The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the South Ward Gap Fire burning in Benton County, Washington.
FEMA Region X Regional Administrator Kenneth D. Murphy determined that the fire threatened such destruction as would constitute a major disaster and approved the state of Washington’s request for a federal Fire Management Assistance Grant on August 1, 2016.
At the time of the request, the fire was threatening 275 primary homes in and around the community of Prosser and neighboring areas, with a total population of approximately 6,000. The fire was also threatening agriculture and irrigation facilities, Yakama Nation cultural resources, tourism, Yakima River Watershed, and associated species and community infrastructure in the area. Mandatory and voluntary evacuations were issued for approximately 1,300 people.
The fire started on July 31, 2016, and has burned in excess of 1,000 acres of state and private lands. At the time of the authorization, there were six other large uncontrolled fires burning within the state. The principal advisor confirmed the threat, which was zero percent contained at the time of FMAG approval.
The authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of the state of Washington’s eligible firefighting costs for managing, mitigating, and controlling designated fires. These grants provide reimbursement for firefighting and life-saving efforts. They do not provide assistance to individuals, homeowners, or business owners and do not cover other infrastructure damage caused by the fire.
On July 19, Judge Dana Christensen of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana ruled in favor of the East Reservoir Project on northwest Montana’s Kootenai National Forest.
The project complied with environmental laws. In particular, Judge Christensen found that the project-specific analysis of lynx critical habitat offset the ongoing issues regarding plan-level consultation on lynx habitat. The project involves a planning area of approximately 90,000 acres and commercial treatment of over 8,500 acres.
In June, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a decision that no additional regulations are needed to address storm water discharges from forest roads under the Clean Water Act. In its decision, the EPA recognizes the success of state best management practices (BMPs), which are proven to be effective in protecting water quality. The EPA also recognizes the role of forest certification programs, including SFI, which “have made important contributions to improved BMP implementation through logger training, landowner outreach, and water quality requirements.”
The EPA decision specifically pointed to the SFI Logger Training and Education Program, which “ensures loggers are educated about using and maintaining appropriate forest road BMPs.” Thanks to the logger training requirements in the SFI Standards and the dedication of the SFI community, training was provided for more than 10,000 resource and harvesting professionals in 2015 and more than 170,000 total since 1995. (This total may include individuals who have completed training programs more than once.)
In July, Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR) toured the Freres Lumber Company facility in Lyons, Oregon. Schrader, a champion of federal forest management, was impressed with what he saw — especially the company’s approach to sustainability, and its on-site biomass-to-electric plant. Forest byproducts are turned into steam, which provides energy to the mill and 5,000 local households
On the Cover
Photo taken by Lindsay Mohlere.
Komatsu PC240LL at a Windy Ridge Logging operation.
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