Interior secretary blames ‘radical’ environmentalists for contributing to wildfires

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By Phil Helsel

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Tuesday in part blamed “radical environmental groups” for contributing to wildfire conditions.

Zinke, in a conference call on Tuesday, said “every time there is a thinning project out, who’s suing?” when he was asked about President Donald Trump’s much-derided tweets and comments about “forest management” made as the deadly Camp and Woolsey fires raged and during a visit to the state last weekend.

“When lawsuit after lawsuit by, yes, the radical environmental groups that would rather burn down the entire forest than, than cut a single tree or thin the forest,” Zinke told reporters. “And it’s easy to find who, who is suing, and who promulgates these destructive policies.”

His comments came as as firefighters were making progress in battling two major wildfires in California, one of which is the deadliest in recorded state history with at least 79 dead.

Nov. 20, 201800:28

Trump first made comments about poor “forest management” on Twitter on Nov. 10 as the Camp Fire in Butte County in Northern California and two fires near Los Angeles raged. California firefighter’s groups and scientists quickly criticized the characterization as wrong.

Some noted that the fires in Southern California were not in logged areas, but rather in areas full of shrubs and human-made structures.

“It’s not about forest management,” University of Utah fire scientist Philip Dennison said last week. “These aren’t forests.

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