On “The Impact”:
As Washington endures another record breaking year of wildfires, the State Forester says the best way to fight them is to overhaul the way we manage forests.
“One thing that is unusual about this year’s fires is that a good chunk of them, about 40%, are now on the Western side of the Cascades. That’s something that we at Washington DNR really were not set up for,” said George Geissler, State Forester, Deputy Supervisor for Wildfire, WADNR. “Smoke this year took a lot of people by surprise.”
“Over the years due to a lack of resources and just the issues that had come up over time we’ve fallen further and further behind. So now we find ourselves in this state of unhealthy forests and the need to catch up so to speak and to bring our forests into a healthy state,” said Geissler.
A lawsuit aims to move the cross-hairs off wolves involved in livestock attacks. Attorneys for the Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands are challenging the wolf kill protocol used by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Armed with a temporary restraining order set to expire, the plaintiffs ask a Thurston County judge to block the agency from killing any wolves until a broader case is argued in court. The request follows a kill order issued for a wolf in the Togo pack after several attacks on cattle.
“The agency started with a foregone conclusion. It was going to kill wolves as a result of livestock conflicts in order to placate the interests of what it calls its stakeholders, the livestock industry. The only real question is at what point it would start killing wolves and how many wolves it would kill,” said Claire Loebs Davis, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands.
“It is one of the most polarizing wildlife species the department has to manage,” said Michael Grossman, attorney for WDFW. “The wolf plan considered that as part of its implementation of a recovery strategy. It anticipated that increases in wolves would result in increases of livestock-wildlife conflicts and it contemplated the necessity of employing lethal take as part of that recovery strategy.”
Teacher strikes in several districts delay the start of school for tens of thousands of students. Disputes over contract negotiations stem from an education funding overhaul, $2 billion more in state funding, and big discrepancies in the size of raises from district to district. The Washington Education Association says teachers in many districts got double digit increases, but argue that administrators in others districts are low balling educators and support staff. The state superintendent says that some districts are not able to give double digit increases and cautions that budgets must be sustainable when local property-tax limits take effect next year.
A task force meant to sort out a dispute over which legislative records should be public meets for the first time in Olympia. The group was formed as part of a deal after news organizations filed a lawsuit against the legislature. They claim it should be subject to the same rules as other branches of government. Lawmakers have voiced concerns about constituent privacy and maintaining the separation of powers.