President Donald Trump pushed for aggressive forest management to combat the wildfires on the West Coast Monday but California Gov. Gavin Newsom told him climate change is real and behind the destructive blazes.
‘There has to be good strong forest management. So hopefully they’ll start doing that,’ Trump said when he landed in Sacramento.
He argued forest management could do a lot to help. Many Democrats, including Califorina Gov. Gavin Newsom, have blamed climate change for the fires.
‘We come from a perspective, humbly, where we submit the science is in and observed evidence is self-evident — that climate change is real,’ Newsom told Trump in a briefing on the fires. The president has denied climate change in the past.
Trump also clashed with another official at the briefing – Wade Crowfoot, the state’s secretary for natural resources – who also said climate change was real.
‘We’ve had temperatures explode this summer. We broke a record in the Death Valley, 130 degrees,’ Crowfoot said, prompting Trump to turn to his right, smirk, and say something indistinguishable to Newsom.
‘We’re seeing this warming trend make our summers warmer and our winters warmer. We want to work with you to recognize our changing climate. If we ignore that science and out our heads in the sand and think it’s all anbout vegetation management, we’re not going to succeed in protecting Californians.
Trump replied: ‘OK. It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.’
Crowfoot replied: ‘I wish science agreed with you.’ – to which Trump said, laughing: ‘I don’t think science knows actually.’
Trump has been focused on forest management as the key to solving the fires.
‘When trees fall down after a short period of time they become very dry — really like a matchstick… and they can explode. Also leaves. When you have dried leaves on the ground it’s just fuel for the fires,’ Trump said.
He said other nations use forest management successfully.
‘You go to Europe,’ he said. ‘They’re very, very strong on management, and they don’t have a problem. They really don’t have, with, as they say, more explosive trees than we have in California.’
‘You go to many different countries. I was talking to the head of a foreign country and they said, ‘We consider ourselves a forest nation. We have trees that are far more explosive than they have in California and we don’t have that problem,’ he noted.
President Trump has pushed for forest management to help combat fires but Gov. Gavin Newsom told him ‘climate change is real’
President Trump arrived in California on Monday for a briefing on the deadly blazes
Arrival: Donald Trump heads to speak to reporters after landing at Sacramento McClellan Airport, which doubles as an air force base for the California Air National Guard
Mill Creek Hotshots set a backfire to protect homes during the Bobcat Fire on September 13, 2020 in Arcadia, California
Evidence of destruction: Donald Trump sat between pictures showing the devastating effects of the wildfire
Head-to-head: Donald Trump as joined at the table by Gavin Newsom (left), the California governor, who told him ‘climate change is real’
Message: The briefing took place between two California state firefighting aircraft
Trump was briefed on the fire at an airport hangar with Newsom at his side – wearing a face mask – and photos of the blaze behind him. The nearest fire is about 60 miles away but the airport has served as a base of operations for officials battling the blazes in this area.
The president acknowledged he and Newsom have had a rocky relationship but said they were working well together to get federal aid to the affected areas.
‘I know we come from different sides of the planet; but we actually have a good relationship. Good man,’ Trump said.
Newsom agreed Trump’s argument for forest management has merit but also argued that climate change, which the president has denied in the past, played a huge role.
‘A month ago – literally to the day – we began to have a series of 14,000 lightning strikes over a three day period, 1100 fires sparked in the last month 2.8 million acres, just in the last 30 days in very unprecedented California history,’ he said.
Newsom, who is seen as a possible presidential candidate in the future, was careful to stay civil with Trump, but made clear he knew they did not agree.
‘We can agree to disagree I appreciate your frankness on the politics of this,’ the Democratic governor said.
‘There’s no question, joining us in this decade as almost 1000 plus years that we have not done justice to forest management,’ Newsom noted.
‘Please respect – and I know you do – the difference of opinion now here,’ Gavin said as Trump nodded.
After the briefing Trump presented medals to seven members of the California Air National Guard for taking part in rescue operations.
Both presidential campaigns turned their attention to the wildfires on Monday with President Trump in California for a briefing on the blazes and Joe Biden speaking about them in a speech in Wilmington.
Honors: Donald Trump presented the Distinguished Flying Cross to members of the California Air National Guard who helped save 242 people from the wildfires on September 5
Firefighting power: The medal presentation was the the hangar where a California state C-130 Hercules is stored between firefighting missions
Medals: Families of the members of the California Air National Guard were present for them to receive the Distinguished Flying Crosses
Thank you for your service: Donald Trump and the California Air National Guard members line up facing one of the state’s C-130 Hercules firefighting planes
Airpower: The seven members of the Air National Guard were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in front of (left) a CH-47 Chinook and (right) a UH-60 Black Hawk
Trump has been criticized for Democrats for not speaking out enough on the deadly fires while Biden has been criticized for not visiting the affected areas. His running mate, Kamala Harris, will return to her home state of California on Monday for a Tuesday briefing on the blazes.
Biden, in his remarks, called Trump a ‘climate arsonist,’ saying the president’s climate change denial is what’s really threatening the suburbs.
‘Donald Trump warned integration is threatening our suburbs. That’s ridiculous. But you know what is actually threatening our suburbs?’ Biden said Monday outside the Delaware Museum of Natural History. ‘Wildfires are burning the suburbs in the west, floods are wiping out suburban neighborhoods in the midwest, hurricanes are imperiling suburban life along our coast.’
The president, at campaign rallies in Nevada over the weekend, repeatedly said the fires are about ‘forest management,’ a characterization he has repeatedly offered of such blazes.
‘It is about forest management, please remember the words, very simply, forest management, please remember, about forest management, and other things,’ he said, also thanking the firefighters and first responders who are reacting to the fires.
Democratic governors – including California’s Newsom, Washington’s Jay Inslee and Oregon’s Kate Brown – said the fires are a result of climate change.
President Trump in a briefing on the West Coast wildfires on Monday
Democratic nominee Joe Biden said Monday that President Trump is a ‘climate arsonist’
A helicopter drops water to help extinguish the Bobcat Fire, in Arcadia, California
A chicken wanders through charred remains from the Beachie Creek Fire near the destroyed Oregon Department of Forestry
And Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti dismissed Trump’s ‘forest management’ argument on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ on Sunday.
‘This is climate change, and this is an administration that’s put its head in the sand,’ Garcetti said.
‘Talk to a firefighter if you think that climate change isn’t real… This isn’t about forest management or raking,’ he added.
And Inslee on Sunday called climate change ‘a blowtorch over our states in the West.’
‘It is maddening right now that when we have this cosmic challenge to our communities, with the entire West Coast of the United States on fire, to have a president to deny that these are not just wildfires, these are climate fires,’ Inslee said on ABC´s ‘This Week.’
Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, which laid out an international approach to combat climate change.
California had its hottest August on record, with world-record-setting heat in Death Valley.
It had 14,000 dry lightning strikes that set off hundreds of fires, some that combined into creating five of the 10 largest fires in the state´s recorded history. And it had back-to-back heat waves.
More than 16,750 firefighters were battling 29 major wildfires across California as of Sunday, according to CalFire, with the most deadly blaze being the North Complex Fire.
The fires have burned 3.3 million acres in the state, caused smoky and hazy weather conditions, and resulted in partial power shutoffs for California residents. More than 4,000 homes have been destroyed.
At least 35 people have died in the fires along the West Coast, including 24 in California, 10 in Oregon and a child in Washington state.
The White House has touted its support for the first responders and fire fighters in the state.
‘THANK YOU to the 28,000+ Firefighters and other First Responders who are battling wildfires across California, Oregon, and Washington. I have approved 37 Stafford Act Declarations, including Fire Management Grants to support their brave work. We are with them all the way!,’ Trump tweeted on Friday night.
President Trump visited California after the 2018 wildfires, touring the area with then-Governor Jerry Brown and then Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom.
He is only in California for a few hours before heading to a campaign stop in Arizona.