Washington Department of Natural Resources

Two northeast Washington legislators say they support the concept of creating a fund to pay for wildfire prevention and forest restoration on state lands. It’s an idea proposed by Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz.

Franz proposes to add a surcharge on property and casualty insurance premiums — about a dollar a month, she estimates — and direct the money to a wildfire prevention and forest restoration fund.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Today on Inland Journal, two segments about the health of forests in our region.

Later, we’ll hear part of a session from a Western Governors Association workshop conducted Tuesday in Post Falls. It focused on improving the resilience of forests in the region.

But first, this week, Washington state Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz released a plan to create a dedicated fund to pay for forest health and wildfire prevention. She proposes a surcharge on property and casualty insurance premiums. Her office estimates the increased cost for the average household will be a little more than a dollar a month and raise about $63 million a year.

Department of Natural Resources

All the rain we expected this week is in direct contrast to last year, when Washington was dry and wildfires made the air the most hazardous in the nation because of the smoke.

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz says this year’s fire season has turned out much different than she anticipated back in the spring, when a record 54 fires had been reported by the second week of March.

Washington's Governor Signs Three Dozen New Laws

Apr 19, 2019

It’s bill signing season for Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who signed several pieces of legislation into law on Wednesday. Friday he affixed his signature to another three dozen bills.

One new law requires the state Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt rules that requires hunters to wear either florescent orange or, in what’s new here, florescent pink. The sponsor, Republican Sen. Lynda Wilson, wore a bright pink vest to the signing ceremony.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington state Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz is commenting on President Trump’s tweet Wednesday that he may cut off FEMA funding to California for wildfires if the state doesn’t “get its act together.”

City of Spokane

The Spokane Fire Department is an agency that works mostly in city settings, but more and more, it’s responding to fires at the edges of the urban area. This year, it went well beyond what it had budgeted for wild land firefighting. On Monday, it will ask the city council to extend its budget to cover those extra costs.

Washington Lands Commissioner On Preparing For Wildfires

Nov 29, 2018
Washington Department of Natural Resources

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.

Gary Robertson/Flickr Creative Commons


The smoke from area wildfires can pose a health threat to humans, but you may be surprised to learn that researchers are also trying to find out the negative impacts the smoke may have on birds.

Spokane Air Improving Slightly, But Still a Problem

Aug 20, 2018
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

UPDATED at 12:25 pm:

The Spokane Regional Air Quality Agency says the county's air has improved from "hazardous" to "unhealthy," due to smoke from wildfires around the region.

The agency has declared Monday and Tuesday as "Air Quality Action Days."

You can get more information or sign up for alerts at the agency's website.

Eastern Area Incident Management Team


UPDATED Wednesday at 5:30 pm

Two wildfires that we have been following continue to burn today.

The Silver Lake Fire three miles from Cheney is now burning at 330 acres. That is up from the 100 acres previously reported. Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Guy Gifford said that increase is mostly due to better mapping of the fire.

The fire did increase by 30 acres, but that involves burning between the two spot fires that make up the Silver Lake Fire.

Region's Air Quality Worsens Due to Wildfire Smoke

Jul 20, 2018
Jeremy Burnham/SPR

With several fires burning in the Northwest, air quality has become a concern. The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency reports that the air classification in and around Spokane has moved between “moderate” and “unhealthy for sensitive groups” today.

Deer Park High School Serves as Practice Fire Camp

Jun 19, 2018
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

When a wildfire ignites and firefighters are called to put it out, they not only bring the equipment they need to battle the fire. They also bring a whole logistical system to take care of their personal needs. Sometimes on the big fires, that support system becomes quite an operation.

You can get a sense of what that looks like this week at Deer Park High School, north of Spokane.

Crews Make Progress on Central Washington Wildfire

Jun 12, 2018
Grant County Sheriff's Office/KING-TV

Authorities in central Washington say people who were forced from their homes last night [Monday] by a range fire will be allowed to go home.

The fire has burned about two thousand acres near state Highway 17, a few miles north of Soap Lake.

Hilary Franz

The spring floods in eastern Washington are just receding, but already wildfire season has begun. A brush fire pushed by strong winds burned nearly three thousand acres Sunday near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

This summer, crews in Washington and Idaho will work on forest restoration projects on state and federal lands. Some projects are aimed at lowering wildfire risk; others have different goals.

Photo courtesy WildEarth Guardians via Flickr

A forest ecologist says that requests for more forest thinning to reduce the threat of fire danger are misguided.

The number of wildfires burning across the west has prompted some lawmakers to call for more timber harvest to reduce the threat of wildlife by reducing the number of dead and dying trees, many of them suffering the effects of bark beetles.

One ecologist says that the real issue is a warmer climate, and calls for more thinning are just a way to please the timber industry.

Will Folsom via Flickr, Creative Commons License

Rural fire crews in northeast Washington are on alert, hoping no major fires break out before the rains finally arrive.

The ponderosa forests of Stevens County are tinder dry right now, and fire managers hope they have enough resources to be able to handle what might be in store before fire season is over.

Fire Crews Prep for Wildfire Season

Jun 9, 2017
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Wildfire season has begun in the Inland Northwest.

The Spokane area hasn’t yet seen any major fires, but crews from several Spokane County fire departments know it’s only a matter of time. They’re practicing how they’ll react when they get the call. This week they’ve been holding drills on a hilly, forested residential lot in the south valley.

Inland Journal, June 8, 2017

Jun 8, 2017

This week on Inland Journal, we’ll talk with Spokane-area firefighters who are training this week for the summer wildfire season. There may finally be consensus to designate a stunning mountainous area along the Idaho-Montana border as wilderness. We’ll talk with a one-armed western Washington man who recently brought a personal message about workforce safety to Spokane area high schools. And Steve Jackson will take us to Felts Field for a showing of vintage airplanes.

WA Governor Inslee Busy Signing Bills

Apr 27, 2017

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has been busy this week and last doing an essential function of his job: signing bills into law.

Most of them are targeted and will have a small impact.

Inland Journal, April 6, 2017

Apr 6, 2017

Inland Journal for April 6, 2017

    ▪    We’ll talk with one environmental organization that is supporting efforts in Washington’s legislature to include logging as a way to reduce wildfire risk. It’s even cutting on its own land.
    ▪    We'll learn more Avista’s work to build a network of electric vehicle charging sites in the Inland Northwest.
    ▪    We'll talk with a St. Maries, Idaho man who helps weather forecasters keep an eye on flooding of the St. Joe River.
    ▪    Austin Jenkins from the Northwest News Network reports on a project that shows Washington legislative leaders aren’t eager to share their email messages with the public.
    ▪    Celebrating books and food Saturday in Pullman


This week in Olympia, two forest health bills that we reported on two weeks ago continue to move along in the Washington legislature. What’s interesting is the public support those bills are receiving from conservation groups.

Inland Journal, March 23, 2017

Mar 23, 2017

    ▪    Wildfires and forest health in Washington, feature plus interview with Washington state Rep. Joel Kretz (R-Okanogan County)
    ▪    Suicide awareness, a recap of SPR’s health forum with host Steve Jackson
    ▪    An interview with Spokane’s newly-ordained Episcopal Bishop, Gretchen Rehberg
    ▪    The business applications of drones, an interview with Joseph Williams from the Washington state Department of Commerce