Clearning the smoke from wildfire policy: An economic perspective

TitleClearning the smoke from wildfire policy: An economic perspective
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsLueck, D
Series EditorYoder, J
Series TitlePERC Policy Series
Document Number56
Pagination48 p.
CityBozeman, MT
Keywordspolicy, smoke, technical reports and journal articles

Wildfires are heating up once again in the American West. In 2015, wildfires burned more than 10 million acres in the United States at a cost of $2.1 billion in federal expenditures. As the fires burned, the U.S. Forest Service announced that, for the first time, more than half of its budget would be devoted to wildfire. And the situation is likely to get worse. Within a decade, the agency estimates that it will spend more than two-thirds of its budget battling fires.

In this PERC Policy Series essay, Dean Lueck and Jonathan Yoder use economics to examine wildfire management and the current wildfire policy debate. As leading scholars in the area of wildfire policy, they provide an economic framework for evaluating effective wildfire management and use it to confront current wildfire policy issues. The authors address several important questions: Are wildfires really getting larger and more frequent? How can the efficiency of wildfire policies and management be evaluated? Do wildfire organizations and their incentives matter? And are pro-posed policy reforms likely to improve the effectiveness of wildfire management?