Brace yourself, Western Washington: The state Department of Natural Resources warns this year’s wildfire season is going to be a doozy. DNR has already reported 478 wildfires; 187 of them have been on our side of the state.
“The recent spike in temperatures is only going to make things worse,” state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz recently told our Editorial Board.
When Franz says Washington faces an unprecedented crisis, we believe her. Our state has 2.7 million acres of diseased and dying forestland; combine that with an unseasonably dry and mild winter and catastrophic fires are almost inevitable.
The urgency is not lost on our representatives in Washington, D.C. This past week U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell implored the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior to provide much-needed technology for the upcoming fire season.
Washington’s junior senator wants GPS locations for firefighting crews and unmanned aircraft that can map fires in real time. “Do not study this for an entire year – pick the most urgent tools that you can implement today.”