As the wildfires raged, apologists for government thought they had a trump card against libertarians and triumphantly concluded this was the latest proof that the government and its firefighters remain that thin line between order and chaos. Unfortunately for them, however, history has now made it abundantly clear that the true driving force behind the increasingly large mega-fires that plague public lands are the product of decades of mismanagement by the forest service. That is, we can thank the government for putting out the fires it is responsible for.
Briefly put, decades of fire suppression and bans on logging by the feds to protect obscure rodent species has doomed the forests to massive wildfires which thrive on forests where underbrush piles up and creates a “fuel ladder” which in turn ignites the trees.
More logging, more small, natural fires, and more decentralized management (including privatization) is the answer, but don’t expect the politics to line up behind any of these sensible solutions any time soon. Most Americans now have utterly unrealistic expectations for forests. Forest fires are going to happen, and short of an army of robots to clean out and manage forests constantly, lighting will ignite forest fires in even the most well managed environments. The idea is to let these fires happen. The politics is against this however since wealthy vacationers with second homes in forested lots think that they should be able to build mansions in the wilderness and not be subject to the basic laws of nature.
Thus, the forest service gets huge funding increases every year to badly manage forests, and when that fails, spend tens of millions on fire suppression.
But don’t worry, it turns out that forest service has spent the last eleven years developing a plan for the forests. They’ll be finished sometime before the end of the next decade.