Whether you live on the westside or the eastside of the state, the threat of wildfire is real and growing, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources warns.
With that in mind, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz announced on Tuesday, April 4, 2023 the launch of the Western Washington expansion of Wildfire Ready Neighbors. The program is a collaborative effort between the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), community members, home preparedness experts, regional fire and conservation districts, and other partners to better prepare those most at risk during wildfire season.
Wildfire Ready Neighbors connects residents with experts and tools to help them take proactive action – from small steps to large – to better protect their homes and surrounding property from wildfire. On Tuesday, Franz was joined by local and state leadership at the Pacific Northwest Wildfire Conference and Exhibition in SeaTac to mark the arrival of Wildfire Ready Neighbors in Western Washington.
“It doesn’t matter where you live, no one is immune from the danger of wildfires. Last year’s Bolt Creek, Goat Rocks and Nakia Creek fires are just a few examples of recent fires that threatened homes and properties in Western Washington,” Franz said. “Each community has its own unique wildfire risks, but Wildfire Ready Neighbors’ emphasis on taking simple, manageable steps to make our homes and neighborhoods more resilient to wildfire applies across our diverse state – from Spokane to Shelton, and from the Methow Valley to the Mima Mounds.”
Wildfire Ready Neighbors builds upon existing efforts to encourage community engagement with renters, homeowners, and small forest landowners. Across Washington, Wildfire Ready Neighbors is bringing communities together to take collective action by:
- Encouraging residents in high-risk counties to assess risks and take steps to make their homes and properties more wildfire ready.
- Raising awareness and interest in receiving a free Wildfire Ready Plan and home visit or forest health consultation.
- Building understanding of local/state resources and contractors available to assist with risk-reduction activities.
Western Washington residents can sign up today at wildfireready.dnr.wa.gov to receive a free customized action plan, including steps they can take immediately and information about local resources and contractors to get them started. Also starting this spring, residents in high wildfire-risk counties including Pierce, Mason and Thurston County, can request a no-cost consultation where a wildfire expert will visit their property and develop a detailed action plan for wildfire preparedness.
Wildfire Ready Neighbors kicked off first in Pierce County with a community event on April 1. Mason and Thurston county programs will get started in the coming weeks.
“As we have seen in recent years, wildfires are happening all over the 8th District, including in Pierce County,” said Congresswoman Kim Schrier, of Washington’s 8th Congressional District. “Thanks to the Department of Natural Resources and Commissioner Franz for kicking off this program in Western Washington so residents of Pierce County can receive a free consultation about how to protect themselves and their homes. I know a lot of people will benefit, and hopefully lives and property will be saved because of it.”
Wildfire Ready Neighbors was founded in 2021 and has since launched in six Eastern Washington counties including Chelan, Okanogan, Spokane, Yakima, Kittitas and Klickitat County. To date, more than 4,000 residents have signed up to receive their free, custom action plan and have pledged to take over 20,000 actions to prepare their homes and property for wildfire.
Last summer, DNR responded to 377 wildfires across Western Washington that burned more than 17,000 acres. The new program launched in Western Washington this spring so residents can prepare before the onset of wildfire season.
“Wildfire affects us all and the time to take action is now,” Franz said. “Wildfire is frightening and preparation can be daunting, but everyone can take steps to make their home and their neighborhood more resilient in the face of wildfire.”
Here’s a video about the new program:
For more information, visit wildfireready.dnr.wa.gov.