We know how to fight wildfires effectively. Why don’t we do it?

By Michael Graw, PhD student, Oregon State University
Massive Science Inc.
October 10, 2017
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

Michael Graw

The West is burning. …The price tag for all this? More than $2 billion. And that’s just to contain the fires. Accounting for infrastructure damage and insurance payouts, this fire season will leave taxpayers with a bill likely to top $30 billion. …The US Forest Service approaches fire prevention with a tactic known as “fuels reduction” – essentially, thinning out forests so that any wildfires that do start are not able to spread or intensify beyond firefighters’ ability to control it. …. But while fuels reduction works in theory, its effectiveness is negated in practice by the sheer size of the West. …It turns out that only 1 percent of wildfires each year actually burn forest lands directly adjacent to areas where fuels reduction was carried out. That means that the more than $350 million spent annually on fuels reduction results in virtually no difference in the destructive capacity of wildfires.

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