Trump administration reverses course, approves CA wildfire relief

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Gov. Gavin Newson announced Friday afternoon that President Trump has now approved his request for wildfire relief.

The announcement came after a state emergency services spokesperson said Thursday that the Trump administration had rejected the request.

Gov. Newsom had asked the president to issue a major disaster declaration in connection with six fires, including the El Dorado Fire and the Creek Fire still burning in Fresno and Madera counties, but did not include the Glass Fire. The declaration will help cover some of the cleanup and rebuilding costs and trigger certain FEMA programs.

The extent of the damage is still not clear, but in his letter Newsom estimated the federal government’s share would amount to $346 million.

The state could not provide an explanation as to why the request was initially rejected, but President Trump has repeatedly threatened to withhold aid to California in the past.

The president has been critical of the state’s forest management practices, saying that the failure to clean up the forest floor is to blame for the repeated wildfires, and not climate change.

A former staffer has alleged that the president previously tried to withhold aid to California because it is a Democratic-leaning state.

On a recent visit to California, the president clashed with state officials over the impact of climate change.

California is ramping up forest management efforts, but the majority of forest land in the state is managed by federal agencies, not the state.