Fire Fix Funding Issues?

jryoung

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Came across this article and a couple paragraphs towards the end caught my attention. I know the Fire Fix was suppose to hit this year's budget, but are there components that did not? Anyone have any better insight on this?


Conservationists and wildfire policy experts agree that money is the main hurdle. In 2018, their hopes were raised when Congress passed legislation to change the way the Forest Service pays for firefighting. Instead of taking money from programs meant to prevent runaway fires, the agency would have access to billions of dollars in new disaster relief funding.

Cassandra Moseley, a University of Oregon professor who has studied wildfire management in the West, said that part of the deal was an understanding that it would free up nearly $500 million that could be used for fire prevention and forest restoration work.

But that’s not what happened. Trump didn’t propose shifting the money over to those programs, and Congress didn’t use the funding as intended.

“It means the fuel treatments can’t get done, the funding for research is decimated, and the recreation budgets continue to be decimated,” Moseley said. “That $500 million everybody thought was going to go to rebuilding the Forest Service seems to have evaporated into thin air.”

 

JLS

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wllm

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wllm

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Colorado hunting units + MODIS and VIIRS (FIRMS) 24hr Layers. Essentially those are heat spots detected by satellites which is what inciweb uses to draw the fire outlines. These are active hot spots in last 24 hours.
1603424338664.png
 

BigHornRam

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Dont know about California, Oregon, Washington, or Colorado National Forests having a backlog of approved projects waiting for funding, but closer to home we are having trouble getting them approved.

 

Nameless Range

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Dont know about California, Oregon, Washington, or Colorado National Forests having a backlog of approved projects waiting for funding, but closer to home we are having trouble getting them approved.


The conversations I have heard here in MT are in line with this. There's money for, and lots of projects desired, but very difficult to execute for a variety of reasons.

Here in MT, we had a Red Flag warning this year on February 1, 2020, and the VFD to the north of us extinguished a wildland fire that month. In mid October we were still receiving Red Flag warnings and experienced fire weather. What does "fire season" even mean anymore?

I don't understand where money that should have been dedicated to prevention efforts is going, but that said, I sometimes side-eye articles that allude to our fire problem's solution being mitigation efforts. It is my opinion that with many of the catastrophic fires we saw this season, prevention projects would have made a negligible difference. When it is dry and the wind blows, it's all over but for the crying in a lot of instances.

I think the wisdom that Elers Koch exhibited when he wrote this in 1935 about fire fighting efforts in the early 20th century, still persists in some ways.

“Has all this effort and expenditure of millions of dollars added anything to human good? Is it possible that it was all a ghastly mistake, like plowing up the good buffalo grass sod of the dry prairies?”
 
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Big Fin

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I think the wisdom the Elers Koch exhibited when he wrote this in 1935 about fire fighting efforts in the early 20th century, still persists in some ways.

“Has all this effort and expenditure of millions of dollars added anything to human good? Is it possible that it was all a ghastly mistake, like plowing up the good buffalo grass sod of the dry prairies?”
I often wonder that same thing. I am all for logging. Hell, I've even advocated for paying loggers to help with forest management rather than charging them stumpage. Just not sure a simplified message that we can log our way out of 50 years of fuel accumulation caused by human development encroaching on the fire-prone wild lands of the west.

Sooner or later, the consequences of building communities in the historical paths of these fire areas will be a debt to be paid. Just no way around it. It is a function of when and who gets to pay for protecting the investments that have been made in these fire zones,

Sad to see. Two friends lost homes last month here in the Bridger Canyon fire. They knew the possibility and accepted the risks. Still painful to watch the disruption to their lives.
 
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BigHornRam

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I often wonder that same thing. I am all for logging. Hell, I've even advocated for paying loggers to help with forest management rather than charging them stumpage. Just not sure a simplified message that we can log our way out of 50 years of fuel accumulation caused by human development encroaching on the fire-prone wild lands of the west.

Sooner or later, the consequences of building communities in the historical paths of these fire areas will be a debt to be paid. Just no way around it. It is a function of when and who gets to pay for protecting the investments that have been made in these fire zones,

Sad to see, Two friends lost homes last month here in the Bridger Canyon fire. They knew the possibility and accepted the risks. Still painful to watch the disruption to their lives.
I know an older couple that lost their home and forest in the Bridger fire as well. Tough deal even while knowing that area was ripe for that kind of fire event.
 

44hunter45

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I often wonder that same thing. I am all for logging. Hell, I've even advocated for paying loggers to help with forest management rather than charging them stumpage. Just not sure a simplified message that we can log our way out of 50 years of fuel accumulation caused by human development encroaching on the fire-prone wild lands of the west.

Sooner or later, the consequences of building communities in the historical paths of these fire areas will be a debt to be paid. Just no way around it. It is a function of when and who gets to pay for protecting the investments that have been made in these fire zones,

Sad to see, Two friends lost homes last month here in the Bridger Canyon fire. They knew the possibility and accepted the risks. Still painful to watch the disruption to their lives.
I remember thinking this when Yellowstone blew up. We spent billions of dollars and put professional firefighters and national guardsmen lives at huge risk. In the end it came down to protecting structures until the September weather change put out the fires.

I know some HTers lost their homes this year. I am not being insensitive. I've always felt that believing that a firefighter was going save your home was like thinking that a cop will always be there to save you from a mugging. Fires move fast.
 

BigHornRam

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Interesting side note, I know a young couple that recently bought a home built by Ehlers Koch's son Peter, right off Willow creek road in the Sapphire's. They have done a lot of work to make the property more fire safe, but I don't think they completely relieze the risks that come with ownership of that property.
 

Ben Lamb

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Fire is as much a part of the forest health cycle as anything else. If we ignore that, we simply continue the cycle that gives us these megafires every year, rather than every 25-50 years.

It's late October and the high country of Colorado is in flames. To think that climate, as well as management factors, aren't in play ignores the very real threat we face from drier winters, more extreme weather events & later & later snow.

I've posted this before, but it's worth reading again: https://www.propublica.org/article/...Hb-rNt-qy4FtRxwaoTKx-mcjnjfMVraO8OeP2HlN1Mnuc

Fuels management is like gun control: It feels good to do something, but it ignores the underlying issues at play and leads to more spending later. Sure, we need it in the WUI, but do we need to manage timber for fire control in Roadless Areas, Wilderness or other unimproved public lands when there is no risk to human health and safety?

Those burns from the great burn helped produce bumper crops of elk in the mid-1900's to the early 2000's. Fire helps restore the land over a long arc, but we tend to think only in terms of the next 5-10 years.
 
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neffa3

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1. we allowed fuels to build for almost a century.
2. "fire season" is getting longer
3. our timelines for perspective on what burns, how it burns, and how fast it burns, are all very short in the grand scheme of things.

I think a lot of things are coming together all at once.

As an aside, I live in a fire prone area. We pay extra in taxes to "cover" that risk to the State. But it's not nearly enough.
 

jryoung

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With 4M acres burned in CA this year the battle cries of "log it, graze it" or "it's climate change" are being shouted from their respective corners. Still trying to figure out how you graze manzanita and foothill pine that has a burn cycle every 5-10 years....or just really how much worse is climate change making it when we've suppressed fires to sometimes 5x it's normal cycle. Wind and a spark is all it needs.

Despite the tragedy of Paradise in 2018, the Sierra is still loaded with homes with not only zero defense, but many, are aiding fires by being loaded with pine needle around the home, gutters and all corners off the roof filled. My buddy lives in Grass Valley and it's just one meth lab explosion on a windy day away from becoming ashes.
 

Nameless Range

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With 4M acres burned in CA this year the battle cries of "log it, graze it" or "it's climate change" are being shouted from their respective corners. Still trying to figure out how you graze manzanita and foothill pine that has a burn cycle every 5-10 years....or just really how much worse is climate change making it when we've suppressed fires to sometimes 5x it's normal cycle. Wind and a spark is all it needs.

I can't speak to other states, but in Montana we typically extinguish 90 - 95% of all fires on initial attack. A couple years ago I believe that stat was 94%.

So, only 5-10% of the individual fires on the landscape get so out of control they are not immediately extinguished through firefighting efforts. Obviously not all fires are created equal, and the fires that do get out of control may largely be the ones that would've burned a lot of country anyway. But I do wonder what it would be like if we ceased firefighting for one summer, and allowed 15X the fires to burn on the landscape.

Stephen Pyne has written that we live in an age he calls The Pyrocene, and we are fighting it and that very well may be fruitless.
 

Nameless Range

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Hal Herring interviewed Pyne on the BHA Podcast, and it is incredibly fascinating.

 

jryoung

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That was a great podcast, really fascinating indeed.

After this year, I'm really anxious to see what deer hunting looks like over the next 2-20 years. Much of that chaparral country will grow back in 3-5, but there is still so much country higher up that got much needed burns, should be great hunting hopefully and my son is just 2 years shy of his first deer tag here.
 

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