Christopher Lancette, communications director
(202) 429-2692
Story ideas/
insight for 2009

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Wildfires 2009: A look at problems, solutions,
story ideas and sources

As the 2009 wildfire season gets underway, TWS would like to take this opportunity to reintroduce ourselves as source for stories on wildland fire. We can provide you with the latest facts, figures and fresh perspectives on issues ranging from the impact of global warming on wildfires to solutions for the key wildfire problems we face.

A number of trends and potential story ideas jump out at us for 2009 and we stand ready to be a resource to you if you’d like to explore them further.

The first thing that comes to mind is sticker shock – the skyrocketing cost of wildfire suppression and the toll it’s taking on both the federal agencies charged with that task and on an array of vital programs and services that are put at risk when money is taken away from them for suppression. The cost of suppressing fires has grown enormously in recent years and projections indicate that this trend will only increase as a result of climate change and increasingly populated wooded areas. For example, the Forest Service has spent over $1 billion per year in five of the last seven years to extinguish fires. Wildland fire management activities (the largest component of which is suppression) rose from 13 percent of the agency’s budget in fiscal year 1991 to close to 50 percent in fiscal year 2008.

Costs aren’t the only problem the agencies face. They’re also confronting management challenges that could lead to greater use of practices that help protect people and property while also restoring ecosystems. They could even save taxpayer dollars, too.

Our hope for 2009 is that Congress and our new president will follow through on the visions they’ve shared for tackling our wildfire problems. We also hope that you will keep The Wilderness Society in mind any time you’re looking for scientists or policy experts who can work with you on your coverage of wildfires and their impact on the country.


Christopher Lancette

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