WASHINGTON – A Northern Arizona University official told a Senate committee Tuesday that the government needs to be more aggressive about managing forest growth and reducing fuels that feed uncontrolled wildfires.
Diane Vosick told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that the costs of forest management can be repaid many times over in reduced severity and losses from wildfires.
“The question becomes, can we afford not to treat?” asked Vosick, the director of policy and partnerships for NAU’s Ecological Restoration Institute.
Vosick was one of six witnesses at the hearing called to “explore ways to improve wildland fire management.” It comes as several states have seen wildfires of historic magnitude in recent years, and “2013 is predicted to again be an intense fire season,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
Wyden, the committee chairman, said forecasts also show the challenges posed by wildfires are only going to grow in coming years, which calls for management actions like those outlined by Vosick and the other witnesses.
“And yet, this year’s budget request from the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior calls for dramatic cuts to hazardous fuels treatments, ” Wyden said.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell testified that his agency has to find ways to fund programs while minimizing the effect on all Forest Service operations.
But Vosick said the best way to save money is to invest a little now in forest management. She presented a recent study by the institute, “The Efficacy of Hazardous Fuel Treatments,” that used the Schultz Fire as an example of the benefits of preventive forest maintenance.
That fire burned more than 15,000 acres near Flagstaff in 2010, and the report put the full cost of the blazes at more than $133 million. Treating a significant portion of that land could have reduced “a great amount of the cost of the fire,” Vosick testified.
Even if the forest had been treated “at the high cost of $1,000 per acre,” Vosick said, every dollar spent would have returned savings of $9 to $10 “in avoided fire and flood cost.”
The study showed that treating just 23 percent of the landscape over 10 years would reduce acres burned by 64 percent and suppression costs by 69 percent.
Besides helping to reduce wildfire damage, Vosick said forest management can benefit water quality and stop erosion as well.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., also valued the role of fuels reduction and restoration treatments in fighting wildfire.
“If we treat the areas, it’s worth it economically, it serves its communities, it saves its forest, it saves endangered species,” Flake said.
And, Vosick repeated, it saves money in the long run.
“You’ll either pay at the beginning or pay at the back end,” she said.
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food