Demonstration garden at Okanogan.
Making a difference
Impacting wildfire preparedness in our communities
Support the Master Gardener Program

Throughout this site there are links to documents of various file types.
Please contact our Statewide Program Leader if you require this information in a different format.

Solving problems in our communities

Engaging university-trained volunteers to empower and sustain diverse communities with relevant, unbiased, research-based horticulture and environmental stewardship education. Read about WSU Master Gardeners in the news.

Wild fire burning behind house.


Extension Master Gardeners impart fire-resistant landscaping principles that play a crucial role in fostering resilient communities and diminishing the risk of loss caused by wildfires.


Wildland fires annually wreak havoc on homes and properties in the wildland-urban interface, which refers to areas where homes are constructed near or amid lands susceptible to wildland fires. Research indicates that up to 80 percent of homes lost to wildland fires could have been preserved if the vegetation around the homes was cleared, and defensible space was established around structures. Implementing proper planning and landscape practices is instrumental in minimizing the risk of wildland fires damaging or destroying property.


Extension Master Gardeners play a vital role in addressing fire-resistant landscaping inquiries, showcasing related practices and principles, and educating communities about the risks of wildfire-induced losses. Participants in these programs gain insights into identifying and creating ‘defensible space,’ understanding various fire defense zones, recognizing potential fire ignition sources that can harm homes, and selecting suitable plants to establish defensible space in their home landscapes.

  • Extension Master Gardeners responded to 297 questions in plant clinics, aiding clients in comprehending and implementing defensible space around their homes.
  • They conducted 33 classes for both adults and youth, emphasizing optimal landscaping practices for wildfire preparedness.
  • Five workshops were organized, offering hands-on experiences to learners interested in fire-resistant landscaping practices.
  • Three field days were held to provide participants with tangible experiences, helping them visualize and better understand fire-resistant landscaping practices and principles.
Plant clinic in progress.

Firewise garden in East Wenatchee.
Firewise demonstration garden at East Wenatchee, Washington.
Sign at firewise garden.
Partnership between Extension Master Gardener Program and Douglas County Fire District.
Keith at home expo.
Extension Master Gardeners provide complimentary clinics, offering research-based guidance for effectively managing garden pests.
Water wise demo garden in Spokane.
Extension Master Gardeners instruct the public in the optimal techniques for cultivating environmentally sustainable landscapes through interactive workshops.

Doing our part

The Extension Master Gardener Program in Spokane County collaborates with local agencies such as the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Conservation Districts, and Forestry Programs to provide essential wildfire preparedness training to extension master gardener volunteers, arborists, and landscapers. Participants receive education on fire ecology and history, creating defensible space, understanding the home ignition zone, and learning about plant adaptations to wildfires.

Through the partnership between the WSU Extension Spokane County Master Gardener Program, the Spokane County Conservation District, and the Washington DNR, three WSU EMG volunteers underwent follow-up fire risk assessments on their properties. As a result, two of these assessments led to DNR grant-assisted work being carried out on properties in the Spokane County Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI). The third assessment, while ineligible for grant assistance, prompted the homeowner to take proactive measures on their property.

In Chelan and Douglas Counties, volunteers collaborate with the Wenatchee Regional Fire Department to establish vegetative fire breaks around the city of Wenatchee. They also worked with a prominent homeowners’ association to devise a vegetation plan and secured a grant for its implementation. Additionally, they partnered with a senior center to create a fire-resistant landscape around the facility. These initiatives underscore the proactive measures taken by Extension Master Gardeners to enhance wildfire resilience in their communities.

Resource: FireResistantPlantsEastWA2021.pdf (