California Gov. Jerry Brown appears to have quietly admitted President Donald Trump’s suggestion about improving California forestry was correct and is now urging state lawmakers to loosen restrictive logging regulations put in place to appease environmentalists.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that Brown is proposing one of the most significant changes to the state’s logging rules in nearly half a century.
“Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing broad new changes to California’s logging rules that would allow landowners to cut larger trees and build temporary roads without obtaining a permit as a way to thin more forests across the state,” the paper reports.
Environmentalists in California aren’t on board. They’ve been pushing for years to make California’s logging rules more restrictive, not less, but in the wake of the deadly forest fires that ripped through the state this month, prominent lawmakers believe a change must be made before more people die from a preventable situation.
“Under Brown’s proposal, private landowners would be able to cut trees up to 36 inches in diameter — up from the current 26 inches — on property 300 acres or less without getting a timber harvest permit from the state, as long as their purpose was to thin forests to reduce fire risk,” the Sentinel reports. “They also would be able to build roads of up to 600 feet long without getting a permit, as long as they repaired and replanted them.”
Forests, particularly in northern California, California lawmakers admit, have become dangerously overgrown. But there’s currently little incentive for landowners to clear their trees — they are only allowed to clear dead and decaying wood and undergrowth and can’t clear healthy tress. By allowing landowners to recover some money from the process — letting them create and sell lumber, for instance — it could incentivize them to make bigger changes.
Environmentalists say they’re worried landowners will go way too far, cutting down ancient redwoods or clear-cutting property, but even the most ardent environmentalist admits that some thinning is needed.
This is a big change from two weeks ago, when Gov. Jerry Brown balked at President Donald Trump’s suggestion that poor forestry and poor forest management might be to blame for the massive wildfires that ripped through northern and southern California earlier this month, claiming dozens of lives and tens of thousands of acres.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” the president tweeted while he was in France observing the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. “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!”
“Our focus is on the Californians impacted by these fires and the first responders and firefighters working around the clock to save lives and property — not on the president’s inane, uninformed tweets,” Brown’s office responded.
Instead, Brown blamed global warming for the uptick in fires.
The president may not have been wholly correct but it seems he was certainly on to something.