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Disease, Overgrowth Mean Millions Of Acres In Washington At Risk Of Wildfire

Washington Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz said 2.7 million acres of state land is in poor health and some of that is at risk of catastrophic wildfire.

Franz has asked the state Legislature for $38 million this year -- a big ask in a year when the legislature is mandated to solve an education funding deficit and has other requests.

“We have been working very closely with our legislators in central and eastern Washington that are most impacted by wildfire and forest health issue,” Franz said. “Part of the case I keep making is if you look back at 2014, 2015 and 2016, over those last three years, we’ve spent almost half a billion dollars.”

Franz wants $13 million for wildfire management and $25 million for forest health problems overall. The remedies, she said, would include prescribed burning, selective thinning and other active forest management.

Franz, flanked by Gov. Jay Inslee and Rep. Joel Kretz of Wauconda, toured a Firewise community north of Spokane. It’s a national program that helps residents protect homes from wildfire. The state aims to designate 80 new Firewise communities this year.