It sure didn’t take long for new California Gov. Gavin Newsom to get under President Donald Trump’s skin.
On Tuesday — his second day in office — California’s new governor traveled to Placer County to propose spending an additional $105 million on wildfire safety, including more money to thin dry forests and improve emergency alert systems. That would be on top of the $200 million that lawmakers approved last year.
Newsom also called on Trump to boost federal funding for forest management, which is vital, given that about 60 percent of California’s forests are on federal land. Newsom co-signed a letter to Trump, along with fellow Democratic Govs. Jay Inslee of Washington and Kate Brown of Oregon, calling for the Trump administration to “double the investment” in managing federal forests in the West to help supplement state efforts.
After all, the letter noted, California has spent $111.3 million since 2017 on forest health, and almost half the work was done on federal land. Yet at the same time, the U.S. Forest Service budget has been cut by more than $2 billion since 2016.
Trump’s response? He tweeted: “Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”
The president misspelled “Forest” as “Forrest” in his original tweet. He deleted it and tweeted the same statement again with the correct spelling. But not before he created a bunch of new memes.
Trump’s tweet is not only cruel and vindictive — thousands of Californians have lost their homes and businesses and are relying on FEMA assistance to rebuild their lives — it’s also incorrect.
California is getting its act together. The state is putting up record levels of funding to reduce fire risk and better prepare communities for the threat of larger, more destructive fires driven, in part, by climate change.
Trump has repeatedly railed against the “gross mismanagement” of forests in California. But he’s never explained what that means or what would be better forest management, aside from his comment about more “raking” of the forest floor. That also created a new meme. Trump seems myopically focused on forests and logging when some of California’s largest fires have been in the brush and grasslands.
This is typical Trump Twitter bluster, set off by the mildest of criticism by California’s new governor. Get ready for a bumpy ride.