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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