Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Un"Natural" Disaster

In June of this year California government voted to increase the property tax $150 in fire prone rural communities, and there is currently legislation on the table to increase the tax up to $3,000 for a large property owner. This tax is meant to help supplement the expected costs of fire men to protect this land in the next wildfire. To find out if your home may be in one of these fire prone communities you can review a “fire risk” map recently published by the state government. Proposition. The fire ranking on these sites is based both off of the fuel present and the climate conditions. At this ranking system 37% of the state becomes at least moderately prone to fire, including all of the deserts, because the map does not actually have a low risk rating. The only area that is not prone to fire is the San Joaquin Valley, which the states claims is not at risk due to extensive agricultural watering. To incentive the private sector Prop 40 was passed, which grants money to non-governmental organization to execute wildland fuel reduction.

While fire is a natural disaster, it is also a fairly predictable one which many endemic species have evolved to harness for their own benefit. Some environments in California even encourage fire with slightly explosive oils in their structure. As more of California becomes developed, and the price for living in fire prone areas increase, I could see a financially driven re-engineering of California wildlands to become less fire prone. This may entail anything from thinning forests to reducing chaparral. Is an environment without “natural” disasters still a conserved ecosystem?

Ford, Bill. “Assemblyman Cook Denounces Governor Brown’s Proposed Fire Tax Hike.” Joshua Tree Star, September 19, 2011. Accessed September 29, 2011.

“Fire Threat.” California Department of Forestry and Fire protection. October 20, 2005. Accessed September 29, 2011.

‘Proposition 40 Fuels Reduction”. California Department of Forestry and Fire protection. 2011. Accessed September 30, 2011.

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