Wildfire Analysis Shows Federal Lands Are Slightly More Healthy As State Lands

Oct 4, 2017

An analysis of wildfire data by the Center for Western Priorities compared the risk of wildfires on federally managed public lands and state-owned lands. 

The study found that there is not a significant difference, despite claims by Utah politicians like Utah Rep. Mike Noel, Congressman Rob Bishop and Sen. Mike Lee.

“We looked at a fire risk model and we mapped it over U.S.  public land and state public lands in Utah and across the west and we found that approximately 23 percent of U.S. public lands in west are at high risk of wildfire, while 22 percent of state owned lands are at risk of wildfire,” said Greg Zimmerman, the deputy director at the Center for Western Priorities, which claims to be a nonpartisan organization.

The report showed Utah state lands specifically are 8.6 percent more fire-prone than U.S. public lands.

Zimmerman believes with proper policies the risk of wildfires will decrease.

“When it comes to wildfire, we know what we need to do," Zimmerman said. "It’s never going to be fixed. Wildfire is a natural part of western environments and western landscapes, but we can certainly mitigate our policies.” 

Zimmerman said this report’s goal is to change the conversation among politicians about wildfires and hopes state and federal governments can find a way to work together to protect western lands. 

“We need to move on from this political rhetoric that has us stuck in this mode of blaming other people for problems,” he said.