Forest fires: A potential to get worse in years ahead
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources has a "2020 Strategic Plan for Wildland Fire Protection" intended to bring forest practices in line with changes that have come about since the last comprehensive look at DNR’s fire program was completed in 1986.
Much has changed since then, according to information on the DNR web site: 1.6 million more people live near the 12.7 million acres of forests protected by the DNR, an increase of 40 percent. That means more homes in the woods, many without fire protection. Dry conditions and insect damage have weakened the health of the state's forest, adding more fuel for fires to rage hotter and spread faster.
Forty square miles of forest are now burning between Cle Elum and Ellensburg, 60 homes have been destroyed and 900 people evacuated,
The DNR estimates there will be more than 600,000 new homes in Washington by 2020, and that many of them will be in a danger zone the state agency calls the "wildlands urban interface." Fire protection there, the DNR says, is more complex and more expensive.
All this reveals the urgency needed for all agencies and private owners managing forests to make changes in how this natural resource is used and protected. Once the fires are out, planning needs to start for a 2013 strategic plan for wildland fire protection.
Photo: At night on the Taylor Bridge fire line.
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
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