Headwaters Economics, a nonprofit research firm in Bozeman, Mont., has outlined 10 proposals to help curb the rising expense of fighting forest fires — which already costs taxpayers $3 billion annually or roughly half the Forest Service’s budget. To prevent firefighting costs from at least doubling in the next decade or two, the report recommends some dramatic changes in incentives, pushing costs onto wildland interface property owners and the county commissioners who authorize residential development on fire-prone lands.
‘The current policy of looking the other way while more and more homes are built on dangerous, fire-prone lands is not sustainable,’ said Ray Rasker, the report’s author. ‘This report shows that we have the knowledge and solutions needed to address this problem. Now is the time to implement responsible, accountable steps that can help hold the line on future fire costs.”… (more…)