WILDFIRES

President Trump Orders Ultimatum For FEMA Wildfire Funding

Jan 9, 2019, 6:41 PM
U.S. President Donald Trump walks off Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House returning fro...
U.S. President Donald Trump walks off Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House returning from California after viewing damage from that state's wildfires on November 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. Seventy-four people have been killed and more than 1,000 people are missing due to multiple devastating fires across the state. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tasos Katopodis-Pool/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — President Donald Trump threatened Wednesday to withhold money to help California cope with wildfires, a day after new Governor Gavin Newsom asked him to double the federal investment in forest management.

Trump again suggested poor forest management is to blame for California’s deadly wildfires and said he’s ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to stop giving the state money “unless they get their act together.”

Fire scientists say climate change, not poor forest management, is the driving contributor to California’s increasingly destructive wildfires, many of which have not been primarily in forests.

FEMA could not immediately comment because of the government shutdown. Trump has previously threatened to withhold wildfire payments but never followed through.

Hours after Trump’s tweet, the state’s emergency operations agency said FEMA is extending its deadline for victims of deadly November wildfires to seek assistance.

Newsom, a Democrat who took office Monday, said Californians affected by wildfires “should not be victims to partisan bickering.”

Several Republican lawmakers who represent the town of Paradise, which was leveled by a fire in November that killed 86 people, said Trump’s tweet was not helpful.

“These are American citizens who need our help,” U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa said.

But Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California, defended Trump’s comments on forest management and did not criticize his threat to withhold funding. McCarthy said he’ll propose more money for forest management as part of Democratic spending bills this week to reopen the government. But Republicans ultimately don’t plan to back the spending bills.

Newsom and Govs. Jay Inslee and Kate Brown of Washington and Oregon, respectively, on Tuesday sent a letter to the president asking him to double federal funding for forest management. California has pledged $1 billion over the next five years to ramp up its efforts, which include clearing dead trees that can serve as fuel.

Lawmakers approved that money last year, and Newsom said Tuesday he’ll add an extra $105 million in his upcoming budget for wildfire-related spending.

More than half of California’s 33 million acres of forest are managed by the federal government, and the letter noted the U.S. Forest Service’s budget has steadily decreased since 2016. State and local governments own just 3 percent of forests and the rest is owned by private owners and Native American tribes, according to the University of California.

“Our significant state-level efforts will not be as effective without a similar commitment to increased wildland management by you, our federal partners,” the letter read.

Newsom’s office didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about how much money the state has received from FEMA following recent wildfires.

Most FEMA money goes directly to victims through disaster assistance. The agency approved more than $48 million in individual and household assistance related to deadly wildfires in November, according to its website.

In a Tuesday event on wildfire safety, Newsom had praised Trump for always providing California with necessary disaster relief funds.

Newsom and Trump toured the fire devastation in Paradise together in November. At the time, Trump made a head-scratching comment about Finland minimizing its wildfire threat by “raking and cleaning” forests.

Finland’s president said he had talked to Trump about wildfires in November but didn’t recall discussing raking.

“I’ll defend him on that a little bit,” Newsom said Tuesday. “I think what he was talking about is defensible spaces, landscaping, which has a role to play.”

(Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

 

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Wildfires

(Uinta-Wasatch-Cache NF/Twitter)...
Cary Schwanitz

South Fork fire 50% contained

Fire managers said the South Fork Fire burning in Provo Canyon south of Vivian Park was 50% contained Tuesday.
5 days ago
(Uinta-Wasatch-Cache NF/Twitter)...
Madison Swenson

Fire crews work to extinguish blaze in Provo Canyon

Multiple agencies are responding to a new wildfire that broke out Monday afternoon in Provo Canyon.
6 days ago
A school classroom with chairs and desks...
Brooke Williams

Project to provide air purifiers in Utah K-12 classrooms

Cleaner air improves student performance, decreases COVID transmission and school absenteeism. New project provides air purifiers for classrooms in Utah.
11 days ago
Firefighters use aircraft to battle a wildfire south of Salem, Oregon, on September 9. (Andrew Sels...
Amir Vera and Nouran Salahieh, CNN

Smoke from the Mosquito Fire begins creating unhealthy to hazardous conditions in northern California

A wall of smoke from the Mosquito Fire in the Sierra Nevada mountains is creating hazardous conditions in Northern California, choking the air with smoke as strong winds complicate firefighting efforts.
13 days ago
smoke settling in rocky mountains...
Nouran Salahieh, CNN

Air quality worsens as 94 fires burn across Western US, Kay weakens

There are currently 94 large, active fires burning across eight states in the West, threatening local air quality.
14 days ago
Smoky skies in the Salt Lake valley seen from the Huntsman Center. (Photo by Alexis Williams)...
MORGAN LEE Associated Pres

US restarts burns of forest fuel, paused after runaway blaze

The U.S. government is resuming prescribed burning of National Forest lands across the nation to clear brush and small trees after a three-month pause to review and respond to climate change and risks of runaway wildfires.
15 days ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
President Trump Orders Ultimatum For FEMA Wildfire Funding