March, 2008

Fire in the National Forest System: California Solutions for a California Problem

  • Robert H. Nelson

    Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland
Key materials
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In this paper, Robert Nelson proposes three decentralization alternatives for the U.S. Forest Service that would allow state and local governments to address directly the increasing instances of forest fires. Specifically, in California the Forest Service has been unable to adequately address the increasing number of severe forest fires since the 1970s. He suggests the Forest Service:

  • allow local California communities a greater role in providing funds, setting spending priorities, and making fire management decisions for the nearby national forest lands;
  • create state fire districts following the model of air and water districts already found in California and include national forest lands within those districts under their oversight with respect to fire prevention and suppression; or
  • transfer fire management responsibility entirely to the state and local level.