Managing Western Washington Wildfire Risk in a Changing Climate


Morgan, H.A., Bagley, A., McGill, L., Raymond, C.L. 2019. Managing Washington Wildfire Risk in a Changing Climate. Workshop summary report prepared by the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center and the Climate Impacts Group, University of Washington, Seattle.


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. Individuals in these communities are increasingly asking how to manage the risk of wildfire while raising awareness of these risks.

To help address these questions, the Puget Sound Climate Preparedness Collaborative, Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, the Tulalip Tribes, and the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group cohosted a one-day workshop, Managing Western Washington Wildfire Risk in a Changing Climate, on December 3, 2018. The following themes emerged from the workshop presentations and participant discussions:

  1. Fire plays an important ecological and cultural role west of the Cascades.
  2. Wildfire risk on the west 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.

These themes are expanded upon in greater detail in the report, available for download.