Ellensburg, WA - Governor Jay Inslee paid a visit to Central Washington University to tour the school's vaccine clinic and discuss the upcoming wildfire season with local law enforcement.
Inslee met with Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and others to discuss wildfires in Washington. First, the governor discussed funding being allocated to DNR to help combat fires. Chief John Sinclair from Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue said the funds will help increase staffing.
"The quicker that we can get assets to the scene of that fire and keep them small before they get wind aligned and especially before the heat of the day comes on to those then the better off we are," Sinclair said.
Sinclair also said in his professional opinion he believes this fire season will be worse than last year because it is a lot drier earlier in the year. He also said over the years, fire season has gotten longer and he doesn't expect that to change. Thirty years ago, fire season was 100 days long, now it is 140 days.
Gov. Inslee brought attention to this in their meeting and asked the fire department and DNR to educate people on climate change, stating this is the reason for why the fire seasons are getting longer and drier.
"Don't let them blame you for the fires because you're not doing your job" Inslee said. "The reasons fires are getting worse is because we are getting hotter and drier."
Sinclair also asked Gov. Inslee to communicate with the Department of Transportation to stop the planting of grass along the highways because come fire season, it burns up.
"Those grasses dry out then they just become fuel load and they'll carry the fire," Sinclair said.
After the meeting ended, Gov. Inslee talked with local health officials about vaccination efforts in Kittitas County and toured CWU's vaccine clinic.
CWU's vaccine clinic has vaccinated nearly 700 students and employees on campus. The governor applauded the university's efforts in making vaccines easily accessible to students in a safe space.
"Again we've seen a very well coordinated very well consolidated program to make vaccinations the most accessible as possible, including in our college students," Inslee said.
Gov. Inslee also had the opportunity to visit Samuelson Hall to learn about a new degree program which is helping create jobs in green energy. After learning about the program, Gov. Inslee named University President James Gaudino Washingtonian of the Day. The governor said he gave Gaudino this honor for his creation of the green program to help combat climate change.