[4/3/19] Forest Health Plan
A plan to reduce the state’s wildfire risk and create healthier forests has been introduced in the state Senate.
The plan introduced by Senate Democrats and State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz establishes a dedicated revenue source for managing forests and raises 62-and-a-half million dollars each year to fund wildfire suppression and prevention. Commissioner Franz says it boils down to paying now, or paying later:
At the start of the legislative session, the Department of Natural Resources laid out budget priorities to fully fund the wildland Fire Protection 10-Year Strategic Plan and the 20-Year Forest Health Strategic Plan, which targets more than a million acres of federal, state, tribal and private forest. Franz says DNR been identifying which forests are in the worst shape and closest proximity to population centers:
The big question, of course, is how to pay for all this. The answer is a funding source dedicated to forest health:
A recent study found that every dollar spent on forest rehabilitation saves a dollar-45 in firefighting costs, and creates more than five and a half dollars in economic activity.
By the way, last year there were more than 1,850 wildfires in the state, more than two thirds of them in eastern Washington.