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USDA offering financial assistance for farmers impacted by wildfires

USDA offering financial assistance for farmers impacted by wildfires

The United States Department of Agriculture wants to help farmers impacted by this year's brutal wildfire season in central and eastern Washington.

The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Services is now accepting applications from agriculture producers in Kittitas, Grant, Chelan, Okanogan and Douglas counties impacted by wildfires in 2014. Financial assistance is offered through the Wildfire Initiative of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help resource concerns on private and tribal land.

NRCS will be offering two financial assistance options:

Option 1 – General EQIP

The key conservation practice available for assistance under this option is deferred grazing. This practice allows grasses time to recover while livestock producers seek alternate feed sources. And for the first time, NRCS is also offering broadcast seeding as part of this initiative.

Option 2 – Wildfire Special Initiative

Avista safety tips during National Preparedness Month

Avista safety tips during National Preparedness Month

This month marks the 11th annual National Preparedness Month and creates an opportunity for Avista to remind customers about the importance of being prepared for unexpected emergencies, like the recent storms that rolled through sections of their Washington and Idaho services area.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security sponsor this national initiative and uses September to remind all Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies at home, school, work and in our communities.

As we have experienced recently, weather events like summer storms can ravage entire communities with effects lasting for days. Being prepared for severe weather like thunderstorms, wind, ice and snow storms or other natural disasters can help our residents and their families deal with the results of such events.

Public comment needed on Mt. Spokane State Park expansion

Public comment needed on Mt. Spokane State Park expansion

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is inviting the public to comment on two proposals for Mount Spokane State Park.

The following are combined under one draft environmental impact statement which considers the potential impact of:

  • The expansion of Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard park, adding one ski lift and seven ski trails in a 279-acre area.
  • A formal land classification and reclassification of a portion of the state park known as the Potential Alpine Ski Expansion Area (PASEA).

The deadline for comments is September 15.

You can find more information on the proposals, the draft environmental impact statement documents and a link to submit your comments here.

Fire restrictions lifted in Colville Nat'l Forest

Fire restrictions lifted in Colville Nat'l Forest

Just in time for the holiday weekend, fire restrictions have been lifted for the Colville National Forest.

“With the wetting rains and cooler daytime temperatures we have been experiencing in the Colville National Forest, the anticipated fire danger is reduced enough to allow visitors to once again enjoy campfires in the forest,” said Fire Management Officer Tim Sampson. “Firewood cutters are also able to run chainsaws after 1 pm.”

Forest visitors must still use caution and exercise sound fire precautions, however, on National forest System Lands. Good fire building and extinguishing practices are advised such as:

  • Keeping campfires small
  • Using existing fire rings
  • Have a bucket, shovel, water and fire extinguisher readily available
  • Attend and fully extinguish all fires

Leave the firewood at home to keep forests safe

Leave the firewood at home to keep forests safe

The Idaho Department of Lands is reminding outdoor enthusiasts who are planning to camp this Labor Day weekend to leave the firewood at home!

As millions of Americans head into the wilderness for a weekend of fun, many bring their own firewood, not realizing that they put the nation's forests at risk by potentially spreading tree-killing pests. While most of these pests can't travel far on their own, many can hitchhike undetected on firewood, later emerging and starting infestations in new locations hundreds of miles away.

The Don't Move Firewood campaign began in 2007 as a response to the rapid spread of the emerald ash borer, an Asian beetle brought to the US in pre-packaged wood and responsible for killing 100 million ash trees since the early 1990's.

More than 450 other non-native forest insects and diseases are also established in the United States, many spread the same way.

Washington state parks free to visit Monday

Washington state parks free to visit Monday

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission wants the public to know that Monday, August 25 is a state parks “free day,” Visitors will not need a Discover Pass to visit state parks.

The free day is in honor of the birthday of the National Park Service, which was established on August 25, 1916.

State free days are part of the legislation that created the Discover Pass, a $30 annual of $10 one-day permit required on lands managed by Washington State Parks, the Washington departments of Natural Resources and Fish & Wildlife. The Discover Pass legislation provided that state parks could designate up to 12 free days each year when the pass would not be required. The pass is still required to access lands managed by DNR and Fish and Wildlife.

The free days apply only to day use, and not to overnight stays or rental facilities.

The next free days coming up on September 27 for National Public Lands Day and November 11 for Veterans Day.

DNR bans all outdoor burning

DNR bans all outdoor burning

The Washington Department of Natural Resources has expanded the current statewide burn ban to cover all outdoor burning on DNR-protected lands, with no exceptions.

“All indicators are that we'll continue to have high heat, low humidity and storm systems with winds and lightning. That means huge potential for wildfires,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “We need to do everything we can to minimize danger to people, homes and habitat.”

Hot and dry conditions since early summer have caused very high fire hazard conditions throughout the state. These conditions have caused fires to spread rapidly and challenged firefighting efforts. More than $91 million has been spent so far battling wildfires in 2014, and more than 350,000 acres have burned across the state. There are many weeks to go in this year’s fire season, which usually runs into October.