Tags: Climate Change | Wildfires | California | forest fires

Expert: Better to Prevent, Than Fight, Wildfires

Image: Expert: Better to Prevent, Than Fight, Wildfires
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By    |   Thursday, 18 Sep 2014 08:12 AM


The federal government should increase investment in forest fire prevention because it makes economic sense, writes Jeff Peterson, of the Arizona Rural Policy Institute, in Live Science.

The wildfire season is growing longer, extending to seven months compared to five months in the 1970s. It will cost the federal government some $1.6 billion to extinguish forest fires this year, Peterson writes.

California has already lost 85,000 acres to wildfire this year.

"Ecologists and economists point out that the preventative methods of mitigating fire" such as thinning burnable wood "also equate to huge cost savings," he writes.

Wildfire costs turn out to be substantially more expensive in insurance, property, land rehabilitation and in deflation of tax revenues than preventing conflagrations in the first place, Peterson said. While thinning may not be a guarantee against unchecked fires, it would nevertheless be a worthwhile investment.

Paul Hart, a retired spokesman for Washington state's Wenatchee National Forest, says a way to view prevention is to think of the forest like a home.

If "you have a fireplace in your house, and every time you came in, you found an armload of wood in front of it, but you never had a fire. Pretty soon your living room would be filled. That's kind of the situation on the forest. The fuels just keep building up," he told the Seattle Times.

There remains disagreement in scientific circles over whether thinning forests to reduce burnable wood is the best approach.

Some experts argue it is, in fact, bad for forest ecology and biodiversity. They say that even a major fire can be seen as ecologically positive in the long run, setting the stage for renewal and stimulating biodiversity, according to The New York Times.

The United States Forest Service backs limited thinning and burning as a tool prevent catastrophic wildfires, the Times reported.


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The federal government should increase investment in forest fire prevention because it makes economic sense, writes Jeff Peterson, of the Arizona Rural Policy Institute.
Wildfires, California, forest fires
309
2014-12-18
Thursday, 18 Sep 2014 08:12 AM
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