Wildfire and rural poverty: disastrous connections
The financial and social costs of wildfires are rising annually. Between 2000 and 2002, wildfires destroyed almost 4,000 structures nationwide and cost the federal government over $3.4 billion in fire suppression. Grants through the National Fire Plan, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, and other local, state, and federal fire-related programs have been established to bolster community abilities to prepare for and reduce the risk of wildfires. However, while these grants and programs are available nationwide, the nations wildfire policies and programs do not provide the consistent, meaningful, and long-term assistance needed by the rural poor and by economically distressed communities to mitigate or recover from wildfires.