It’s not the way we fight wildfires in the West that’s the problem. The problem is the way we manage our fire-dependent forests.
Since 2000, 154 wildfires in the region have cost over $20 million each to control. Many of them cost several times more. Together, these costliest fires, which were less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all Western wildfires in the period, cost more than $9 billion to fight. If you factor in property losses, natural resource damage and environmental impacts, the true costs skyrocket, but they are rarely measured or accounted for. What can’t be ignored is that these unprecedented wildfires tell us we need a much better land-management strategy.