Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz

WA lands commissioner reflects on 2021 wildfire season

Oct 6, 2021
Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center

The wildfire season in the Inland Northwest is winding down. It was a season that began early and continued with intensity during the heat of July and August. More than a dozen big fires were regularly burning throughout the three states. The Methow and Yakima valleys experienced weeks of smoky air.

We asked Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz to compare the 2021 fire season with the 2020 version, which hit its peak during early September.

Washington Reopens State Recreation Lands

Sep 16, 2021
Courtesy of Washington State Parks Commission

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz has reopened all Department of Natural Resource lands east of the Cascade Mountains to the public.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

This weekend marks the one year anniversary of the firestorm that burned most of the Whitman County town of Malden and hundreds of thousands of acres in eastern and central Washington.

Courtesy of Inciweb

As fire and land managers hold their breath, they’re pleading with Northwesterners to play it safe this Labor Day weekend. The goal is to avoid any spark that could create any wildfires reminiscent of the wind-driven firestorm last year.

Courtesy of Northwest Interagency Coordinating Center

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz toured two of eastern Washington’s major wildfire sites today [Wednesday], where thousands of acres on Indian reservations have burned. They are two of more than a thousand fires reported this season in Washington, already an all-time record, she says.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Washington lands officials are emphasizing prevention at the beginning of what could be a busy wildfire season.

The Department of Natural Resources reports more than 250 wildfires so far this spring, most of them east of the Cascades. That’s well above normal for this time of the year.  

A residential community north of Spokane is among those signing on to a new state initiative aimed at minimizing damage caused by wildfires.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

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.

Global SuperTanker Services

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz says the state learned a valuable lesson last Labor Day weekend. She says it can’t rely on other states for airborne help when wildfires break out. She’s making the case for a bigger state investment.

Courtesy of Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington state lands officials say they’re planning to diversify the tools they use to fight wildfires from the air.

On Tuesday the Department of Natural Resources held a demonstration in the skies over Moses Lake of a 747 that’s retrofitted to drop water or retardant on fires.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Washington House on Tuesday unanimously approved a wildfire prevention and forest health bill and sent it to the Senate.

Among other things, the bill would create a fund that would receive $125 million each biennium. That would pay for programs that help to make communities and forested areas less susceptible to wildfires, says Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz.

TVW screenshot

Last fall’s wildfires were invoked Friday at a hearing for a new forest health bill in the Washington legislature.

The bill is proposed at the request of Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, who reminded members of a House committee that 2020 was the worst wildfire season in years in Washington.

Franz Works To Engage WA Legislators On Wildfire Issues

Dec 27, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Covid-related aid and police reform will be two of the major issues before the Washington legislature when it convenes next month.

But newly-reelected Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz hopes legislators will also consider dedicating more funding for wildfire and forest health projects.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington’s Department of Natural Resources on Monday released an updated version of its statewide forest action plan. The plan is designed to help reduce the risk of wildfire over time and help the state adjust its forest management strategies to a changing climate.

WA Lands Commissioner Reviews Unusual Fire Season

Oct 19, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The wildfire season in Washington is winding down. Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz says the Department of Natural Resources is sending some of its seasonal firefighters home for the winter.

She stopped in Spokane on Monday to look back on what has been an unusual season.

Spokane County Fire District 9

A Spokane County fire district has announced a multi-year plan to reduce the wildfire threats within its boundaries. The plan has the endorsement of state Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz.

Spokane County Fire District 9 operates nine fire stations in north Spokane County. Many of them are in heavily forested areas.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Washington state legislators will have a difficult task in writing a balanced budget in 2021. A Covid-battered economy has slowed, while the state has spent a lot more money to respond to the virus.

But the state’s lands commissioner hopes this week’s surge in wildfires will convince to spend more money for fire prevention and suppression.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

On Thursday, Governor Jay Inslee will tour the small eastern Washington farming town of Malden, which was overrun by wildfire on Monday.

He’ll see piles of rubble where buildings sat last week and smell the pungent odor of smoke.

He may also meet one of the men who helped to evacuate the town.

U.S. Forest Service

[This story will be updated throughout the day.]

The high winds from Monday have gone, but wildfires continue to burn in eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz tweeted this morning there are nine major fires burning in the Evergreen State. She says 58 fires have been ignited in the last 24 hours.

Courtesy of Idaho Department of Lands

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz says the agency is planning for a different kind of wildfire season.

“There is no manual that is written on how do you keep your firefighters safe within the context of this pandemic. They fight fires. They’re eating, sleeping, living and fighting those fires in close quarters," Franz said.