U.S Secretary of the Interior Visits Areas Devastated by Carr Fire
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue toured some of the areas impacted by the Carr Fire Sunday.
“It's hard to imagine the force of the fires, the hot and the speed at which those fires devastated communities,” Zinke said. “And it did devastate these communities.”
The secretaries ended their two-day tour in Redding with a press conference Monday.
“What we learned today is these are tragedies we need to learn from,” Perdue said. “What can we do differently? What can we do better? And how can we prevent these kinds of things in the future.”
Experts say extreme drought and higher-than-average temperatures have been mostly to blame for some of most devastating wildfires California has seen in the last few years.
“Whether you're an opponent of proponent, a believer a non believer of climate change, it doesn't relieve you of the responsibility to manage our public lands,” Zinke said.
He stressed the need to thin out dense forest lands that he believes contributed to the Carr Fire expanding to the size it's gotten to today.
“Just the amount of dead and dying trees, the diseased, the fuel in the forests, this is where we all have to work together jointly to reduce the risk again,” Zinke said. “And it's prescribed burns, latencies and it's mechanical extraction, it's better forest management.”
But Congressman Doug La Malfa, who also spoke at the press conference, said strict deforestation laws are preventing that from happening.
“This is all about the overload of fuels that we have in our forests here that have been for decades basically hands off,” La Malfa said. “And we need to turn people lose to do that. There's not enough money inthe treasury for it to all be done by government. We need to all work together to make that happen as well.”
Zinke says it will cost more than $2 billion to rehab the forest lands that the Carr Fire burned through.
But he’d like to see that money spent preventing these kinds of fires from happening in the first place.