‘Forrest’ Trump threatens to make wildfires worse
It sure didn’t take long for Gov. Gavin Newsom to get under President Donald Trump’s skin. Monday, during his inaugural address, Newsom decried the “corruption” and “incompetence” coming from Trump’s administration.
On Tuesday – Newsom’s second day in office – California’s new governor traveled to Placer County to propose spending an additional $105 million on wildfire safety, including more money to thin dry forests and improve emergency alert systems. That would be on top of the $200 million lawmakers approved for similar purposes last year.
Newsom also called on President Trump to boost federal funding for forest management, which is vital, given that about nearly 60 percent of California’s forests are on federal land.
Then, Newsom cosigned a letter to Trump, along with fellow Democratic governors Jay Inslee of Washington and Kate Brown of Oregon, calling for the Trump administration to “double the investment” in managing federal forests in the West to help supplement state efforts.
After all, the letter noted, California has spent $111.3 million since 2017 on forest health, and almost half the work that money funded was done on federal land. Yet at the same time, the U.S. Forest Service budget has been cut by more than $2 billion since 2016 when Trump took office.
Trump’s response? He tweeted: “Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”
The president misspelled “Forest” as “Forrest” in his original tweet.
He deleted it and tweeted the same statement again with the correct spelling. But not before he created a bunch of new memes.
Trump’s tweet is cruel and vindictive. Dozens of people died in California wildfires this year and thousands lost their homes. Thousands more more lost their businesses or their jobs. Now that it’s raining, thousands more are threatened by mudslides. Meanwhile, many of those who survived the fires across the state are relying on FEMA assistance to rebuild their lives, including providing a roof.
Besides, Trump is simply incorrect.
California is getting its act together. The state is putting up record levels of funding to reduce fire risk and better prepare communities for the threat of larger, more destructive fires driven, in part, by climate change. Newsom announced Tuesday a technological approach that will involve better monitoring and money to re-outfit and upgrade the air tankers that firefighters rely on to help douse the flames.
Trump has repeatedly railed against the “gross mismanagement” of forests in California. But he’s never explained what that means or what would be better forest management, aside from his comment about more “raking” of the forest floor. That also created hundreds of new memes, including many from Finland where they found the suggestion that they spend hours raking the forest insanely funny.
Trump seems myopically focused on forests and logging when some of California’s largest fires have been in the brush and grasslands.
The mildest of criticism from California’s new governor during his first days in office set off this bit of bluster from Trump’s Twitter account.
Get ready for a bumpy ride.
BY KERRY CAVANAUGH Los Angeles Times