Federal Regulations Have Made Western Wildfires Worse
Parts of the western United States look like scenes from an apocalyptic movie—a red-orange tinge across everything, literally blotting out the sun, as more than three million acres burn.
The fires are running rampant, despite firefighters’ best efforts, across California, Oregon, and Washington state. The human cost is huge: 35 people have already died, and more than 4,000 homes have burned. Yet these fires could have been stopped before they got this big, were it not for over-restrictive regulations that have made necessary forest management techniques impossible.
Take controlled burns: fires that are lit on purpose, intentionally burning tinder to keep potentially larger, unintentional wildfires from finding fuel. Especially since the 1960s, efforts to extinguish all fires—even natural, low-impact forest fires that serve as nature’s equivalent of a controlled burn—have made forests more susceptible to larger fires and have made controlled burns more and more necessary.
But the regulatory requirements one must meet before starting a controlled burn are
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