House passes Rep. Dent’s bill allowing citizens to access public lands to save livestock from wildfires

In a 97-1 vote Wednesday, the House passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Tom Dent that would change state law regarding access to public lands during a wildfire.

Under House Bill 2925, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would be required to allow citizens to access public lands to save their livestock in the event of a wildfire, so long as they didn't interfere with active fire responders.

“As long as citizens aren't impeding firefighters' efforts to battle a wildfire, they should be allowed to move their livestock out of harm's way,” said Dent, R-Moses Lake. “These animals are a significant investment for ranchers like myself, yes, but good animal husbandry also means we must look after their health and safety. If livestock owners know the risks and aren't getting in the way of our fire responders, we should make it legal for them to access public lands and retrieve their animals.”

The bill would also create civil liability immunity for the state if a rancher decided to take such a course of action. According to the bill:

“The owner of livestock lawfully present on public lands assumes full liability for any damages incurred to himself or herself, and any employees or agents in his or her charge, if public lands are accessed to retrieve or care for livestock during the time of a fire suppression response by the department affecting the public lands in question. No civil liability may be imposed by any court on the state, the department, or another political subdivision of the state for any direct or indirect adverse impacts, including injury or death.”

House Bill 2925 moves to the Senate for further consideration.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov