New plan for restoring health of Washington’s forests signed into law

After receiving unanimous support from both chambers of the state Legislature, a measure designed to ramp up the restoration of diseased eastern Washington forests was signed into law today by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz praised the bipartisan support for the measure, which passed the House unanimously last week after receiving unanimous support from the Senate last month.

“By making our forests more resilient to wildfires, we can reduce the risk of the catastrophic megafires we’ve seen devastate communities like Pateros and Wenatchee in the past few years,” said Commissioner Franz. “Measures like this can also protect the forest resources DNR manages for our underfunded school system and to provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife.”

Last year, more than 16,400 acres of DNR-protected lands were consumed by 807 wildfires. Out of 807 wildfires, 90% were human-caused.

The law created by Senator Brad Hawkins’ legislation (Senate Bill 5546) directs DNR to assess 100,000 acres of diseased and damaged forest each year and recommend to the Legislature a priority list of 60,000 acres per year for treatment through active management measures like selective thinning and prescribed fire. The goal of the legislation is to restore one million acres of the unhealthiest of Washington forests over the next 16 years. The measure also establishes a forest health advisory committee and requires DNR to report progress to the legislature every two years.

Supported across aisle

Commissioner Franz joined the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Hawkins, R-Wenatchee at the governor’s signing ceremony Thursday.

“Commissioner Franz certainly shares my interest in the health of our forests, and her staff provided valuable input as we developed this legislation. I look forward to continuing our work together to help our state be more proactive about wildfire,” Hawkins said.

A complementary bill, House Bill 1711, has been introduced by Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, to further advance restoration of Washington forests. Representative Kretz’s bill has also received unanimous support of the Legislature and is awaiting Governor Inslee’s signature.

Representative Kretz’s bill focuses on state owned forests that benefit our schools. It would establish a revolving fund that allows to DNR accelerate the restoration of state-owned forests for improved water quality, carbon sequestration, enhanced recreation and reduction of damage from insects and disease.

DNR’s wildfire mission

Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, DNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 13 million acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands. DNR is the state’s largest on-call fire department, with more than 1,300 employees trained and available to be dispatched to fires as needed. During fire season, this includes more than 800 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and more than 500 seasonal employees hired for firefighting duties. Additionally, adult offenders from the Department of Corrections and juvenile offenders from the Department of Social and Health Services-Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration support firefighting efforts through DNR’s Correctional Camps Program. DNR also participates in Washington’s coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.

Port of Hood River plans for major airport improvements

The Port of Hood River has plans for a major, multi-phased airport improvement, and they received word it would receive over $2.5 million in state and federal grant funding for upgrades to the south taxiway and the north ramp and apron. A $1.3 million grant from this year’s ConnectOregon VI grant cycle for an “Aviation Technology & Emergency Response Center” at the Ken Jernstedt Airfield is a major funding component that, combined with FAA grants, Port funding and significant private investment, is expected to spur over $7 million in development at Hood River’s airport over the next few years. The Port also received a FAA grant of $1.2 million, and a Critical Oregon Airport Relief program grant of $103,000 to fund rehabilitation, design and construction on the south taxiway. This project will bring the airport into compliance with FAA standards.

Read more about this story:  https://portofhoodriver.com/major-airport-improvements-planned-2/

McCabe bill to ease burdens on mobile and manufactured homeowners signed into law

Last week, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed Rep. Gina McCabe’s bill to lower the fine incurred by individuals seeking affordable housing opportunities in mobile or manufactured homes. Currently, the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) imposes a $1,000 fine if a person fails to use a certified installer on a mobile or manufactured home installation. House Bill 1329 would lower the fine to $250 for the first infraction, and would prevent subsequent infractions from exceeding $1,000 per violation. McCabe, says she wants to do away with some of the burdensome regulations that make it difficult to do business with L&I. She said in a statement. “A $1,000 fine simply isn’t an out-of-pocket expense many mobile or manufactured homeowners can spare, this bill will give individuals and families, as well as installers, more peace of mind when seeking out affordable housing options in a mobile or manufactured home park.” House Bill 1329 will go into effect 90 days after the adjournment of the 2017 legislative session.

PUD ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GRANTS

Northern Wasco County PUD will be accepting applications for Economic Development grants until 5 p.m., May 5, 2017.  Applications may be obtained by one of the following methods:  at the Northern Wasco County PUD Office located at 2345 River Road, The Dalles; downloaded from the PUD’s website: www.nwasco.com; or by calling the office and requesting that an application be faxed or mailed. Questions should be directed to Kathy McBride, (541) 298-3302.

The Board of Directors will consider all requests received at their May 23, 2017 Board meeting.  Applicants must: document non-profit status; not be a religious affiliated entity; and have not been funded more than twice in any five year period.  Projects shall be for infrastructure or property with a life expectancy of at least five years and are located within the Northern Wasco County PUD service area.

The Board of Directors allocated $50,000 this year to help fund local economic development projects. No application can be for more than $20,000.  Applications must include a brief history of the requesting organization and description of project, including how the project will economically benefit the community, what steps are being taken to bring the project to a successful completion, other community resources being utilized, and how the organization and project will contribute back to the community.

A detailed budget of the proposed project, including contributions and labor, must accompany the application, as well as proof of “not for profit” status. Grants awarded for projects not commenced within one year of award, will be forfeited without special approval by the Board of Directors.

“Competitively priced and reliable energy services are just a few ways that your customer-owned PUD can help with local economic development.  Another way is to establish grant funds such as these in order to provide further incentive to organizations to establish themselves or grow within our community, commented General Manager Roger Kline.

Goldendale City Council Update

The Goldendale City Council approved a couple of budget items on Monday night, first of all, agreeing to spend nearly $1200 to help provide an outdoor  banquet facility for Sunday nights Oregon Trail Road rally dinner.  The Goldendale Chamber of Commerce and Klickitat County Commissioners are also expected to help pay the costs of the tent area for the
3 to 400 people expected to be in attendance for the event.
The other item of business was to approve the funding of a new Case Reporting system, which according to Goldendale police chief Reggie Bartkowski, would help bring the city fire department up-to-date.  Bartkowski says this new Fire Department system will work hand in hand with the Spillman Technologies software already being used by law enforcement agencies, corrections officers and dispatch centers in the gorge.

Klickitat County Planning Commission has voted to recommend the repeal of Marijuana Sunset Clause

The Klickitat County Planning Commission has voted to recommend the repeal of the sunset of a countywide ban on additional marijuana processors, producers and retailors. if the Klickitat County Commissioners accept the recommendation the 18 currently licensed marijuana businesses would be allowed to continue but the ban on new licenses would remain in effect.

The motion to repeal the sunset clause was made by commissioner rick graves who said  marijuana is still against federal law and he supports the Klickitat County Sheriffs Office opposition to legalizing the drug.

The six to two vote for repealing the sunset of the marijuana ban means the Klickitat Commissioners can adopt the recommendation as is or hold an additional public hearing on the issue.

Concern was expressed during the meeting the County had no control over where marijuana businesses would be located indicating it was possible Klickitat County could potentially develop their own ordinance giving the public input on where these businesses would be located. No public comment was allowed during the meeting despite two persons in attendance who attempted to add their input.