Managing Western Washington Wildfire Risk in a Changing Climate

Project Overview

In recent years, concern has risen among western Washington communities about climate change and the impacts of increased wildfire risk in the region. This concern is motivated by large wildfires in eastern Washington and California, smoke events in western Washington, and growing evidence that changes in the climate are increasing the likelihood of wildfire in the Pacific Northwest. The Climate Impacts Group is working with the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, the Puget Sound Climate Preparedness Collaborative, and the Tulalip Tribes to advance dialogue, research, and adaptation action focused on wildfire preparedness in the region. In December 2018, the Climate Impacts Group co-hosted a workshop on this issue that was attended by about 100 people from county, state, and federal government, as well as academia, regional Tribes, and the private sector. The goals of the workshop, and the resulting products and communications materials, are to raise awareness of the risks associated with westside wildfire, facilitate peer-to-peer learning on adaptation responses, and connect practitioners and scientists to share information and identify actionable science needs.

The following themes emerged from the workshop presentations and discussions:

  1. Fire plays an important ecological and cultural role west of the Cascades.
  2. Wildfire risk on the west side of the Cascades is higher than most people realize, and we may need more outreach to effectively communicate this growing risk in order for individuals and communities to take action.
  3. Wildland fire is fundamentally different east and west of the Cascades, and we may need different management strategies to cope with westside fire moving forward.
  4. The risk of wildfire west of the Cascades will likely increase with climate change and population growth.
  5. Collaboration will be critical to deal with increasing wildfire risk in a changing climate.

Products

Workshop Report

Recorded webinar and content from the NW CASC

Key Personnel

  • Crystal Raymond, Climate Impacts Group, University of Washington
  • Harriet Morgan, Climate Impacts Group, University of Washington
  • Lara Whitely Binder, King County and the Puget Sound Climate Preparedness Collaborative
  • Phil North, Tulalip Tribe and the Puget Sound Climate Preparedness Collaborative
  • Amy Snover, Climate Impacts Group, University of Washington

Funders

This project was funded by the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center and the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group.

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