“Forests Up in Smoke: An Analysis of the Washington State Legislatures 2016-2021 Actions to Combat and Reduce Wildfires” examines and scrutinizes recent legislation passed by the Washington State Legislature that is specifically focused on preventing and combatting wildfires across the State of Washington. Over the last decade, Washington State has experienced several of the worst wildfire seasons in the state’s history, and with this increase in wildfires, Washingtonians need more action from the State Legislature to manage, protect, and restore our forests.

One way Washington can take a more proactive approach to combatting wildfires is by utilizing alternative methods for wildfire prevention, like woody biomass and biochar technologies. These technologies utilize specific heating methods to convert the dry, flammable plant materials that lay on the forest floor into biochar, a carbon-rich substance that can be added to soil for added nutrients. Employing these types of technologies could both help prevent wildfires from happening and create a substance that can be used in forest restoration.

Another option the Washington State Legislature could pursue is bolstering the already existing Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Correctional Camp Programs. These voluntary programs allow inmates to receive job training and skills in firefighting to assist in forest firefighting, fire suppression and prevention. Washington State could follow California’s lead and expunge the records of non-violent offenders who fought fires for the State of California while incarcerated, allowing them to pursue careers in firefighting upon release. With the growing increase of fires across the state, Washington will need more people available and ready to engage in firefighting and fire prevention.