Calling For Increased Resources For Fire Prevention
I’m Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.
Multiple wildfires in the state are threatening homes, businesses, public infrastructure, agriculture, and natural resources, instigating a proclamation of emergency that covers twenty Eastern Washington counties. The largest fire to date is the Mills Canyon fire in Chelan County that has burned nearly 23 thousand acres. State, federal and local burn bans are in effect due to extreme conditions. Such extreme fire weather conditions and a lack of available firefighting resources in the Pacific Northwest could hamper future firefighting efforts in the state.
During a U.S. Senate committee hearing on federal wildfire preparedness this week U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell stated support for changing federal policy to treat the nation’s largest wildfires similar to natural disasters in order to increase resources available for fire prevention and forest management.
CANTWELL: I think like so many of my colleagues from western states - we keep seeing this movie over and over again, and yes, we are going to see a certain amount right now. “But it goes to the basic question of -- instead of every year stealing from other resources, isn’t there a – and I know the Wyden bill, which I support – a management system where we can do some fuel reductions as part of a biomass program, and then use those generated dollars to then do the urban interface work we want to do.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell responded to Cantwell saying the “agency’s stewardship contracting is probably its best approach to be able to look at all the work that needs to be done on the landscape.” Tidwell also stated that the agency is exploring the use of unmanned drones to help determine the magnitude of wildfires to better protect firefighters.
That’s Washington Ag Today.
I’m Lacy Gray on the Ag Information Network.