Environmentalism and the California wildfires

Krystina Skurk uses a Federalist column to explore the role “misguided” environmentalism played in today’s destructive wildfires.

Article after article blames two things for California’s frequent fires: global warming and human action. For example, a BuzzFeed article is titled, “How A Booming Population And Climate Change Made California’s Wildfires Worse Than Ever.” While dry conditions make fires more likely and people often start them, this misses the big picture. President Trump summed it up on Nov 10. He wrote, “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor … Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

Trump is right. Mismanagement and overregulation deserve most of the blame, but he should keep in mind that the federal government owns 57 percent of California forest land. This mismanagement is also not a result of a lack of care. Believe me, Californians care. …

… Part of the reason it is so difficult to manage California forests is the bureaucratic milieu. The Forest Service manages 193 million acres of land, has 28,000 employees, and has an annual outlay of $7 billion a year, according to a 2017 Analytical Perspective from the budget of the U.S. government.

For decades, environmental protection schemes have usurped common sense. …

… “The laws of the past 45 years have not only failed to protect the forest environment, they have done immeasurable harm to our forests,” said Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, who represents a northeastern district in California, in a congressional hearing. “Time and again, we see vivid boundaries between the young, healthy, growing forests managed by state, local, and private landholders, and the choked, dying, or burned federal forests.”

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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