Planning For Megafires and Drought

<p>Experts say smarter land-use planning is needed as risk from wildfires and droughts caused by global warming increases.</p>
November 1, 2007, 10am PDT | Abhijeet Chavan
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"Many of the [wildfires in California] coincide with areas already scorched in 2003...Most homeowners vow that they'll stay in the fire-prone areas, or return to rebuild on the charred foundations of their former homes."

"In suburban rings around Atlanta, planned new subdivisions don't have to prove a long-term water source before developers plunge into construction. "

"Natural watersheds... are being seriously encroached...large houses up and over the canyons, man-made structures and paved surfaces are expanding rapidly, increasing surface runoff during storms. That leads, in turn, to more soil erosion and less water for trees or vegetation. The inevitable result: more fires, whether intentional or accidental."

"Congress could create a new set of federal watershed basin authorities, not to dictate to state and local governments but rather to sit down with them to balance risk and investment. Negotiating, perhaps, reasonable levels of federal construction funding in return for state and local agreement to focus on prevention, careful planning, adaptation to the immutable forces of nature and climate change."

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Published on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 in The Washington Post Writers Group
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