Before we move on to “how have SPLATS worked in practice?,” we probably need to go back to the fundamental beliefs underlying our policy preferences. In political science or policy studies, this is known as the way the problem is “framed.” See this description, if you’re not familiar with the term. I think it’s important in dealing with wildfire controversies as it’s easy to see that different folks in the media, politics and research frame the issues differently. It’s also important to realize that these framings are often imbedded in what and how people write about issues, and so you have to go looking for them (which we can do with stories that crop up). But I believe it’s most important to understand that we each get to choose our own framing. Once we have identified the framing within, say a news story or scientific paper, we are free to say “all that information is well and good, but if I frame the problem this way, it’s really not relevant.” From the above link:
HOW DO YOU BEST FRAME AN ISSUE?
To frame an issue, you should begin by asking these questions:
What is the issue?
Who is involved?
What contributes to the problem?
What contributes to the solution?
Once you’ve asked these questions, you can begin to answer them. For some guidelines on how to do this, see the sections below.
So let’s start.
My framing of the issue is “in the dry western US, how are people and communities best able to live with fire as a part of the landscape?”
Who is involved: Western communities, landowners (including the feds), all levels of government in those areas, insurance companies, scientific disciplines.
Who contributes to the problem: I don’t think it’s really a problem- it’s more of an acknowledgement of the way things are, and a question of the best way to live, given that situation.
What contributes to the solution: Culture, government, finding some kinds of agreement. People are, in fact, living with fires on the landscape. Communities have developed CWPP’s and have done other amounts of work. Suppression forces are very active and successful.
The question seems to be, though, different actors think that the current status quo is suboptimal. Probably the most important thing to do is ask that question.. what exactly is suboptimal about it, and what is your solution?
The southern US has some of the same landowners, including the FS, and the same environmental laws. They seem to have figured this out (how to live with fire on the landscape) due to differences in cultural, physical and biological parameters. Given that, what would our vision of “living with fire on the land” look like for us westerners?