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Dramatic fiery sky in Yosemite national park during forest fire. (Photo: Nathaniel Gonzales, Shutterstock)

Yosemite Oak Fire Burns as Left Claims Climate Change is Culprit

Environmentalists sued to halt critical forest thinning as California is on fire again

By Katy Grimes, July 25, 2022 3:31 pm

The Oak Fire, which is raging near Yosemite National Park right now, was sparked as firefighters were battling the Washburn Fire. The Washburn Fire, more than 1,500-acres, broke out in the Mariposa Grove, home to more than 500 mature giant sequoias, which have been saved thanks to previous forest thinning and management, and fuel (tinder) reduction treatments.

Numerous residential and commercial properties been destroyed. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency in Mariposa County.

The Associated Press acknowledged that the Oak Fire “burned out of control through tinder-dry forest on Sunday and had grown into one of California’s biggest blazes of the year, forcing thousands of residents to flee remote mountain communities.”

Yet further down in the article, they claimed the underlying cause was climate change:

“California has experienced increasingly larger and deadlier wildfires in recent years as climate change has made the West much warmer and drier over the past 30 years. Scientists have said weather will continue to be more extreme and wildfires more frequent, destructive and unpredictable.”

At least they acknowledged that weather plays a part.

NBC News had a healthier take on climate change and California’s annual “fire season:”

“For decades, federal, state and local agencies have prioritized fire suppression over prevention, pouring billions of dollars into hiring and training firefighters, buying and maintaining firefighting equipment and educating the public on fire safety.”

“But as climate change continues to fuel dry conditions in the American West, many experts say it’s long past time to shift the focus back to managing healthy forests that can better withstand fire and add to a more sustainable future.”

In 2020, Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher wrote at the Globe about the left’s claims that because of climate change, California needed to immediately begin, “shuttering all natural gas plants, converting all houses from gas heating to electricity, and electrifying our ports.” Gallagher concluded:

“The bottom line is California has done the most to reduce carbon emissions at great cost to its citizens.  It is estimated that our carbon policies are already costing the average Californian $1,235 a year. Doubling down on these policies is the wrong approach.”

“More importantly, not one of these solutions will stop a devastating wildfire from occurring. The 2018 fires alone emitted 45 million metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere, nine times more than we reduced carbon emissions over the past few years.”

He and Congressmen Tom McClintock have long advocated for increased investment in forestry management as their districts are heavily forested.

Rep. McClintock told the Globe in an interview in 2020, that total federal lands has grown to 640 million acres – 28 percent of the land area in the nation. He also said the feds own 46 percent of California – and 93 percent of Alpine County in his district. And in these regions, what used to be well-maintained forests have become choked and unhealthy.

“For decades, traditional forest management was scientific and successful—that is until ideological, preservationist zealots wormed their way into government and began the overhaul of sound federal forest management through abuse of the Endangered Species Act and the ‘re-wilding, no-use movement,” he said.

“Our forests are now catastrophically overgrown, often carrying four times the number of trees the land can support.  In this stressed and weakened condition, our forests are easy prey for drought, disease, pestilence and fire.”

“Fires have always been part of our ecosystem,” said Mike Rogers, a former Angeles National Forest supervisor and board member of the National Association of Forest Service Retirees, NBC reported. “Forest management is a lot like gardening. You have to keep the forest open and thin.”

Gallagher called for using millions more of cap and trade funds to do more thinning, vegetation removal and prescribed burns. “The money is there and the Legislative Analyst’s Office has shown that dollar for dollar, it [forest thinning] reduces more carbon than other measures we have taken,” he said.   

Gallagher also said California needs to “remove regulatory barriers such as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which unnecessarily delays or prevent these projects from happening.

And even as California is once again on fire, The Earth Island Institute, a California-based environmental group, “filed a federal lawsuit in June asking the court to halt a ‘biomass removal and thinning’ project proposed by Yosemite National Park and the National Park Service,” Fox News reported. “Under the proposal, the National Park Service had planned to cut down ‘hazard trees’ and remove biomass like fallen dead trees that could contribute to wildfires, according to project documents. On July 5, though, Yosemite National Park agreed to halt its plans pending a court decision in the case.”

And now Yosemite is threatened once again by a deadly fire in which thousands of nearby residents have been evacuated, and the National Park could be devastated.

“Excess timber comes out of the forest in only two ways – it is either carried out or it burns out,” McClintock says. “For most of the 20th Century, we carried it out. It’s called ‘logging.’ Every year, U.S. Forest Service foresters would mark off excess timber and then we auctioned it off to lumber companies who paid us to remove it, funding both local communities and the forest service. We auctioned grazing contracts on our grasslands. The result: healthy forests, fewer fires and a thriving economy.”

Reps. McClintock and Doug LaMalfa introduced legislation in March directing the U.S. Forest Service to immediately suppress wildfires on National Forest System lands and put an end to the policy of letting fires burn.

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6 thoughts on “Yosemite Oak Fire Burns as Left Claims Climate Change is Culprit

  1. If only there could be a final knockout punch and just punishment for the absolute devastation that the environmentalists and their lawsuits have wrought — over and over and over again — in this state! What is the answer? Sue them to within an inch of their lives? Alongside the governor? Who is ridiculously spinning grandiose fantasies at the moment about himself as U.S. President? These people know darn well none of this is about “climate change!” They only want to destroy, isn’t it obvious? If it wasn’t before, isn’t it obvious now after all these years of destruction? How many times have we heard and read McClintock’s completely sane and common-sense, win-win explanation about forest management? Are we going to go on like this forever?

    1. I concur 100% and propose that we take your idea one step further…
      Sue the “Earth Island Institute” for all of the property damage AND for the “value of the carbon released” into the atmosphere from the uncontrolled forest fires, like the current Yosemite conflagration.
      These people are insane, and need to be stopped…fight fire with fire, in court, and make them PAY for their bad policies and deleterious actions upon the state….

      1. CD9, for once I wish I were a bored billionaire attorney with more brain power and time on my hands so I could understand the legal issues and process and take this sort of thing on. Putting out a call for bored billionaires that know enough to accept (or reject) such a challenge?

  2. I remember Chuck Todd said the quiet part out loud on Meet the Press a while back. I will no longer allow anyone on with dissenting views on global warming,. (climate change) today

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