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Zinke tours California fires while encouraging more joint forest management

CHICO, Calif. – Days after his boss generated controversy for suggesting poor forest management is to blame for California’s latest wildfires, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is pledging President Trump’s “full support” to help the torched state recover.

But the former Montana lawmaker is still insisting forest management is key to curbing future disasters.

“I don’t want to finger point. What I want to do, is how do we go from here? As you look at what’s happening in Yosemite Park, we are doing prescribed burns late in the season. We’re collecting timber. We’re moving dead and dying timber. We brought our best scientists and best practices. That’s important,” Zinke said.

Zinke was flanked by Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown, who has frequently tangled with the administration over climate change. He visited the Incident Command Center for the Camp Fire in Chico, Calif., on Wednesday.

The Camp Fire, which started last week, has scorched more than 135,000 acres and destroyed over 8,800 buildings. In all the fires, 56 people have died as of Wednesday night, and dozens more are missing.

Zinke said the administration will give full help with recovery but added the tools to deal with increasingly deadly fires must be wielded jointly.

“This is just not a state issue. It’s not a federal issue. This is an American issue of managing our forests. We all want healthy forests,” Zinke said.

He sounded a similar theme during the record fire season here in Montana last year.

Story by Dennis Bragg, MTN News

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