WA Lands Commissioner Brings Forest Health Message To Spokane

Feb 19, 2020

Credit Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz is in Spokane building support for her proposal to create a state fund for wildfire prevention and forest health projects.

Franz toured a parcel of private land near Riverside State Park this morning [Wednesday] where crews are thinning trees and removing debris.

Wednesday at 6 pm, she’ll hold a town hall meeting at the Community Building in downtown Spokane.

“This region is on the front lines of fire. They feel it every single summer. They experience it. They would like their summers back," Franz said. "Second, they’ve already taken a huge amount of leadership right here in Spokane County on forest health, right within our own outdoor spaces. People are taking the steps to make their forests more resilient, make their communities more resilient and their homes.”

Franz is asking legislators to authorize a five-dollar surcharge on property and casualty insurance policies. She hopes to raise more than $60 million a year to fight and prevent wildfires.

“The reality right now is that insurance companies have spent $20 billion in California in 2017 and 2018 paying for damage. Instead of stepping up and saying how do we make this state of California or this state of Washington and our homes resilient to fire. They’re saying we’re going to cut our losses now before they get too significant and we’re going to drop people from their policies. That, to me, is the wrong direction," she said.

Franz says her proposal has brought support from legislators from both parties, as well as a variety of stakeholders. She hopes over the next few weeks that lawmakers will authorize the surcharge and put the wildfire prevention fund into the budget.