CLE ELUM, Wash. – As firefighters battle wildfires across Washington, the state is looking at wildfire prevention efforts. $2.5 million in taxpayer money is set to create what's called healthy forests, according to the Washington state Department of Natural Resources.
The hope is to avoid the devastation like people saw in Pateros. The idea is to slowdown the fires. To do that, the state is beginning to identify new problem areas and target dense forestland. Crews work to clear out infested, unhealthy trees officials say are just waiting to go up in flames.
"Each of these trees that's left behind, the fire might scorch the bark but won't kill the trees because Ponderosa Pine is adapted to fire," said Glenn Kohler with DNR. "The trees that are left behind, they have more room to grow, so there's less competition for light and nutrients."
DNR says it will remove smaller trees and brush. That will buy firefighters time in the event of another wildfire. It will also allow firefighters to easily build a line as they put out flames. Also, by removing certain trees, the state says a pesky little critter called the western spruce bud worm will have a hard time creating those brown branches that help wildfires flourish.
"They create some webbing almost like spider webs that holds these red needles on here, and so, this damage is visible pretty much all summer and into the fall," said Kohler.
Of course no one can fully prepare for Mother Nature. DNR stresses the prevention method is not 100% effective.