The Department of Natural Resources says that healthy forests, safer timber harvests and detailed mapping of earthquake and tsunami hazards are the driving forces behind their most recent budget request.
“Public safety is at the heart of what DNR does, and these modest funding requests allow us to help people prepare for and prevent natural disasters,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz in a press release.
Franz says that wildfire concerns are behind a $1.9 million request intended to steward healthier forests. Although no specific plan for improvement was cited, the press release referred to Washington’s forests as “diseased” and “fire prone.”
“People in Puget Sound this summer experienced what our neighbors in central Washington have dealt with for the past decade — increasingly thick smoke from more devastating wildfires. If we’re going to control the spread of these megafires, we need to address the root cause: forest health,” said Franz, in the release.
The DNR budget request also includes $543,000 for mapping earthquake and tsunami hazards in order to help counties, cities and the public understand the risks and work to mitigate them. An additional $457,300 was requested in order to ensure that the design and construction of timber roads does not weaken potentially-unstable hillsides.
Other budget priorities listed by the DNR include advanced training of wildland firefighters, the cleanup of contaminated sediments, funding for amatuer emergency radio operators, and funding for counties with lost timber revenue related to endangered species regulations.
The DNR has also re-submitted requests for funding from the capital budget which the Legislature failed to pass before adjourning the previous session.
“Whether it’s recreation, maintenance, forest restoration or helping communities become FireWise, we have a lot of projects that rely on capital dollars to enhance quality of life for all Washingtonians,” Franz said in the release.