Trump Quietly Orders More Logging On Federal Lands

Photo: Monica Medina

President Trump issued an Executive Order late last year directing the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to increase logging on lands under their agencies’ control by 31% above levels of timber harvest in 2017.  The Washington Post reported that the President had been itching to sign this Order — he wanted to do it during his trip to California in mid-November, an inside source told The Post, but it wasn’t ready for his signature.  The order only became public earlier this week.  The Order is worded in a way that makes clear the President was trying to use the fires last year in California as the rationale for the order’s directives.

  • It states that “reducing vegetation through hazardous fuel management and strategic forest health treatments is effective in reducing wildfire severity and loss.”
  • Then it goes on to state that “[actions must be taken across landscapes to prioritize treatments in order to enhance fuel reduction and forest-restoration projects that protect life and property, and to benefit rural economies through encouraging utilization of the by-products of forest restoration.”
  • It then directs the Secretaries to “give all due consideration to establishing the following objectives for 2019, as feasible and appropriate” and then directs the agencies to offer millions of board feet of timber for sale in 2019.

Moreover, according to The Post, these agencies have given their permission for logging on federal lands to continue during the shutdownsomething that was not allowed during the prior long lasting shutdowns in 2013 and 1995. Apparently, these agencies are even considering calling furloughed workers from these agencies back to conduct timber sales, but not to do the kind of land management that would actually prevent fires.

Why This Matters:  Experts say that the timber sales directed by the President are unlikely to reduce fire risk since there is so much land at risk of fire due to climate change.  The Post explained that “fires have increased fivefold since the 1970s as temperatures have risen and snowpack has shrunk. Just 2 percent of lands treated by the Forest Service between 2004 and 2013 experienced a wildfire.”  In short, fire experts say we cannot “groom” our way out of our fire problems – the forces of climate change are too great.  So the only winners will be the timber companies who get to harvest more timber, even as the government’s effective fire prevention efforts remain halted by the government shutdown.

Up Next

Australia’s Burned Forests Pose Immense Economic Risk

Australia’s Burned Forests Pose Immense Economic Risk

Australia’s wildfires have been devastating for wildlife and people alike but there’s another casualty that’s been largely overlooked in media coverage: its forests.

Why This Matters: Forestry groups worry about the immense economic/ecological impact of the burned forests.

Continue Reading 509 words
Top Stories of 2019: Forests on Fire All Over the World

Top Stories of 2019: Forests on Fire All Over the World

This year will be remembered for searing images of the Amazon burning at an unprecedented rate (there were so many fires you could see them from space), with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro alternating between downplaying the severity of them and then sending in Brazilian military troops to fight the tens of thousands of fires burning thereAs we reported, world leaders and environmental organizations — even the Pope — pushed Brazil to take action — and the worst part was most of the fires were started by people who wanted to clear land for agriculture and other development.  But fires were bad all over the planet — from the Arctic tundra in Greenland, Alaska, and Siberia, to Australia, and of course, California.

Continue Reading 511 words
CA’s Forest Management Woes

CA’s Forest Management Woes


As California begins to grapple with wildfire management it must also contend with what to do about its forests. From a legal battle playing out about whether the U.S. Forest Service should be able to cut down burned trees to how non-native eucalyptus forests should be managed, not everyone can agree on the best means of forest management.

Continue Reading 469 words