At first glance that seems contradictory, but it's actually part of a smart plan, one that some GOP leaders say should have started some time ago.

Thanks to a bill sponsored by Senator Brad Hawkins, passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Inslee, the Department of Natural Resources will be evaluating over 100,000 acres of state protected lands each year over the next 16 years. The goal is to eventually assess and improve nearly one million acres of state forest and other lands.

This applies only to lands protected by the Department. Each year, officials will assess which areas are dead or dying, and need some selected clearing, reseeding and even in some cases, selective controlled burning.

Last year, in some of the worst wildfires we've seen, nearly 17,000 acres of DNR lands burned from some 807 fires, 90 percent which were triggered by people.

Senator Hawkins, who is from Wenatchee, and other GOP leaders are glad the plan will go forward. It will greatly reduce the massive blazes fueled by years of dead undergrowth, some dying trees, and other fuels that could have been eliminated or removed.

The goal is to have within a few years, more robust and less dry forest areas. Studies show programs such as these help prevent fires from starting, keep them from spreading as quickly, and make them move much slower and easier to put out.

For years, these programs have been resisted by environmental groups because they claim trees should not be cut down, or it could supposedly harm eco-systems.  However, without clearing and selective thinning of dead material, forests often end up as virtual 'bombs,' waiting to explode with massive fires during dry seasons.

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