House approves Kretz’ bills to address wolves, wildfires


Legislator: Rep. Joel Kretz
Run Time: 93 seconds
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The House of Representatives has approved bills to address a couple of major problems that have been plaguing upper North Central Washington in recent years. John Sattgast reports from Olympia.

Sattgast: Talk these days with State Representative Joel Kretz from Wauconda and you'll hear two issues weighing heavily on his mind: wolves and wildfires.

Wolves are a protected species, which is frustrating to many of his constituents whose hands are tied as they can only watch helplessly while wolves prey on their livestock and pets.  And then there's the Carlton Complex Fire which destroyed more than 400 structures last summer in Okanogan County while locals were held back from protecting their property.

Kretz blames bureaucracy in Olympia for mismanagement and misunderstanding the independent lifestyle of most people in his district.

The 7th District lawmaker introduced two bills that passed the House Tuesday. House Bill 2093 creates reforms to the way the state responds to wildfires.

Kretz: “The part that is really key to me is the Good Samaritan concept that I think we would all agree with – that if you see a fire, lightning strike, something started, you can go anywhere on public land, private land, put it out without facing legal  consequences.”

Sattgast: The House also approved Kretz' legislation to require the Department of Fish and Wildlife to review the statewide wolf management plan and its effects in Eastern Washington

Kretz: “This is a pretty charged subject. We've got people on all sides and we've got people that think there should never be a wolf killed. There's people that think we should kill every single one. And I think the attempt at this bill is to get somewhere in the middle.”

While state government focuses on protection of wolves and its agencies, Kretz says it's time to focus on protection of people and their property. Both bills passed unanimously and are now heading to the Senate for further consideration.

John Sattgast, Olympia.

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