Does Environmental Review Worsen the Wildfire Crisis?

Source: Property and Environment Research Center
by Eric Edwards & Sara Sutherland

“To preemptively reduce the impacts of large and costly wildfires, forest managers use methods that remove fuels — brush, trees, and other flammable materials—to lessen the intensity of burns. The two most common fuel treatments are prescribed burns and mechanical treatments. The effectiveness of these measures was demonstrated in 2021 during Oregon’s Bootleg Fire, which ultimately burned 400,000 acres. Firefighters reported that where both treatments had been applied, fire intensity was reduced, the crowns of trees were left intact, and the blaze became a more manageable ground fire. Such low-intensity fires, which frequently burned in the West before aggressive fire suppression policies were adopted, are ecologically important. Managed forests are more resilient to drought, high temperatures, fire, and insects. In 2021, several proposed treatment areas burned in large wildfires while facing delays from environmental review and litigation.” (06/14/22)