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Wildfire provisions in infrastructure bill could have long-lasting benefits

The bipartisan infrastructure bill recently signed by President Joe Biden included some provisions to help with Western wildfires. The legislation could have long-lasting benefits.

The bill includes funding for both fuel reduction and fighting wildfire.

That could mean reduced smoke from megafires, which can impact climate change.

There will be money for fire breaks, grants for defensible space and sawmill infrastructure, said Dennis Hoffman, an economist at Arizona State University.

He says the benefits could trickle through the economy for years, in a variety of ways.

“But what the economic models don’t directly capture is the downstream or the residual impacts on economies if we make forests safer,” Hoffman said.

The bill also includes funding for work on Arizona’s water infrastructure.

Ron Dungan has lived in Arizona for more than 35 years. He has worked as a reporter, construction worker, copy editor, designer and freelance writer. He's a graduate of the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the undergraduate Writers’ Workshop, and has a master’s in history from Arizona State University.Dungan was an outdoors reporter and member of the storyteller team at the Arizona Republic, where he won several awards, and was a contributor on a border project that won the 2018 Pulitzer for explanatory reporting.When not working, Dungan enjoys books, gardening, hanging out with his German shorthaired pointer, backpacking and fly-fishing. He's a fan of the Arizona Cardinals and Iowa Hawkeyes.