Officials want to spend more on Washington's thinning forests

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Some Washington officials want to spend more money on thinning forests in hopes of preventing another devastating fire season.

The News Tribune reports that the state Department of Natural Resources is asking the Legislature to quintuple the amount spent on forest hazard reduction — to $20 million — in the next two years.

About $17 million would go toward thinning forests, while the rest would be spent on replanting areas damaged by wildfires and working with communities to prevent fire damage.

In the past five years, the state has spent about $200 million fighting wildfires, but only about $31 million trying to keep Washington's forests healthy and less likely to burn.

Last summer's wildfires burned more than 640 square miles throughout Washington. The biggest was the Carlton Complex, which scorched 400 square miles and destroyed 300 homes in the Methow Valley.