President Donald Trump’s administration announced that it will take a new, more aggressive approach to manage federal lands in a way that will reduce the risk of damage from wildfires like the record-setting fires in California and other western states.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue just returned from visiting the fire zones in California with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinkeand said the administration will take a “smarter, more aggressive approach” to combatting forests on federal lands, including removing some trees or plants that could act as kindling to start fires or help them spread.

“These horrible events just like last year are stark reminders of the immense forest fire healthcrisis in this country and the urgent need to dramatically increase our preventative forest treatments,” Perdue said Thursday.

The announcement comes after several days of criticism over whether the administration is acknowledging the role of climate change in exacerbating wildfires through hotter conditions. Trump said Thursday that “it’s not a global warming issue, it’s a management issue.”

Zinke has also said wildfires are a management issue and not a political issue, referencing a debate about the influence of climate change on making fires larger and more severe. He told reporters at the White House on Thursday that “of course” climate change is part of the problem.



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