The effect of newspaper coverage and political pressure on wildfire suppression costs
Controlling wildfire suppression expenditures has become a major public policy concern in the United States. However, most policy remedies have focused on the biophysical determinants of suppression costs: fuel loads and weather, for example. We show that two non-biophysical variables—newspaper coverage and political pressure—have a significant effect on wildfire suppression costs. Hausman tests showed that newspaper coverage and fire size were endogenous, so regression models were estimated using two-stage least squares. We suggest a number of non-biophysical policy remedies that may be able to reduce wildfire suppression expenditures more cost-effectively than traditional biophysical remedies such as fuel management.