Western Wildfires Burn through Firefighting Budgets

By Knickerbocker, Brad | The Christian Science Monitor, July 23, 2014 | Go to article overview

Western Wildfires Burn through Firefighting Budgets


Knickerbocker, Brad, The Christian Science Monitor


As 26 major wildfires currently rage across the American West - 18 of them in Oregon and Washington - they're rapidly burning through firefighting budgets as well.

As a result, experts warn, firefighting agencies such as the US Forest Service and the US Department of the Interior have to raid other fire-related programs - forest management and fire preparedness, for example - to battle the blazes.

The reasons for this are multiple and complicated: Years of fire suppression instead of letting fires burn naturally allowed fuel levels to grow dangerously; climate change has brought on changes in weather patterns; and housing and other development pushed into what's known as the "wildland-urban interface" - some 60 percent of all new homes built since 1990, according to environmental economist Ray Rasker.

"Changing climate is a dominant driver," says Jason Funk, senior climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), noting in a conference call with reporters Wednesday that the typical fire season has grown from five months to seven months.

For one thing, changing climate has meant smaller snowpacks. That makes for more dry fuel, as well as stressed trees vulnerable to disease and insect damage. For example, the acreage damaged by bark beetle infestations around the West and therefore less fire resistant amounts to an area about the size of Colorado.

"Effectively, we have a tinderbox the size of Colorado just waiting for a spark," Dr. Funk says.

"The amount and intensity of forest fires tends to increase every year," agrees Jim Douglas, director of the Interior Department's Office of Wildland Fire. "This year, we expect to spend as much as $1.8 billion - nearly $500 million more than available to the Forest Service [part of the Agriculture Department] and the Interior Department."

A new UCS report, "Playing With Fire," makes a direct connection between wildfires and climate patterns.

Since 1970, temperatures in the American West - much of which is experiencing drought today - have increased by about twice the global average, according to the report. As the length of the fire season has grown since the '70s, the annual number of large wildfires has increased by more than 75 percent.

"In the last 10 years, the acres burned per fire doubled and the average fire burned twice as long," writes Dr. Rasker, executive director of Headwaters Economics, in a Denver Post op-ed column. "Since 2010, the number of structures destroyed tripled and firefighter fatalities rose fourfold. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Western Wildfires Burn through Firefighting Budgets
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.