While wildfires rage across the West and record-breaking hurricanes devastate the Southeast and Caribbean, it is easy to feel helpless in the face of these natural disasters.
Yet here in Washington, we have pioneered game-changing approaches to help nature and people be more resilient in the face of climate change. We invite you to take a moment to learn more about some of these innovative solutions that have been developed alongside people like you — farmers and ranchers, tribal members, diverse urban communities, local governments, business leaders and citizen activists — across the lands, waters and forests of Washington state.
Reducing the Risk of Flooding, While Protecting Habitat
As our climate changes, we are seeing more water in our rivers at unpredictable times, leading to flooding of homes and billions of dollars in damage to businesses and public infrastructure. Fortunately, Washington state was the pioneer of a new approach to our rivers through the creation of the Floodplains by Design program, a new look at how we think about water.
Though wildfires continue to grow more dangerous, federal budgets aren't keeping up. The Forest Service has run out of the funds it needs to fight fires for 12 of the past 15 years, forcing them to take money from programs designed to make our forests more resilient to megafires. Tell Congress to support a wildfire funding fix!
Restoring our Coasts and Creating Jobs
The Washington Coast remains one of the most pristine landscapes of Washington, with wild salmon runs and an active fisheries economy. But in the face of a changing climate, these natural assets could easily be lost. Fortunately, a broad coalition of coastal partners has developed a new program that not only restores the health of coastal waters, but also puts people to work in one of the highest unemployment counties in the state through the Washington Coastal Restoration Initiative.
Collaborative Forest Restoration
Over time, Washington's evergreen forests have grown unhealthy and prone to megafires like those we've seen this summer. Our forests bring many benefits, from wood to build our homes to rural jobs, to clean water and wildlife habitat, recreation areas and iconic landscapes. One federal program — the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative — was created to emphasize partnerships between government and local forest workers, sawmill owners, conservationists, businesses, sportsmen, outdoor recreationists and others in the hopes of a more collaborative forest-management approach would result in fewer court challenges and more inclusive, science-based planning.
Fire Adapted Communities
As our population has grown, more and more homes are being built in amid our iconic forests. During fire season, homes in the woods represent a major challenge for firefighters risking their lives to protect people and property. One solution that many are turning to is the Fire Adapted Communities initiative, a multi-pronged approach to preparing your home, family and business for the reality of living in a fire-prone landscape. Learn how you can prepare for fire.
Climate change is here. We feel it in hotter, drier summers and wetter winters with sudden floods that threaten homes and livelihoods. The good news is that Washington has proven solutions addressing the effects of these challenges and helping to prepare our state for future uncertainties. Programs that restore floodplains, coastlines and forests to more resilient conditions and protect communities across our state enjoy broad public support.
Now is the time to speak up for greater investments in these programs to ensure that we all have a future of safety, economic security, and a beautiful and resilient landscape to leave our children and grandchildren.