You are here

Potential Jobs and Wages from Investments in Defensible-Space Approaches to Wildfire Safety

By Ernie Niemi - Environment Now, April 2018

This report provides information rural communities in the forested regions of California might find useful if they want to assess the potential impact on jobs and wages when weighing how to allocate resources between two general strategies for improving their wildfire safety.

One general strategy takes the forest-altering approach, which entails logging/thinning across large areas of the forest to alter the behavior of fires before they come near a community. This approach often is promoted as a source of jobs for local workers, especially when it produces logs and chips for sawmills and biomass-fired power facilities that are highly visible employers.

The other general strategy for improving wildfire safety takes the defensible-space approach. It directly prevents buildings from igniting from wildfires by trimming vegetation within 200 feet of the buildings and modifying the buildings (e.g., replacing shingle roofs with fire-safe materials). The defensible space-approach has been shown to be highly effective in protecting homes from wildfire, but it sometimes receives less attention because its impacts on jobs and wages are spread among diverse employers.

This report begins to fill the current gap in information about potential jobs and wages from defensible-space work. It describes the potential jobs and wages that can result from investments in defensible-space work and compares them with the jobs and wages that can result from forest-altering investments. It draws on research specific to defensible-space activities but, because this research is limited, it also uses data from research on similar activities. Ecosystem-restoration activities provide estimates of potential jobs and wages from vegetation-management activities undertaken to improve defensible-space safety. Home remodeling activities provide estimates for home modifications that reduce the ignitability of homes and other buildings. The data indicate that spending $1 million to enhance the defensible space around buildings by trimming vegetation can create 23 jobs. Of these, 17 jobs are directly tied to the contractors doing the work, and 6 are indirect jobs supported by spending by the contractors and direct employees.

Read the text (Link).

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author.

The Fine Print I:

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) unless otherwise indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s, nor should it be assumed that any of these authors automatically support the IWW or endorse any of its positions.

Further: the inclusion of a link on our site (other than the link to the main IWW site) does not imply endorsement by or an alliance with the IWW. These sites have been chosen by our members due to their perceived relevance to the IWW EUC and are included here for informational purposes only. If you have any suggestions or comments on any of the links included (or not included) above, please contact us.

The Fine Print II:

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc.

It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.