Three non-profit organizations involved with wildland fire issued a joint position statement recommending that land managers adopt a more ambitious stance toward hazardous fuels mitigation. The 13-page document was released this week by the Association for Fire Ecology, the International Association of Wildland Fire, and The Nature Conservancy.
The organizations identified costs as one of the main concerns and pointed out that missing from most accounting of wildfire costs are indirect, such as rehabilitation, real estate devaluation, and emergency services — that can be two to 30 times more than the actual expenses to fight the fire.
The paper listed four cost-related issues:
1. SUPPRESSION COSTS INCREASING.The cost of wildfire suppression has continued to increase over the last decade.
2. FIRES ARE COSTING TAXPAYERS MORE. Wildfires are costing taxpayers far more than is typically reported by governments and the media.
3. INVESTMENTS NEEDED. Investment in wildfire hazard mitigation needs to be increased and maintained.
4. FUELS TREATMENTS NEED TO BE TREATED RIGHT. Fuel treatments are supported by current and developing science.
The organizations recommend federal wildfire funding reform, reduction of impediments to hazardous fuels mitigation, emphasizing prescribed fire and wildfires managed for resource benefits, and tracking long-term and multi-sector economic losses caused by wildfire.