More than 100 years after the federal government declared war on wildfire, wildfire is winning. The US Forest Service reports there are 40 large fires currently burning, from Florida to California, with 564 contained so far this year. They are "bigger, fiercer and costlier to put out [than they've ever been]… and there is no end in sight." Ten years ago, the National Forest Service spent $307 million on fire suppression. Last year, the bill was $1.37 billion. Private contracting for firefighters and their equipment can turn potential disasters into bonanzas for local communities. Does firefighting itself create future problems? Would preventative management save big money? What are the roles of politics and the media?
- Bettina Boxall - LA Times reporter covering California water and the environment - @boxall
- Mark Rey - Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment, USDA
- Julie Cart - environment reporter for CalMatters - @julie_cart
- Stephen Pyne - Arizona State University - @asuSOLS
- Jim Smalley - Program Manager, Firewise Communities