Texas Fires and Retardant (?)

My cousin sent me these photos of a plane using fire retardant in Texas near Palo Duro Canyon- there is no USFS land near there at all.

This is relevant to the previous post here and this quote from Andy Stahl:

He added that state firefighting agencies, like those in Florida and Texas, don’t use retardant on wildfires and there’s no significant difference. In the West, though, he said it’s often used on fires on federal lands.

“In Florida and Texas, where forest fires are ubiquitous, retardant isn’t used because the federal government isn’t paying for it because they don’t have federal national forests,” Stahl said. “This is a federal boondoggle. State firefighting agencies without the federal treasury behind them never found retardant to be cost effective, and that the benefits outweigh the costs.”

The ground observations and this quote don’t seem to fit together, can anyone help explain?

2 Comments

  1. Aerial fire retardant is used rarely east of the Mississippi River, although wildland fires are common in the East, including fires in wild, remote landscapes (e.g., Boundary Waters Canoe Area). West of the Mississippi, retardant use is disproportionately concentrated in California, with about one-quarter to one-half the nation’s total retardant gallons dumped in a state that has only 12% of the nation’s wildland fire ignitions. Compare, for example, Texas with California (2008):

    Wildland fires / Acres burned / State Area (mi2) / Gallons Retardant Used

    TX / 16,713 / 1,570,586 / 261,797 / 362,000

    CA / 5,812 / 1,339,839 / 155,959 / 12,200,855

    Texas, with three times as many wildfires, 68% more land area, and more acres burned in 2008, used 1/33 the amount of aerial fire retardant in 2008 compared to California. Nor is the difference in retardant use due to threats associated with the wildland-urban interface. Texas, with 34,815 km2 of wildland-urban interface/intermix lands, has 19% more WUI land area than does California at 29,254 km2.

    Numerous national forests east of the Mississippi have used no retardant whatsoever during the last ten years, e.g., Chattahochee-Oconee, Land Between the Lakes NRA, Monongahela, N.F. of Alabama, Ottawa, Shawnee, White Mountain, Allegheny, Chequamegon/Nicolet, Dakota Grasslands, Green Mountain/Finger Lakes, Hiawatha, Hoosier and Wayne.

    Some claim retardant improves the initial attack success rate. No evidence supports that proposition, as I will show in a later post.

    In sum, retardant use is predominantly a western phenomenon (except in Alaska, where none is used on national forests). It is used infrequently in the East and not at all in many eastern states.

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