Land Use Planning More Effective Than Logging to Reduce Wildfire Risk
Published by Headwaters Economics, an independent, nonprofit research group that works to improve community development and land management decisions.
The President issued an executive order last month that instructs federal land managers to treat 8.45 million acres of land and cut 4.4 billion board feet of timber. But land use planning, not logging on federal lands, is a more effective tool to confront future wildfire disasters.
This President’s executive order represents a significant increase in timber harvest compared to recent years—roughly 80 percent more than was cut on U.S. Forest Service lands in 2017—but is minor compared to cuts in the 1980s, which reached more than 12 billion board feet.
Timber management on federal lands can be justified for valid reasons—including watershed protection, wildlife habitat conservation, and overall forest health— but it rarely helps our communities confront looming wildfire disasters in the face of a warming climate and continued home building on fire-prone lands. Better land use planning and improved design of our built environment is our best bet at reducing risk from wildfires.
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