The wildfires that are ravaging the American West "are weakening watersheds and setting the stage for deadly mudslides and flooding and, in some places, threatening to poison critical water supplies," Hannah Northey


for Energy & Environment News.

Such has been the damage that the fires have become a campaign issue for President Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden. "With

more than two dozen major fires in California alone

last week during an unprecedented wildfire season, they're no longer an afterthought for campaigns that – seven weeks from Election Day – would typically be hyper-focused on engaging voters in swing states such as Florida, Michigan and Ohio rather than addressing disasters in California, Oregon and Washington, three states solidly in the Democratic column,"  Dino Grandoni


for The Washington Post.

Both candidates held competing press conferences about the wildfires on Monday, Grandoni


. Biden called Trump a "climate arsonist," criticized his record on the environment, and warned of worsening environmental disasters should Trump be re-elected. "Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused these fires and record floods and record hurricanes,” Biden said from Wilmington, Del. "But if he gets a second term, these hellish events will continue to become more common, more devastating and more deadly."

Trump, who spoke from Sacramento, blamed the fires entirely on poor forest management and did not comment on climate change though several public officials encouraged him to during the press conference, Grandoni reports. Last year, Trump

frequently blamed

California wildfires on state-level forest management; he alluded to that view in Monday's press conference, but

Gov. Gavin Newsom noted

that 57 percent of the state's forests are managed at the federal level and only 3% at the state level. Newsom also asserted that climate change, not just forest management, is to blame for the fires.

"Fire researchers say a century of rising temperatures and decades of fire suppression policies, which have allowed flammable material to build up in forests, are both contributing to the blazes," Grandoni reports.