Tom Still: Tools for fighting wildfires include incentives to manage neglected forests

This is an excerpt from a column posted at BizOpinion.

Wildfires have enjoyed a dangerously wild year so far in 2013.

In the United States alone, fires have claimed millions of acres in western states such as Colorado, California, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona, where the Yarnell Hill fire also took the lives of 19 firefighters in a flash.

Closer to home, a fire sparked by logging equipment charred about 8,000 acres and destroyed 17 homes in Douglas and Ashland counties this spring, and just this week a planned Department of Natural Resources burn in Burnett County leapt out of control and took 600 unplanned acres.

It doesn’t have to happen this way.

Sure, the weather in many places has been extremely dry, the terrain makes fighting fires treacherous once they start, and people have a tendency to cluster just beyond the shadow of the forest canopy, sometimes courting danger like moths drawn to a flame.

But none of this changes the fact that command-and-control government policies, sometimes guarded by environmentalists who confuse preservation with sound forestry management, helped spark such fires as surely as an unwatched campfire.

Read the full column for more