Kretz: More Needs To Be Done To Prevent Massive Wildfires Before They Start

During October’s Washington Policy Center Virtual Farm Hall, members of the Ag community gathered to discuss some of the key issues facing the farming community now and into the future. And one of those topics was wildfires.

Wildfires have caused a great amount of damage to the Washington Ag community in recent years, whether it was record acreage burned in North Central Washington in 2014 and 2015, or the fast moving blazes that burned large areas of the Palouse in September. Wauconda Representative Joel Kretz said the state has made improvements when it comes to fighting wildfires.

“But I’ve seen some positive development.  I think we’ve got some improvements in prepositioning, we’ve got more resources out on the ground.  I think we’re doing a little bit better job then we were with the local districts, local contractors, local resources, which I think is absolutely critical to be successful in the firefighting.”

But, for all of those gains made, Kretz says there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, specifically in the area of fire prevention.

“And I think we’ve made some progress but we’ve got millions of acres to treat, a lot of what we’ve seen this year has been rangeland fires.  I guess the Governor said that we probably can’t go out and mow all of that, but for thousands of years we have been grazing it, and I think we should be looking at similar ideas of reducing fuels.”

Kretz added a more intense grazing program would be a great help when it comes to fire mitigation efforts.

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