We had all earnestly hoped that predictions for a record-setting wildfire season this year would be proved pessimistic. They were not.
Fires have been burning across Central and Eastern Washington most of the summer.
Over last weekend, a blanket of smoke reached into much of Western Washington, covering it under a cough-inducing haze.
Miles above the army of firefighters on the ground, NASA satellites captured images of the smoke trails from the blazes they fought, a massive human response to an existential natural threat.
We all have the same question, “How do we prevent this devastating cycle from being the ‘new normal’?”
We believe we'll find the answers by looking at what has worked based on decades of forest management experience.
The lessons we’ve learned by private forest landowners have helped to developed sound, responsible management strategies that create and maintain healthy forests and reduce the risk of runaway wildfires.
While managing healthy forestland is a matter both of pride and of economic survival, it’s important to get it right.
We've learned that unmanaged forests quickly become overcrowded and unhealthy. Fighting for water, less able to fend off pest infestations, those forests often become stockpiles of combustible material.
We’re not alone in wanting wildfire prevention and forest health to be taken seriously.
Political leaders including State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark and Sen. Maria Cantwell have come out to criticize the lack of preventative treatments in federally managed forests.
Cantwell joins a growing bipartisan coalition in Washington's congressional delegation pushing for federal forest management reform, including ending the practice of "fire borrowing" --- taking money that could be spent on preventive federal forest management to pay for firefighting.
In the business world, in a letter sent to the White House, the Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association identified federal forests as those in immediate need of active management.
And the Seattle Times shared analysis from the Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Forest Service that called attention to the need for “thinning or treatment to reduce the risk of wildfire” such as “cutting smaller trees or using planned fires to thin the forest.”
There will be many more voices coming out to demand action in the weeks and months ahead. We won’t be silent either.
It’s not too late to make smarter choices and protect our forests and wildlife for the future.
-Your Friends in Working Forests