Rural residents of Washington are preparing for a dry, hot summer, and bracing for what could be a bad fire year. Steve Jackson reports on efforts to safeguard property. Last weekend, the Department of Natural Resources teamed up with local fire districts and homeowners to kick off “Wildfire Awareness Week”.
It is the state's effort to make rural property safer in the event of a wildfire. In the Four Mound area, northwest of Spokane, DNR held a demonstration on some rural property. Guy Gifford from DNR explains the idea is to reduce the number of small ponderosa pines that grow together in clumps, which are very susceptible to fire.
Gifford: "We find out that most people say they like this forest, and then we treat it, and then they go 'wait a minute, I like this better', because they can see the trees and critters more frequently. Its not that we don’t leave clumps for wildlife and other values, it’s that we are leaving the forest what is was before European settlement.”
The project also featured the use of a “masticator”, a device that chops up the left over slash from the logging, and spreads it out on the land, as an alternative to burning it. Operating chainsaws were eight people in a crew from Community Conservation Corps. Crew leader TJ Rawlings says the young people on the team are getting some good job and leadership training.
Rawlings: “It does really directly pertain to a lot of land resource and land management jobs, but a lot of the time people come out of here and go into education or something like that, but a lot of these skills are universal.”
If you’d like more information on the Firewise program you can contact your local fire district, or call DNR at 509-684-7474.