Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz on Safeguarding the Public from Landslide Risk

Washington faces one of the highest landslide risks in the nation. In 2017, we had 155 reported landslides, most of which passed without notice or concern. But this year we only have to look at Rattlesnake Ridge to see the danger that landslides pose to people and property. I’m calling on Governor Inslee and the state Legislature to fund critical services and provide the tools we need to minimize the risks landslides pose to public safety. Namely:

I’m asking for $460,000 for engineers to help ensure that logging roads are built safely and won’t trigger unstable slopes. We’ve seen a 10-fold increase in road applications around potentially unstable slopes over the last 6 years. My agency, The Department of Natural Resources, seeks more engineers to properly review each application and ensure public safety.

I’m asking for $1.6 million to study the SR 530 corridor, allowing us to determine the cause of the Oso landslide. More than 3 years after the slide, the cause of the Oso landslide remains unknown. This funding will put geologists on the ground, where they will map and drill into the earth to further analyze this 50-square mile corridor. By studying the SR 530 corridor, we will gain insights into how Oso and other glacial deep-seated landslides occur, improving our ability to anticipate landslides throughout the state. Counties with similar geology include King, Pierce, Thurston, Okanogan, Douglas, Chelan, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Clallam, Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, Mason, Kitsap, Island, Jefferson and San Juan.

I put forth these funding requests in the Washington State Department of Natural Resource’s original October supplemental budget request to the legislature. Today, we know from a recent Climate Risk Assessment that more frequent periods of heavy rainfall during Washington’s rainy seasons will lead to an increasing amount of landslides. Please know that I continue to work on this with Governor Inslee and the state Legislature.

by Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands


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