Money to fight wildfires, regulate timber harvests, and map Washington’s geological hazards are key requests in Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark’s budget for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), published by the state’s Office of Financial Management last week.
“The firestorms and landslides we experienced in 2014 remind us how important it is to prepare for disasters, prevent them when we can, and fight them when we must,” said Goldmark. “This budget will give us the tools we need to improve public safety for the people of Washington.”
The agency is seeking some $4.5 million to restore numbers of trained firefighters to pre-recession levels. This will increase the agency’s ability to respond quickly to fires on the 13 million acres it protects. DNR will request $3.2 million to boost oversight of timber harvests, ensuring forestry activities meet clean water standards, do not harm salmon, or increase natural landslide dangers. DNR also is asking for $6.6 million to expand LiDAR mapping of geological hazards and provide technical support to counties, cities, and the public to help them understand the data.
Other DNR budget priorities include Puget Sound clean-up and restoration; developing healthy forests that can better resist wildfire; removal of barriers to fish migration; and implementing a conservation- and recreation-oriented management plan for the Teanaway Community Forest, a 50,000-acre working forest in the Yakima Basin.
DNR’s natural resource mission on behalf of the people of Washington
Under the elected leadership of Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, DNR manages more than 5.6 million acres of state-owned forest, range, commercial, agricultural, conservation, and aquatic lands. More than half of these lands are held in trust and produce income to support public schools and other state institutions. Lands managed by DNR also provide outdoor recreation, native fish and wildlife habitat, and clean and abundant water.
Along with these other roles, the department regulates surface mining reclamation and forest debris burning, administers the state Forest Practices rules on 9.3 million acres of private and state-owned forest lands, and provides wildfire protection for 12.7 million acres of tribal, private, and state-owned forests.