Tree thinning work aims to protect forest, reduce wildfire risk.
OLYMPIA – July 20, 2021 – Washington State Parks will conduct forest thinning at Squilchuck State Park, beginning this fall. The project will reduce wildfire risk and improve the health of the park’s forests.
Approximately 71 acres will be thinned along the park’s eastern and southern boundary to remove smaller, weaker and less fire-tolerant trees. This will reduce fuel loads, promote fire-tolerant species and return the forest to historic conditions. The thinning will also improve the health of remaining trees by reducing competition.
- Preparations for the work are underway. Park staff ask that visitors not disturb paint, flagging or markings within the park.
- Work is scheduled to begin this fall and finish by spring of 2022.
- Follow-up work includes trail repairs, debris management, replanting and noxious weed control. These activities will continue once the initial project is complete.
- Portions of the park and select trails will close during thinning operations. All trails will reopen once the trails are deemed safe. For visitor, park staff and contractor safety, the agency asks that parkgoers keep out of closed areas and follow all posted signs and notices.
Human suppression of wildfires has left many eastern Washington forests vulnerable to catastrophic fire.
A fire history reconstruction study of Squilchuck State Park shows fires naturally occurred in the area every 12 to 13 years, between 1615 and 1908. No fires recorded in the last 112 years were larger than 1 acre.
According to Agency Forester David Cass, the forest structure at Squilchuck used to be more open and dominated by ponderosa pine.
“This historic point of reference, paired with assessments of wildfire risk and forest health, tell us that much of the forest at Squilchuck State Park is in a vulnerable state,” he said.
Cass noted that Parks has been working to address forest health at Squilchuck for more than a decade.
“This project propels our broader efforts in the park and aligns with similar projects in the Squilchuck-Stemilt basin,” he said.
Learn more about our state’s forest health strategy for eastern Washington.
News media contacts:
David Cass, Agency Forester (360) 386-2990 David.Cass@parks.wa.gov
Meryl Lassen, Communications Consultant (503) 490-8796, firstname.lastname@example.org
About Washington State Parks
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.
News release number: 21-043