Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and state legislators unveiled on Monday a proposal to create a first-of-its-kind Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness Account dedicated to improving Washington’s wildfire response capability and restoring wildfire resistance.
The legislation will be introduced in both the state Senate and House of Representatives, and marks the largest investment Washington has ever made to expand its wildfire team and restore the health of its forests. The plan invests $126 million each biennium to make critical 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 would come from a surcharge of a few cents on property and casualty insurance premiums. For the average household, the cost will be just over $1 per month.
“Wildfires are a major contributor to Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating climate change, and increasing the risk of future fires,” stated Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-West Seattle, sponsor of the House bill. “They also cause severe harm to air quality in every part of Washington state, causing harm to the health of every Washingtonian, particularly seniors, children and infants, and individuals with respiratory problems. By investing in preventing these wildfires before they begin, we can avoid many of these air quality impacts and enable Washington’s forests to continue sequestering millions of tons of carbon dioxide each year.”