Rather, intensifying climate change and residential sprawl into increasingly dry locales are fueling fires. Warmer air temperatures suck more moisture out of the land, drying out grasslands and other landscapes, and making them extremely flammable.

Trump and Zinke’s “forest management” talking point is in line with arguments put forth by the timber industry: that selective logging—particularly of dead trees—could prevent fires. Earlier this year, Zinke plainly blamed the fires on environmentalists who oppose logging. The Trump administration is currently seeking to reopen public lands to logging and other activities.

But as the New York Times points out (paywall), large, dead trees aren’t the main problem, because they don’t catch fire easily. The fire-starters are the underbrush and dried-out grasslands. In fact, clearing out trees can create even more of this kindling: Cheatgrass, a very flammable weed, often grows to fill in the patches of land vacated by logging.

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