Franz Applauds Senate Action to Fund Wildfire Prevention, Preparedness
News Date: 
April 18, 2019
   

Commissioner Franz encouraged by today’s legislative action on wildfire preparedness, forest health funding measure

 
Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, who leads the state Department of Natural Resources – the state’s wildfire fighting force – issued the following statement praising Senate Ways and Means Committee members for their action this morning on Senate Bill 5996, which will create dedicated, ongoing funding to address the state’s wildfire crisis:
 
“I can’t thank Senate Democrats enough for moving Senate Bill 5996 out of committee. Our senators recognize, as do I, that we must take action now to tackle Washington’s wildfire crisis.
 
“Scientists and firefighters have given us the blueprint reduce wildfires and reclaim our summers from smoke and flames. This funding proposal will allow our state to proactively restore forest health to lessen wildfire danger and give our firefighters the resources and equipment they need to keep wildfires small.
 
“I look forward to working alongside the Senate and the House to send the bill to the Governor for signature before the Legislature adjourns.”
 
Senate Bill 5996 now moves to the Senate Rules Committee where it awaits a full vote in the chamber. If passed, the bill will move to the House for further consideration, which must take place before the adjournment of the 2019 legislative session.
 
BACKGROUND
Commissioner Franz and Senate Democrats announced the bill last month, which will provide dedicated, ongoing funding to address the state’s wildfire crisis. Funds would be used to bolster firefighting training, add firefighters and equipment, and remove diseased and dying trees from millions of acres of Washington forests.
 
More than 2.2 million homes in Washington are exposed to wildfire. And wildfire suppression costs in our state have averaged $153 million per year over the past five years.
 
The bill calls for increasing the tax on premiums for property and casualty insurance from 2 percent to 2.52 percent. This increase would cost the average household less than $2 per month. 
 
Funding would be used by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to implement Commissioner Franz’s 20-Year Forest Health Strategic Plan, which targets 1.25 million acres of federal, state, tribal, and private forest for intensive restoration, and the Wildland Fire Protection 10-Year Strategic Plan, which focuses on fire suppression, preparedness, and prevention.
 
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MEDIA RESOURCES
Video of Commissioner Franz’s testimony on SB 5996 is available at: https://deptofnaturalresources.box.com/s/0vfriqyouuvfb9qatlv7mvfbrceglji1
 
 
MEDIA CONTACT
Carlo Davis 
Communications Director 
360-902-1101
carlo.davis@dnr.wa.gov