Democrats Eye Massive Shift in War on Wildfires: Prevention

Senior Advisor Ann Bartuska is quoted a number of times, and RFF research cited, in a Los Angeles Times article about wildfire prevention funding in the Build Back Better bill.

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Dec. 6, 2021

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The Los Angeles Times

Under the social safety-net and climate bill passed by the House and now being negotiated in the Senate, Democrats would funnel $27 billion into the nation’s forests, including a sizable $14 billion over a decade for clearing vegetation and other dry debris that can fuel a fire.

Known as “hazardous fuels reduction,” such proactive measures have been “underfunded for so long,” said Ann M. Bartuska, a senior advisor at environmental nonprofit Resources for the Future and former Forest Service official. “This really cries out and says, ‘All right, we get it, we need to reduce wildfire risk.’”

..According to estimates by Resources for the Future, the $14 billion could address about 25 million acres, or about half of the nation’s wildfire treatment backlog on federal and non-federal land...

Experts like Bartuska are eager to see the agencies strategically use the funding for large projects where they can have a meaningful impact instead of dropping small amounts in many different places.

“There may be some areas that need greater intensity,” Bartuska said. The highest priority, she said, should be areas of forests that threaten human populations, followed by watersheds that supply water to other communities.

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