California's Jerry Brown considers easing logging rules to help fight fires

California's Jerry Brown considers easing logging rules to help fight fires
© Getty

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is proposing sweeping new legislation that would make it easier for private landowners to cut down trees on their land as the state deals with one of its worst wildfire seasons in years.

Brown's plan, which first was reported by the Mercury News Thursday, would allow landowners living on property of 300 acres or less to cut down trees with up to a 36-inch diameter without a permit. The current regulation ends at 26 inches in diameter. 

Additionally, owners would be able to build private roads up to 600 feet long without getting a permit first as long as they are maintained.

ADVERTISEMENT

The idea is to let landowners help thin forests to decrease the spread of fires. Brown's proposal follows Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Zinke joins Trump-tied lobbying firm | Senators highlight threat from invasive species | Top Republican calls for Green New Deal vote in House Zinke, Lewandowski join Trump veterans’ lobbying firm Is a presidential appointment worth the risk? MORE and Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueSenate buzz grows for Abrams after speech electrifies Dems Energy Secretary Rick Perry is designated survivor for 2019 State of the Union Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union MORE's visit to the state last week, where both Cabinet members pushed increased forest management as a way to hinder future fires.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE also preached the need for logging and forest management in a tweet, saying, "Must also tree clear to stop fire from spreading!"

A number of California politicians at the time of the secretaries' visit pushed back on the insinuation that fires could be thwarted through increased thinning, arguing that it was meant to benefit the logging industry and overlooked climate change's impact on the fires.

Brown's office at the time would not comment on the tweet.

Brown's new proposal has the support of the timber industry but not environmentalist groups, some of whom argue that logging will aid the spread of fires because it will cut down the mature trees that burn longer.