The immediate need is to rebuild the forestry side of the Forest Service. This means that Republicans and Democrats in the next Congress need to find an extra $5 billion in Fiscal 2021. Funds must be specifically allocated for forestry staffing and forest management – not wildfire.
The Forest Service’s boots-on-the-ground ranks have been decimated over the last 15 years. Lots of new people will need to be hired and trained. It will take at least a decade to restore the skill sets needed to do the necessary forest restoration work at the required pace and scale. Fire ecologists I know tell me we have a 30-year window before wildfire takes what we have not treated. If we accept 90 million acres restored as our 30-year target, we need to thin three million acres annually.