President Donald Trump's initial reaction on Twitter to the devastating wildfires now scorching California deserved the scornful response it drew from firefighters and other experts.
Maybe you recall his first Tweet from Saturday: "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"
Later on Saturday, he tried to strike more of a conciliatory tone: “Our hearts are with those fighting the fires, the 52,000 who have evacuated, and the families of the 11 who have died. The destruction is catastrophic. God Bless them all,” he wrote on Twitter.
On Sunday, though, Trump returned to the topic on Twitter: "With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart!"
It is, of course, true that our national forests could use better management — and more resources devoted to maintenance of those lands could play a vital role in helping to reduce the intensity and frequency of these fires.
That aside, Trump's statements on these California wildfires are misguided on a number of counts.
For starters, the wildfire that incinerated the Northern California town of Paradise is burning in areas that experienced fires in 2005 and 2008, so these are not "fuel-choked closed-canopy forests," in the words of University of Utah wildfire scientist Philip Dennison.
And that fire burning in Southern California? It's not burning in a forest at all: Rather, it's burning through shrub land. "It's not about forest management," Dennison told The Associated Press. "These aren't forests."
As of Monday, more than 13,200 square miles have burned in 2018. That's more than a third higher than the 10-year average.
From 1983 to 1999, the United States didn't reach 10,000 square miles burned annually, according to an AP story. Since then, 11 of 19 years have had more than 10,000 square miles burned, including this year. In 2006, 2015 and 2017, more than 15,000 square miles burned.