In 2018, Utah experienced 1,327 wildfires that burned through a whopping total of 486,063 acres. Consequently, a total of $42 million was spent by the state in fire suppression and post-fire rehab. This number rose a staggering amount from the $18 million spent in 2017.
This nearly $20 million difference is facing Utah lawmakers after what is being deemed the worst wildfire season that the state has witnessed. The 1,327 fires, on state and private land, were a 30% increase over what is generally averaged through a five-year period.
Comparing 2017 to 2018, there were 450 more wildfires in the latter year. Ten of those fires are said to have cost upwards of $900,000. Utah State Forester Brian Cottam was quoted stating that every day between May 4 and Oct. 2 of 2018, there was fire. That would equal to a new fire for five months.
Representative Casey Snider, who is a volunteer firefighter, recently requested $10 million that would go toward a state and federal partnership to remove trees and other “fuels” from local forests. Rep. Snider earned his master’s degree in environmental science and policy and stated that there are 1.3 million acres in just one Utah district that are ready for fuel treatment projects.
A ranking of funding requests will soon be conducted and said requests are currently under review by committee members.