The Washington Senate has unanimously approved a wildfire prevention and forest health bill.
The legislation has several components. One creates a wildfire account into which the state would deposit $125 million each biennium. That would pay for programs that help to make communities and forested areas less susceptible to wildfires.
During debate on Friday, the legislation drew universal praise from senators from both parties, including East Wenatchee Republican Brad Hawkins.
“For someone who represents north central Washington, a district that has been devastated by wildfire, I’m very excited about this legislation. I think it’s a huge step forward, both on the pro-active forest health side, but also on the wildfire, fire suppression side. Both things we need to invest in and we’re making a commitment as a legislature to do that in this bill," he said.
Hawkins credited Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz with bringing together a wide variety of interests and creating a comprehensive bill that helps everyone.
The bill approved by the Senate is slightly different than the version that the House approved unanimously. It will go there for final passage before making its way to the governor’s desk.