Every year in eastern and central Washington fire ravages forests and The Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz wants lawmakers to take action this legislative session to douse the fires. Franz along with Rep. Larry Springer (D-Kirkland) introduced House Bill 1168. The bill would create dedicated funding for wildfire response, forest restoration and community resilience strategies.
Franz will talk with The Morning News at 7:15 a.m. on KIT on Wednesday about the legislation. The bill was the result of a lot of work by a wide-ranging coalition of firefighters, fire chiefs, tribes, environmentalists, public health advocates, and forest products companies. If the bill is successful it would create a first-of-its-kind funding source that's dedicated to wildfire fighting and restoration.
Franz wants the Washington State Legislature to fund the account with $125 million each biennium. “Out-of-control wildfires now threaten families and communities on both sides of the Cascades,” said Commissioner Franz, who leads our state’s wildfire fighting force. “We can’t afford to have another wildfire season as devastating as last year’s. We know what needs to be done to change the trajectory we’re on - we just need the political will and resources to make it happen.”
2020 was a tough fire season and the bill comes at the right time says Franz. In 2020 more than 1,600 wildfires burned over 800,000 acres. The fires destroyed 298 homes and destroyed the town of Malden. As a result of the fires over the last three years the state has measured the worst air quality in the world because of the fires.
Don't miss our interview with Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz at 7:15 Wednesday morning on KIT.