State audit will compare Kansas wildfire response with other states


State audit will compare Kansas wildfire response with other states

 
31 July 2017

published byhttp://www.kansas.com


USA – TOPEKA State auditors will investigate how Kansas’s system to fight wildfires compares to others after massive fires this spring caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.

Kansas has among the smallest budgets to fight wildfires in the country – about $300,000 – and state fire officials have said coordination of firefighting resources has been lacking.

Lawmakers on Monday approved an examination of the state’s wildfire fighting system. Auditors will begin their investigation in January.

“The bottom line is the last two years we’ve lost in excess of $100 million in property in Kansas and we’re spending maybe $300,000 in state money to try and prevent these losses and it’s not making it better,” said Rep. John Carmichael, D- Wichita.

Carmichael proposed the audit along with a handful of other lawmakers. He said the goal is not to find fault, but to compare the financial and logistical resources used by other states with Kansas. In turn, the Legislature will be able to better determine whether Kansas should make changes or continue with its current practices.

Legislative researchers estimated the Starbuck wildfire this spring caused an agricultural loss between $44 million and $52 million. Appraisers in Clark and Reno counties estimated their counties lost $1.4 million and $1.2 million, respectively, in appraised value because of the fire.

Kansas struggled to fight the fires over the past two years in part because it relies on volunteer firefighters, which make up 90 percent of the firefighters in the state. With such a small wildfire budget, the state didn’t have additional resources to send the departments, which are often small and have lean budgets.

“Meanwhile, as rural population diminishes, the base from which volunteer firefighters are recruited also declines. To the south, Oklahoma spends 10 times the money on wildfire suppression, employing 80 firefighters, 47 engines, 47 bulldozers, airplanes, and helicopters along with fire management and logistical teams,” Carmichael said.

In proposing the audit, Carmichael cited several stories by The Eagle on the state’s response to wildfires. One focused on Oklahoma’s fire response system. The state directly south of Kansas has a firefighting budget of about $15 million.

George Geissler, director of the Oklahoma Forest Service, previously told The Eagle that if Kansas increased the number of Kansas Forest Service staff responsible for coordinating wildfire response from four to between eight and 20, it could respond more effectively to dangerous wildfires.

The Legislative Post Audit Committee approved the audit unanimously, voting to effectively fast track it by delaying a previously scheduled audit on the operation of public schools.

Rep. Dan Hawkins, R-Wichita, sits on the committee. He said he was glad to see the audit receive approval to begin in January.

“When you look at maybe what we do with what others states do, we certainly, it appears, could be behind,” Hawkins said.

“With the magnitude of the damage and severity of the financial implications, you would think that would really shove it to the top and it essentially did.”

An international team of climate researchers from the US, South Korea and the UK has developed a new wildfire and drought prediction model for southwestern North America. Extending far beyond the current seasonal forecast, this study published in the journal Scientific Reports could benefit the economies with a variety of applications in agriculture, water management and forestry.

Over the past 15 years, California and neighboring regions have experienced heightened conditions and an increase in numbers with considerable impacts on human livelihoods, agriculture, and terrestrial ecosystems. This new research shows that in addition to a discernible contribution from natural forcings and human-induced global warming, the large-scale difference between Atlantic and Pacific ocean temperatures plays a fundamental role in causing droughts, and enhancing wildfire risks.

“Our results document that a combination of processes is at work. Through an ensemble modeling approach, we were able to show that without anthropogenic effects, the droughts in the southwestern United States would have been less severe,” says co-author Axel Timmermann, Director of the newly founded IBS Center for Climate Physics, within the Institute for Basics Science (IBS), and Distinguished Professor at Pusan National University in South Korea. “By prescribing the effects of man-made climate change and observed global ocean temperatures, our model can reproduce the observed shifts in weather patterns and wildfire occurrences.”

Read more at:https://phys.org/news/2017-07-atlanticpacific-ocean-temperature-difference-fuels.html#jCpAn international team of climate researchers from the US, South Korea and the UK has developed a new wildfire and drought prediction model for southwestern North America. Extending far beyond the current seasonal forecast, this study published in the journal Scientific Reports could benefit the economies with a variety of applications in agriculture, water management and forestry.  

Over the past 15 years, California and neighboring regions have experienced heightened conditions and an increase in numbers with considerable impacts on human livelihoods, agriculture, and terrestrial ecosystems. This new research shows that in addition to a discernible contribution from natural forcings and human-induced global warming, the large-scale difference between Atlantic and Pacific ocean temperatures plays a fundamental role in causing droughts, and enhancing wildfire risks.

“Our results document that a combination of processes is at work. Through an ensemble modeling approach, we were able to show that without anthropogenic effects, the droughts in the southwestern United States would have been less severe,” says co-author Axel Timmermann, Director of the newly founded IBS Center for Climate Physics, within the Institute for Basics Science (IBS), and Distinguished Professor at Pusan National University in South Korea. “By prescribing the effects of man-made climate change and observed global ocean temperatures, our model can reproduce the observed shifts in weather patterns and wildfire occurrences.”

Read more at:https://phys.org/news/2017-07-atlanticpacific-ocean-temperature-difference-fuels.html#jCp


WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien