"Democrats Eye Massive Shift in War on Wildfires: Prevention"

"WASHINGTON — Democrats are proposing a potentially seismic shift in how the nation battles wildfires by dramatically increasing funding for efforts that aim to prevent blazes, rather than focusing on the tools to put them out.

Under the social safety-net and climate bill passed by the House and now being negotiated in the Senate, Democrats would funnel $27 billion into the nation’s forests, including a sizable $14 billion over a decade for clearing vegetation and other dry debris that can fuel a fire.

Known as “hazardous fuels reduction,” such proactive measures have been “underfunded for so long,” said Ann M. Bartuska, a senior advisor at environmental nonprofit Resources for the Future and former Forest Service official. “This really cries out and says, ‘All right, we get it, we need to reduce wildfire risk.’”

The growing effects of climate change as well as the intensity of wildfires in the past two years — more than 7 million acres of California went up in flames, sending its smoke across the United States to Congress’ doorsteps in Washington — have forced lawmakers to reconsider how they spend wildfire dollars."

Jennifer Haberkorn reports for the Los Angeles Times December 6, 2021.

Source: LA Times, 12/07/2021