High-End Real Estate Makes Wildfires Worse

In Colorado and the West, the most desirable real estate is also the most likely to burn, writes Michael Kodas.

"It's no surprise that people like to live near forests and mountains," writes Kodas, "but that's precisely where wildfires occur. And because those new residents naturally want to keep their homes safe, they demand that small, otherwise beneficial fires be put out if those blazes threaten their property, which causes forests to become unnaturally thick with unhealthy trees just waiting for a spark. And sparks are exactly what humans often provide."

"It's a vicious cycle: more building in the wildland urban interface [WUI], more property at risk, more firefighting, more fire-prone forests (and in the age of climate change, more hot, dry weather). All of which helps explain why, across the West over the last 20 years, fighting fires has gone from taking up 14 percent of the U.S. Forest Service's budget to almost half of it."

"'Everybody knows that firefighting costs are going up, and everybody knows the WUI has a lot to do with it,' says Ray Rasker, director of Headwaters Economics, an independent research group in Bozeman, Montana. According to the group's data, the U.S. government is spending as much as $3 billion a year to fight wildfires -- twice what was being spent 10 years ago. 'About a third of those costs are for defending homes,' Rasker adds."

Thanks to OnEarth

Full Story: Life on the Edge (of Wildfire)

Comments

Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

New! 4th Edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs just released.
Starting at $24.95

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $209
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95
poster

A Short History of America

From comic book artist Robert Crumb, poster shows how the built environment has changed throughout the decades.
$14.95