5 Things | Wildfires & Us Summit

I am Sara Rolfs and I am coordinating the Wildfires & Us Summit to be held at the Numerica PAC on Nov. 9.

My awareness of forest ecology and issues specific to wildfires was heightened when my husband Mike and I moved to the Squilchuck Valley just over 13 years ago. We quickly realized how unhealthy our forest was and have spent the last decade attempting to create a healthy forest environment on our neglected land. We’ve received grants from Cascadia Conservation District, National Resources Conservation Service, and state Department of Natural Resources to help with the cost associated with mitigating fuel loads, which means thinning trees, and pruning limbs and woody underbrush.

1. The Wildfires & Us Advisory Committee was formed to support, promote and provide content oversight for the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center’s Wildfires & Us photography exhibit. We are a group of local leaders who are dedicated to mitigating the risks of wildfire in North Central Washington. We aim to explore how together we can change the landscape of wildfires in our region.

2. On Nov. 9, we are hosting a Wildfires & Us Summit. It is free and open to the public, but reserving seats is suggested as we anticipate a large crowd. Doors are open from 3-8 p.m. There is set programming from 4-6 p.m. that will cover a variety of issues related to wildfires. Booths of organizations associated with wildfire issues will also be on hand. Anyone interested in how wildfires are affecting our community should attend. To reserve seats, e-mail wildfiresandus@gmail.com.

3. Summit presenters include Dr. Paul Hessburg and Dr. Dave Calkin who are nationally-recognized, leading experts in their field. They will share with us the science behind wildfire and how to live with it better. Also, our own Annie Schmidt from the Chumstick Wildfire Stewardship Coalition will share her expertise. On hand will be some key agency and policy makers to discuss aspects of resource allocation and policy. Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, Chelan County Commissioner Ron Walter and Commissioner of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark from the DNR are confirmed panelists. And our closer is Derek Van Marter from Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board. North 40 Productions is creating short video vignettes that capture the local story of events covering the last couple of years.

4. Summit topics will identify action items on four levels:

Individual: What you can do to reduce the risk to your home and property.

Community: How communities can work together to mitigate potential loss (e.g.: home building materials, Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) codes, enforcement and resilient landscapes.)

Region: 80 percent of Chelan County alone is public land. Updated management strategies that better reflect current conditions will be proposed.

Nation: Resource allocation that support individual and community preparedness.

5. We are so grateful for the broad support this effort is enjoying. Huge thanks to Chelan County PUD, Confluence Health, The Community Foundation of NCW, Chelan County Natural Resources, Port of Douglas County, Port of Chelan County, City of Wenatchee, City of East Wenatchee, Jim and Karen Russell, Blue Bird Growers, Northwest Farm Credit Services, State Farm, Kathy Smithson, Northwest Wholesale Building NCW, Cascadia Conservation District, the U.S. Forest Service, State Farm, Washington Tree Fruit Association, United States Forest Service, Cascadia Conservation District, Michelsen Packaging, Columbia Valley Community Health, Building NCW!, Mission Creek Players.

Come to the Summit on Nov. 9 and let your voice be heard. 

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