Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark today proposed a “forest health hazard warning” under Washington State law to combat deteriorating forest conditions on the state’s eastside. Citing concerns over the rising risks of catastrophic wildfire, Goldmark said he intends to implement and expand upon the recommendations of a nine-member technical advisory committee he formed in January to examine the problem.
Goldmark proposes to declare a formal warning in eastern Okanogan and western Ferry counties as recommended by the committee. He called for additional warnings in other areas that the technical committee said were also facing threats, including:
- Ferry County: Expanding the recommended spruce budworm warning area to include the entire county;
- Okanogan & Ferry counties: Including pine bark beetles in the warnings (along with western spruce budworm); and
- Klickitat and Yakima counties: Issuing an additional warning for pine bark beetles in portions of the two counties.
The hazard warning would free up more than $4 million to help landowners combat the insect outbreaks. Public hearings will be scheduled in the areas affected.
The acreage of trees killed or damaged by forest insects and diseases over the past decade is 150 percent greater than in the 1990s, 200 percent greater than in the 1980s, and 175 percent greater than in the 1970s.
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