For several days recently, the country’s eyes were glued to the wildfires burning in California as they destroyed thousands of homes and killed dozens of people. The fires ignited a national debate about the need to be more aggressive in managing forests to lower the risk of fire.
The catalysts in Washington were the wildfire seasons of 2014 and 2015. Hundreds of thousands of acres burned during hot, dry, windy summers in the eastern and central parts of the state.
in 2017, Washington legislators who in past years would have disagreed on forest health approaches referenced those fires as they found consensus on two major forest health bills. Also, the states of Washington and Idaho have signed so-called “Good Neighbor Authority” agreements with the Forest Service allowing the states to help manage federal forests.
Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz has been one of the leaders in that work. As she waited for a plane, she spoke recently with Spokane Public Radio’s Steve Jackson.