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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 was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2024.