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Wildfire Risk Reduction

Fire is a serious threat along Spokane’s wild border. It has the potential to rip up the hill and destroy homes well beyond the Bluff’s edge. Friends of the Bluff has been working since 2012 to protect homes and parkland from this threat.


In 2019, Friends of the Bluff became a Firewise Community. Firewise enables the group to earn cost-share money from the WA Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for thinning and pruning work we do. We are committed to improving the ecology of the Bluff and protecting homes from fire. Since 2000, over 250 acres have been treated. 


If you want to help on your own property, create a defensible space by removing flammable material within a 5-foot buffer from your home. Learn more about being Firewise.

Firewise Sign.jpg

Lop and Scatter

This wildfire fuel reduction technique involves removing the less desirable trees and low-hanging branches in densely forested areas. This prevents fires along the forest floor from climbing into the treetops. After removal, the debris is cut up into small pieces and scattered around the site so it decomposes efficiently.

Watch the video we made with WSU Spokane County Extension to learn more.

If you are interested in volunteering at one of our "Lop and Scatter" wildfire risk reduction events, you can see what it's like by watching the video or sign up with the button below.

Goat Grazing

Over the past several years, Friends of the Bluff has hired a herd of goats from Healing Hooves to lessen fire risk in natural areas by reducing brush and tree sapling density. The goats also help with noxious weeds and invasive brush.


Well-managed livestock is one of the most sustainable ways to address these needs while regenerating healthy soil and storing carbon. Watch our video to learn more.

City Crews

At the beginning of 2024, the Spokane Parks Department, Spokane Fire Department Wildland Resource Planner, and the Washington DNR began working together to use a generous grant to reduce fire danger on the bluff by removing overcrowded immature trees and “ladder fuels” that can transform a ground fire into a dangerous forest canopy fire. 


Over the next 1-2 years, the plan is to treat the entire bluff. Friends of the Bluff has been working with Spokane Parks and the DNR, from the planning stage to monitoring the project and fielding questions from bluff users and residents. 


While it may look startling at first, the appearance of the treated area now closely approaches the historic natural state of a Ponderosa pine forest.  If you look closely, you will notice that islands of low-growth shrubs and serviceberry for wildlife, standing dead trees for nesting birds, “nurse logs” for seedlings, Douglas firs, and healthy young Ponderosa pines for succession have been preserved.


While there may be some disruption of trail use and some trail widening as part of the work, no serious erosion or lasting harm has been seen. Watch for native grasses and wildflowers taking advantage of the increased sunlight on the forest floor!


Forest health and fire risk reduction are intertwined. Trees in a forest compete for light, water, and nutrients. Trees that grow in adequate space – and thus have sufficient of the aforementioned resources -   are healthier and better able to resist damage from insects, disease, and fire.


High tree density and low-hanging branches increase the risk of intense wildfires that threaten the forest and adjacent neighborhoods. However, when spacing in the forest is increased by thinning (removing some trees), and lower branches are pruned off remaining trees, wildfires seldom climb up into the treetops to become crown fires that leap from tree-to-tree and burn into neighboring communities.


Wildfires that are kept on the ground are easier to control, so they pose less risk to residential areas, to the forest itself, and to firefighters.

Forest Health

Contract crew leaves a snag tree for wildlife habitat

Demo area crew



Pine Gall Fungus

Pine Gall Fungus

Sensitive Timing

In May and June, only tree removal (thinning) is done and the cut trees were taken to the road for chipping. No pruning is done at this time because the pine gall rust fungus is actively shedding spores (the fungal equivalent of seeds) that would possibly infect trees via open, cut surfaces from branch removal.

In July, pruning of lower branches commences close to the road because all cut material must be removed for chipping. This is because pine bark beetles are flying and would be able to find refuge in piles of cut branches.

From August through April, the risk of insects and disease infection is greatly reduced. More intensive treatments can occur during this time.

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