OAKLAND, Calif. - In a string of tweets over the weekend, President Trump criticized Governor Gavin Newsom over the state's handling of wildfires, while threatening to cut federal aid to the state. The Sunday night tweet thread started with: "The Governor of California, @GavinNewsom, has done a terrible job of forest management. I told him from the first day we met that he must 'clean' his forest floors regardless of what his bosses, the environmentalists, DEMAND of him."
The President went on to write: "Every year, as the fires rage & California burns, it is the same thing-and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor. You don't see close to the level of burn in other states..."
“Management is so bad, the governor doesn’t know, he’s like a child, he doesn’t know what he’s doing," President Trump told reporters on the White House lawn.
The governor jumped into the Twitter fight by writing,"You don't believe in climate change, you are excused from the conversation."
In a statement, the Governor Newsom later said, “We’re successfully waging war against thousands of fires started across the state in the last few weeks due to extreme weather created by climate change while Trump is conducting a full on assault agaisnt the antidoes," Newsom said.
Jay Ziegler, director of external affairs and policy at the Nature Conservancy in California argues the state has done a tremendous amount of work in reducing fire fuels and says the recent fires are a result of climate change. “The product of extreme heat events, wind events, frankly caused by accelerating conditions from climate change," said Ziegler.
In a lengthy statement, the Governor's office outlined the steps its taken and hundreds of millions of dollars it's spending to limit fire risk. The state manages about 2% of California's forests compared to the federal government's 57%. “We are doing more under Governor Newsom’s leadership, than any other state in the country to address fire both to people as well as fires in the Sierras," said Ziegler.
In another tweet, the President said,"Also, open up the ridiculously closed water lanes coming down from the North. Don't pour it out into the Pacific Ocean. Should be done immediately. California desperately needs water, and you can have it now!" Making reference to the state's water regulations. Ziegler says this was close to a record water year for the state. “There’s no connection between a lack of water to fight fires and any action the state has taken," said Ziegler.
There was widespread criticism of the president's comments including from the president of the California Professional Firefighters Association. “As with last year’s fires, any suggestion that disaster assistance for fire victims and firefighting efforts could be withheld because of the state’s forest practices is ill-informed, cruel and dangerous," said Brian Rice.