Since the early 1900s, the federal land management agencies—the Forest Service in particular—have focused their wildfire management efforts on suppression. A century of wildfire suppression policy has created a buildup of natural fuels in the Nation’s forests that contribute to larger, more damaging fires today. This, coupled with the rapid development of the Wildland-Urban Interface, makes today’s wildfires a greater threat to human life and property. As a result, the federal government’s annual expenditures for wildfire management have ballooned in recent years. Relying on the billions of tax dollars spent each year to fight wildfire, individuals have continued to develop property on fire-prone lands and insurers continue to issue them policies with premiums that do not reflect the true risk of wildfire. This situation creates an implicit subsidy for residents of fire-prone lands, which presents many of the same pitfalls as the National Flood Insurance Program’s explicit subsidy for residents of flood-prone lands. This Note advocates for a reform of the way we pay for wildfire management. Specifically, it encourages the federal government to implement a National Wildfire Insurance Program that employs a “homeowner mandate” to shift the costs of wildfire management to those who directly benefit from it: the residents of the Wildland-Urban Interface.
Free Riders on the Firestorm: How Shifting the Costs of Wildfire Management to Residents of the Wildland-Urban Interface Will Benefit Our Public Forests,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.