(CNN) — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says it’s not the time for finger-pointing over the destruction of the deadly California wildfires — yet he’s openly blaming “radical environmentalists” for a lack of forest management that he says are spreading the infernos.

“I will lay this on the foot of the environmental radicals that have prevented us from managing the forests for years, and you know what, this is on them,” Zinke said in an interview with Breitbart News on Sunday.

At one point, Zinke said it it’s “not time for finger-pointing” — right before he pointed fingers at “radical environmentalists.”

“This is where America stands. It’s not time for finger-pointing. We know the problem: it’s been years of neglect, and in many cases, it’s been these radical environmentalists that want nature to take its course,” Zinke said. “We have dead and dying timber. We can manage it using best science, best practices. But to let this devastation go on year after year after year is unacceptable.”

The Interior Secretary and former Montana congressman has made similar comments over the last week with regard to the wildfires, which have killed scores of people. One notable potential factor in the devastation that he hasn’t mentioned is climate change.

Zinke’s comments come after President Donald Trump surveyed the devastation in Northern California on Saturday and suggested raking the forest floors to prevent future wildfires, claiming the President of Finland suggested this method to him. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said he doesn’t recall discussing this tactic with Trump.

After briefing the President on the status of the fires, Zinke said Trump was “engaged.”

“We need to actively manage our forests, and the president is absolutely right,” Zinke said. “This is as much about mismanagement over time — it wasn’t just the last administration. This has been going on for years.”

Chad Hanson, a research ecologist with the John Muir Project and a national director of the Sierra Club, has pushed back against the Trump administration’s reasoning for the devastation.

“It is deeply troubling that Trump and his administration would support logging as a way to curb fires when studies have shown it’s ineffective,” Hanson wrote in a CNN op-ed over the weekend. “In the most comprehensive scientific analysis conducted on the issue of forest management and fire intensity — which looked at more than 1,500 fires on tens of millions of acres across the Western United States over three decades — we found that forests with the fewest environmental protections and the most logging actually tend to burn much more intensely, not less.”

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Comments (2)
  1. Climate change is the catch-all for anything that is weather related. Hurricanes, tornados, wild fires, droughts and even colder winters. So easy to say but actual programs and solutions seem evasive and ALWAYS contain vast transfers of wealth to other nations by us. China, India and others give lip service and not much else. “Science” has been crowing about this for over 35 years with doom right around the corner. Advocates even want to jail “deniers.” Something about the entire climate change movement just stinks of money and power with actual solutions thin and repetitive. The US is far ahead of other nations in environmental areas yet some carry on as if we are the causation of the worlds problems. Californians are building homes by the thousands deep in forested areas with little thought to fire protection. Wild fires have been forever but usually in uninhabited or lightly settled areas.

  2. Bruce Pestell says:

    The main contributors to this tragedy is the drought and the wind. The fire was catapulted over firebreaks and roads by the Santa Ana off shore blast. Arizona has an on going forest management program that in normal situations helps reduce the incidence of wildfires, but with the situation in California nothing could have prevented these fires.

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