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Bad California environmental policy fueling wildfires

As billowing smoke rises across California, attention is now being focused on liberal state government policies that are adding fuel to the fire.

The Carr Fire, the most deadly of 17 different blazes, blankets much of Shasta County and is only 30 percent contained. It’s responsible for burning down more than a thousand homes around the city of Redding. Firefighters say it also reduced another 440 buildings to scorched rubble.

Almost 50,000 people are displaced from their homes and eight people have now died statewide.

Randy Thomasson with Save California is speaking some hard truth to politicians. He says he’s concerned that politicians are accepting the wildfires as the new normal for the state. He says thi spells doom for the future of the Golden State.

“It used to be that responsible politicians believed Smokey Bear’s reality-based message, ‘Only you can prevent forest fires,'” Thomasson wrote. “But now, too many ‘progressive’ politicians silently excuse evil pyromaniacs and negligent transients, and publicly blame ‘climate change’ instead.”

“They’re feigning sympathy while people’s lives and property are going up in smoke,” Thomasson went on to say.

“By preventing thinning out of trees through controlled logging operations, forests become heavily ingrown, killing trees, which results in massive amounts of dead wood. This invites catastrophic wildfires,” Thomasson says. “With Democrats in control of California government, their political marriage to wrong-thinking environmental groups means thinning out forests and controlled burns just aren’t happening.”

Thomasson says California Congressman Tom McClintock is one of thousands who have studied the issue. The consensus he shares? Excess timber comes out of the forest one way or the other. He says it’s either carried out or it burns out.

“When we carried out our excess timber, we had healthy, resilient forests and we had thriving prosperous communities. Excess timber sales from federal lands not only generated revenues for our mountain communities but created thousands of jobs,” McClintock says.

“But in the 1970’s, we adopted laws like the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act that have resulted in endlessly time-consuming and cost-prohibitive restrictions and requirements that have made the scientific management of our forests virtually impossible,” McClintock went on to say. “Timber sales from the federal lands have dropped 80 percent in the intervening years, with a concomitant increase in forest fires. In California alone, the number of sawmills has dropped from 149 in 1981 to just 27 today.”

McClintock says it’s not only bad for the timber industry, it’s bad for the trees.

“Timber that once had room to grow healthy and strong now fights for its life against other trees trying to occupy the same ground. Average tree density in the Sierra Nevada is three to four times the density the land can support. In this weakened condition, trees lose their natural defenses to drought, disease, pestilence, and ultimately succumb to catastrophic wildfire,” he explained.

“After 45 years of experience with these environmental laws – all passed with the promise they would improve the forest environment – I think we are entitled to ask, ‘How is the forest environment doing?’ All around us, the answer is damning.  These laws have not only failed to improve our forest environment – they are literally killing our forests,” McClintock concluded.

Thomasson says he’s not putting all the blame on lawmakers for the fires but says they need to do more to prevent the fires. He says more and better laws could make a difference.

On his website, savecalifornia.com, he wrote about new fire prevention laws that would:

  • Impose stiff penalties for people who cause wildfires either through neglect or pyromania;
  • Allow for the clearing out of dead trees and bushes above environmental groups’ concerns for “dead plants over live people;”
  • Pass new laws for “wide-enough” barriers between hillside homes and wild brush to stop the spread of flames and sparks;
  • Provide funding to purchase more planes and helicopters to help with firefighting.

Thomasson says California’s voters should make their concerns known to those in office and seeking office.

“Candidates running for state office in California need to answer this question: ‘What will you do to prevent wildfires?’ If they blame ‘climate change’ or just say more funding is needed, this election year is your opportunity to fire them or replace them due to their lackluster attitude about wildfires that are directly harming California families,” Thomasson wrote.