Fire and fury: How government failures make wildfires even worse


PREMO Member
While liberals waste their time on solutions that won't even scratch the surface of climate change (green buses that either don’t work or that no one rides are not going to make forests less flammable), man-made mistakes in policy are going uncorrected. One of the biggest problems is the overcrowding of Western forests with dead trees, and the areas between stand with dry, flammable grasses. Part of the problem is that logging and grazing have been discontinued or discouraged in too many places. To most Westerners, who have watched the severity of forest fires grow dramatically since the late 1980s, this is both common sense and the common wisdom.

“There are some places where there may be four times as many trees as there should be,” Krystal Beckham of the Little Hoover Commission told the Washington Examiner’s Josh Siegel. “When you have trees that close together, they can’t get the water they need, so they are more susceptible to drought, insects, and disease. And when they start dying, they become a terrible fire threat.”

Instead of clearing out fuel and conducting controlled burns in order to moderate wildfires before they happen, the government puts its money toward suppressing active wildfires. This is done on the theory that it's more natural to let forests grow on their own than to let fires rage except in areas where structures are threatened.

And yes, fire is part of nature (even if many of the fires are man-made) and that approach to forestry is indeed more natural, but that doesn't make it the best approach for people, for whose sake governments exist. This year in California, nearly two dozen people are dead and hundreds more are homeless thanks in part to failed forest management. Nor is it good for people anywhere who pay taxes that more than half of the U.S. Forest Service’s budget is now spent on suppressing active wildfires instead of managing forests.