National Fire Plan Largely Ineffective So Far
August 22, 2002
The so-called National Fire Plan -- aimed at averting forest fires -- was launched in 2000. But despite more than $6 billion in costs so far, implementation has been slow and the plan is off its mark. Those are the conclusions of a review of the plan conducted by USA Today.
The original aim had been to thin forests of overgrown trees and brush in areas containing homes -- and allow fires to burn in remote, unpopulated areas.
But so far:
- Less than 40 percent of woodlands thinned have been in areas where homes meet the woods -- with much of the activity taking place in remote areas.
- Only 82 of more than 59,000 fires have been left to burn this year.
- Much of the work has been concentrated in the South -- rather than the West, which is much more prone to fire danger.
- Less than 1 percent of money spent has been used to educate homeowners about steps they can take to reduce fire risks.
This year, nearly six million acres have burned to date -- more than twice the 10-year average for this point in the year. The fire-fighting costs could reach $2 billion.
About 34 million Americans live or near areas that are at high risk for fires.
Source: Tom Kenworthy, "U.S. Fire Policy Isn't Cutting It," USA Today, August 22, 2002.
Browse more articles on Environment Issues