March 15, 2019

Money to Burn: Investing in Proactive Fire Management

Stephanie M. Regenold and Matthew L. Rojas

Despite an increase in wildfire severity and a corresponding increase in loss of life and property, wildfire and forest management continue to be a hot button issue that both Republicans and Democrats struggle to address. From 2007 to 2016, wildfires burned an average of 6.6 million acres of federal and nonfederal lands every year, doubling the average annual acreage burned in the 1990s. More than 10 million acres burned in 2017, and 2018 followed suit with over 8.3 million acres consumed as of November 20. Despite these increasingly large and severe fires, wildfire appropriations have failed to keep pace. Historically, agencies run out of funds for wildfires, resulting in reallocation of the agency’s discretionary budget that would have been used for other land and forest management activities to fund wildfire suppression costs.

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