When dealing with environmental issues, it is easy to give in to pessimistic feelings and bemoan that there is simply nothing we can do. The most defeated among us may watch our forests go up in flames and say, “There is no way to stop this force.”
But we have far more control over our environment than we allow ourselves to believe. This article will explore how policies can prevent future forest fires and reveal some of the work you should expect from your representatives. There is no reason to give up hope, especially when the systems we already have in place can make a massive difference.
The United States is already conducting studies to gain insight into the complex and diverse ecosystems in which fires thrive. But if we are to gain a better understanding of the different wildfire suppression tactics available to us, we need an even fuller picture of how to watch over our forests.
With more research, we can find ways to predict high-risk areas and better understand how climate change affects wildfire behaviors.
Use the “Fire Funding Fix”
In March 2018, the “fire funding fix” passed with bipartisan support. In an effort to increase wildfire deterrence, this bill created a fund for wildfire control, surpassing the $1.4 billion typically budgeted for wildfire maintenance. In 2020, the fund started at $2.25 billion and will end in 2027 at $2.95 billion.
This fund will help us clean forests that have already sustained severe damages from wildfires. Using this fund, we can remove dead vegetation and help seedlings thrive. Unfortunately, much of our wildlife now needs constant management.
Use the Forests for New Revenue
Forests present a mostly untapped economic opportunity. States should remove vegetation in high-risk areas to limit the possibility of fires and then turn those removed items into renewable energy or various products. One of the most vital ways policies can prevent future forest fires is by promoting the responsible removal of dead trees, leading to millions of dollars in restoration funds.
Work From Bedrock Environmental Laws
Certain policies already exist in the United States to fight against wildfires. The Endangered Species Act, for example, provides backstops for at-risk ecosystems. Now that climate change is only worsening the wildfire problem, we need to be more flexible legislation to address these urgent needs quickly and effectively.