Dent legislation to create rangeland fire protection pilot project clears House committee

The House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee recently passed a bill that would direct the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to create a pilot project to better assess measures needed to ensure safe and effective operation of Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPA).

House Bill 1891, sponsored by Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, would allow for public-private partnerships in the form of RFPAs in which citizens would work together with fire departments to provide initial attack.

“There have been many catastrophic wildfires in our state over the last decade. Initial attack is the first thing we need to improve in order to strengthen our efforts against wildland fires. These local residents know the ground, know the topography, and know where the resources are,” said Dent. “RFPA pilot projects should provide good data on how ranchers, farmers, state and federal agencies, and firefighters can effectively work together to protect lives, property and livelihoods.”

House Bill 1891 would:

  • require the DNR to operate the RFPA pilot project in three separate areas located east of the crest of the Cascade mountains;
  • establish criteria for the formation, operation, and membership of RFPAs; and
  • require the department to submit a report on the pilot project to the Legislature in November 2026.

“The devastating fires we have dealt with in recent years have led to some important conversations about management and mobilization services, and some good, bipartisan legislation,” said Dent. “Wildfire prevention and response is a priority for me and taking a proactive approach will allow us to combat wildfires more efficiently and effectively. I am hopeful the RFPAs would be another valuable tool we can utilize during the wildfire season.”

Dent says the RFPA model has worked well in Eastern Oregon and Southern Idaho.

House Bill 1891 was voted out of committee, 11-3. It is now in the House Appropriations Committee.

The 60-day legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on March 10.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov