Are the devastating wildfires burning across much of California a result of natural causes or, as some have claimed, poor management of forest land?

Well, it is certainly easy to find fault in government land management anywhere in the country. This is not to claim that government land-management is all wrong, just that it is easy to find fault with so many complex, overlapping issues, including an increasing population located in areas particularly susceptible to fire.

However, there is absolutely no way to get around the fact that the primary cause for the terrible ongoing fire season in California is drought. These fires are in an area that went three years with almost no rain at all, depleting surface moisture. Surface and root zone moisture levels are in the top 1-2 percent driest on record going back to the middle of the 20th century. Last winter brought just enough rainfall to awaken the vegetation, creating tinder for this autumn's fire season. To lay the blame mostly on forest management is ludicrous.

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