‘Tis the (Wildfire) Season

September 20, 2022

THROUGH THE FIRE In the summer of 2021, the Bootleg Fire burned across more than 413,000 acres of southern Oregon, making it the third largest wildfire in Oregon history. Nearly 15,000 of those acres were on The Nature Conservancy’s Sycan Marsh Preserve.
Fire retardant frosts Ponderosa pines overlooking downtown Spokane from Rimrock Drive. The Palisades fire threatened thousands of homes and precipitated evacuations on Friday, August 26.

Like it or not, the Inland Northwest is coming to grips with the presence of wildfire as an identifying marker of our summers. Land managers, policymakers, landowners, and emergency response crews are working tirelessly to find ways to prevent catastrophic fires, build collaboration in communities, and create more resilient forests and landscapes that are able to weather fire in the ways they have for thousands of years.

At Inland Northwest Land Conservancy, we are pleased to work with landowners who are passionate about the health of their forests. And most recently, we are deeply grateful for the work of the Department of Natural Resources and other local fire crews in containing a near-urban fire at Palisades Park, holding it to only 41 acres and keeping it from spreading into the Rimrock to Riverside project area that recently transferred from us to the City of Spokane for ownership and management.

The Palisades fire started on Friday, August 26.
Local crews leaped into action as more than 100 firefighters, 16 fire trucks, two tender trucks, and a helicopter worked tirelessly through the weekend to contain the fire and protect nearby homes and structures. The smoke plumes, visible from downtown Spokane, left an ominous pall in the skies throughout the weekend, and Conservancy staff and supporters waited anxiously to learn the fate of our beloved Rimrock to Riverside, and the homes of friends and neighbors from the Palisades community.

DNR firefighters monitored the park for several days after the fire was extinguished to make sure no remnants sprang to life again.

By Monday, August 29, the fire was 50% contained and evacuations were reduced to Level 1. The park was closed for several days after the fire to allow DNR crews to monitor the area, making sure that no rogue fires popped up in the impacted landscape. The park is now fully reopened and, we are grateful to report, Rimrock to Riverside remained unscathed.

While wildfire can seem like an impossibly massive danger to our communities, resources are available. Here are just a few.

Community Planning Assistance for WildfireFiretopia Toolbox
Washington Department of Natural ResourcesFirewise
Idaho Department of LandsFire Prevention and Preparedness
Spokane County Conservation DistrictForestry Department