Constituents are desperate to protect Crystal Mountain recreational areas and historic cabins from raging wildfires but are finding resources stretched thin, said Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn.
Two fires in Pierce County – the Norse Peak and American fires – have consumed an area larger than Tacoma, more than 45,000 acres and counting, and have threatened some of the area’s historic mining cabins. Multiple fires have smothered Western Washington residents in smoke for several days. Fortunato says these fires are part of a legacy of poor forest management.
“Gov. Inslee has said he wants President Trump to see these fires as proof of global warming,” Fortunato said. “I urge the governor to see these fires as proof that extreme, so-called environmentalism can lead to catastrophe. We’ve failed to properly harvest trees or conduct adequate controlled burns. The flames towering over our mountains and ash falling on our cars prove environmental grandstanding doesn’t save our forests, our wildlife, or our air quality. These fires are burning a legacy left for our schools – timber burned is timber that cannot be sold for their benefit.”
This past legislative session, Sen. Fortunato supported Senate Bill 5546, long-term legislation to improve Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) management of fire-prone areas. Under the new law, DNR will develop a framework to assess and treat 1 million acres of the state’s fire-prone forests.
“Sen. Brad Hawkins’ legislation has this state moving in the right direction and I strongly supported him in that,” Fortunato said. “Now we need the federal government to get on board and stop managing by environmental fads that leave unhealthy, inaccessible forests. It’s far better that we harvest lumber to build homes, schools and hospitals than see it burn and pollute our skies. We all want a natural legacy for our children and grandchildren –and we get it through proper land management.”
Firefighting personnel have come all the way from Florida to assist with the fires in Pierce County. “Their own state is facing a major hurricane, yet they’ve been here helping our people and our forests,” Fortunato said. “They deserve our deepest thanks.”