OPINION: Radical Environmentalists Are To Blame For California’s Wildfires

(Photo credit JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Jen Kerns Contributor
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At least 31 people are now dead, more than 200 are missing and 250,000 more were forced to flee for their lives from California wildfires over the weekend.

The state known for pushing milestones just surpassed another one: the weekend’s fires in Malibu and Northern California became the deadliest fires in state history.

With California burning, the response from the state’s liberal political elite? It’s climate change, of course.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The wildfire crisis in California, like other crises plaguing the state, are mostly man-made — but not in the way environmentalists would have you believe.

President Trump was right to chastise state leaders over the weekend as he threatened to withhold federal funds over what he called the “gross mismanagement of forests.”

Indeed, the push from the environmentalist lobby on both the state and federal level has led to deadly consequences.

Thirty years of radical environmental policies which prohibit the proper trimming of forests and brush have created a literal tinder box just waiting to ignite.

A Reason Foundation study found that massive reforms were needed to stop the deadly fires. In the study, Reason reported that it was once the top priority of the U.S. Forest service to suppress fires — something the professionals did with great success for four decades. From 1910 to the mid-1950s, forest fires fell from one million to approximately 250,000 and remained so until they began to rise again near the 1990s.

The reduction of fires continued until 1990, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the spotted owl as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This set off alarm bells for wildlife and environmental activists. By the time President Bill Clinton left office, he had implemented the 2001 Roadless Rule that restricted use of roads and prevented the building of new roads near nearly 50 million acres of forest. It may have saved the spotted owl, but the result was that it kept forest service professionals from being able to properly clear brush and manage forests. As a result, during Clinton’s reign from 1992 to 2000, removal of timber declined drastically and from 2000 to 2013, thanks to his rule there was an 80 percent decline in proper forestry removal to prevent deadly fires.

Adding insult to literal injury in an already-fragile state such as California, around the same time a politician-created drought robbed Southern California of precious water resources thanks to yet another environmentalist charade.

In a move that the National Center for Public Policy Research called “a man-made disaster,” Gov. Jerry Brown diverted millions of gallons of water into the San Francisco Bay Area — and away from other parts of California — to save a fish the size of a minnow. The result has been water rationing, the killing of precious crops and the increase of dry lawns and brush surrounding residential areas. The single act of a politician dramatically altering a key source of water in California has placed the life of a small fish above the lives and safety of millions of human beings.

Talk about foolishness.

These man-made factors have led to a combustible situation, the likes of which were seen in Malibu and Northern California over the weekend.

Failure to see the cause and effect here is a stubborn refusal to see the evidence and a failure on the part of Democrat leadership and their radical environmentalist base. It’s ironic that the same Democrat leaders who often accuse Republicans of failing to pay attention to science are the ones now failing to do so.

Sadly, with Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom stating that this week’s fire was caused by climate change, it appears that state leaders have learned absolutely nothing from their mistakes.

Until they do, people will continue to die.

Any future solution to California’s vast wildlife crisis will require an honest — one that includes the hard truth — which is that Democrats’ long-heralded policies of radical environmentalism, restriction of proper forestry practices and a politician-created drought are what have led to California’s losses.

Until they realize they are sacrificing human beings on the altar of their environmentalism, every time we hear of a new death from a senseless wildfire California Democrats and their radical environmentalist friends will continue to have blood on their hands.

Jen Kerns (@JenKernsUSA) served as spokeswoman for the 2007 California wildfires as an appointee of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the California Insurance Commissioner. She previously served as spokeswoman for the California Republican Party, spokeswoman for Prop. 8 which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and as a Fox News writer for the 2016 U.S. presidential debates.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.