Susan Prichard stands in a field
Mark Stone/University of Washington
Susan Prichard is a wildfire scientist who lives in the Methow Valley.

Editor’s note: Each year wildfires impact the landscape and change the way of life for many communities around the world. Last fall, UW News went to the Methow Valley — the heart of fire country — to learn more about how UW’s experts play a role in shaping how we fight and live with fires here in Washington. Here’s one story:

WINTRHOP, Wash. – Agencies that are well practiced in putting out wildfires are now learning a new skill: how to set the spark and fan the flames.

That’s the case for the state Department of Natural Resources, which is starting to use prescribed burning as part of its strategy for fighting wildfires.

“The DNR is good at putting out fires,” said Susan Prichard, a School of Environmental and Forest Sciences researcher who lives and works in the Methow Valley, an area prone to wildfires. “Now they’re laying the groundwork to use more intentional burning in dry forests.”

That’s what will happen along Wolf Creek in the Virginia Ridge Timber Sale, a 671-acre area below Sun Mountain Lodge near Winthrop, Wash. The forest has been thinned and pyres of forest debris are seasoning. They’re scheduled to burn the piles in late 2020 and are considering options for prescribed underburning of the thinned forests.

Be sure to also check out our Wildfire Expert FAQ!

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