Regional News

Senate passes Kretz's bill dealing with wildfires


Apr 17, 2015

The Senate passed a bill April 13 addressing how the state responds to wildfires after the failures of the massive Carlton Complex Fire in northeast Washington.

House Bill 2093, sponsored by Rep. Joel Kretz, would:

  • allow locals to access state land to help put out a fire without being held liable by the state,
  • require the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to coordinate and share a list of locals who are qualified to fight fires and enter into agreements with them to use locals first during a fire, and
  • require the Commissioner of Public Lands to appoint both a fire liaison who will represent landowners and the public during a fire, and a Fire Advisory Committee to advise the commissioner on fire activities.

"I'm pleased with the DNR's response to the many concerns brought to them by our communities after the Carlton Complex Fire and years of inadequate response to wildfires," said Kretz, R-Wauconda. "This legislation represents collaboration between the DNR and legislators to ensure we change the culture around fighting a fire to more than just managing a fire, but putting it out, and empowering regular citizens to help."

The new liaison and committee would cost the state an additional $1 million in the 2015-17 operating budget. The Senate amended the bill to include a null and void clause, which means if funding is not provided in the final agreed-upon budget for the proposal, the bill does not become law.

The proposal passed the Senate unanimously and now goes back to the House for concurrence on the change made in the Senate. If the House agrees with the Senate's amendments, the bill would go to the governor's office for his signature.

 


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