On Wednesday, Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz unveiled a request to double the state’s wildfire fighting budget. The $55 million wildfire spending plan she says will improve wildfire response and create healthier forests. Franz says her proposal would take 30 positions that are currently seasonal with DNR and make them permanent.
“When they aren’t fighting fires, these men and women will plan and carry out projects to restore our forests, from active, selective thinning, to prescribed fires. This will create living wage jobs, in economically vulnerable communities and will create a safer more resilient state.”
The budget also calls for two additional wildfire fighting helicopters. In addition to equipment and manpower, the budget calls for efforts to thin overgrown forests. Franz said the state needs to rapidly accelerate the restoration of Central and Eastern Washington’s ailing forests.
“We’re asking for $17.7 million to continue to restore our forests to health. This investment inlines with my 20 year forest health plan which calls for us to restore 1.25 million acres in Eastern Washington alone over the next 20 years. That’s about 70,000 acres a year through mechanical thinning and prescribed burns.”
Moses Lake Representative Tom Dent was in attendance at Wednesday’s Event. If you’d like to learn more, you can watch Fraz’s press conference Here.
DNR has responded to 1,700 wildfires so far, setting up 2018 to have the second most fires on record.
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