Catastrophic wildfires have been on the increase in our State. That increase has happened as a direct result of our State’s policies that mismanage or don’t manage at all, our natural resources. Hot, fast burning fires happen because our forest lands are not managed like they were 20 years ago. There are two things that cause wildfires to start, lighting and humans. Many roads on our public lands have been blocked off or removed altogether. We spend millions of taxpayer dollars fighting these fires.
Our fish hatcheries are not running at full capacity. Predators such as sea lions, seals and birds have free rein on smolts and returning salmon alike, killing a good portion of the fish. Spawning habitat in our river systems have been neglected. Policies that have allowed this to happen have had disastrous results on our States Orca population, commercial, tribal and sport fisheries. Once vibrant communities like Westport for example are now just a shell of their former selves. Westport alone has lost approximately 90% of the charter boats that once provided family wage jobs for the community. The lost dollars in tourism to the State’s economy is in the millions. Washington State was once a destination State for fishing.
Instead of waiting for catastrophic wildfires to start and then spending millions of dollars to fight them. We should spend a fraction of that money ahead of time on prevention. Selective logging and thinning our forests, especially near our communities, will result in slower fires and a healthier forest. Thinning our forests and cleaning up the forest floor removes excess carbon that fuels these fires. Road access should be maintained to not only allow fire crews quick access to fires but also allow citizens access to our natural resources.
Increase the output of our hatcheries to 100% and build more where necessary. Traditionally Washington’s native tribes have hunted sea lions and seals. We need to allow the hunting and consumption of excess predators again. Salmon need a gravel bottom in order to spawn. Silt build up on spawning grounds needs to be addressed and fixed in order to create a healthy, vibrant, environment for the Salmon come back.