Magazine April 19, 2021, Issue

The Causes of California’s Wildfire Crisis

A fire near Lake Oroville and the Bidwell Bar Bridge, September 9, 2020 (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)
Bad forest management is at the root of the conflagrations

California just had its worst wildfire season in modern history. The August Complex fire scorched more than 1 million acres last fall, making it the largest fire ever recorded in the state. More than 4 million acres burned in the Golden State in 2020, blanketing much of the region in an orange haze of ash and smoke for days on end.   

As California burned, the wildfire crisis became engulfed in election-season politics. The issue was often portrayed in simple binary terms: Either forest management or climate change was to blame. President Donald Trump repeatedly criticized California for not doing enough to

This article appears as “California Conflagrated” in the April 19, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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In This Issue

I. What Made California Great

II. California's Self-Destruction

III. Can California Be Saved?

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