L A Times editorial denies need for Cal Fire actions to address state’s wildfire debacle

Guest essay Larry Hamlin

The L. A. Times ran an editorial denying the need for wildfire actions recommended by Cal Fire and authorized by Governor Newsom for immediate implementation facilitated by waving California’s onerous, time consuming and costly environmental regulations.


The Times editorial claims that the Cal Fire actions regarding prioritizing and immediately beginning the of thinning of decades long forest overgrowth in selected forests areas are ineffective, costly and unnecessary. Instead the editorial claims that other measures including hardening of structures, increasing greater clearance distances around structures, etc. would be more effective.

The Cal Fire report containing recommended actions for improving the decades long deteriorated conditions of California forests is a comprehensive report involving the efforts of 40 agencies and organizations that addresses both immediate and longer term needs regarding the state’s wildfire debacle.


The agencies included in the development of the report are noted below.


The report addresses the most immediate and urgent actions required that include finally taking long overdue efforts to begin dealing with the failure to maintain healthy forests by properly thinning, clearing excessive undergrowth, etc. Portions of the Cal Fire report addressing these immediate actions are presented below: 

“Recognizing the need for urgent action, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-05-19 on January 9, 2019. The Executive Order directs the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), in consultation with other state agencies and departments, to recommend immediate, medium and long-term actions to help prevent destructive wildfires.

With an emphasis on taking necessary actions to protect vulnerable populations, and recognizing a backlog in fuels management work combined with finite resources, the Governor placed an emphasis on pursuing a strategic approach where necessary actions are focused on California’s most vulnerable communities as a prescriptive and deliberative endeavor to realize the greatest returns on reducing risk to life and property.

Using locally developed and vetted fire plans prepared by CAL FIRE Units as a starting point, CAL FIRE identified priority fuel reduction projects that can be implemented almost immediately to protect communities vulnerable to wildfire. It then considered socioeconomic characteristics of the communities that would be protected, including data on poverty levels, residents with disabilities, language barriers, residents over 65 or under five years of age, and households without a car.

In total, CAL FIRE identified 35 priority projects that can be implemented immediately to help reduce public safety risk for over 200 communities. Project examples include removal of hazardous dead trees, vegetation clearing, creation of fuel breaks and community defensible spaces, and creation of ingress and egress corridors. These projects can be implemented immediately if recommendations in this report are taken to enable the work. Details on the projects and CAL FIRE’s analysis can be found online which will remain updated in the coming months. The list of projects is attached to this report as Appendix C.

CAL FIRE has also worked with over 40 entities including government and nongovernment stakeholders to identify administrative, regulatory and policy actions that can be taken in the next 12 months to begin systematically addressing community vulnerability and wildfire fuel buildup through rapid deployment of resources. Implementing several of these recommended actions is necessary to execute the priority fuel reduction projects referenced above.

Other recommendations are intended to put the state on a path toward long-term community protection, wildfire prevention, and forest health.

The recommendations in this report, while significant, are only part of the solution. Additional efforts around protecting lives and property through home hardening and other measures must be vigorously pursued by government and stakeholders at all levels concurrently with the pursuit of the recommendations in this report. California must adopt an “all of the above” approach to protecting public safety and maintaining the health of our forest ecosystems.

It is important to note that California faces a massive backlog of forest management work. Millions of acres are in need of treatment, and this work— once completed—must be repeated over the years. Also, while fuels treatment such as forest thinning and creation of fire breaks can help reduce fire severity, wind-driven wildfire events that destroy lives and property will very likely still occur.

This report’s recommendations on priority fuel reduction projects and administrative, regulatory, and policy changes can protect our most vulnerable communities in the short term and place California on a trajectory away from increasingly destructive fires and toward more a moderate and manageable fire regime.”

Also addressed in the Cal Fire report is the need to deal with longer-term issues that could not be effectively defined and completed within a year long time period. Many of the issues addressed in the Times editorial are included in this section of the report as noted in the material presented below:

“Longer-term Actions: These actions are designed to begin quickly, but likely require more than a year to complete.

15.Certify the California Vegetation Treatment Program Environmental Impact Report.

Beyond the priority fuels treatment projects that CAL FIRE will implement in 2019, CAL FIRE and other land managers must increase the pace and scale of vegetation treatment throughout California. To that end, CAL FIRE and the Board of Forestry are preparing the California Vegetation Treatment Program Environmental Impact Report (CalVTP EIR) to identify and minimize environmental impacts associated with vegetation treatment. Once completed, CAL FIRE and other agencies will be able to rely on that document to streamline the environmental review process for future treatment projects.

To maximize the streamlining value of the CalVTP EIR, other agencies with regulatory authority over vegetation treatment activities should be directed to engage in its development. CAL FIRE and the Board of Forestry should invite agencies within the California Natural Resources Agency and California Environmental Protection Agency to:

a. In the immediate term, identify subsequent permitting processes that may apply to vegetation treatment projects.

b. In the mid-term, develop streamlined permitting recommendations if it is determined that environmental compliance not covered by the CalVTP EIR will preclude projects from timely completion.

16.Develop a scientific research plan for wildfire management and mitigation, with funding recommendations.

The Forest Management Task Force should develop a research plan with funding prioritization. Topics that should be considered include:

a. Leverage the Governor’s Request for Innovative Ideas (RFI2).

b. Best management practices in the face of a changing climate and our understanding of forest health and resilience.

c. Use of LiDAR, satellite and other imagery and elevation data collection, processing and analysis for incorporation into state management plans and emergency response.

d. Funding for collaborative research to address the full range of wildfire related topics. Important research investments could include both basic and applied research as well as social science to better understand social vulnerability, human behavior, land use, and policies that support resilience in communities that coexist with fire and mitigate impacts on life and property.

e. Research and development on new WUI building test standards in future research programs including the use of damage inspection reports from recent fires.

17.Provide technical assistance to local governments to enhance or enable fire hazard planning. With the expansion of urban development into wildland areas, firefighting becomes more dangerous and costly, and the consequences of wildfires to lives and property become more severe. Local governments control land use decisions that can minimize those dangers. CAL FIRE and other state agencies have information and expertise that can support local governments in making safer choices. To enable land use planning that minimizes fire risks:

a. Assist the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research in identifying specific land use strategies to reduce fire risk to buildings, infrastructure, and communities and in updating the “Fire Hazard Planning, General Plan Technical Advice Series,” as provided in Assembly Bill 2911 (Friedman, Chapter 641, Statutes of 2018).

b. Work with Cal OES and the Standardized Emergency Management System Advisory Committee to develop robust local evacuation planning models for high or very high Fire Hazard Severity Zones based upon best practices from within California.

c. Provide technical assistance to support land use planning efforts to limit development in high fire hazard areas, as well as technical assistance to support mitigation activities that minimize risk to existing communities, with specific attention to vulnerable communities.

18.CAL FIRE should update codes governing defensible space and forest and rangeland protection.

a. Review the penalty for non-compliance with defensible space code, establishing a fixed compliance date in lieu of three-inspection process. Include vacant land provisions.

b. Review enforcement the full 100 feet of defensible space around a structure when the structure is closer than 100 feet from the parcel line.

c. Consider the home and the first 0-5 feet as the most critical and hardened aspect of home hardening and defensible space. Consider requiring ignition resistant building material, only allow bark and hardscape, not trees or shrubs in this area.

d. Consider science-based regulation of wood piles and wood fences.

19.Request the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection review the Forest Practice Act and Rules and make recommendations on changes needed to protect public safety and restore forest health. The Forest Practice Act, and regulations that implement it, currently contain rules that limit fuel hazard reduction activities. The rules could be updated to facilitate non-commercial fuel reduction projects. The Board should consider where existing exemptions could be expanded further to prevent and mitigate wildfires with an emphasis on environmental sustainability and protection of public health.”

“CAL FIRE has also worked with over 40 entities including government and nongovernment stakeholders to identify administrative, regulatory and policy actions that can be taken in the next 12 months to begin systematically addressing community vulnerability and wildfire fuel buildup through rapid deployment of resources. Implementing several of these recommended actions is necessary to execute the priority fuel reduction projects referenced above. Other recommendations are intended to put the state on a path toward long-term community protection, wildfire prevention, and forest health.

The recommendations in this report, while significant, are only part of the solution. Additional efforts around protecting lives and property through home hardening and other measures must be vigorously pursued by government and stakeholders at all levels concurrently with the pursuit of the recommendations in this report. California must adopt an “all of the above” approach to protecting public safety and maintaining the health of our forest ecosystems.”

The Times editorial fails to properly present the full scope of the Cal Fire report and the time period necessities driving the reports immediate and long term recommendations. Also the Times editorial fails to present the extensive number of agencies involved in the reports findings and recommendations.

The L A Times has never acknowledged the failure of the state of California agencies that created the states wildfire debacle as fully document in the April 2018 report by the Legislative Analyst Office that is unaddressed by the Times.

Additionally the Times has attempted to falsely blame “climate change” as creating this debacle with this claim unsupported by scientific data. This Times editorial is just a continuation of the papers failure to properly address the states responsibility in creating the wildfire debacle. 

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Bill Powers
October 15, 2019 6:25 am

The LA Times has a financial interest in sensationalized sews. If it bleeds it leads. If it burns it returns.

Propaganda for Profit. News you can’t trust.

Reply to  Bill Powers
October 15, 2019 7:01 am

I could swear I remember a bunch of liberals lecturing the rest of us on how we have to listen to and follow the advice of experts.
I guess that only applies when the liberal agrees with the recommendations of the experts.

Reply to  MarkW
October 15, 2019 9:31 am


A journalist telling the fire department how to do their business. Perhaps he should lead them in fighting some fires.

Reply to  MarkW
October 15, 2019 9:45 am

That’s pretty much true. link

When a scientist finds something that doesn’t accord with the left’s dogma, they try to destroy the scientist. example

The left accuses the right of a war on science. There’s some truth in that but it, in no way, matches the viciousness of the left.

Reply to  MarkW
October 15, 2019 4:16 pm

“we have to listen to and follow the advice of experts.”

Hi. I’m from the late ’60s. You cannot trust the authorities. Do not follow the advice of experts.

In 50 years, the Left has switched around completely to “follow the advice of the experts.”

Is it time to do the ’60s again?

Reply to  MarkW
October 16, 2019 12:40 am

So they are going to rake the forests just like Trump said they should?

Reply to  ironargonaut
October 16, 2019 8:48 am


The media is not our friend, doubly so in California it seems.

Big T
Reply to  Bill Powers
October 15, 2019 8:30 am

From the beginning of time, fires have been a natural earth cleanser and still are.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Big T
October 15, 2019 10:31 am

T: And this is fine in areas where no one lives. If a fire has to be controlled for protection of communities and infrastructure, then thse areas need forest management. They are no longer wilderness. Also, if you want to have a forest products industry, then you can also make harvesting supportive of forest management for fires.

Three or four generations ago, most people would have responded to my remarks with: “Sheesh, who doesn’t know that!” I was a logger for summer work in Jervis ( pron. ‘Jarvis’) Inlet, on the coast of British Columbia in the late 1950s contributing to the world’s largest clearcut, one of few ‘cultural areas’ visible from the moon apparently. Yeah, we went a bit too far in those days! But, I can see that letting extreme enviros take over is creating damage that makes Jervis logging seem pretty tame! Probably you could get lost in the ‘clearcut’ today with 60 yrs of regrowth.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
October 15, 2019 3:49 pm

That 60 year old ‘clearcut’ in Jarvis Inlet is now about 120′ tall and ready for harvest in 10-20 years, depending on how big you want that tree to be. If it weren’t for the old stumps from when you logged that 60 years ago, you wouldn’t even know the forest was ever logged. This is a tactic that Greenpeace and the eco activists honed was taking the worst pictures possible of that clear cut right after it was logged, or if it were also slash burnt, and then using that photograph for the next 60 years to show how bad logging was. I agree Gary that we went to far 40-60 years ago, which in part led to the later protests because usually only a handful of companies wound up owning the rights to cut that timber. With little environmental oversight, as was the custom for a lot of other activities then.

October 15, 2019 6:32 am

Interesting. The editorial seems to be arguing about funding priorities but that is a facade. It’s really arguing for doing absolutely nothing. When they start talking about firebreaks as habitat destruction is when they really showed their watermelon colors.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  SMC
October 15, 2019 7:49 am

The normal forest ecology depends on periodic fires, so preventing fires is the real habitat destruction.
Firebreaks around inhabited areas, like for example not having entire towns nestled under tall trees, ecspecially not with only a few narrow roads providing any possible egress.
Tile or metal roofing and stucco exterior, cleared space around every structure of at least one or a few tens of feet.
This is simply common sense.
And how much would it add to the cost of a house with many hundreds of thousands to millions, to have the exterior roof and even attic spaces fitted out with sprinklers?
How about a cistern of water with a dedicated pump used for nothing else?
It looks to me like people build in these places…places with guaranteed periodic fires, using methods and arrangements that are assuredly going to cause catastrophic losses when they occur, given that they generally happen in hellish wind storms over wide fire fronts.
If you live on a beach in hurricane country, it is only a matter of time.
If you life in fire country under trees in a house with a wood roof and sides, it is only a matter of time.
Next up for this part of the world: Earthquakes, floods and landslides, snow and avalanches, and at some point maybe even a huge and sudden volcanic eruption complete with pyroclastic flow and lahar.

Are they gonna be shocked then, too?

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
October 16, 2019 7:17 am

“The normal forest ecology depends on periodic fires, so preventing fires is the real habitat destruction.”

Depends on the forest. Good for some, like Pinus palustris plantation, but not most.

John McClure
Reply to  SMC
October 15, 2019 8:28 am

Agree, this reminds of the School Board which decided to commission a feasibility study related to moving chairs from storage to classrooms which needed them.

The more studies the more people to blame if a policy goes haywire.

Reply to  John McClure
October 15, 2019 2:15 pm

Indeed. One wonders how, with so many agencies involved, they are ever going to get everyone to agree on anything and, of course, all of them will be jockeying for funding for their pet projects whether they have anything to do with fire protection or, not.
While the LA Times editorial is ludicrous, I do have to wonder about all the effort going into research. It’s not like the National Forest Service along with the Forest Services state agencies in sane states have not done all this already. It seems like Calif. is trying to reinvent the wheel. Everything they are researching has been researched. Why not just apply that which is already known with whatever tweaks are necessary for Cal., get on with it and save a ton of time which Calif. doesn’t have when it comes to containing forest fires?

John McClure
Reply to  KcTaz
October 16, 2019 5:16 am

Exactly, is the effort devoted to consolidating existing information from the various agencies or yet another taxpayer funded money tree to no where?

Not to diminish the Agency expertise but isn’t it logical to include viewpoints from the logging, paper manufacturing, … industries?

What are they going to do with the downed trees? Leaving them to rot in the forest is likely to create an even bigger fire risk.

J Mac
Reply to  SMC
October 15, 2019 9:46 am

I find it ironically laughable that the LA Times ‘experts’ reject well established and documented scientific forest fire suppression methods. In the face of the continuing environMental disaster of their own creation, they reject science and cling to their failed philosophies that force residents to increasingly live in 3rd world conditions.

Reply to  SMC
October 15, 2019 1:56 pm

What never ceases to amaze me with people like this is their inability to comprehend that a little “habitat destruction” in the right places can prevent massive habitat destruction over immense and massive areas. It seems like Logic 101 but it doesn’t seem some people have ever taken a course in Logic and were not born with that talent, either.
Fire is both natural and essential to forest health. One of the dumbest things the Greens did was to stop logging. Loggers built roads into the wilderness which firefighters used to get to the fires. When they eliminated them, they eliminated fire breaks and the ability of firefighters to get to the fires. Sensible logging was a tremendous boon to the forests and the taxpayer’s didn’t have to pay for it. Of course, that made too much sense.

Bruce Cobb
October 15, 2019 6:34 am

It looks to me like they need a comprehensive plan, involving both forestry and protection of homes. Fuel breaks don’t appear to be very effective in wind-driven fires, so perhaps shouldn’t be relied on as much. No easy solutions.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
October 15, 2019 7:52 am

Exactly, although not having structures surrounded and in many cases even completely enclosed by flammable materials, and also built with highly flammable exteriors, is surely not gonna prove to be a great idea in the long run.
Not only is fire weather windy weather, but stunningly low humidity makes normally flammable material positively explosive.

Dan Sudlik
October 15, 2019 6:36 am

Some judge will throw this out for the sake of the environment. After all, we are talking CA!

Jeff Briggs
October 15, 2019 6:45 am

The LA Times officially ceased being a “newspaper” years ago when it publicly announced that it would never publish any article or letter questioning AGW.

October 15, 2019 6:57 am

Since when did journalists become experts in forest management?

Reply to  Newminster
October 15, 2019 7:02 am

Since when were journalists experts in climate science?

Paul R Johnson
Reply to  MarkW
October 15, 2019 7:31 am

Since when were journalists experts in anything?

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Paul R Johnson
October 15, 2019 10:31 am

Apparently they become experts in everything when they decided to abandon reporting the news and took on the role of activists in order to create the news.

Reply to  Paul Penrose
October 15, 2019 2:27 pm

“Activism is a way for useless people to feel important, even if the consequences of their activism are counterproductive for those they claim to be helping and damaging to the fabric of society as a whole.” 
Thomas Sowell
Why Climate Activists Threaten Endangered Species With Extinction via @forbes

Reply to  Paul R Johnson
October 16, 2019 7:20 am

“Journalism: a profession whose business it is to explain to others what it personally does not understand.” – Lord Harmsworth

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  MarkW
October 23, 2019 10:24 pm

Karl Kraus – citations about “journalism” –


Karl Kraus, Austrian writer

– Science is spectral analysis. Art is light synthesis. –

Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.

A weak man has doubts before a decision, a strong man has them afterwards.

Education is what most receive, many pass on, and few possess.

There is no more unfortunate creature under the sun than a fetishist who yearns for a woman’s shoe and has to settle for the whole woman.

A woman who cannot be ugly is not beautiful.

Education is a crutch with which the foolish attack the wise to prove that they are not idiots.

A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer.

Science is spectral analysis. Art is light synthesis.

The devil is an optimist if he thinks he can make people worse than they are.

Jealousy is a dog’s bark which attracts thieves.


TG McCoy
October 15, 2019 6:58 am

As a former serial firefighter-Calfire is one of best firefighting agencies in the world.
The Greens hate US and civilization. You have to stand firm and tell them to GTH.
Do they want misery, death and destruction? Well?

Reply to  TG McCoy
October 15, 2019 8:46 am

“Do they want misery, death and destruction? Well?”
The Socialist worker revolution will never ignite in a prosperous and free society. Only a desperate population will turn to prophets like Mao, Pol Pot or Adolf for salvation.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  TG McCoy
October 23, 2019 11:05 pm

RLu October 15, 2019 at 8:46 am

“Do they want misery, death and destruction? Well?”


The Socialist worker revolution will never ignite in a prosperous and free society.

The capitalism’s reign attracts Mara Salva Trucha.


SL Charbonneau
October 15, 2019 7:07 am

They what to spend huge amounts of money to prevent climate change, but don’t what to spend much on preventing forest fires. Instead they promote adapting to forest fires.
I expect the irony will very much burn.

October 15, 2019 7:08 am

While the LA Times fiddles, California burns.

October 15, 2019 7:15 am

ENFORCING clearance distances and mandating metal roofs and non-flammable siding/construction would go a long long way towards saving billions on insurance costs and lives lost.

The firestorm in Paradise CA was literally helped along by idiots building out-structures between houses that were already illegally close to each other. The conditions were near perfect for a firestorm but there are houses in Paradise that were saved literally *just* by being far enough away from other houses and not surrounded by trees.

October 15, 2019 7:24 am

18.CAL FIRE should update codes governing defensible space and forest and rangeland protection.

Some folks have hysterics at the thought of cutting down trees within a hundred feet of a structure. There was a family in Australia who cut down what they considered to be adequate and the local government came after them. IIRC, after the next fire, theirs was the only house still standing.

On the outer Barcoo
Reply to  commieBob
October 15, 2019 8:58 am

As I recall, that family was slugger with a $50,000 fine for that illegal clearing.

Reply to  On the outer Barcoo
October 16, 2019 4:08 am

yeah depends on the state
after the fires in Vic I know they now allow around 12 feet either side of fencelines and maybe more near homes
why the hell idiots want a tree that could fall ON the house when mature so close? beggars belief
and fires just another nasty risk I like my trees a lot but nothing planted closer than its full height when mature near the home I want the shade not the dangers.
an old huge tree on my block is a bad risk for falling branch blocking my driveway
so I cut 2 more accesses in fencelines in case of emergency
why not cut or severely lop the tree?
because the costs to do it as well as the moronic greenies laws makes it utterly unaffordable to do so! be looking at 3k or so min. the tree is 80+feet high with multiple leaning branches
bloody redgum!
it will wipe out my shed one day

October 15, 2019 7:34 am

Clearing out the fuel accumulation on a timely schedule should go without saying. It is just an obvious fact. In fact, much of it should be burnt off in smaller fires when conditions are conducive to not spreading a larger fire because it will all burn sooner or later when the conditions are right. The NA Indian were good at burning off excess vegetation, and when things got real bad for fire risk, there was a lot less chance of having the big fire get away into a big conflagration. This shouldn’t be too complicated to understand.

Of course, stopping that spark in the first place is also key to not having a big fire start to begin with. I doubt that can be controlled now with a 40 million population in California, and a lot of that population living in and near an interface area of a big fire getting started. Most of these fires are being started either accidentally, or in many cases, deliberately. How do you control deliberate arson?

Reply to  Earthling2
October 15, 2019 7:42 am

“Clearing out the fuel accumulation on a timely schedule should go without saying.”

A possible solution …


John McClure
Reply to  Marv
October 15, 2019 8:45 am

Breaking News: Herds of Feral Goats decimate Wine Country

… Feral Goat Herds causing Bear and Mountain Lion Attacks in National Parks

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Earthling2
October 15, 2019 8:01 am

It is a whole huge state, and forest little accumulates rapidly.
I do not know the scale of the effort required to remove it at this point, but I suspect there is no way to muster the manpower to get the job done faster then new material will accumulate, and it is pointless anyway if current practices remain afterwards.
The material must be burned off regularly, every year or every several years at least.
And there is no way to do large areas of proscribed burns in a way assured of not spreading out of control.
Let alone a whole state.
Not enough suitable days in a year.
Possible no suitable days some years, not when 65 million people are living in structures where some tribes used to live in relatively disposable ones.
Native Americans could relocate periodically with little hassle, and were often seminomadic to begin with.
When I heard that in CA these days, a branch blocking a critical sign could not be trimmed without a difficult to impossible to obtain permit in hand prior, I knew that this state is in deep doo doo, and it is largely the result of policy making by ecologically ignorant full-retard crybabies.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
October 15, 2019 8:01 am

Sorry, forest litter, it should say.

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
October 15, 2019 8:43 am

Logging is a good way to thin forests and also provides road access for firefighting.

Reply to  Rick
October 15, 2019 10:24 am

It isn’t a coincidence that a lot of the forest fire issues and fuel accumulations started when the Spotted Owl issue dramatically cut the logging in California and Oregon down to next to nothing. At least in the mid/northern part of California. And loads of dead grass and brush that went untreated from residential/rural areas to the ditches on highways just allowed any spark to roar into an instant conflagration. There is mostly a human fingerprint on all of these issues and it isn’t climate change or global warming that is the root cause of any of this. Fuel and spark are the main culprits in all of this and Gov’t mismanagement and arson or carelessness is the principal cause of these out of control fires.

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Earthling2
October 15, 2019 5:53 pm

Combat trained attack squirrels?

October 15, 2019 7:43 am

I would be suspicious of any conclusions produced by that many contributors.

Joel Snider
October 15, 2019 7:47 am

Wildfires advance the agenda. Nuff said.

October 15, 2019 8:08 am

It’s not possible to make someone acknowledge something – even if corroborated by facts and actual professional expertise – when he is paid to think (and here, to spread) the opposite.

October 15, 2019 8:17 am

Theses writers are a bunch of nut cases. Even the Indigenous people knew enough to conduct controlled burns and clear the underbrush.😳

October 15, 2019 8:42 am

FWIW: The Canadians have been dealing with huge wildfires for the past 100 years. A lot of them bigger than the ones in CA. There is a great museum in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario that has interactive exhibits on fire fighting and bush fire prevention. The one I really liked was being in a water bomber on a mission, they even blew smoke through the AC to give you a feel for what it is like to fly into a fire. If you’re in the area it’s well worth going to.


Reply to  Yooper
October 15, 2019 10:40 am

No no no, you are wrong wrong wrong. There where no huge fires until “climate change”. Now the the fires are huge and getting humongous.

Sarc off

October 15, 2019 8:59 am

CA can’t even clean up their cities so it’s doubtful they’ll clean up their forests.

Tom Abbott
October 15, 2019 9:23 am

When the powerlines are shut down where does all the electricity that home solar panels produce, go?

h/t Rush Limbaugh

Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 15, 2019 11:27 am

Seem to recall they have a dummy resistance load if that happens.

Chuck in Houston
Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 16, 2019 8:38 am

Rooftop solar installations with grid connections are required to isolate themselves from the utility during an outage to prevent backfeeding the power lines. If they have batteries they can use the excess to charge. Otherwise, they just go offline.

Alasdair Fairbairn
October 15, 2019 9:27 am

The Californians need to start voting with their brains rather than by the media hype and hysteria pumped out by the activists, the Greta Fans, the LA times et al.
They are beginning to get what they deserve. How long it will take for this to dawn on them is a matter of conjecture.

October 15, 2019 9:31 am

Advocacy comes ahead of safety don’t ya know.

October 15, 2019 9:41 am

The editorial started off well enough. Lots of common sense forestry management combined with an understanding that this really does need to get done. The newspaper response is a classic poster child example of why these things did not get done, even though the forestry people have been warning of the danger for decades.
Then the author gives us a glimpse into the specifics of the CA state response.

Pick up the action at item #16
Develop a scientific research plan for wildfire management and mitigation, with funding recommendations.
Great, sit around developing a plan, a Scientific plan, no less. (and money!)

Task Force should develop a research plan with funding prioritization.
How about that, another plan, this time by a Task Force (and money!)
{Oooohhh.. a Task Force, it sounds so Manly, so Military. Be still, my beating heart.}

Leverage the Governor’s Request for Innovative Ideas.
Well, you just have to leverage Innovative Ideas. {after all, it is not as if Forest Management is an established field, or anything.}

Best management practices in the face of a changing climate and our understanding of forest health and resilience.
Finally, Best Management. Just the thing to Leverage.

We can not leave without a quick look at #18
Consider science-based regulation of wood piles and wood fences.
We must have science-based wood piles, common sense just will not do.
Also fences. The CA government has totally wrecked *everything* with regard to fire risk across the entire state. Now this same government thinks it reasonable and proper that it should regulate and micro-manage wood fences.

California, Good Luck. You will need it.

Kristi Silber
Reply to  TonyL
October 15, 2019 7:58 pm


You must really hate science, or scientists.

Maybe you think people are better off just going out there and cutting stuff willy-nilly, and hope it works. That’s what’s been done so far. Has it worked?

If one is going to invest a billion dollars in management, perhaps it makes sense to do some monitoring of different strategies to see what is most effective. But no, that to you is just dumb, a waste of money. Huh.

Reply to  Kristi Silber
October 15, 2019 9:27 pm

Kristi Silber,
We must live in different worlds. I find it hard to understand see how my meaning could be more totally misunderstood.
First, I do not hate scientists. I am a card carrying member after all, Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy. What I do find offensive is politicians invoking the name “Science” to give themselves an aura of credibility they do not deserve.
Look at what they wrote:
Leveraging Best Management for Innovative Ideas
That is not how a scientist writes, that is how a politician writes. This was a political document, not a scientific one. How would it sound if the politicians wrote “a political plan to manage the forests”, or perhaps “a bureaucratic plan for your woodpile”.
Worst of all, these same politicians and bureaucrats have pointedly ignored the scientists as routine for decades. They ignored the scientists on a whole host of issues all across the spectrum. They have ignored the science on forest management for decades, even the people at their own University extension services. They have ignored the scientists on that stupid fish, the Delta Smelt. They have ignored scientists on watershed management, and on, and on.
The one group they have listened to is the environmental protest crowd. The one radical, rabidly ideological group without anything of substance to add, and the politicians absolutely pandered to them.
Now, everything is blowing up in their faces, and they invoke “Science”. Yes, I find this offensive. They are totally opportunistic and desperately attempting to evade culpability and blame.
In spite of what they say, they have never listened to the science people in the past, they are not listening now, and they will not listen in the future.
You wrote:
“do some monitoring of different strategies to see what is most effective.”
What you write might make sense if this was a new problem, and people just do not know. But forestry is not a new problem. We know what works, and we have stark examples of what does not.
But more than that:
One thing I have noticed across the years, over and over again. Politicians and bureaucrats refuse to look back and see how their policies worked out. They never evaluate programs to see if goals were met, what went right, what went wrong, and how things can be improved. Often a big program becomes a disaster. The response is invariably to not notice, not see a thing, and of course, not to do a damn thing about it. That would require responsibility. These people do not even know the concept.

Reply to  TonyL
October 16, 2019 8:38 am

While I agree with almost of what you said, it should be noted that even science and engineering is not immune from repeated mistakes. At the conclusion of every development program we compile a document essentially titled: LESSONS LEARNED. Ostensibly this document lists all of the notable development issues and achievements encountered over the course of the development program. Often these can be technical in nature, such as a particular solution that worked, as well as those that did not. the purpose of these documents is to record performance for future improvement.
My experience in over 38 years in the aerospace industry is that mostly those documents get filed away and often are only rolled out once they have gone down a maze path to a predictable blind end…again. I have come to refer to these documents as “LESSONS RECORDED” because many do not seem to have learned from them.
Case in point: After the Gemini space program one of the ‘lessons learned was to NOT use airbags to cushion a water (ocean) landing splashdown as they cause dangerous issues with wave actions after deflation. When initial development of the Orion space capsules began NASA dictated that airbags to be used for touchdown attenuation. And, they were the ones who wrote the Gemini “Lessons Learned”. I argued vociferously to any who would listen and they were removed (don’t know if they were put back or not).

Intelligence is noticing a similar situation and exploiting or avoiding it as desired. The more you can accomplish this the more intelligent you are.

Kristi Silber
Reply to  TonyL
October 16, 2019 8:29 pm


I agree that often politicians ignore science. The administration’s replacement of the previous efforts to ensure the health and cleanliness of our lakes and streams is a case in point.

Calling for science to be done is not the same as invoking science to give politicians an air of credibility. Forestry is not new, but even so, there is ongoing research into best management practices. Dealing with invasive species, for instance, has been long neglected. Effective control of the spread of wildfire in places like California is an unresolved problem. There has been little research into it, and the efforts that have been made are not working. Did you read the LAT article? It talks about the management that has been done, and how ineffective much of it has been. Two million dollars were spent thinning around Paradise for fire prevention. Fire breaks are only partially effective: they can slow the spread of fire, but in windy, hot, dry conditions, they would have to be extremely wide and barren to totally stop some fires; they are most effective when fire fighters are in place to put out spot fires set by airborne embers. Even clear-cut areas need follow-up management to decrease fuel loads. But what is the most appropriate, cost-effective forest management to keep people safe? I see no indication that people know. Thinning and prescribed burning can help in some situations, but it’s extremely expensive to do on a state-wide level and requires ongoing maintenance. A fire can travel through the canopy even without fuel on or near the ground. To me it seems that innovative ideas will be necessary.

There is political pressure to use forest management for fire prevention rather than to build communities and retrofit homes to make them less vulnerable. It shouldn’t be an either/or choice; both are worthy. But I fail to see why research shouldn’t be an important component of formulating best management practices.

Politicians can only evaluate programs to see what worked if the effectiveness is monitored, and that is where science can help. It’s not always easy to see where a program failed or why it became a disaster.

Environmentalist groups often have goals of influencing policy and public opinion. They need to exist, though, to act as a check on their counterparts in industry. This doesn’t mean that what they promote is based on science. They use polar bears and spotted owls not just because these species can evoke an emotional response, but also because they are indicators of ecosystem health. They represent complexity that is not easily communicated to laymen. I’ve never identified with environmentalism personally – it always irritated me when my field, ecology, was mistaken for it – but I believe that we need people to advocate for the maintenance of natural habitats and ecosystem functions on which human welfare depends, more than many people realize.

P.S. Sorry I said what I did about hating science and scientists, but perhaps you can understand it based on your emphasis.

October 15, 2019 10:05 am
Joel O’Bryan
October 15, 2019 10:29 am

Continually clearing, cleaning, dead growth removal of wild lands and forests sounds just like the Green jobs the Left promises.

October 15, 2019 10:52 am

The author of this article is Bettina Boxall, the LA Times environmental writer. This does not appear to be an editorial, but more of an in-depth discussion of how fuel breaks failed in the 2018 Paradise fire and are not definitive protection from an approaching fire.

This is not a product of the editorial board from what I can see on the LAT website; at best an Op-Ed.

J Mac
October 15, 2019 10:52 am

Selective cut logging, followed by private citizens making firewood from the slash, stumps, diseased trees, and rejected logs, is and always has been an effective method of thinning forests and reducing fuel load. Economically valuable lumber and winter firewood fuel is produced, while forest health is enhanced and fire hazard reduced. To the rational environmentalist, this is a ‘Win-Win’ partnership solution.

Linda Goodman
October 15, 2019 10:56 am

Rememem-remememember… President Trump presented the common sense solutions and the globalist governor had to comply or lose Federal $. But he totally backs the crazy-like-a-fox ‘solutions’ the globalist LA Times laid out. If it quacks like a fake debate to slow real solutions that derail the Agenda to burn, scare & regulate the middle & working classes out of CA, the elites’ paradise…. The article makes Screwsom seem like the good guy and takes the heat off him, so to speak, when he’s actually California citizens’ Public Enemy #1 who literally wants to burn them out of their homes. bwa ha ha

Tab Numlock
October 15, 2019 11:49 am

Re-legalize wood stoves. CA rural residents are generally poor and would gather every scrap of dead wood.

Bruce Ranta
October 15, 2019 1:24 pm

The modern day environmentalist views and management of the natural world as wrong, even evil. They are opposed to forestry, wildlife manager (particularly hunting), dams, etc., etc. They are lunatics, but they now number in the tens of millions in North America. Few politicians will risk offending these crazies, mostly because there are so many of them. It’s a travesty.

Gunga Din
October 15, 2019 3:43 pm

CACF. Catastrophic Anthropomorphic California Fires.
Nothing to do with “Climate Change”.
It does have to do with decades long “California Dreamin'” regulations to “protect” nature.
They look good on paper. Now the paper is burning.

John Sandhofner
October 15, 2019 4:14 pm

“the editorial claims that other measures including hardening of structures, increasing greater clearance distances around structures, etc. would be more effective.” Maybe the LAT needs to come to northern CA to see what is on the ground before they make such a asinine statement. Hardening structures- like putting metal roofs on all buildings? Cinderbox buildings? Really? Increasing clearance? Meaning we tear down existing structures. Right! Do they realize that ashes from a forest fire can traverse the Sacramento River? How much distance do you need? Hardening structures, greater distances is not the solution. Thinning out the trees and underbrush, allowing greater clearing around electrical lines, removing dead trees, that is what is needed. The envirnomental restrictions need to go. They are the enemy of fixing the problem.

Kristi Silber
October 15, 2019 7:44 pm

“The Times editorial claims that the Cal Fire actions regarding prioritizing and immediately beginning the of thinning of decades long forest overgrowth in selected forests areas are ineffective, costly and unnecessary.”

NO IT DOESN’T. It talks a lot about fire breaks, and evidence that they are not always effective. It also talks some about thinning: “Consider the case of Paradise. Officials there spent years doing exactly what Cal Fire contractors have been doing this summer — thinning vegetation along roads and near development where firefighters can take a stand.” How effective was that? But nowhere do the authors say that any treatment is unnecessary. The authors don’t give their own opinion, they report the opinions of others. This is an editorial? Are you sure???

Everyone here seems to think they know what to do, as if they were experts.

Forest management for fires control takes lots and lots of money. I see a lot of people here blaming liberals for the lack of management, but are they the ones most likely to cut funding for state and national forestry? Some people have an idea, I think, that money made from timber leases goes to Forestry, but that’s not true – most of it goes to the federal or state treasury.

57% of the forested land in California is owned by the federal gov’t, 40% by individuals, companies and Native Americans. So why is it that everyone here wants to blame California?

I wonder how many of you have read the “editorial.” I think it makes some good points. People can’t expect to live near forest and be protected, even if it’s thinned – and thinning takes millions of dollars. Who is responsible for paying for it? Those who live in the middle of cities?

Some argue that harvesting more would help. The Paradise fire moved across large areas that had been harvested. There was no forest there. After a harvest comes grass, weeds and woody regrowth, which is inherently close to the ground. Fire moves across that, too. Thinning and brush removal from mature forest can help if the fire is close to the ground, but a hot, wind-driven fire in dry forest can get into the canopy even if it’s thinned.

“Cal Fire director Thom Porter nonetheless defends the state’s fuel break projects, saying they can be helpful even in wind-driven fires. He pointed to thinning that reduced the Camp fire’s intensity as it burned along the lower portion of Skyway, Paradise’s main evacuation route.

“’It did save lives,’ Porter said.

“The fast-moving front of a fire that spews embers across the landscape is just one part of a blaze, he added. When a fire’s flanks and heel hit a fuel break, they will slow — “and that is why we continue to do them,” Porter said. ‘They help us get people out of the way.’”’

That’s good use of fire breaks. They can slow a fire. They can allow firefighters a “fighting chance.” That doesn’t mean they will stop it, though, and they have to be in position to do so. The article talks about research done on fire breaks, and they are not always effective. It also mentions a spot fire than happened 5 miles from the main front, and that often it’s wind-born embers that burn a home, not contact with fire.

There’s only so much that can be done in terms of forest management, especially when multiple stakeholders are involved. Homeowners, too, need to take some responsibility for making their homes less susceptible to fire. That may mean not living on the forest edge, but there are building materials that are less combustible, too. A hot ember on a steel roof is less likely to burn the house down than if it lands on a cedar shake roof.

“”Vegetation clearance is an expensive proposition and it needs to be addressed often times on an annual basis,” [John Todd, deputy chief for prevention in the L.A. county fire department] said. “You can change a vent and protect an attic space for 30 years instead of clearing miles of weeds [every summer].”

“But home hardening is not the state’s current priority. Vegetation management is. The $32 million earmarked for the Cal Fire projects is part of $1 billion — primarily from the proceeds of California’s cap-and-trade greenhouse gas program — which the state plans to mostly spend on fuel reduction projects over the next five years.

“Meanwhile, the Legislature this year stripped the funding from a proposal to establish a $1 billion low-interest loan and rebate program that would help homeowners pay for fire-resistant retrofits.”

Anyway, I read the editorial, and I think it makes some valid points. I genuinely don’t understand why the OP has a problem with it, unless it’s just an excuse to bash the LAT or blame California for forest fires. The article says nothing about AGW, and there is no indication in it that environmentalists have been fighting forest management, although one person does point out that creating firebreaks can disrupt wildlife habitat, lead to erosion and facilitate spread of invasive plants, some of which exacerbate fire problems.

To be clear, I’m not at all against forest harvesting or management, but it has to be done wisely. Limited funds have to be spent where they are going to be most useful for the sustainability of the resource and protection of people and their homes. There is an ongoing cost to forest management, while “hardening” communities is an investment. Both deserve consideration.

Reply to  Kristi Silber
October 15, 2019 9:13 pm

Kristi Silber – Thank you so much for your intelligent reasonable and well-explained comment. I would suggest though, that increasing clearance distances around structures should be the #1 objective. A fire cannot burn where there is no fuel. Criticisms based on the expense of maintaining a cleared area are misguided. If it is grassed over, for example, keeping it mown is pretty low cost – even cheaper if you can get the mowing done by animals. After the horrendous bush fires that destroyed many houses in Canberra, they cleared the forest well back from the housing and planted an arboretum of fire-retardant trees, then put in a visitor centre so (a) the idea is publicised, (b) it pays for itself. Not everyone can put in an arboretum of course, but the message should be clear – permanently remove the fuel.

After clearing away the fire hazard, the next and still vital step is to make the structures more fire-protected (“hardened”). The houses will still come under ember attack, but this is now all the the house needs to be protected from. Exactly how you do it depends on circumstances, and although water is not the only answer the more access you have to reliable water the easier it is.

Kristi Silber
Reply to  Mike Ionas
October 16, 2019 8:51 pm

Mike Ionas,

Thank you for that perspective and your comments. Your reference to fire-retardant trees was especially intriguing, as I have considered the same idea, but don’t know a lot about it.

Cleared areas are good at retarding fire, but part of the problem is that people want to build near forest edge, and want trees on their property. Changing people’s mindset is half the battle, it seems. Plus, in California maintaining a large lawn is not ecologically or economically sound because of the water needed, although perhaps native grasses could be used – but the size of clearing required and the time to mow it becomes an issue. The Santa Ana winds are something that Canberra doesn’t have to deal with; the topography plays a role, too. But you are right that we can learn a lot from other people’s experience, and what has been effective, adapting it to the environment of California. To me it seems like more emphasis should be placed on hardening structures, including retrofitting and adopting new building codes.

Hmmm. Fire retardant trees. Something to learn more about! Thanks!

October 16, 2019 7:06 am

Let it burn, the government won’t save you, government action is always a fraud, people need to take action themselves, get off their lazy asses, stop watching TV, buy some saws and loppers and get out there and defend their homes. Manual labor will be good for them.

October 16, 2019 9:01 am

Leftilibral Activism in BASIC

10 Print “Claim a fake problem.”
20 Print “Demand fake solutions that exacerbate the real problem.”
30 Print “Weaponize regulatory agencies to sabotage real solutions.”
40 Print “Blame the fake problem for persistence of the real problem.”
50 Goto 20

Richard Perry
October 16, 2019 3:32 pm

As a firefighter, I cringe reading this misleading and incorrect kine of thinking. Fuels management programs used to be an annual event. That was back when we didnt have catastrophic wildfires twice every year. Liberals caused the cessation of those programs and the results, to those in the profession, have been undeniable. This fool may as well criticize a brain surgeons choice of techniques. Totally unqualified.

Kristi Silber
Reply to  Richard Perry
October 16, 2019 8:56 pm


Ach! How do you know liberals are the problem? Maybe conservatives cut funding. It’s so easy to blame someone else.

Reply to  Kristi Silber
October 17, 2019 9:15 am

Kristi Silber,

It has been 20 years since CA had a conservative governor, and I don’t know how long since conservatives had any form of voice in the state houses. Richard Perry is correct. Do you live in the State?

Johann Wundersamer
October 23, 2019 9:58 pm

Wow –

“The recommendations in this report, while significant, are only part of the solution. Additional efforts around protecting lives and property through home hardening and other measures must be vigorously pursued by government and stakeholders at all levels concurrently with the pursuit of the recommendations in this report.”

– lots of work ahead / lots of thinking done.

Johann Wundersamer
October 23, 2019 11:10 pm

RLu October 15, 2019 at 8:46 am

“Do they want misery, death and destruction? Well?”


The Socialist worker revolution will never ignite in a prosperous and free society.

The capitalism’s reign attracts Mara Salva Trucha.



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