Proud to partner with Chelan PUD and DNR on utility wildland fire bill

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February 16, 2021

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Two years ago, the Legislature created the Electric Utilities Wildland Fire Prevention Task Force, which focused on ways to prevent wildfires. This critical work included an effort to begin drafting model agreements to remove dangerous trees, design communications protocols, and develop investigation recommendations. Now that the task force recently released its recommendations to the Legislature, I am partnering with Chelan PUD and the Department of Natural Resources and to help implement its recommendations.

Chelan Complex fire

A hillside burns during the Chelan Complex and First Creek fires in August 2015.

SB 5158 approved by key Senate committees

I’m proud to share that my Senate Bill 5158 was unanimously approved by the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks Committee on January 28 and by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on February 15. The bill would direct state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz to work with the Utility Wildland Fire Prevention Advisory Committee to implement recommendations recently offered in this report issued in December 2020. According to the bill, this would be accomplished by August 1 and the group’s work would be maintained and updated on the DNR website.

These recommendations are very important to many of our utilities, especially considering the 12th District’s recent history of devastating wildfires. It is important to keep the momentum going for this group, finalize its recommendations, and ensure ongoing communications with the Legislature. I’m very excited to be partnering with Chelan PUD and DNR on this bill. Commissioner Hilary Franz and her staff have been awesome to work with in past years and we accomplished some great things together in my first Senate term. I look forward to keeping that going this year as I continue in my second term. During Senate Bill 5158’s hearing on January 19, Chelan County PUD General Manager Steve Wright provided key testimony along with DNR and other electric utilities. To watch the hearing on TVW, click here.

Pearl Hill fire map (revised)

In September 2020, the Pearl Hill Fire was devastating to northern Douglas County.

What Senate Bill 5158 supporters are saying

“Senator Hawkins’ proposed legislation addresses the increasingly important issue of the nexus between electric utility operations and wildfire risk management. The legislation expands a fruitful process between utilities and DNR Commissioner Franz. It performs the dual duty of helping protect homeowners from fire risk and the risk of large electric bills.” Upon the committee’s recent passage:  “Commendation to Senator Hawkins. This is an important step to address the collaboration necessary to address a pervasive risk like wildfire that could impact everyone in Chelan County.”

  • Steve Wright, Chelan County PUD General Manager

“The Washington PUD Association supports Senate Bill 5158. This legislation will continue the important collaboration between the Department of Natural Resources and electric utilities, including public utility districts, to protect our electricity systems and our state forests from the threat of wildfires.”

  • George Caan, Washington PUD Association Executive Director

“A big ‘thank you’ to Senator Hawkins and his leadership on this bill and to all the stakeholders who took time to be part of the task force during a year of uncertainty. We had long-overdue and difficult conversations that brought us to consensus on many issues that will support all our wildfire prevention work as well as post-wildfire processes. The recommendations in this bill will solidify our work and ensure we keep the momentum of the task force going.”

  • Hilary Franz, Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands
Cold Springs fire map (revised)

The Cold Springs Fire in Okanogan County occurred at the same time as the Pearl Hill Fire. The fires burned over 400,000 total acres and destroyed over 100 homes.

Continuing my strong partnership with DNR

I am proud of my strong partnership with DNR. During my first term as 12th District senator, three of my prime-sponsored bills related to forest health or wildfire prevention were approved by the Legislature and signed into law. DNR worked with me for each effort.

  • In 2017, the Legislature approved SB 5546, which directs DNR to set up a framework for assessing the health of fire-prone lands and treating them. It sets a specific goal of assessing and treating 1 million acres over 16 years, most likely through prescribed fire and mechanical thinning. The bill also includes a stakeholder process and biennial progress reviews to the Legislature.
  • The second measure, Senate Bill 5270, which was passed unanimously by both legislative chambers and signed into law by the governor in 2017, removes the “temporary” label from the contract-timber harvest program operated by DNR. The program allows the agency to hire someone to harvest timber and sort the logs, after which DNR can sell them. It began in 2003 and was expanded in 2009.
  • In 2018, SB 6211 became law. It gives DNR immediate authority to handle revenue and authorize spending under the Good Neighbor Authority agreement, a helpful partnership, signed by DNR and the U.S. Forest Service in 2017.
2015 firefighters

Local firefighters supporting each other during the 2015 Chelan fires. 

Listen to my recent local radio interviews 

Each week during the legislative session, I call our local radio stations to participate in live interviews about the latest happenings in the legislative session. If you'd like to hear my most recent interviews, click on these links for KPQKOHO, and KOZI. You can also listen to my interview last week on KPQ's The Agenda show.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your 12th District state senator.



Brad Hawkins

State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District


107 Newhouse Building - P.O. Box 40412 | Olympia, WA 98504-0412
(360) 786-7622 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000