Clearing the Smoke from Wildfire Policy

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In this PERC Policy Series essay, Dean Lueck andJonathan Yoder use economics to examine wildfire management and the current wildfire policy debate. As leading scholars in the area of wildfire policy, they provide an economic framework for evaluating effective wildfire management and use it to confront current wildfire policy issues. The authors address several important questions: Are wildfires really getting larger and more frequent? How can the efficiency of wildfire policies and management be evaluated? Do wildfire organizations and their incentives matter? And are proposed policy reforms likely to improve the effectiveness of wildfire management?

The authors discuss a variety of issues including wildfire spending, wildfire management institutions, the role of incentives, federal budgets, and climate change. They argue that most proposed policy changes would do little to change the underlying incentive structure that governs wildfire management, and they highlight the characteristics of policy reform that could better address these issues.

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