Policymakers clash over forest management, climate change


WASHINGTON D.C. (NEXSTAR) — Wildfires are devastating the western United States because of how many there have been and how large they are. Washington correspondent Alexandra Limon reports on possible legislative solutions and why, so far, it’s been hard to make those a reality.

In California, fires have already burned 20 times more land than a typical year, and the fire that stretch into Oregon and Washington are sending a blanket of smoke across the country.

“America can no longer afford to deny the connection between the climate crisis and the wildfires,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The chief scientist at the National Wildlife Federation, Dr. Bruce Stein, says because of climate change, the average wildfire season is 78 days longer than 50 years ago.

“Rising temperatures causing increased drying of the vegetation,” said Stein.

President Trump blames poor forest management for the fires, and scientists agree, saying both forest management and climate change are to blame.

“There’s a lot more work we need to do to reduce the fuel load,” said Congressman Greg Walden.

Oregon Republican Congressman Greg Walden says the forests on federal land need better management.

“You get forests back to what their natural state should be—rather than thousands of trees per acre, it should be hundreds,” said Walden.

Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley says he has legislation to help thin forests responsibly.

“There’s a group of legislators who want to return to the 1950s massive clear cuts—that creates all kinds of problems,” said Merkley.

So far, political disagreements are blocking the funds needed to tackle climate change or forest management.

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