Blazing the Path to Real Climate Solutions: YES on WA 1631

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of Washington state? For me, it’s rain. I associate the state with dark green, lush vegetation, and lots of moisture. But funnily enough, Seattle, Washington receives an annual average of 37.13 inches ‒ which is actually less than Concord, New Hampshire’s annual average of 40.69 inches. And lately Washington’s weather patterns have been shifting. Temperatures are rising, precipitation is declining, there are more frequent and longer heat waves, and drier summers are leading to an increased risk of wildfire.

Cougar Creek Fire, Okanogan-Wenatchee NF, WA, 2018. Credit: BLM / Flickr

That’s why after this summer, the Evergreen State brings a new word to mind: wildfires. Over 1,200 wildfires occurred this past summer, making it the worst wildfire season for the state in recorded history.

“Wildfires directly and indirectly affect all of the reasons to live in Twisp, WA,” says Art Tasker, an active outdoorsman from the North Cascades.

“Not only are humans affected by the wildfires, but the toll on wildlife is staggering due to loss of habit, loss of forage, and direct mortality. This applies to birds, deer, wolves, chipmunks, squirrels, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and more to varying degrees.”

As wildfire season simmers down, Washingtonians are joining together to prevent anomalous wildfire seasons from becoming the new normal through Washington’s Initiative 1631 – or the Protect Washington Act – a policy that provides real climate solutions.

Invest in Climate Solutions

Initiative 1631 would require major polluters of climate-altering greenhouse gases to pay a fee for each ton of pollution released, giving them a strong and clear reason to reduce how much they pollute and to switch over to clean energy alternatives. The money raised from the fees would be used to invest in even more climate solutions for the state, and to help local communities and low-income residents.

Spotted Owl. Credit: NPS

One climate solution would be to devote funding to programs which conserve forests, grasslands, and aquatic ecosystems, and require that they be managed for increased carbon sequestration. The Initiative would also create a groundbreaking state funding source devoted explicitly to carbon sequestration projects that provide habitat protection and focuses on habitat connectivity.

Habitat connectivity is crucial around Interstate-5, where conservation easements are bottlenecked. The Initiative would help restore and maintain populations of elk, spotted owls, marbled murrelets, and more.

In short, Initiative 1631 would protect Washingtonians’ health, the environment, help local communities, build a clean energy economy, and benefit wildlife populations. Tasker, a longtime Washingtonian, involved in firefighting for 50 years, says:

“The trend line for more and larger wildfires continues to climb. The prognosis is dire if climate change is not slowed, stopped, or reversed.”

A Remarkable Opportunity

On November 6, 2018, Washingtonians have an opportunity to lead the nation in fighting climate change.

If you want cleaner air and water, healthier forests, happier wildlife, and a stronger clean energy economy in Washington, pledge to vote yes on Initiative 1631.

Pledge Now

For more information, follow the “Yes on 1631” campaign on Twitter and Facebook.