Will AZ Learn or Burn? Can AZ Learn to Burn?: The Flagstaff Experience

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Paul Summerfelt.

Wildfires engender fear and respect, and often burn at great social cost. They can consume much more than acres burned. But the right kind of wildfire is also a necessary component of a healthy forest ecosystem, the very ponderosa pine forests which blanket much of the northern part of our state. How do we reconcile this dichotomy—the good and the bad of wildfire? Fire is no respecter of jurisdictional boundaries or fence-lines. It readily crosses one-to-the-other: it is relentless, persistent, and powerful. Fire is our problem, and our opportunity. The City of Flagstaff provides a model for how local government can engage in and be successful in this challenging environment.

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