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You might have noticed from the headlines we are entering our region’s wildfire-a-day phase, or very close to it. Early in the season, it’s clumsy accidents in the dry brush. Later we move up to stupid fireworks tricks, followed by lightning strikes in the brittle forest. We live with hope that we will avoid a third straight year of terrible conflagration, destruction and death. Cross your fingers.

We are not the only people sick and tired of wildfires. Consider the management of the U.S. Forest Service or the U.S. Department of Interior, who see their budgets drained annually to pay for their fire departments, much of it to protect our communities and our forest homes rather than public assets and public lands. Foresters didn’t sign up to be firemen, anyway, and yet that’s often what they are. Then our state has to dip into reserves to come up with $190 million or so to pay our share of fighting a year’s worth of fires, then ask for $24 million for fire prevention and get the cold shoulder.

The experts and managers were testifying on the problem Thursday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in Washington, D.C. Under consideration is a draft bill partly submitted by its chair, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and ranking member Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. Called the Wildfire Budgeting, Response, and Forest Management Act, it would, yet again, attempt to end the trick called “fire borrowing,” where money for forest management, fire prevention and treatment is gobbled up to pay firefighting costs. Nearly everyone agrees ending this would be a smart thing, but as yet they don’t agree on how to do it. This proposal is another bipartisan stab.

The bill also would provide resources for at-risk communities, like Wenatchee’s, to invest in fire prevention. It would create a new program they call the “pine pilot” to test fuels-reduction management in some of the driest, fire-prone areas.

Said state Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark in his testimony: “For too many years, investments in forest health, thinning and fuel reduction have not kept pace with the amount of risk on the landscape.

“We know what we need to do to allow Washington to remain the Evergreen State. We must aggressively treat and manage our forests, using fuel-reduction treatments and prescribed burning when appropriate.

“There is broad community and scientific support for accelerated forest restoration. I encourage you to develop the pine-pilot concept discussed in (the draft bill), to achieve faster restoration.

“We depend on our forests for clean water, wildlife habitat, jobs and carbon storage. They are a resource to conserve and protect, not to squander.”

Cantwell told the committee: “We’ve identified 2 million acres that we want the Forest Service to place a priority on treating.

“These 2 million acres are simultaneously the most at-risk of fire, the projects would have the largest impact in reducing fuels, and the places that are the best-supported by the science and the public.

“In this pilot, we would provide the tools to the agency, such as long-term contracts to individual mills with a preference for cross-laminated timber, so we are actually securing more sustainable buildings. These tools will help us get the work done AND help us have a much more proactive discussion than the discussion that happens after the fire.

“We need to do more fuel reduction.”

Hope the Senate can muster some momentum for common sense in a year that seems devoid of it.