2019 – Lucky!  2020 – Get Ready!

Tom McMackin

Like greater Klickitat County, High Prairie had a very fire-quiet 2019! We were blessed to a degree with strong soil moistures from the 2018-19 winter precipitation and late snowfalls. This set the stage for strong, robust growth of vegetation in all areas. That moisture strength carried well into summer, with relatively mild heat patterns and moderate weather system activities throughout the region well into the fall. There was a high degree of LUCK factoring into the seasons, given our typical summer/fall fire lottery history!

The fire seasons have been, and continue to be, catastrophic for some communities near and far. We see them daily in the broadcast news and media. California and Australia are probably the first places that come to mind. The conditions of weather, climate, human development, and population growth are a few of the dynamic factors in all wildfire incidents. Within the various tragic events, however, are stories of life and property survival for individuals who had prepared themselves and their properties for sudden, disastrous possibilities.

Decisions and actions in the face of such calamity are shaped by prior decisions and actions. Physical awareness and effort, combined with mental preparation and diligent planning, can significantly raise our chances for personal and property survival. Each of us can make a difference, personally and in our community, by learning as much as possible about the potential for man-made and natural catastrophes and taking action to mitigate their impact on us at home and for our neighbors. As we learn and take action, we’ll get better at making the decisions required not only to survive, but to flourish and appreciate the beautiful places we call home! The FireWise and Ready, Set, Go! programs are excellent resource foundations in that effort.

In 2019, High Prairie’s FireWise and Ready, Set, Go! program activities were minimal due to everyone’s busy schedules; but it’s all still active and available. I will continue to be the contact person for the FireWise program effort for all High Prairie/KCFPD 14 residents, as well as any other interested communities or individuals. My contact information will continue as item #1 in the resource listing at the end of these High Prairian articles. I will also continue to provide links to information and other sources related to living safely and actively in the beautiful Wildland Urban Interface environment (WUI, aka Woo EE!!!) we call home.

A FireWise presentation in Spring 2020 will give everyone an opportunity to increase their practical knowledge. Preparation for Evacuation, with action plans for individuals and our community, will be a top priority, along with an overview of programs and resources available. If you would like to participate, present information, or assist in planning or participating in this event – or if you want to be more involved in the FireWise effort on High Prairie – please contact me!   

FireWise To-Dos

Now or Already done by January 10, 2020!

All pruning, complete removal, or firewise fire ladder fuel trimming (8-10’ up from the ground, but not more than 1/3 of the tree’s height), particularly pine trees close to all homes & structures… then out to the 100’ perimeter boundary as a fire fuels buffer. In the next few weeks, haul all the trimmings well away from any healthy trees into an area for chipping or burning as part of later general Spring vegetation clean up. 

These trimmings should be on the ground ‘NOW’! Doing this work in the time frame from November into early January interrupts pine bark beetle reproductive patterns; provides for wound healing as a natural protection for happy, healthy pines; and eases the task of keeping your home safely firewise.

FireWise Survey & Planning [ FireWise zones 0 to 5’ / 5’ to 30’ / 30’ to 100’ ]

> In the 9′ to 5’ zone ( Especially since all the oaks & shrubs are bare )

Walk around your house, other buildings and property

  • Inspect them from roof peak to the ground – taking note of debris & leaf litter in gutters, valleys and other nooks & crannies needing to be safely cleared away in the Spring and checked during fire season
  • From the foundation on the ground level – identify more natural litter or vegetation needing clean up or maintenance and any firewood or other items that would be more safely stored away from structures out 30’

> In the 30’ to 100’ zone – ( With the grasses matted and bushes & trees bare of leaves )

  • Identify any clear up trimming or removal that would reduce fire from traveling to a structure for Spring and early Summer work.
  • Develop your maintenance plan for mowing or landscape work to keep these areas fire safe from fire running on the ground or windborne embers or burning material falling from a fire nearby or far away

Attending to these tasks now will make accomplishing the work and maintaining the safety of your property throughout the coming fire season simple and easy!


Contact Tom McMackin for more information on the ‘FireWise’ and ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ programs; for comments, questions, or suggestions; to get more involved with the High Prairie FireWise effort; or to get connected with resources available to us as a recognized FireWise Community. Contact: email at, or by phone message at 509-365-2786.

FireWise online –  or

Ready, Set, Go! online –  or


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