SENATE BILL REPORT
This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.
As Reported by Senate Committee On:
Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks, April 2, 2019
Ways & Means, April 9, 2019
Title: An act relating to wildfire prevention.
Brief Description: Concerning wildfire prevention.
Sponsors: House Committee on Appropriations (originally sponsored by Representatives Kretz, Blake and Shea).
Brief History: Passed House: 3/13/19, 96-0.
Committee Activity: Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks: 3/26/19, 4/02/19 [DP-WM].
Ways & Means: 4/05/19, 4/09/19 [DPA].
SENATE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, WATER, NATURAL RESOURCES & PARKS
Majority Report: Do pass and be referred to Committee on Ways & Means.
Signed by Senators Van De Wege, Chair; Salomon, Vice Chair; Warnick, Ranking Member; Honeyford, McCoy, Rolfes and Short.
Staff: Jeff Olsen (786-7428)
SENATE COMMITTEE ON WAYS & MEANS
Majority Report: Do pass as amended.
Signed by Senators Rolfes, Chair; Frockt, Vice Chair, Operating, Capital Lead; Mullet, Capital Budget Cabinet; Braun, Ranking Member; Brown, Assistant Ranking Member, Operating; Honeyford, Assistant Ranking Member, Capital; Bailey, Becker, Billig, Carlyle, Conway, Darneille, Hasegawa, Hunt, Keiser, Liias, Palumbo, Pedersen, Rivers, Schoesler, Van De Wege, Wagoner and Warnick.
Staff: Jed Herman (786-7346)
Background: The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has the responsibility over all matters pertaining to forest fire services in the state. The forest fire-related duties of DNR include enforcing all forest fire-related laws, investigating the cause of forest fires, and directing all fire suppression efforts on DNR-protected lands.
DNR is directed, to the extent feasible given all applicable trust responsibilities and subject to the availability of appropriated funds, to develop and implement a policy for prioritizing forest health treatments in order to protect state lands and state forestlands; reduce wildfire losses, insect infestation, and disease; and improve forest health at a landscape scale.
Summary of Amended Bill: DNR is directed to prioritize, to the maximum extent practicable, forest health treatments that are strategically planned to serve the dual benefits of forest health maximization while providing geographically planned tools for wildfire response.
DNR shall attempt to locate and design forest health treatments to provide wildfire personnel with strategically located treated areas to assist with managing fire response. DNR is required, in the context of its wildfire response obligations, to be familiar with areas where forest health treatments were undertaken on state, private, and federal land. In addition, DNR shall be familiar with public general transportation roads, public and private logging roads, bodies of water, and other features on the landscape relevant in planning a fire response. DNR must include these geographic features on a geographic information system for use by fire response personnel to assist in response decision making.
EFFECT OF WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE AMENDMENT(S):
Authorizes DNR to issue permits for outdoor burning that reduces the risk of wildfire or that is consistent with silvicultural burning within the urban growth area.
Authorizes DNR to enter into cooperative agreements with local fire protection agencies to issue permits for reducing wildfire risk in urban growth areas.
Fiscal Note: Available.
Creates Committee/Commission/Task Force that includes Legislative members: No.
Effective Date: Ninety days after adjournment of session in which bill is passed.
Staff Summary of Public Testimony (Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks): PRO: During the 2015 wildfire season, 500,000 acres of forestlands were on fire. If forest thinning is done strategically, it can assist fire responders in controlling the spread of wildfires, saving forestland and habitat. California has used this strategy, and it has prevented fires from spreading even further. This bill is consistent with the state's forest health and wildfire strategic plans. Wildfire reduction is often cited as a reason for making forest health investments, but this bill draws a more direct line between forest health and wildfires.
Persons Testifying (Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks): PRO: Representative Joel Kretz, Prime Sponsor; Jason Callahan, Washington Forest Protection Association; Loren Torgerson, DNR.
Persons Signed In To Testify But Not Testifying (Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks): No one.
Staff Summary of Public Testimony (Ways & Means): The committee recommended a different version of the bill than what was heard. None.
Persons Testifying (Ways & Means): No one.
Persons Signed In To Testify But Not Testifying (Ways & Means): No one.