PERC Vice President of Law and Policy Jonathan Wood joins The Overton Window podcast of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy to discuss wildfire and forest management. Jonathan explains that the amount of fuel on the ground and how dry it is are the factors that determine whether or not a fire is catastrophic. The U.S. Forest Service’s century-long policy of putting out all fires suppressed natural fire cycles and essentially created a powder keg.
Our forests are fire adaptive and need fire to thrive. By suppressing all wildfire, uncharacteristic amounts of fuel have accumulated in our forests, making those lands more vulnerable to disease, infestation, and catastrophic wildfire. The U.S. Forest Service acknowledges that its policy of fire suppression must be reformed. Jonathan notes several policy recommendations that can equip the Forest Service to increase the pace and scale of the restoration needed to return our forests to healthier fire cycles.