chapter  6
The Political Economy of Wildfire Management: Saving Forests, Saving Houses, or Burning Money
BySarah E. Anderson, Terry L. Anderson
Pages 17

More and more people are moving into the wildland-urban interface, areas in or close to forests where their homes are at risk from wildfires. Theobald and Romme (2007) estimate that from 1970 to 2000, the wildland-urban interface expanded more than 52 percent to 179,775 square miles and is expected to increase to 198,333 square miles by 2030, with the greatest expansion occurring in the states of the intermountain West. The Forest Service, which manages 192 million acres of land, thus increasingly faces a trade-off between the ecological benefits of fire and the political economy consequences. Faced with different mandates and different pressures from interest groups, the Forest Service has the difficult task of balancing the role of fire in natural systems with safety considerations and the costs of property damage, particularly on private lands adjacent to public lands. Hence, in recent years, wildfire suppression has become more controversial.