Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Hillary Franz Wednesday laid out plans for a sweeping DNR (Department of Natural Resources) program that would provide help for fighting wildfires, as well as prevention.

The bill would consist of the following:

1.WILDFIRE RESPONSE ($75.2 million)Expand and modernize our wildfire fighting force to keep fires small.

2. FOREST RESTORATION ($31.4 million + $5.9 million for workforce training)Accelerate our forest health and restoration work to prevent fires in the future.

3. COMMUNITY RESILIENCE ($12.6 million)Build resilience in our communities to protect homes and lands from fire.

The plan asks for $125 million each biennium, and would add 100 more firefighters, multiple dozers and other equipment as well as aircraft and other resources. It would also provide assistance in fire prevention in high risk communities by creating fuel breaks (fire lines) defendable 'green zones,' and other measures to prevent incidents like Malden last Sept. where 80 percent of the town burned.

It would also reportedly 'restore' DNR's Forest Health Strategic Plans. This is the believed to be the clearcutting and removal of dead trees and fuel from forest floors. It was supposed to be done several years ago (it was a 20 year plan), but fell woefully behind. In fact, DNR stopped posting or publicly releasing it's progress on the 1.25 million acres of DNR lands.

However, the plan does not specifically reveal what the Health Strategic Plans are going forward. Does it involve less access by citizens? Less logging? Questions remain.

Most land management experts say this 'forest and wild land cleaning' would go a long way towards curbing the catastrophic blazes we've seen the last few years.

While the plan calls for the biennium budget funding, it does NOT specify any other funding source. That apparently would be up to the legislature.

To see more about this DNR plan, click on the button below.

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