Forest Health and Fire 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. Will you join us?
Ways you can contribute:
Volunteer on our board or join a work party.
Donate money to fund large scale mitigation projects.
Create a defensible space. Remove flammable material within a 5-foot buffer from your home. Learn more about being Firewise.
In 2019, Friends of the Bluff became a Firewise Community. See our boundary on this map. 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.
Fire risk reduction
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.
Fire is a natural part of the ecosystem on the Bluff and the region. Our intent is not to eliminate all fire from the area – which would require paving it over!
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.
Sensitive timing of tree work
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.
Contract crew leaves a snag tree for wildlife habitat
Demo area crew
Forest after thinning & pruning