State and federal officials signed an agreement Wednesday to protect Washington’s forests and wildlife. The plan would combine resources to fight destructive wildfires, threats to forest health and challenges faced by salmon and orcas.
“If we’re going to prevent the Evergreen State from turning brown, we must begin to coordinate, collaborate and work tirelessly to change the trajectory of these forests as one team,” said Hilary Franz, Washington’s commissioner of public lands and head of the state Department of Natural Resources.
The Shared Stewardship Agreement was signed by officials from the Department of Natural Resources, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service and the regional forester.
The plan establishes a framework to reach certain goals. It seeks to make forests less vulnerable to wildfires, insects, disease and droughts. It also would protect the waters of Puget Sound and protect fish and wildlife.
The agreement would allow the various departments to take more of a landscape-based approach to conservation, said Kelly Susewind, director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“We tend to drive at these things in our narrow little previews and do good work, but we do not connect it on the landscape-scale,” Susewind said.