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This has been a season of contradictions in Kittitas County.

The region is in the midst of a severe drought, but thanks to a healthy snowpack there has been no reduction in junior water allotments this spring and summer.

It’s been a horrific year for wildland fires, but while there have been large fires in our neighboring counties, there haven’t been in Kittitas County.

Explanations include: luck, good fortune and that’s just the way things go some years.

Obviously, the weather is the wildcard. In recent years, the trend has been toward decent snowpacks at elevation and not much precipitation in the Kittitas Valley (with the exception of some untimely June rain storms when timothy hay is down).

Whether this type of weather trend holds going forward is another question.

Weather also plays into wildland fires. Fire crews in this county are amazing and seem to always arrive to blazes before they have a chance to spread, but we’ve also caught a break with a lack of lightning storms this summer.

A lightning storm across the landscape can spark dozens of fires that sometimes don’t spring to full life until days later. Spotter crews will go up in planes after a lightning storm, but there is no guaranteed fire prevention system after a lightning storm flashes across the landscape.

So, our lack of overall inclement weather may have led to the landscape further drying out and raising the risk of fire, but it also spared us lightning storms.

One of those newsy notes that catches you off guard was the reminder that the most significant fire in our country in 2020 was sparked over Labor Day weekend, as were many of the fires in Washington and Oregon that choked the region with smoke throughout the fire.

Not only did we get to enjoy the fair and rodeo this year, we got through the weekend with any major fire starts.

Looking at the conditions on the ground — tinder dry — coming though a weekend with people recreating outdoors throughout the region without a series of serious conflagrations, has to be considered a major victory.

If you take into account that the vast majority of fires are caused by humans, you have to think that this was a weekend where the vast majority of humans behaved responsibly. It’s a good sign that people took the fire risk seriously.

Enjoying this past week has been a reminder of how glorious late summer/early falls days can be in this county. In past years the smoke has taken away some of the best times of the year to be outside in Kittitas County.

At this point, it does not serve much purpose to question why, and it makes much more sense to go out and enjoy.

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