Summer is here and with it comes the annual fire season. Recent years have made it abundantly clear that wildfires are having a significant impact on our communities, from immediate safety risks to stagnant smoke in the skies, and on our forests. Large-scale fires have continued to increase in frequency, devastating wide swaths of forests and converting these to open grasslands. Destructive fires, such as the Carlton Complex or the Okanogan Complex, individually burned over 300,000 acres of land, destroyed hundreds of homes, and sadly led to the loss of three very brave firefighters.
While these fires are extremely important to understand and be prepared for, it is also important to understand why we see the fires we do today. For thousands of years natural wildfires have played an integral role in Eastern Washington dry forests, ultimately shaping the systems we see. Many Native American cultures adapted to fire and used it as a tool to their advantage. Now, recent land use changes have set the stage for more frequent, high-severity wildfires. It is time that we restore this narrative and create a community that understands and accepts the role of fire as an ecological benefit.
Join Washington State University Extension Forestry - Northeast Region, Dr. Paul Hessburg (USFS/UW), and Guy Gifford (DNR) to discuss the history of fire on the landscape, how it shaped our forests, what we are doing today to manage these forests, and what landowners on the dry Eastern side of the state can do to protect their homes and resources.