Report projects sharp rise in costs of fighting wildfires

By Melissa Sevigny
KNAU Arizona Public Radio
June 3, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

A new study prepared by the U.S. Forest Service for the White House says national forests may experience a near-doubling of the area burned in wildfires by the middle of this century because of climate change. The study analyzes 10 future scenarios for a warmer climate and projects the area burned by fire will increase by at least 40% but as much as 300%. Jeff Prestemon of the Southern Research Station says that will mean more need to fight fires that threaten communities. “That’s a primary reason why we suppress fires, is to protect people, property, resources, in that order of priority,” says Prestemon. “Increasing fire will mean an increase in spending on that kind of protection by firefighters on our federal lands.” Fire suppression now costs about $3 billion a year. The report estimates a rise to $4 billion by midcentury and $5 billion by the end of the century in today’s dollars.

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