President Trump Threatens to Withhold Federal Payments to California

By RJ Johnson - @rickerthewriter

November 10, 2018

President Donald Trump is threatening to withhold federal payments to California after claiming that its forest management policies are "so poor."

The Woolsey Fire in Southern California has charred at least 70,000-acres, while the Camp Fire in Northern California became the most destructive wildfires in California history, with 9 dead, and more than 6,700 structures burned. 

Writing on Twitter, Trump said:

"There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"

Earlier, Trump had issued an emergency declaration that will provide federal funds to help California firefighters. 

The remarks drew backlash from the Gov-Elect and current acting Gov. Gavin Newsom who wrote on Twitter, that this was "not a time for partisanship." 

Lives have been lost. Entire towns have been burned to the ground. Cars abandoned on the side of the road. People are being forced to flee their homes. This is not a time for partisanship. This is a time for coordinating relief and response and lifting those in need up.

The president of the California Professional Firefighters Association, Brian Rice, accused Trump of "demeaning" firefighters currently on the front lines of the devastating fires in currently raging in Northern and Southern California. 

"At a time when our every effort should be focused on vanquishing the destructive fires and helping the victims, the president has chosen instead to issue an uninformed political threat aimed squarely at the innocent victims of these cataclysmic fires," Brian Rice said in a statement.

"At this moment, thousands of our brother and sister firefighters are putting their lives on the line to protect the lives and property of thousands. Some of them are doing so even as their own homes lay in ruins. In my view, this shameful attack on California is an attack on all our courageous men and women on the front lines."

Rice added the president's assertion that forest mismanagement was the cause of California wildfires was incorrect. 

"The president's assertion that California's forest management policies are to blame for catastrophic wildfire is dangerously wrong," Rice wrote. "Wildfires are sparked and spread not only in forested areas but in populated areas and open fields fueled by parched vegetation, high winds, low humidity and geography.

"Moreover, nearly 60 percent of California forests are under federal management, and another two-thirds under private control. It is the federal government that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management, not California," Rice added. 

The federal government (U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management) is responsible for and owns the vast majority of forest land in California. Effects of global climate change on temperature, and precipitation levels have turned the dry land into kindling, leading to larger and more destructive wildfires over the last several years. 

Photo: Getty Images

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