House Bill 1168 passed the Washington State Senate last week. The bill aims to provide $125 million every two years to facilitate a more robust wildfire response that includes more aircraft to fight fires, including SEAT aircraft in addition to the state’s multiple Vietnam era UH-1H Huey helicopter fleet.
The bill, sponsored by reps Larry Spring and Joel Kretz was also championed by the Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, who appeared and spoke at a publicity event at Moses Lake Airport several weeks ago that featured the Global Super Tanker, which the state hopes to lure to Washington State as an operational and maintenance base for the 747.
Bill 1168 was tabled after a horror fire season in 2020 that saw over 800,000 acres burned in 1,600 blazes that destroyed almost 300 homes. The bill also aims to cover forest rejuvenation efforts in addition to the additions made to the state’s firefighting infrastructure.
“With this historic funding, we can make the transformative investments in wildfire response and forest health that we need to change the trajectory we are on,” said Franz. “We are one step closer to protecting our communities, our forests and the air we breathe. Lawmakers have agreed that Washington taxpayers can’t afford to keep losing $150 million each year to out-of-control wildfires. And our state also can’t afford to keep losing jobs, natural resources and even entire towns to this crisis,” continued Franz.