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State of Washington to Use $22M for Wildfire Prevention

The award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be used in some of the state’s highest risk areas for wildfire prevention, as well as improving forest health and building community resilience.

Smoldering ground in the aftermath of a wildfire.
The ground still simmers from the Cold Springs fire that swept through Okanogan County, Washington on Sept. 10, 2020.
(Amanda Snyder/The Seattle Times/TNS)
Washington state announced it has received nearly $22 million to fight wildfires in its Central and Eastern communities.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture award will be used in some of the highest risk areas and include preventative treatments to reduce fuel, improve forest health and build community resilience. The prevention techniques used will include prescribed burns, hazardous fuel reduction and other vegetation management.

“The growing wildfire crisis has devastated communities throughout our state in recent years, and 2.2 million homes in our state are at risk as more frequent and intense wildfires are expected to plague us into the future — we must respond,” Sen. Maria Cantwell said, according to the Wenatchee World.

Cantwell co-introduced the Making Aid for Local Disasters Equal Now (MALDEN) Act in January 2024 to improve coordination between local, state, tribal and federal agencies to deliver resources faster after disastrous wildfires. The act was named after the town of Malden, which was destroyed by the 2020 Babb Road Fire.

The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest got $20.87 million of the grant and $980,000 went to the northeast Washington forests, including the Colville National Forest.

The Babb Road Fire destroyed Malden and Pine City in Washington on Labor Day 2020, burning 15,000 acres and demolishing more than 85 percent of the buildings in the area, including Malden’s fire station and post office. Sixty-five homes were also destroyed.