President Donald Trump defended on Friday his call for better management of California forests in response to the historic wildfires in the state.
“You need forest management. It has to be,” Trump said. “I’m not saying that in a negative way, a positive — I’m just saying the facts.”
The president addressed the topic prior to his trip to California on Saturday to visit the historic devastation in an interview with Fox News Sunday‘s Chris Wallace.
Sixty-six people have died in the wildfires and 631 people are missing, according to officials. Thousands of homes have been destroyed.
Trump’s first response was to call for better forest management on Twitter, which many felt was the wrong tone.
In his interview with Wallace, Trump noted the gravity of the situation, pointing to the bodies that were found “burned beyond recognition” in the wake of the flames.
He explained that he spoke with a governor of another state — whom he did not identify — about forest management and learned a lot about preventing forest fires.
“The big problem we have is management,” he said.
He added that he watched news coverage of the California fires, noting that firefighters were raking dry areas with dry bushes and weeds.
“That should have been all raked out,” he said. “You wouldn’t have the fires.”
Wallace asked Trump if he believed that climate change contributed to the fires, due to hotter and drier conditions.
“Maybe it contributes a little bit,” he replied.