CBS Television’s 60 Minutes recently aired an important report on catastrophic wildfire and what can be done by homeowners in the Wildland Urban Interface to save lives and properties.
60 Minutes’ Steve Inskeep interviewed Robert Bonnie, a key Obama Administration official who oversaw the U.S. Forest Service. Bonnie emphasized the need to invest in forest restoration activities, including forest thinning that proactively reduces wildfire intensity. From the transcript:
Robert Bonnie: There’s no question that we’re spending more on the federal-government side firefighting today because of houses in the landscape that we had nothing to do with approving.
Over the last 20 years, all federal agencies together have spent $25 billion to put out fires. Bonnie would rather spend some of that money thinning out forests before they burn.
Robert Bonnie: We’re not investing as much as we can and should in forest restoration, because we’re having to spend all our money fighting fire.
Steve Inskeep: Wait a minute, forest restoration is prevention of horrible wildfires?
Robert Bonnie: That’s right.
Steve Inskeep: Are you taking money away from prevention?
Robert Bonnie: Absolutely.