The current fires burning in Southern California are only the latest in a fire season that has severely affected rural and urban communities alike across the American west. Communities across the nation have frequently found themselves on the front lines of fires, and their safety depends on the collaborative efforts of a united team of federal, state, and local agencies working quickly to save lives.
Historically, the most common management response to wildland fires was fire suppression. Unfortunately, decades of research has revealed that this tactic is likely to make the fires - which are inevitable in many western ecosystems - much worse.
Protecting the long-term wellbeing and safety of our communities depends on good science-based management of wildfires - that means planning and adapting for wildfires, as well as responding to them. Rather than increasing spending in reactive efforts to suppress wildfires, the evidence suggests that investing in proactive projects to prepare firewise homes, and land-use planning efforts to avoid new housing development in fire-prone areas, are the most effective means of mitigating the risks to health and safety of people and communities living in wildfire areas.
Additionally, the severity of fire seasons is exacerbated by the conditions created by climate change - so we need to acknowledge the reality of a changing climate in order to effectively plan for the future and protect our communities.
Please join the March for Science and our partner, Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology (FUSEE), in reaching out to our elected officials to ask for science-based fire management policy. That means policy that acknowledges the ecological reality of fires, invests in proactive measures to prepare communities in fire-prone areas and protect the health and safety of all people, and prioritizes adaptation to and mitigation of the effects of global warming as part of our response to increasingly severe fire seasons.
Want to learn more?
Testimony of Dr. Michael Medler (member, FUSEE) before the Hearing on “Wildfires and the Climate Crisis” Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. November 2, 2007