Sunday, February 17, 2008

Rural sprawl's fire cost

Last Sunday's Sacramento Bee featured a guest editorial from the retired forest supervisor of the San Bernardino National Forest, entitled "Fire Risk Needs To Be Factored Into Zoning."

It's important reading for anyone who cares about planning in Amador County or anywhere else in rural California. Fire is a fact of life in our state. It's part of the ecology. As long as counties continue to allow sprawl in high fire-risk areas, we will continue to incur huge costs in wildland firefighting -- and lives and property will continue to be lost.

Zimmerman estimates the cost of California wildland fire suppression to be about $1 billion a year. As he points out, most of that cost is borne by state and federal taxpayers, not local residents or county governments. It's a subsidy, pure and simple.

Zimmerman's op-ed follows on last year's Sierra Nevada Alliance report on growth in high fire-risk areas of the Sierra, Dangerous Development: Wildfire and Rural Sprawl in the Sierra Nevada. If you haven't read that yet, be sure to take a look.

I wrote a letter to the Bee regarding Zimmerman's op-ed, which they published today. You can read it here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Fire subsidy:
While poking around El Dorado County records, I discovered that the subsidy for the 1992 Cleveland Fire above Placerville netted the county $832 per man hour. What followed was a massive consolidation of small fire districts within the county under the EDCFD, new equipment and stations, and new roads for the county.
Along the same lines, county sheriffs generate some of their own budgets thru the DEA subsidy that by-passes the general fund.
Neat work if you can get it.
Tom, friend of Bill & Jane