Rep. LaMalfa slams democrats over wildfires, saying we should be hiring Americans to clear trees instead of importing wood

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CALIFORNIARep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) recently delivered the weekly Republican address and pointed out that better forest management is needed in California and that it is possible to prevent fires and create domestic jobs at the same time.

Currently, like oil, the U.S. is now mostly dependent on other countries for wood.

According to a chart he provided, LaMalfa showed that after China, the U.S. is the second biggest importer of wood products in the world.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires permits for the importation of logs, lumber and other unmanufactured wood products into the U.S. under the authority of 7 CFR 319.40.

Speaking from Greenville, California, on Aug. 14, which was devastated by the 500,000-acre Dixie Fire, LaMalfa, who is from northern California’s first district, said:

“We’ve had 30,000 people plus displaced by wildfire, kicked out of their homes — losing their memories, losing their legacies — we’ve lost nearly 100 people in northern California to death from wildfire.

“This is tragic and makes me really frustrated and it should you too because all this doesn’t have to be.”

According to a government site that tracks forest fires, the Dixie Fire began July 13 and spread to the Plumas National Forest, Lassen National Forest, Lassen Volcanic National Park and four counties (Butte, Lassen, Plumas and Tehama).

On July 22, another fire started and was named the Fly Fire. This fire was managed under the Dixie Fire East Zone command. The Dixie and Fly Fires eventually merged into one big fire.

California’s drought, combined with dry, hot weather and strong winds, resulted in a very active fire that resulted in structure damage, evacuation orders and evacuation warnings.

Many roads were closed, along with national forests. Air quality in the nearby communities were deemed unhealthy due to all the smoke produced.

LaMalfa said: 

“There’s no reason we have to keep doing this this way, but what we do need is positive forest management.

“That means simple things like clearing along roadways so there’s trees that won’t catch fire from vehicle traffic, clearing around power lines. 

“This fire started because a green healthy tree fell into a power line amidst an overcrowded forest full of dry trees, dry brush.

“Why aren’t we clearing around our communities so that they have a better chance of being fire safe?

“So, our firefighters are working 18-20 hours a day here right now putting themselves in harm’s way and have an easier, better chance of trying to stop a fire that might be coming from the forest into a town.

“These are the kinds of things that are just commonsense. This doesn’t need to happen, yet it keeps happening.”

Fires in California have been a political issue for quite some time. On Jan. 8, 2019, Gavin Newsom became the newly elected Democrat governor of California and declared a war on wildfires, saying:

“Everybody has had enough.”

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The governor announced he signed a sweeping executive order overhauling the state’s approach to wildfire prevention.

Climate change was sparking fires more frequent and deadly than ever before, and Newsom said confronting them would have to become a year-round effort.

However, two-and-a-half years later, as California approaches what could be the worst wildfire season on record, it does so with little evidence of the year-round attention Newsom promised, according to an investigation by CapRadio this year:

“An investigation from CapRadio and NPR’s California Newsroom found the governor has misrepresented his accomplishments and even disinvested in wildfire prevention.

“The investigation found Newsom overstated, by an astounding 690%, the number of acres treated with fuel breaks and prescribed burns in the very forestry projects he said needed to be prioritized to protect the state’s most vulnerable communities.

“Newsom has claimed that 35 ‘priority projects’ carried out as a result of his executive order resulted in fire prevention work on 90,000 acres. But the state’s own data show the actual number is 11,399.

“Overall, California’s response has faltered under Newsom. After an initial jump during his first year in office, data obtained by CapRadio and NPR’s California Newsroom show Cal Fire’s fuel reduction output dropped by half in 2020, to levels below Gov. Jerry Brown’s final year in office.

“At the same time, Newsom slashed roughly $150 million from Cal Fire’s wildfire prevention budget.”

Mitch Mackenzie, co-owner of Carol Shelton Wines in Santa Rosa, lost his home in the 2017 Tubbs Fire. He told CapRadio he feels betrayed by government officials:

“With all the fire danger that we have experienced year, after year, after year … you would think it would be a higher priority to make sure that all of this area is treated as much as possible.”

Mackenzie added that politicians “always want to look good about fixing the problem, but then they never really do it.”

According to CapRadio, data showed Gov. Newsom had completed only 13 percent of the job he touted on his highest priority projects and misrepresented several projects:

“Many of Newsom’s misrepresentations revolve around 35 ‘priority projects’ which Cal Fire launched in February 2019 as a result of Newsom’s executive order.

“The projects selected, Cal Fire said, would protect 200 communities that were especially vulnerable to wildfire.

“The projects ran the length of the state — from a fuel break in the shrublands around the community of Crest, east of El Cajon in San Diego County, to cutting back foliage along major routes in and out of the town of Lake Shastina, in Siskiyou County, near the Oregon border.

“As required by Newsom’s executive order, the agency said it paid particular attention to equity — focusing on areas with high ‘poverty levels, residents with disabilities, language barriers, residents over 65 or under five years of age, and households without a car.’

“Officially, the projects totaled about 90,000 acres. That’s well short of the amount of forestland experts say needs treatment in California, but it would have substantially increased Cal Fire’s prevention output compared to past years.”

LaMalfa suggested in his address that Republicans would have a different approach:

“We need the American public to understand this and get behind what we’re doing. As Republicans in the House of Representatives offering several pieces of legislation that will solve this issue instead of year after year after year.

“The western states are kind of arid, and we’re going through a drought period right now, so we need to take steps, take measures that will make our forest thinner, but safer, and we’re not talking about cutting every tree from Mexico to Canada.

“No, we have wise ways we can do these things. There’s experienced people that know how to do this.

“If we could implement the policy, get it past the regulators and get it past the lawsuits that come from environmental organizations year after year, even to do simple things after a fire, like salvage, they sue over that and stop what it is they’re trying to do to restore the forest land to something that looks green and nice again and it’s healthy.

“A study from just last year shows that before California’s fire season was even over, that 25 more percent carbon dioxide was emitted than the state’s annual emission that comes from fossil fuel use.

“That was just in California. You can apply that to the entire west — Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Colorado and others have all been experiencing major fires as well, and that smoke and unhealthy air spreads not just across California, but the entire country, even reaching the East Coast.”

LaMalfa appeared to be referring to a report from last September. The report noted that the California fires in 2020 had already burned through 3.4 million acres of land and generated more than 91 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is 25 percent more than the state’s annual emissions from fossil fuels.

The report also indicated that California’s fire season had a couple more months to go.

LaMalfa urged a new approach to handling the state’s devastating fires:

“Does this fire — this devastation, these massive evacuations, the pollution and the loss of life — does that look like success to you?

“No. We can and we must fix this. All this stuff in this, on this ground here, this ash, the erosion that’s going to come — is going to wash into our rivers, wash into our streams, wash into our lakes and make our water supply not as good as it should be either.

“So, we need solutions, we need them now, and so I’m pleading with the public to help turn the tide and get Congress to help support some of these Republican solutions we have — bipartisan, nonpartisan solutions.”

LaMalfa then suggested killing two birds with one stone:

“Year after year, we have these giant fires, yet the United States is the number two importer of wood products of any country in the world.

“Why are we doing that?

“We could be taking just a little bit of this timber out of here and utilizing it for our needs for Americans and helping to put people back to work here in these boarded-up towns and making the community, making the forest fire safe and healthy.”

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