President Donald Trump on Monday reiterated his previous calls for better forest management during a visit to McClellan Park in Sacramento, where he met with California Gov. Gavin Newsom to discuss their response to the wildfires currently ravaging the West Coast.
“This is one of the biggest burns we’ve ever seen, and we have to do a lot about forest management,” Trump told reporters before the meeting. “Obviously, forest management in California is very important. And now it extends to Washington and extends also to Oregon. There has to be good, strong forest management, which I’ve been talking about for three years with this state. So hopefully they’ll start doing that.”
Trump, a Republican, and Newsom, a Democrat, traded rare compliments during the briefing on wildfires while mostly setting aside their recurring argument over the degree to which human-caused climate change has contributed to a worsening of fires in recent years.
A former Air Force base, McClellan Park is now a hub for collaborative firefighting led by the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the U.S. Forest Service.
During the meeting, Newsom said 1,100 fires have sparked in the last month, many from a series of 14,000 lightning strikes over a three-day period. About 2.8 million acres have burned in the last 30 days, which Newsom called “unprecedented in California history.” More than 16,500 firefighters are currently on the lines, he said.
Newsom credited the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies for their cooperation in responding to the fires, noting the state and U.S. governments recently entered a “first-of-its-type commitment” to double vegetation and forest management over the next 20 years. He also noted that most public land in California is federally owned.
“We can agree to disagree” about global warming, Newsom said. “We obviously feel very strongly that the hots are getting hotter, the dries are getting drier. When we’re having heat domes, the likes of which we’ve never seen in our history; the hottest August ever in the history of the state; the ferocity of these fires; the drought, five-plus years; losing 163 million trees to that drought — something has happened to the plumbing of the world.”
Trump also presented the Distinguished Flying Cross to seven California Army National Guard soldiers for flying through flames, wind and smoke on Sept. 5 to rescue families trapped by the Creek Fire at the Mammoth Pool Campground.