11 November 2018

President Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump,

Thank you, thank you for your comment regarding mismanagement of California lands susceptible to wildfire!  It is true that a significant portion of the land is under federal ownership, and these do need to be properly managed much better than they are now.  But our beautiful chaparral lands and state forests are within the jurisdiction of California State officials.  And despite all their talk, they are not interested in “solutions.” Maybe, just maybe, your strong statement will get their attention. 

Over ten years ago my daughter, then a student at USC studying physical geography researched the association between bark beetles and forest susceptibility to fire.  When trees are stressed due to drought, the beetles attack and kill the trees. This enables fire to spread more rapidly and burn more intensely than if the trees were healthy.  She presented her research to officials of CALFire as well as to the US Forestry Service.  She was completely ignored. 

I am an environmental chemist.  I devised a method to kill the bark beetles in living trees.  I presented my work to state and federal officials having oversight of the forests in San Bernardino County. I described my method in light of my daughter’s research.  I was also ignored.  

Mr. President, these officials just don’t care.  They have their governmental niche and will not leave it.  There is an answer, however, and I hope you will address it. Simply stated, please remind people about the Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) program of the Department of Agriculture (as well as other departments).  In particular, research grants and funding is available for qualified proposals in the area of biomass, forest productivity, etc.  (Even I would be tempted to dust off my method and submit it for funding consideration!)  Research that successfully shows how to mitigate fire hazard can then be integrated into agency protocol, regardless of the reluctance of officials to do so voluntarily. 

 Again, thank you for taking this particular bull by the horns and wrestling with it. I hope that you will visit the areas hit by the current fires as soon as it is safe to do so.  It will boost morale.  

Very truly yours,

Jay L. Stern
(“I think that I think the way 
Donald Trump thinks that he thinks!”)