According to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, it’s “environmental terrorist groups.”
During a radio interview with Breitbart News, Zinke said that “environmental terrorist groups” are preventing the government from managing forests and are largely responsible for the severity of the fires. But fire scientists and forestry experts have said climate change is the main factor behind the problem.
Zinke said during the interview that an overabundance of fuel load — things such as twigs and leaves that make it possible for fires to burn — make fires more intense.
“There have been a number of instances where environmental groups have submitted petitions to the Bureau of Land Management, halting companies from removing dead and dying timber until the BLM can sort through each petition point,” Department of the Interior spokesman Faith C. Vander Voort said in an email. “These actions halt proper forest management and leave the West vulnerable to incredible devastation.”
But Monica Turner, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said this argument doesn’t address the bigger problem.
“Making minor changes in the fuels [which] you then have to do repeatedly for many years is not going to solve the bigger problem of having to face climate change,” she told The Washington Post. “We cannot clear or thin our way out of this problem.”