Chelsea P. McIver, Philip S. Cook, Dennis Becker
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Fire & Economics

NRFSN number: 25088
Record updated: November 30, 2022

The number and size of wildfires in the western United States have increased dramatically in the last 30 years. The rising cost of wildfire suppression has become a significant concern for all levels of government, although most attention has been focused on the federal level. Much less is known about the financial impact of expenditures on states, which retain responsibility for suppression on over 480 million acres of state and private forests. This study collected data on state expenditures for wildfire suppression in the western United States from 2005 to 2015 to examine fiscal burdens and compare funding mechanisms used to cover those costs. Our analysis finds that western states expended $11.9 billion on wildfire suppression over the 11-year period and used own source funds to cover 88 percent of these costs. States displayed a variety of mechanisms for covering their cost obligations with tradeoffs that may affect non-wildfire policy priorities.


McIver CP, Cook PS, and Becker DR. 2021. The Fiscal Burden of Wildfires: State Expenditures and Funding Mechanisms for Wildfire Suppression in the Western U.S. and Implications for Federal Policy. State and Local Government Review 53 (4), 15p.

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