State Policy Network
4 ways state leaders can protect homes and lands from wildfires
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  • State Solutions
  • Federal Solutions
  • Coalition Examples
  • Learn More
  • Land Management Experts

As our country deals with another year of rampant wildfires, people in the United States are looking for solutions that can protect homes and lands. Some look to DC, seeing this as a problem that is too big to be solved locally. But waiting for DC to find common ground is often an exercise in futility.

So, it’s time we look elsewhere for a way to solve this crisis. Fortunately, there are already solutions that can be implemented at the state level. We don’t need to wait for the federal government to solve the wildfire crisis; instead, the states can lead the way in healthy and sustainable forest restoration.

Top 4 wildfire solutions for states and state think tanks

Here are the top four ways states and state think tanks can encourage sustainable forest management:

  1. Educate policymakers, the media, and the public about the need for forest restoration
  2. Encourage collaboration
  3. Remove harmful regulations
  4. Promote fuel treatment policies

Educate the media, government officials, and the public on the importance of forest management—and the role of humans in the ecosystem.

Collaborate with stakeholders so that forest restoration is sustainable, not occasional.

Remove regulations that make forest restoration less sustainable and discourage stakeholder participation.

Promote "fuel treatment" policies that remove the fuel for massive wildfires.

Bonus: Top 2 wildfire solutions for the federal government

While the states and the communities closest to the problem are best suited to sustainably manage forests, there are policies that the federal government could change to remove barriers to responsible forest restoration.

Here are two ways the federal government could help the states save our forests:

  1. Remove harmful regulations
  2. Encourage collaboration

End bad regulations that limit collaboration and punish responsible forest management.

Encourage collaboration by empowering federal agencies to serve as a good faith partner in forest restoration.

State think tanks leading forest management coalitions

Collaboration between all the stakeholders is key to responsible forest management. Here are a few examples of collaborative forest restoration in action in the states:

Michigan: Overcoming patchwork ownership of the land
Michigan has a higher percentage of land owned by the federal government than any other state in the Midwest. While not to the same degree as some western states, this combination of federal, state, and local ownership can make forest management a collective goods problem—everyone owns some of it, nobody takes care of any of it. So, the Mackinac Center and the Property and Environment Research Center worked together to untangle the web of federal regulations. They’ve then used this knowledge to work with a diverse set of stakeholders to build coalitions that can overcome this collective goods problem, by pursuing common-ground and agreeable solutions to forest management that fit within the existing regulations.

Arizona: Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI)
In Arizona, the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) has worked to bring together a diverse coalition of government agencies, private industry, community groups, non-governmental organizations, Native groups, and more. This coalition has “been able to move beyond the misperception that active forest management or other treatments are necessarily damaging to the natural environment.” Instead of falling prey to myths, they’ve been able to find common ground and ways in which the logging industry and environmental groups can work together to ensure that logging efforts are sustainable and contribute to reducing the risk of wildfires. By building a diverse coalition, they are helping people realize the true “value of forest restoration efforts […] as a means of reducing disease, insect infestation, and wildfire risk, as well as improving overall forest health.”

Washington: Supporting the confederated tribes of the colville reservation
Native groups in North America have long believed in and engaged in active forest management. From seasonal controlled burns to eco-friendly timber harvesting, they understand that humans play a vital role in our ecosystem. Washington Policy Center has worked with leaders like Cody Desautel, the Natural Resource Director for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, to understand native land management techniques. They in turn offer support in building coalitions with communities, and help with understanding government regulations, to ensure that these efforts are successful in ensuring healthy forests and healthy communities.

Learn More


Extinguishing the Wildfire Threat: Lessons from Arizona
Goldwater Institute and Mackinac Center

Conflict to Cooperation: Collaborative Management of Federal Lands in Michigan
Mackinac Center and PERC

Fix America’s Forests: Reforms to Restore National Forests and Tackle the Wildfire Crisis

Additional Commentary from the Network

Forest Management is More Effective Than Climate Virtue-Signaling
Mackinac Center

Collaborative Management: How to Prevent Wildfires and Restore Our Forests While Working Together
Mackinac Center

Look to Native Americans’ Forest Management for Better Wildfire Abatement
The Daily Signal

Free Markets Destroy Wildfires
Washington Policy Center

Healthy and Fire-Resilient Forests with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
Washington Policy Center

Additional Commentary

US West Coast Fires: Is Trump right to blame forest management?

Fire and Forest Management
Center for Biological Diversity

Wildfires and Forest Management
The Nature Conservancy

100 million dead trees in the Sierra are a massive risk for unpredictable wildfires

Managing Fire
US Forest Service

Effectiveness of Forest Management in Reducing Wildfire Risk
U.S. Global Change Research Program

State Policy Experts

Jason Hayes
Mackinac Center for Public Policy | Director of Environmental Policy | MI

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Categories: Policy Issues
Organization: State Policy Network
Professional Topics: Community Engagement