Yearly Catastrophic Wildfires Don’t Need to Be the New Normal

Handcrew from the California National Guard’s Joint Task Force 578. ©The National Guard

PERC Vice President of Law and Policy Jonathan Wood joins Lars Larson of The Lars Larson Show to discuss the current state of the wildfire crisis and what brought us to this crisis point. The wildfire crisis we observe today is the result of decades of poor management decisions. For the past century, we haven’t managed for wildfire risk but instead have managed for fire suppression, setting the stage for catastrophic fire.

Part of the challenge is that the forest material posing the greatest risk of fire is small-diameter timber that isn’t valuable for commercial use. The Forest Service reports a backlog of 80 million acres and at the current pace of Forest Service restoration efforts, addressing the backlog would take decades. To increase the pace and scale we have to turn to private partners who can fund these restoration efforts. The challenges posed by litigation obstructing restoration projects are also discussed.

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