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The Foley Institute Coffee & Politics Series



Matt Carroll: Wildfires – what can be done?


Wednesday September 9 | 12 – 1pm | Foley Speaker’s Room, 308 Bryan Hall, WSU Pullman

Carroll is a professor at Washington State University who teaches courses in natural resources, primarily focusing on the policies, issues, and ethics associated with natural resources and the environment. Dr. Carroll is one of the leading researchers on the threats and effects of residential/forest fires and social issues around controlled and uncontrolled wild-land fires.

Dr. Carroll describes how his presentation is based off a meta-analysis of studies stretching back the past 20 years. Alongside his colleague, Travis Paveglio, the two focused on how wildfires affect different communities and how varying communities approached the threat of wildfires.

Dr. Carroll elaborates on the varying threats of wildfires and how much effort is placed into combating them throughout the country. He illustrates that wildfires cause huge expenditures, and take up over half of the U.S. Forest Service’s budget. Additionally, he refers to four community archetypes: formalized suburban communities, working landscape communities, rural lifestyle communities, and high amenity communities. Dr. Carroll discusses how these four archetypes are general ways of categorizing communities and resulted in the most extensive collection of data surrounding wildfires in communities.

The issue, Dr. Carroll asserts, is in attempting to find methods to combat wildfires in all of these communities, being that each community has different resources and methods at their disposal to confront the threat of fires. He elaborates on how some communities, specifically the rural and working landscape, have often lived in these areas for decades and know the methods and means for combating a wildfire but often lack the resources to do so. Furthermore, in suburban and high amenity communities, the resources for wildfires are much more easily at disposal but that these communities are sometimes unaware of the methods to take on how to prevent and stop forest fires.

Dr. Carroll describes how there is no real one solution for wildfires, and that depending on location and community, the processes that will be taken to confront fires can vary vastly. He finishes his presentation by stating that the problem ultimately is about the communities and how to address fire issues in each different archetype.


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