tv White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Holds Briefing CSPAN July 6, 2021 12:34pm-1:05pm EDT
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>> s waiting for the white house briefing to begin on c-span with a secretary jen psaki. while we wait, we will take a look at some of today's "washington journal." >> e.r.a. conservation and search organization and we look to the private sector to come up with allusions to environmental problem's and challenges. we are funded by a number of different foundations. no government funding, and we have a lot of individuals that find our work in research as well. >> from the thing you're talking
about directly when it comes to wildfire, it stems from a new report taking a look at this issue, particularly on the 63 million acres of that managed by the united states government. what did you find out? >> i have been looking at wildfire force policy, especially federal agencies and how they manage our forests, for over 25 years. what we're finding is we are not getting the management we really need to ensure we get the benefits we are desiring. this report, as we were looking through the research, things have changed a lot since i began this research 25 years ago. i sort of had a hiatus where i was focused just on that, but things have gotten worse in a sense because we have not have active management in our forest and we are allowing it to build up in many of our forests that otherwise would have burned if we allowed burns to happen. we have built up additional fuel and we know climate is changing
which is exacerbating the problem. we really try to look at some of the barriers that existed for the agency is to get in and do some active treatment and management and maintenance on these forests to get more of the outcomes we were desiring, particularly for areas we have a lot of individuals, an extremely high risk area for many individuals. we are hoping we can do something within those forests to increase resilience. wildfire is always going to occur in the forest, but can we increase some of these forests and decrease the risks for those individuals living near the edge? >> 63 million acres has been deemed high or very high risk of wildfire. what makes them so? >> in large part because we have suppressed fuel for over 100 years and decreased amount of harvesting lived on in our national forest.
i would not suggest we go back to the harvest we had a 1980's. a lot of the harvest on the federal lands has been lyrically determined rather than by the forest themselves and the needs of the forest. i think what we need to do is come up with better agreement from what we want from our forest so we can manage them to get there. when we think about it, force can be looked at from a sense of health care as well. if we do not do preventative health care, we tend to have these catastrophes that come up and are much more exit -- much more extensive and dire. if we do preventative care, we can take care of ourselves over time. we can think of the forest in the same way. forest health is a human construct. we decide what we want from our forest, and we can manage them to get the outcomes. one of them might be providing to the benefits of reduced fire risk and increase resilience, water quality and quantity. the more timbers we get in a
forest, we often see less water quantity out of those particular forests. recreational opportunities, clean air, all of these are things that we desire from our forest and some are more relevant to other areas -- more relevant than other areas. we have to determine what we want from the force and what is the most logical place to get it and manage them in that way. forests are all different. some we need to get in and do removal because they have unnaturally built-up fuel and we have catastrophic fires, which used to be ground fires but are moving into the canopy of the forest. those are some of the catastrophic intensifiers we see. other forest types, that is the fire we historically saw, talking about a logical pine. they burn every 100 to 300 years. when we see these that some of us think work at -- were catastrophic because they look the same looking at images, that is a much more natural fire. we might want to let those burn.
if we have people living along the edge of the landscape, we might want to think about doing some sort of maintenance and care on those forest lands to reduce the fire risk for the individuals on the edge of the forest lands. >> our guest is with us until he at top of the hour. if you want to ask your questions about wildfire and forest management and related issues, (202) 748-8000 for the eastern and central time zones, (202) 748-8001 for the mountain and pacific time zones. it was president biden who was speaking with western governors last week, and one of the topics was discussed about technology is to combat wildfires. i want to play you what he had to say and get your response. [video clip] >> we are harnessing new tools and technologies to better respond before new fires grow. for example, the national
oceanic and atmospheric administration, noaa, has satellite technology that it is able to see from space new fires starting, even as small as your dining room table. similarly in the department of energy, they have a sensor computer analysis capability that kent attacked in real time the lightning strikes that might set off a blaze. we will use those tools to identify fires that started in remote places and share that information so those on the ground can respond immediately before fires spread out of control. >> is this idea technology being able to be a really factor and in relieving some of those fuels? what you think? >> in some areas, for sure. if we are finding fires that are near the wildlife urban interface, we can put those out quickly and manage and maintain the landscapes to maintain a sort of low fire risk in those
areas. that is great. one of the words that stuck out to me is remote places. in some of these places, we might want to allow the fires to burn. part of the reasons we got to the place where we are now is because we suppressed every fire. fire is inherent in the landscape. humans have lit fire for thousands of years and one of the reasons we have the great risk we do now is because we have suppressed that fire. we want to re-create our forest in a way to allow the fire to come back more natural way. often times there are too many fuels on that to allow the fire to do prescribed burn and it gets out of control. suppressing every fire is not the outcome we are looking for. we want to do maintenance and care for our landscapes to ensure when we have the fire we can control the fire in areas we need to where it is a watershed or individuals living there, or it is out in some remote place, maybe we want to allow that to burn so we can get back to the more natural and historic condition of the particular forest. >> when it comes to the forest
service itself, how much of the work is done on forest management versus what they have to do fighting fires? >> you probably heard the term the fire service instead of the forest service. the forest service has focused much more on wildfire in the last decades then managing and maintaining the forest. because we have these huge risks jumping at and reacting to these fires and putting them out as quickly as possible and as much as possible. what we are seeing is that we have doubled the amount of individuals fighting fire within the national forest, and we have cut in about half the number of people doing timber management and cultural work. at the same time, we prep the entire agency employment by about a third. the resources and staffing both financially and employee wise available to get out there and do some management to maintain and care for our forest is limited for sure. we need to rely on partners and rely little bit more on the
private sector to get that type of management that we want, and to help us determine what is it at the local level that we are looking for. the force might be able to provide products year after year, and using those revenues to pay for the care and management of the forest, or is this a forest we want to leave it more pristine but at the same time reduce the risk of fire there. we had to figure out other ways to finance the type of care and management for that forest. >> i want to weave in harold from california. you are on with our guest. good morning. go ahead. >> yeah, i thought about this for quite a while. our fire department go there and shifts and stuff. i kind of have a saying, rotate eight, no more sleep and wait. if we rotated every eight hours, we could have people doing things all the times and ready to fight fires, and we would be taking more people to work, and
i think the benefits might be a little higher, more payouts because more people are working, but you are using that time progressively. i feel we need to start looking forward in life and making things work and not just sit around. he got people out there all the time, lights and generators, you can clean the forest, doing the roadsides and all of that, because i know firefighters have to get their sleep, but this way, they are more with their families and everything else. kind of an idea i wanted to throw out there, and i know they don't like that. >> that is harold. are you in trona, california? >> that's close enough. >> thank you, sir. >> harold, i think it's a great thought. can we get more people out there for longer hours and get stuff done? potentially i think we could. one of the biggest problem is
how do we find this stuff. the agency does not have the budget or appropriations necessary to fund this work. even if they did, would they put it to the right places. i would suggest we really want to partner with these local communities, local collaborative groups, we have all sorts of groups doing cool stuff and trying to figure out how to do active management in the region and management this particular area once, the people at the local level know what it is they are looking for, they know what the benefits are, the burdens are, the risks are. in our recent reports, we talk about a number of examples that are showing us how we can do this better, and here are places it is working and here are some of the hurdles these groups are having to fight through or jump over in order to make this management and stuff work. getting out there and doing more of this is super important, but limitations are really some of the regulations and policy barriers in addition to the
funding and staffing. if we can get additional funding and partnerships, that is one way to make this happen. let me give you one example of the northern arizona forest fire. here's an area where the community agreed -- agreed, there was a collaborative group that wanted to get in and do restoration. one of the projects in the roof was a salt river project, and they were extremely concerned that if a fire came in, it would take out there watershed and ruin the municipal water supply. they were willing to invest money upfront to move this project forward. it wasn't only the utility. phoenix joined then, even coca-cola joined in. other recreational businesses joined in. they wanted to get the stuff done, start paying people to get more people on the ground doing this work. it is that type of project and understanding what the benefits are and how we can provide the benefits and get people the help, help to move these
projects forward is what will really require what i call sustainable management. i mean long-term care, which is what we need to ensure that we have healthy forests for us in the future. >> for those public-private partnerships, are those getting involved as far as the private industry or are they only interested because they are directly involved in forest or wildfire issue is directly? or does this come from a bigger group of people or company? >> great question. we have a little both. have some foundations and private companies interested in enhancing the resilience of our forest, in part because they care and it is great for their reputation. to be seen as putting money upfront. in part because it mitigates some of the losses they may have. coca-cola is reliant on water in different areas and they are trying to protect their water supply. in doing that, they are also helping us protect our forest. we see people that are directly impacted, and we see people that are impacted at the wider scale
interested in seeing some of these projects move forward. another project we have been looking at is the forest resilience bond created in the tahoe national forest, a group of blue forest conservation institute trying to do something similar to what the northern arizona forest fire was doing, and in doing that, they did not have the money upfront. they did not have the water utility that said we would put this up front. they created the forest resilience bond and had investors work upfront. they had private investors put money upfront to help get this project started so they could do some of the maintenance and care. the water utility and other interested parties are paying back over time and those benefits are realized. another innovative approach takes collaboration and partners but also relies on private sector. i think we needed to pay attention of that because what we need from the private sector is to realize what the benefits are so we can motivate innovation and motivate that investment in infrastructure and
milling capacity and whatever it is. we have all the small-diameter material we are trying to pull out of the forest, and a lot of it has little value but often times, that is because there is not the infrastructure and capacity to add value to that product in that area. so kind of motivate that investment will help us get these projects done and help us pay for them. >> peter in new hampshire, good morning. you are next up. >> good morning. i'm wondering if ms. frettwell could comment on the civilian conservation corps reestablished with a whole range of additional benefits beyond the management of a public lands forest, such as reduction of incarcerations for low-level
crimes where encampments would be established in the wilderness areas, and where health and education opportunities would be provided, they would be paid to, but the money would be held by the treasury until they say a three year contract had been completed whereby they would -- it would provide capital acquisition, or it could also provide family support in the interim, as well as climate mitigations. >> thank you. >> another super interesting suggestion. my concern with that type of ideas is we want to get people out there, wonderful opportunity to take people incarcerated and give them some productive activities to do, teaching them, providing them with education, may be helping them move into society, but the question comes,
where's that money coming from and who gets to decide how that money is being spent? when we think about conservation corps type programs, we need to bring that to the ground as much as possible. that is making it as local as possible. when the forester comes out and says we have this money to fight fire, who gets to decide how that money is spent? that is where we often times see some of the perverse incentives, incentives and ways that are not that efficient. if we can bring into the ground and have may be local control, maybe a lot more local control with federal agencies and those district managers having that control, they are the ones that know what is happening on the ground and they are the ones that know how they can best meet the needs of those people in the region as well as the needs of the forest and try to remove the political influence of it and move it more towards understanding the science and outcomes we are looking for. >> can you elaborate when you said perverse incentives? [laughter] >> if you look at wildfires, historically what is happening with the agencies is, when there
is a wildfire, you get a blank check. you can do anything. so the incentive was to put more resources into fighting fire. that is the natural thing and that is where the dollars are coming from. at the same time, we wanted this health care idea, this preventative maintenance, to take care of the forest year after year, but there is no money to do that. there is little action going on to managing and maintaining our forest and caring for our forest so we do not have these catastrophes and all of this money going to fight for catastrophes. how do we change those incentives to say maybe we move the money to the places that will prevent that extreme fire in the future and provide benefits we are really looking for today. >> if you are asked, jodi says can we employ people to cut that for us? replanting could make the fires i do start fight to bowl. adding i live in arkansas and feel next on the list. >> again, there are all sorts of
opportunities. in montana, we have a lot of people that cut firewood. there are areas in the national forest where we are located, there are places you can cut the firewood. it is all part of the planning and management process. i think one of the things we have not gotten to that is also important is we have this environmental analysis process we have to go through before the agency can do anything. they have to go through the national environmental policy act and environmental planning. in some areas, that is fairly easy for the forest to get through, and in other areas, it is extremely difficult. with forest restoration, it is more difficult to get to that process more costly than other forest projects. so we have to even get on the ground to get the projects done and we need to lower the barriers, lower the hurdles. in our report, we talk about some of the different policies that might help us work through and streamlined that
environmental analysis process but still have the types and balances -- checks and balances. we want to make sure we are planning with the environment in mind and have that environmental concern and understanding what the impacts of the different projects might be but we also need to weigh the risks that exist. do we want to hold the project up for five to 10 years and leave that risk of extreme wildfire taking out that forest, or do we want to make sure we have less of the environmental analysis to the tv, knowing from general ideas of what is happening, and allow some of this management to take place of that we do not lose these forests to fire at the end of the day. >> has there been an acceptance of the idea of a public part of it -- public-private partnership from the white house administration or those on capitol hill? >> there are numerous groups working with our agencies right now. most of those willing to collaborate with the agencies and put money up front are taking projects that have already gone through the
environmental analysis process because that process can be extremely costly and take an extremely long period of time to get through it. then there's always the risk with litigation that you won't actually continue the process. most projects are litigated can -- that are litigated continue at some point but it could be decades down the road. one example we have here is the municipal watershed project that was started in 2005 when the agency of the city realized if the drainage, the highlight drainage, which is our water risk, caught on fire and it is extremely high risk, we lose 80% of our water supply. we have had continual litigation, opposition, replanting, another litigation, replanting, and at the end of the day, the project has not changed much. presumably we will get into the forest and do restoration to reduce the risk of catastrophic fire. we are not eliminating the risk of fire, we are just trying to lower the intensity of the fire. what just came out in the forest
service was appealed, so we will see how long it takes to get into the forest and do something. we will hope it does not burn before then, because that would put a lot of us here at great risk of not only the smoke but also not having freshwater. >> for holly fretwell, we hear from bart in maryland. go ahead. >> thank you for taking my call. you have already probably answered this since i have been waiting, but how -- what steps do they take to mitigate the damage to wildlife in these control burn areas? that's always fascinating to me how they just determine we will lose this percentage and there is nothing we can do about it or do they send people in and try to relocate or push out wildlife into a certain area? >> that's a great question. i will give you my intuitive answer. most of our prescribers are much
smaller than a catastrophic fire and are also on the ground, so they move at a much slower pace. the wildlife has the opportunity to move out of the way. that is not to say we will not lose wildlife. and it was super cool. it was a year ago when they did these clear cuts and they created the clearcuts like fingers. it wasn't like a square, from the 1980's, i guess. it was done in fingers. so it looks very natural. it allowed gridlines for the wildlife to get cover and mov e in. it was just clear as day.
the new wildlife habitat that had been created, but at the same time, the coverage for additional wildlife. it was a great enhancement. if you do it right, you will reduce the risk to the wildlife from having a major catastrophic intense water wildfire. >> the president approved $15 minimum wage for firefighters. talk about the role as far as how it supported by the federal government. >> coming from a private sector perspective, i look at this issue and say, we are not paying our firefighters at the federal level. and let the markets work. one of the problems with government actions and jobs is that somebody decides what that
hourly rates might be instead of letting the market what the hourly rate might be. if the private sector is not paying firefighters at a certain which, they will increase that which. you have to figure out how to make that work. that is the cool thing about the market. that information is signaled from all different sides. there's also that of the benefit of the job, because you enjoyed doing what you're doing. competing with the private sector, the government has to compete with the private sector but it makes more sense to partner with the revit sector --
partner with the private sector, who has figured out a little bit better and allows those places to coincide in that way. host: in michigan, brian is next. caller: back in the 1970's, i believe we led the world in payload as far as the bigger planes were converted to scoop up the water and drop it. i don't think we lead the world in that now. i think russia does. which is confusing to me. in michigan, we had a so-called controlled burn that obviously got out of control. we lost 20,000 acres. michigan has more water than anyone in the world. and i'm watching this small ass helicopter come in for basically -- she's hardly getting any water. he's running back and forth with one helicopter. the airport here, we are one of the few places in the world that actually does framework infrastructure for planes. we are well equipped to do anything like that here.
and the second part is tapping off the colorado river. california specifically. why are we desalinating the water out of the ocean? the aircraft carrier is probably going to be decommissioned fairly soon. she has been a great workhorse. you could convert that nuclear power to run all of your pumps, desalinate, and quit tapping off all of that colorado river so you would have more water out west. guest: you're reaching into an area that i don't have a lot of knowledge. >> ok. a couple of updates for you on the top. after the president is briefed by his covid-19 response team this afternoon, he will speak to the american people about the strong progress the country has made in recovery, because of its robust vaccination campaign.