What Biden's Infrastructure Bill Means for Wildfire Management
RFF Fellow Matthew Wibbenmeyer talks about US Forest Service needs in the face of heightening climate threats with High Country News.
Other experts say the allocations are a good start but not enough, given the scale of 21st century megafires. Matt Wibbenmeyer, an environmental economist at the policy research organization Resources for the Future, said that while the infrastructure bill addresses some of the challenges facing fire management agencies, even more money is needed. For example, the Forest Service alone estimates it needs $5 billion to $6 billion a year over the next 10 years to reduce flammable forest fuels in high priority areas — more than the bill allocates for many years. And the clock is ticking, as climate change continues to prime more forests for ignitions with hotter, drier summers. “It’s a step in the right direction, but what we really need here is an order of magnitude increase in how much of this risk reduction we’re investing in,” Wibbenmeyer said. “I think we have to get used to the fact that climate change is going to be expensive.”