The Denver Post editorial board advises state lawmakers to take a step back and evaluate the necessity of a statewide aerial wildfire-fighting fleet. Instead, I suggest we wake up, open the windows, and smell the smoke.
Despite acknowledging last year's "devastating" fire season, the board asserts "more work should be done in defining the problem" before a solution is crafted. This, I submit, is typical "paralysis by analysis," an approach aptly demonstrated by the federal government for the past 12 years as we watched our federal wildfire air fleet dwindle from 44 air tankers to nine functional tankers in 2013.
The evidence is clear and the problem is thoroughly defined: Colorado has nearly 4 million acres of dead trees and is still languishing in a 12th straight year of drought. Only last year, Colorado suffered six fatalities, lost 647 homes, and incurred $48.1 million in fire suppression costs.