Looking For Permanent Funding To Protect People And Forests
Hilary Franz is Washington's Commissioner of Public Lands and it's a big job. Her office manages nearly six million acres of public lands in Washington State including working forests and farms, commercial developments and recreation areas and she does all that with a budget of about 43-million per biennium. She says the state needs to spend more, like 3 times more.
The Department of Natural Resources websites reads, "As the leader of our state's largest wildfire fighting force, she has pushed for new strategies, innovations, and resources to protect our communities....Commissioner Franz developed a 20-year Forest Health Strategic Plan (that)..will make more than one million acres of forest healthier and more resistant to wildfires – a scale and pace that is unprecedented."
Commissioner Franz was on KIT's Morning News show to talk about the importance of supporting House Bill 1168. The bill seeks a permanent funding source in the neighborhood of $125-million per biennium.
The money would be used in a three pronged effort to protect, enhance and utilize our forests. Franz says we spend more than 150 million fighting fires so a dedicated fund would help in that regard and it would provide the money to better manage to forests in the first place to reduce the conditions that contribute to fire. With 2 million Washington homes at risk from future fire, Franz also wants money set aside to restore damage and help rebuild and protect communities threatened by fire.
She's urging everyone to follow and support House Bill 1168 and she notes a first hearing on the bill is this Friday.