Wildfire raged throughout the West in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Will 2003 follow suit? Obviously it is too early to determine, but there certainly are indications that portions of the West are primed for another catastrophic wildfire season. Hopefully, Inland Northwest forests will escape this fate.
Regardless of how the wildfire season develops, many landowners need to reduce their wildfire hazard, particularly around forested home sites. Fortunately, federal funding is likely available to help cover fire hazard-reduction costs. Depending upon the conditions and location of your land, money may be available for a variety of projects.
Here’s a brief outline of the two most prominent programs:
- Multi Resource Stewardship Program. This program is currently available in Idaho and pays up to 75% of the costs associated with many forest management activities including pre-commercial thinning, pruning, and reforestation. An approved stewardship plan is required to participate in this program. At present, the State of Washington does not have any funding available. A new federal program, Forest Land Enhancement Program (FLEP), will provide additional cost share opportunities later this year.
- Hazardous Fuel Treatment Programs. These programs function on a more localized basis and may pay up to 100% of the costs associated with thinning, pruning and slash disposal. The objective of these programs is to create “defensible space” around homes and other improvements. Kootenai County’s FireSmart and Spokane County’s FireSafe programs are excellent examples of programs currently in place. Other counties are in various stages of developing and implementing fuel treatment programs.
For further information on these programs, please contact our office.