As the 2018 session continues in Olympia, Representative Ed Orcutt said one of, if not the key issue before the House Ag Committee is forest management and health. He told the Washington Ag Network the state must take an active role improving forest health to help stave off catastrophic wildfires the Inland Northwest suffers year after year. Orcutt said he is currently working with stakeholders and the Department of Natural Resources to promote the idea of prescribed burns to improve forest health, and limit the damage sustained during the wildfire season.
“It’s a way to go and treat the forests, and get rid of the brush and other excess fuels, restore fire to the ecosystem, but do it in a more controlled manner where we can get our landscape in a healthier condition and help prevent catastrophic wildfires in the future.”
Some have been critical of the costs of prescribed burns, but Orcutt was quick to point out that prescribed burns cost less than the costs of fighting wildfires.
“When your timber burns up, that’s less money or less timber that’s available for harvest that goes to help provide non-tax revenue for our schools.”
Orcutt added while smoke is inevitable during prescribed burns, he pointed out it’s much less severe than smoke during wildfire season. Much of eastern Washington’s air quality was unhealthy during the 2017 wildfire season. Some location were even Hazardous.
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