Zinke takes forestry fight to fire-ravaged California

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is seizing on California’s wildfires to promote a policy long-supported by Republicans — that fires could be stopped if forests were logged.

The former Montana congressman is poised to push the benefits of what’s known as forest management at an event with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in California on Monday next to the state’s largest forest fire in history.

Yet it’s not just the blaze that makes the trip important for Zinke and Perdue.

Galvanized by President Trump‘s recent tweets on the issue and a looming farm bill vote in the House that carries a number of amendments that could open up logging, the new push is also a golden political opportunity, one that environmentalists are calling foul on.

Interior representatives said Zinke’s recent tweets and planned visit to Redding, Calif., do not mark a new effort by the agency to preach forest management, saying it’s a message Zinke has been promoting for years.

“It’s really not a ‘renewed’ push,” said Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift. “He is constantly thinking about wildfire and the next wildfire season and what we can do to prevent loss of life, property and resources.”