Call for papers: Seeking Solutions for America’s Growing Wildfire Problems

The Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University invites submissions to its working papers series that explore the mechanisms that influence wildfire management in the US. Wildfires have been growing increasingly expensive and deadly in recent years. This trend is being driven by a number of different factors, including growing population density along urban and wildland interfaces, warming global temperatures that are extending the fire season, and historical mismanagement of fire-prone lands. Long term climate action may work to reverse some of the trends we are seeing, but those changes likely won’t be felt for decades to come. In the meantime, it is critical that we find solutions to address the shorter-term problems that are exacerbating wildfire issues, whether on private land, state land, or federal land.

We invite proposals for research papers that add to the existing academic literature on the challenges surrounding wildfire management, policies that may be creating barriers to better outcomes, and solutions to those issues. Submissions that seek to answer one or more of the following questions are especially welcome:

  • What role does insurance play as a form of private regulation in fire-prone areas?
  • What role do property rights and nuisance law have in encouraging fire-risk mitigation?
  • How do regulations influence the way landowners and public land managers respond to wildfire risk?
  • How has increased development in wildfire-prone areas affected the way firefighters respond to wildfire threats and the overall cost and lethality of wildfires?
  • What is driving the increased development in wildfire prone regions and what steps should be taken to limit their risk exposure to wildfire?
  • What are the economic/environmental challenges currently hindering wildfire prevention efforts and what innovative opportunities exist to overcome them (e.g. a new civilian conservation corps, forest resilience bonds, etc)?
  • What would be the economic and civil impacts of reforming laws that currently prohibit inmate firefighters from continuing to battle wildfires after they are released from prison?
  • Can fuel accumulation ever be caught up with absent basic change in how federal forests are operated, and what should those basic changes be?
  • What efforts and solutions have local governments come up with to spur state and federal action to mitigate risk?

Submission Details: Please submit a brief proposal that describes your research question, your intended methodology, and how your research will contribute to policy discussions around improving wildfire management. Proposals should be submitted by March 20, 2021, to

Honorarium and support: Authors of accepted papers will be eligible to receive a $2,000 honorarium and assistance from student research fellows. Authors will benefit from robust feedback on their research, giving them the opportunity to revise their work before eventual submission to an academic journal. Authors will also receive outreach and media support to help deliver the findings of their research to relevant audiences and maximize the reach and impact of their findings.

Co-sponsored Workshop: Completed paper drafts are due by June 25, 2021. Authors will then present their research at a research workshop co-hosted by the Pacific Legal Foundation and the Property and Environment Research Center. This workshop is tentatively scheduled for virtual discussion on July 14th, 2021 and will provide authors the opportunity to get feedback from other academic experts and from stakeholders who can provide their unique perspectives as landowners, environmentalists, appraisers, and environmental attorneys.

CGO scholars and fellows frequently comment on a variety of topics for the popular press. The views expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Growth and Opportunity or the views of Utah State University.