Arizona Wildfires and the Need for Community Action

fire 1Fires in Arizona have created a major environmental issue due to the state’s lack of water and desert climate, making fire prevention a key effort for Arizona’s citizens. In the past four years, this state was affected by several fires, particularly the Wallow Fire (near the community of Alpine), which destroyed more than 500,000 acres of land. These fires not only demolished land and forest, they also burned houses and created a geographical climate that could flood more easily. Now, after the worst fires in state history, Arizona will take a stand against this environmental issue. It will use different methods to prevent wildfires through physical and educational means like forest thinning and public school curriculum. Prevention of Arizona’s wildfires is possible through the efforts of state programs and the general public. The future outcomes of these efforts will be greatly valued due to their societal, economic, and environmental benefits.

Wildfires in Arizona are a chaotic part of life that cause mass destruction and distress. They affect forests, animals, humans, and everything else in their path. Put simply, they have become one of the state’s most challenging problems. Wildfires threaten society and cause economic jeopardy through the destruction of property and land. Due to its dry climate, lack of water, and dense forests, Arizona is like a matchbox waiting to ignite. Everything is dry enough to burn, and, if windy conditions present themselves, wildfires spread quickly over large areas. For the people of Arizona, wildfires are a scary part of life that calls for their attention at all times. Arizonans should always try to prepare for a natural disaster like fire and be able to leave their homes and possessions with little time to do so. Fires not only cause mass destruction, they can also potentially lead to other natural disasters like flooding and mudslides. Smoke from fires can negatively affect air quality and the health of Arizonans as well, which means the damage they do metastasizes.

The main concern of Arizonans who can make a difference is how they will prevent a fire before it even starts. This belief has led to programs that are being created to prevent fires, restore fire-affected areas, and help to educate the community on how to get involved in environmental efforts. However, fire prevention is not the only thing people need to think about. While Arizonan citizens work on ways to prevent fires, environmentalists have other concerns, like how they will get funds for these fire prevention and educational programs. Will they use taxpayer dollars? Will they rely on fundraisers and grants? If they decide to be nonprofit, will they need volunteers? Finally, if and when these programs are created, will there be enough educated volunteers? It all depends. Without making changes to the entire economic structure of Arizona, it would be challenging to obtain the funds needed for said projects. If all this is possible, think of how much of Arizona could be saved or protected for future generations.

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In order to prevent wildfires, Arizona has created different organizations and programs that not only deal with putting out fires, they also educate the public on what they can do about them. Some good examples of fire prevention and restoration programs are the White Mountain Stewardship Project (WMSP), Firescape, and the Four Forest Restoration  Initiative . The WMSP and Firescape programs work to reduce the number of wildfires in Arizona while being environmentally conscious. They operate in different areas all over Arizona, with WMSP using forest thinning techniques by removing small trees and underbrush, and Firescape using prescribed burns in different forests. The Four Forest Restoration Initiative is a program that uses the help of several different organizations to recreate forests to be resilient to fire and environmentally stable. Besides using prescribed fires and healing burn scars, Arizona has created curricula for schools that reaches several different age groups. This curricula teaches the general public how they can get involved in their community and the purpose of wildfires in the Arizonan ecosystem. In short, with a united, environmentally conscious community, Arizona will become a safer and healthier state.

Fire prevention through the creation of community programs and public education curricula is not the final step to Arizona’s wildfire agendas. These programs must be implemented in order to have an effect on Arizona’s environment. The main elements of the implementation process for several forest thinning and fire education programs are as follows: getting money for said programs, creating a way to reach the public through curriculum in schools, and actually executing these agendas. In order to get funding, Arizona should consider taxes, donations, fundraisers, and grants. The American government has already created the curriculum for schools and will give it to educators in order to teach as many people as possible. The goals of this curriculum are to teach people how fires play a natural role in ecosystems, that human actions affect the environment, and that leaving nature as it is can have different repercussions. This curriculum has been in place for at least ten years and will continue to educate the general public. Ultimately, actually executing forest thinning and burn restoration will be easy. Arizonans must form a group of people with a common goal and concern for the environment, train them, tell them what to do, and pay them for it.

In the future, these programs will have great value. Forest thinning has been an effective combatant to wildfires, and with it there will be fewer mega-fires, healthier forests, and a chance for clean water to become more abundant in Arizona. With fewer wildfires and healthier forests, Arizonans will participate in more recreation, have safer geographical and cultural areas, and work to continue to keep the environment and their citizens healthy. Also, due to these efforts, Arizonans will have more abundant quantities of water. Because they will not use as much water to put out fires, they could logically begin to save more water for themselves. While Arizona will never eradicate all their wildfires, the state will surely rely less on other states’ water sources while creating an individual source for themselves, all while promoting healthier ecosystems.

Arizona should continue in its efforts to prevent wildfire through programs, education, and the training of it’s citizens. However, in order to do so, the state must create a more cost-efficient way to support these programs, consider how they will evolve, and determine what environmentalists will need to do in the future. These programs can succeed. All Arizona needs are the efforts of the general public and citizens who have the power to create change. If all goes well, Arizona’s endeavor will not go unnoticed and might positively affect fire prevention and restoration in other states as well.

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