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There are three key components to my action plan for preventing and reducing wildfires.

Designate wildfires as the number-one threat to human health and climate efforts.

  • While DNR has multiple responsibilities, the increasing frequency and size of wildfires present a more urgent and critical need than any other single concern. 

  • As just one example, climate change is a major concern – but wildfires can undo years of climate change progress overnight. Since 2000, wildfires have erased 50-to-100 % of gains in air quality and environmental sustainability in Western states. 

  • Smoke from wildfires is a direct threat to public health, deadlier than other air pollution, especially to older adults, children and people with lung conditions.

  • I call for legislation that recognizes the urgency of this threat – to public health, to education funding, and to our climate – and increases wildfire funding to DNR.

  • Wildfires have destroyed over 8 million acres of forest and wildlife in the past 20 years, equivalent to 19% of the total land area of our state. It doesn’t matter whether land destroyed by wildfires had been leased to fund education, improve air quality, or provide recreational opportunities – any potential benefit is lost.

Improve forest health.

  1. Several vital preventative measures can improve resistance to wildfires: increasing our number of highly regulated prescribed burns; thinning overcrowded forests through selective harvesting; and promoting the removal of ground fuels. Healthy forests can resist fires naturally if they have enough soil nutrients and biodiversity, and not too many trees competing for sun or water in one area.
    • The lands commissioner must push for more funding for equipment to local governments, and improve coordination with local governments so that they are prepared to respond in the critical early stages of a wildfire.

    • DNR can better contain wildfires by repositioning resources around the state and by improving its choices of when to deploy ground crews, helicopters, and other resources.

Strengthen DNR’s firefighting workforce. 

    • DNR can boost morale, improve retention, and build experience among its firefighting force by upgrading pay, working conditions, and support.

    • DNR can use increased employment opportunities to develop a more professional firefighting force and to attract applicants from larger, more diverse pool.

    • We can expand firefighting opportunities for people in corrections programs, providing training and job skills that will help them transition more successfully from incarceration back into the community, reducing recidivism. 

Wildfire Prevention Plan

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