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True cost of wildland fire

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True cost of wildland fire

Postby dave54 » Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:58 pm

A current issue facing the land management agencies is the skyrocketing costs of fires. The cost reported to the public is often only the running total of direct suppression action, which is now over one-half of the the total USFS budget. The knee-jerk response is usually some admonition of 'stop fighting back country fires" (ignoring the reality of the factors causing the increasing costs -- so called backcountry fires are cheap, and are actually a shrinking percentage of the total suppression costs. They are not the cause of the escalation).

This link is a recently released paper outlining the total costs of wildland fires, showing the actual suppression costs are only a small fraction of the total. Add in the indirect costs, damages, and long term expenditures to repair the fire damage, and you get a value many times larger than the suppression costs alone. Two of the fires studied had total costs exceeding $1 billion when all losses and expeditures are totaled. The paper also admits the values are conservative, with some costs impossible to quantify.

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