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POLL: How confident are you that Washington state is responsibly managing the risk to people, wildlife, and our environment from catastrophic wildfire?

Working Forests Action Network

Our conversation on wildfire is generating (some) action in Olympia.

Catastrophic wildfires are a harsh reality for us. 

Even in Western Washington, conditions that increase the risk of blazes that harm our environment, our economy, and endanger lives now exist in federally managed forests.  And we all know that in Eastern and Central Washington, wildfire is far from being an abstract threat.

Like all of us, you want change.  The good news: there is positive action in the state capital in one area --- making it easier to use a combination of forest thinning and prescribed burns as an effective tool for wildfire prevention.

In the Washington State House, a bipartisan bill passed unanimously that would make common sense allowances for permitting the use of thinning and prescribed burns to reduce the risk and severity of wildfires. 

State Rep. Joel Kretz (7th District, Wauconda), explained in plain language why House Bill 2928 is needed:

“After the worst fire season on record in Okanogan County, it is time to make changes so we don’t have to once again experience the extreme fires that burned thousands of acres. Change is often difficult, but we can’t afford to do nothing. This bill would mark progress in our efforts to protect our forests and the environment, while avoiding devastating wildfires in the future.”

HR 2928 is moving through the State Senate and could be voted on during the current legislative session.  It’s one of a number of measures proposed this year that could be part of a better system of fighting and preventing catastrophic wildfires.

Of course, there’s far more to be done to fully reform wildfire policy in our state.  More forest thinning --- particularly on federal forestland --- to reduce excess fuel loads. Better funding for training firefighters before fires break, not during blazes. 

As always, we’ll keep you updated. 

Your Friends in Working Forestry

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