Zinke Blames California Wildfires on ‘Radical Environmentalists’

United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke believes that “radical environmentalists” are to blame for the unprecedented number of out-of-control wildfires that continue to burn in California and other states.

Zinke published a USA Today opinion piece on Wednesday and wrote that “active forest management such as logging, prescribed burns and clearing brush” is the way to reduce the number of wildfires on federal forested property.

But according to the Interior Secretary, environmentally green groups bring lawsuits against the federal government to stop such management practices, which makes the problems much worse.

“Every year we watch our forests burn, and every year there is a call for action,” Zinke said. “Yet, when action comes, and we try to thin forests of dead and dying timber, or we try to sustainably harvest timber from dense and fire-prone areas, we are attacked with frivolous litigation from radical environmentalists who would rather see forests and communities burn than see a logger in the woods.”

Zinke and President Trump have both been calling for more active forest management recently as a response to the raging wildfires, some of the largest seen since wildfire record keeping began.

On Sunday Trump posted a tweet claiming that California is running out of water to fight the fires because Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and other state officials are diverting needed water and letting it run out to the Pacific Ocean.

“California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire from spreading!”

Even though both state and federal governments are currently spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on forest management and fire prevention, Republicans now say they want even more to be spent.

“Radical environmentalists would have you believe forest management means clear cutting forests and national parks. But their rhetoric could not be further from the truth. They make outdated and unscientific arguments, void of facts, because they cannot defend the merits of their policy preferences year after year as our forests and homes burn to the ground,” Zinke wrote.

“I’ve visited too many fire camps and spoken with too many experts to know that those who perished fighting these fires could have been saved,” he added.

Concerning Trump’s claims about diverting water, the Los Angeles Times published an article claiming that “In a strikingly ignorant tweet, Trump gets almost everything about California wildfires wrong.”