OLYMPIA, WA - Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and state legislators, flanked by fire chiefs and public health advocates, unveiled a proposal Monday to – for the first time – provide dedicated funding to improve Washington’s wildfire response capability and restore wildfire resistance in the state's forests. “Wildfire poses a clear and present danger to the health of Washington’s people, environment, and economy,” said Commissioner Franz. “As the leader of our state’s wildfire fighting force, I know we must continue to be proactive – not reactive – if we are going to reclaim the clear, blue summer skies we know and love.
The legislation, which will be introduced in both the state Senate and state House of Representatives, creates a first-of-its-kind Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness Account. This account, that would be funded with approximately $126 million each biennium, will make investments in two strategies: ensuring fire crews have the resources they need to keep fires small and restoring forest health. Revenue for the Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness Account will come from a surcharge on property and casualty insurance premiums. For the average household, the cost will be just over $1 per month.
“By sharing the burden, we acknowledge that wildfire impacts all of us and minimize the cost to each household – just over $1 per month, cheaper than a Coke,” said Commissioner Franz. “It’s no secret that big insurance companies are going to fight us. We are ready for this fight. Indeed, nothing is more important than protecting our communities and our firefighters. And I know the people of Washington are with us.”