Franz has headed the Department of Natural Resources since 2017, and she has effectively advocated for increased spending on wildfire prevention and response. While the position — which is elected statewide — also involves generating revenue from Washington’s public lands and managing the state’s broad resources, dealing with wildfires is perhaps the most visible aspect of her work.

As Sen. Sharon Shewmake, D-Bellingham, said: “We have DNR doing some great work out there fighting fires, but I also think people need to better understand the risk of fires. Preparation for disaster before the disaster occurs is super, super important. So let’s do some of that at the statewide level.”

The need is evident. As the Clark County Public Health website explains: “When air is smoky, even healthy people can have symptoms or health problems. Symptoms can range from minor irritation to life-threatening complications.” And during the Bolt Creek Fire last year in King County, Seattle reportedly had the worst air quality of any city in the world.

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