Canada and the US. Again, like the Ag Secretary setting the timber targets for the Los Padres, there are other forces at work besides the Trump Administration.

    Here’s one article from the Canadian point of view..
    “The two most important points to understand about the latest round in this never-ending dispute are these. First, it was not triggered by U.S. President Donald Trump’s aggressive “America First” agenda. The dispute, in its current form, dates back to the early 1980s (some would say 1880s) and is now in its fifth iteration. Groundhog Day, indeed. Second, it truly has little to do with Canadian resource-management practices, although these have long been used as the pretext by U.S. industry protectionists and their agents in successive administrations and U.S. Congresses. Imports from Canada reduce lumber prices in the United States, to the benefit of American home buyers and builders, but at the expense of producers. It is worth billions of dollars to these producers to be able to raise prices without fear of being undercut by more efficient producers from the north. And a small fraction of those billions is enough to buy the highest-priced lawyers, lobbyists and legislators.”
    One country’s “efficiency” is another countries “subsidies” so it goes and so it has gone…


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