Current Issue

  • THE WILDFIRE MENACE: Will the West Learn or Burn?

    Senator Jon Kyl & Kris Kiefer

    While some of us have been working on forest management and ecological restoration since the 1980s, much of the interest and energy in forest health began to take shape after one of Arizona’s most damaging fires, the Rodeo- Chediski in 2002. With more than 462,000 acres of ponderosa pine forests charred and hundreds of homes lost, our earlier warnings finally took on some urgency.

  • 4FRI AND THE NEPA PROCESS

    Annette Fredette

    The Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) is the largest collaborative, landscape-scale restoration initiative in the country, the largest initiative of its kind ever endeavored. This initiative’s goal is nothing less than the restoration of the ponderosa pine forest stretching across northern Arizona. It seeks to reduce the threat of destructive wildfire to thriving forest communities, restore forest ecosystems with natural fire regimes and functioning populations of native plants and animals, and build and sustain forest industries that strengthen local economies.

    4FRI as an initiative stretches across four national forests: the Kaibab, Coconino, Apache-Sitgreaves, and Tonto. This initiative is a large ...

  • RESISTANCE, RESTORATION, RESILIENCE: A Survey of Fire’s American Century

    Stephen J. Pyne

    America’s modern fire era began with two parallel processes. One was industrialization, which sought to replace open fire with internal combustion but also rewired humanity’s power and redefined Americans’ relationship to their natural surroundings. This transitional phase is typically one of unsettled fire regimes and widespread, even abusive, burning. The other process was the surge of settlement that swept over post-Civil War America. A map of forest fires for the 1880 census shows the outcome. America in the 1880s was much like Brazil in the 1980s—an agricultural society, rapidly industrializing and remaking its national estate. Fires—both good and ...

  • FRIEDRICH A. HAYEK, THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, AND INSTITUTIONAL DESIGN

    Steven Gow Calabresi

    In their article, Against Design, Caryn Devins, Roger Koppl, Stuart Kauffman, and Teppo Felin argue that it is impossible for any lawmaker to successfully design a Constitution or a law so that it will produce the ends that the legislator wishes to enact. The authors argue that institutional design is impossible because every such design in law sets in motion a Spontaneous System of Order, which then develops the law or institution in ways the Framers of such laws and institutions could never have imagined. This is the case because changing circumstances and unforeseeable inventions and developments render ...

  • NEW MODELS FOR FUNDING PUBLIC LANDS MANAGEMENT: A Case Study of the Northern Arizona Forest Fund

    Rebecca Davidson, Spencer Plumb & Marcus Selg

    At the end of the twentieth century, scholars divided public land policy within the United States into three periods: disposition, reservation, and management. As we enter the twenty-first century, our public lands are declining in health and, from a financial standpoint, are less an asset and more a liability. To address the issues facing public lands management, the federal government is now more dependent on public-private partnerships as well as private investment in the health of our public lands. Begging the question— are we entering a new period for public land policy following the ...

  • THE ROLE OF ARIZONA STATE FORESTRY AND FIRE MANAGEMENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY

    Jeff Whitney

    Modern forestry, our national forests, and the U.S. Forest Service were created in the early 1900s as a means to conserve the nation’s natural resources. Reactions to disasters and misunderstandings of forest systems resulted in flawed management practices that persisted throughout the 20th century resulting in critically unhealthy forests across the Western United States. Unhealthy forests threaten watersheds, are prone to disease, insect infestation, and catastrophic wildfire. Arizona State Forestry (AZSF) is part of the solution to these issues. AZSF and our partners have the ability to engage the public and private sector to implement a Cohesive Wildland Fire ...

  • FIREWISE: The Value of Voluntary Action and Standard Approaches to Reducing Wildfire Risk

    Faith Berry, Lucian Deaton & Michele Steinberg

    Regionally, nationally and globally, threats to life, property and resources from wildfire are growing. Changing climate conditions, growth of vulnerable communities into high-hazard areas, and limited governmental and financial resources available to cope with this threat all mean that wildfire losses are expected to continue and expand. It is not possible to find a single and simple solution to all of the problems that the scenario of larger, damaging wildfire presents. However, when focusing on how to prevent wildland/urban interface (WUI) fire disasters—the destruction of dozens or hundreds of structures during significant wildfire events—researchers ...

  • THE COST OF INACTION: Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project Cost Avoidance Study

    Wayne R. Fox

    This study estimates the potential financial damages mitigated by the implementation of the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP). The goal of FWPP is to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire and post-fire flood impacts by conducting fuel-reduction forest treatments in two watersheds critical to the City of Flagstaff—the Dry Lake Hills (Rio de Flag) and Mormon Mountain (Lake Mary). By thinning unnaturally dense vegetation and using prescribed fire in these areas, the risk of intense wildfire and post-fire impacts will be significantly reduced.

  • DESIGN IS THE SOURCE OF VARIATION; SELECTION IS THE FILTER

    Vernon Smith

    Against Design concerns the impossibility of deliberate design for desirable outcomes when the dynamic processes of social and economic change are decentralized, free and creative. In this brief commentary I want to relate the authors’ theme to specialization, innovation, and morality in economy.

  • ON THE INEVITABILITY OF “CONSTITUTIONAL DESIGN”

    Sanford Levinson

    I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to offer some brief comments on the fascinating essay Against Design. It is a long and rich piece raising many questions, and I emphasize that this comment is both brief and therefore necessarily insufficient as anything approaching a complete response. But I obviously hope that even these truncated remarks will help further an important conversation prompted by the four authors.

  • WILDFIRE LIABILITY AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: A Double-Edged Sword

    Charles H. Oldham

    Wildland-Urban Interface (“WUI”) represents a growing phenomenon where urban population areas are encroaching upon America’s wildlands, which are defined as natural environments on Earth that have not been significantly modified by civilized human activity. In 2008, there were approximately 115 million single-family homes in the U.S., and roughly 40% of those homes were located in a WUI area. Americans built approximately 17 million new homes between 1990 and 2008, and 10 million of those homes were built in or around a WUI area. As a natural consequence of the growing WUI, the number of structures destroyed by wildfire ...

  • DEMOCRATIZING FEDERAL FOREST MANAGEMENT THROUGH PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AND COLLABORATION

    Diane Vosick

    Public participation and collaboration in federal forest management has evolved over the last century. Currently, the federal land management agencies are encouraged through statutes and regulations meaningfully collaborate with the public during project development and implementation. The hope is that through greater public engagement, the management gridlock that has impeded forest restoration and thinning since the 1990s will be reduced. It is also assumed that as a result of collaboration, environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) will be improved leading to better natural resource management decisions. The Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI), a collaborative effort to ...

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