We face an increasingly urgent choice: properly maintain our forests and enjoy the economic and recreational benefits of our natural beauty or ignore the peril of wildfire and risk our safety, our homes, and our prosperity.
Wildfire threat is growing because our forests are severely overgrown and climate change is creating increasingly hazardous fire conditions. As our fire seasons become hotter, drier, and windier, we must swiftly respond with three key activities: reducing the fuel load of our forests, investing in community preparedness, and funding and facilitating fire prevention activities at the federal, state, county, and local levels.
As we reduce risk, we must also stabilize the insurance market. We need to face facts: the homeowner’s insurance market is failing. Insurers are leaving the market and/or tripling prices because that is what their analysis dictates. It’s that simple. We must stabilize the market before even more residents face the extreme risk, plummeting home values, and possible financial ruin that many are already facing. The Federal Government exposed us to this risk through decades of poor forest management—now it must help protect us from that risk.
We can also find opportunity in this crisis. Solutions such as biomass energy generation, pricing fuel reduction to incentivize action, and private-public partnerships can speed up prevention efforts while growing our economy. Our Federal Government owns most of the land that needs tending—it’s time to pay the locals to do the work that needs to be done.