In 2015 wildfires burned over 10 million acres across the United States. In 2016 that number was down at least a couple million acres, but historically both years have experienced an astronomical increase in wildfire acreage. Which has obvious consequences to those impacted by the fire, but it also means states and the federal government have to do a lot more with resources allocated during a time where fires burned a lot less.

 

States from California to Maine experience wildfires each year and increased fire dangers means the resources required to fight those fires increases as well. For some states allocating those funds is only a minor difficulty. For others it is a major budget item and any fluctuation in wildfire activity could very well take resources from other important services. States like California can adequately respond, but smaller mountain west states such as Montana and Idaho need a lot more federal help.

 

This disparity shows the very real consequences of not dealing with climate change adequately on the federal level.

 

In California alone 2015 saw over 893,000 acres burned and fighting those fires cost the state somewhere in the neighborhood of $336 million. In Idaho during 2015 over 742,000 acres burned, which cost roughly $304 million to suppress. Each state used some combination of state, federal, and local funds to fight the fires. Which means for small states a big fire season can mean big budget trouble.

 

Unfortunately big fire seasons are becoming increasingly normal and the big budgets required to fight them are hard for most states to maintain. Hopefully under a Trump administration those budgets will materialize, but rabid congressional opposition to increased spending has long been the biggest problem with fighting fires and the climate change which intensifies them year after year. Without federal money this problem will only get worse and the budget crisis it leads to will trickle down into the lives of average Americans.

 

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