Only "We" Can Prevent Mega-Fires
QWR believes the August 4, 2015 report; The Rising Cost of Fire Operations: Effects on the Forest Service’s Non-Fire Work, gives OHV recreationists and other public land stakeholders an easy to understand explanation on how catastrophic mega-fires are burning through agency resources.
This report highlights how funds are diverted from important accounts that support road/trail maintenance, recreation facilities, restoration projects, forest planning efforts, and cultivation/utilization of partnerships as force multipliers.
LINK TO REPORT
On page 2, the report states that the depletion of non-fire programs to pay for the ever-increasing costs of fire has real implications, not only for the Forest Service’s restoration work that would help prevent catastrophic fires, but also for the protection of watersheds and cultural resources, upkeep of programs and infrastructure that support thousands of recreation jobs and billions of dollars of economic growth in rural communities, and support for the range of multiple uses, benefits and ecosystem services, as well as research, technical assistance, and other programs that deliver value to the American public.
Prescribed Fire is a Forest Management Tool
On pages 11/12, the report notes the decrease in funding resulting from increased fire costs has limited the agency’s ability to provide vital recreational opportunities on NFS lands, which jeopardizes the thousands of jobs that are part of a growing recreational economy.
Logging is a Forest Management Tool
The agency has been unable to more fully implement sustainable Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Services and Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers programs to provide consistent, quality recreation opportunities to the public. Reductions in recreation funding have a direct impact on local economies
supported by these activities, including many small outfitter and guide businesses that depend on
recreation sites and programs on NFS lands. Additionally, the Forest Service’s ability to leverage funds and implement projects with partners and volunteers is constrained by the reductions in funding and staff, substantially affecting services.
A Shaded Fuel Break is a Forest Management Tool
The report concludes that Congress must address the way the agency pays for fighting wildfires by supporting legislation that treats mega-fires as natural disasters such as tornadoes or hurricanes.
QWR believes that approach is worthy of consideration, but falls short in addressing the underlying cause of these mega-fires and that is the agency’s inability to engage in substantive, robust, and multi-dimensional forest health projects. The solution may be a combination of both concepts?
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