Reform forest fire management - Agency incentives undermine policy effectiveness

Reform forest fire management - Agency incentives undermine policy effectiveness
Globally, wildfire size, severity, and frequency have been increasing, ashave related fatalities and taxpayer funded firefighting costs . In most accessible forests, wildfire response prioritizes suppression because fires are easier and cheaper to contain when small. In the United States, for example, 98% of wildfires are suppressed before reaching 120 ha in size. But the 2% of wildfires that escape containment often burn under extreme weather conditions in fuel-loaded forests and account for 97% of
fire-fighting costs and total area burned. Changing climate and decades of fuel accumulation make efforts to suppress every fire dangerous, expensive, and ill advised. These trends are attracting congressional scrutiny for a new approach to wildfire management.

Management reform in the United States has failed, not because of policy, but owing to lack of coordinated pressure sufficient to overcome entrenched agency disincentives to working with fire. Responding to established research, official agency policy now supports a more flexible response to fire than ever before. Actual wildfire response, however, has changed little because of substantial management impediments. Suppression generally begets larger, more intense wildfires, which in turn intensifies agencies’ suppression response. The alternative, working with fire, is rarely used because of liability and casualty risks and little tolerance for management errors.
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Malcom. P. North, Scott Stephens, Brandon. M. Collins, Jim K. Agee, G. Aplet, Jerry F. Franklin, Z. Fulé
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The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the USFS.
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Adaptive Management, Air Quality, Fire History, Fire Policy, Fire Suppression, Forest Management, Wildfire
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