Wildfire Policy, Climate Change, and the Law
1 Texas Wes. J. Real Prop. 50 (2012)
23 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2013 Last revised: 31 Oct 2013
Date Written: October 22, 2012
In the face of climate change, the current wildfire problem will only worsen absent a comprehensive strategy designed to reuce the risk of catastrophic blazes and to restore fire-adapted ecosystems. The basic strategies must address both the growing fuel-load concern and the “wildland-urban interface” (WUI) zone expansion problem, which present very real cross-jurisdictional challenges that require a coordinated federal, state, and local response. While the short range goal necessarily entails protecting at-risk communities and critical resources, the long range goal must focus on restoring ecological resilience to our forests and grasslands in order to curtail the likelihood of even more disastrous wildfires. At the federal level, the existing law does not present an insurmountable hurdle to fashioning the necessary strategies for pursuing these policy goals. But at the state level, new laws and policies are required to better control construction in the WUI zone, to establish appropriate insurance requirements, and to address smoke abatement concerns. The critical question is not whether we need to take these necessary steps, but whether we have the will to do so.
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