Controlled burn at Camas Meadows planned for October 1

September 30, 2014
prescribed burn

Firefighters keep a close eye on prescribed burns. Photo: Kent Romney

If wind and weather conditions are favorable, DNR may conduct a controlled burn at Camas Meadows Natural Area Preserve on Wednesday, October 1. The project may be moved to later in the week or later this fall if weather conditions do not allow for safe burning on October 1.

Why burn? Fire helped develop the arid forests and meadows in the east Cascade Mountains and using it through planned burns promotes the growth of native plant species. Controlled burns are a safe and cost-effective way to restore natural conditions and remove encroaching shrubs, trees, and other growth that can lead to uncontrolled wildfires.

Will firefighters be present during the burn? Yes, DNR firefighters and fire engines will be present during the burn to prevent it from spreading.

What about the burn ban? DNR lifted the statewide burn last week. The prescribed burn at Camas Meadows will be conducted in compliance with prescribed burning regulations and closely monitored.

Where will the prescribed burn take place? Camas Meadows Natural Area Preserve is 12 miles southeast of Leavenworth, off Camas Creek Road, and protects the largest remaining populations of two rare plant species — the Wenatchee Mountain checker-mallow and the Wenatchee larkspur — that occur only in the Wenatchee Mountains of central Washington.

DNR-managed natural areas protect native ecosystems and the plant and animal species that depend on them.

Do you have other questions or concerns about controlled burning? Email David Wilderman, natural areas program ecologist for DNR’s Natural Areas Program, which is a statewide system of natural resources conservation areas and natural area preserves totaling more than 155,000 acres.

How much carbon does that tree store? There’s a tool for that

September 26, 2014
Don't see the leaves in your yard as a nuisance. View them as an exercise plan to get in shape.

Don’t see the leaves in your yard as a nuisance. View them as an exercise plan to get in shape.

That maple tree in the backyard that seems to produce twice its weight in leaves every fall is more than just good lookin’. In addition to a home for wildlife, summer cooling, rain run-off control and more, that tree – if you live in the city – is part of the urban forest. Trees in urban areas also have a measurable role to play in absorbing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.

How measurable? See for yourself, and try out the National Tree Carbon Calculator. The calculator allows anyone to estimate benefits from an individual street tree in their yard. Casey Trees and the Davey Tree Expert Company came up with this brilliant tool.

Try it out. Just enter the tree species, size (diameter-at-breast height) and find out how much biomass and carbon is stored in the tree. The calculator also helps show the benefits of energy savings.

Visit the Washington State Urban and Community Forestry Program to find more tools and links to information about the economic, environmental, social and aesthetic benefits of trees.

 

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Grants available for fire protection districts and departments through DNR-administered program

September 18, 2014
Water tender

This water tender used in wildland fire response by Klickitat Fire District #15 was purchased through a federal grant program administered in Washington State by DNR.

The application period is open for Volunteer Fire Assistance Phase II grants to help fire protection districts and departments in Washington state gear up for wildfire protection. This U.S. Department of Agriculture funding provides a 50 percent match for qualifying fire departments to purchase personal protective equipment and general equipment.

The grants are available to fire protection districts and departments in Washington state that respond to wildland fires on private, state, or federal lands and:

  • Serve communities with a population of 10,000 or fewer residents.
  • Serve communities of more than 10,000 residents AND a service area that includes a rural community of fewer than 10,000 residents

The application process for the Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program closes October 31, 2014, 5:00 p.m.

Grant information, including district eligibility, types of projects eligible for funding, and grant applications, can be viewed on DNR’s Fire District Assistance webpage.

For questions, contact DNR Fire District Assistance at 360-902-1300.

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Cultural heritage is all around us in the forest

September 15, 2014
Cedar tree used for bark harvest

Cedar tree used by Native Americans for a bark harvest. Note the scarring at the top of the photo. Photo: DNR

Woodlands provide a home for plants and animals, but they’re also home to the remains of past uses. Whether it’s an old well, homestead, railroad or a Tribal site, these cultural and historical resources on the land tell the story of our past – a tangible link to the people and events that shaped our shared history, communities and ourselves.

Most small landowners are willing to identify and protect cultural resources, but may not know how to go about doing so. They may also lack the financial resources to develop an organized and consistent approach to identifying and protecting the sites.

Both DNR’s stewardship foresters and Washington State University (WSU) Extension foresters can help private woodland owners develop forest stewardship plans that include steps to protect these resources. Addressing these resources in a stewardship plan also helps ensure that the plan meets state and federal laws that protect our cultural and historic resources. To find out more, go to the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation or contact the office by phone at (360) 586-3065. For more information on the state’s Forest Practices Rules and to find out which Tribes are in your area, contact your closest DNR Region Office.

Two helpful resources about protecting cultural resources in the forest come from the 2012 Cultural Resources Workshop sponsored by the Quinault Indian Nation and Washington Forest Protection Association, and from the American Tree Farm Systems webinar Archeology in Your Woods.

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Make plans for planting trees; it’s healthier in the long run

September 8, 2014
This beautiful tree may not have a chance to grow healthy because it's close by and under an evergreen tree.

This fall add some color to your yard and be sure to plant your tree in a good location.

Have you started planning for fall planting? If you blinked, you may have missed summer, but now that fall is coming soon, it’s the perfect time to plan for any trees you intend to plant.

Whether you plant a tree for aesthetics, to increase your property value, to save energy by providing shade, or to watch birds while lounging in a hammock, it is important to plan ahead. Start by thinking about site selection.

For trees to grow to maturity and provide the many benefits we expect from them, they must be well matched to site conditions. Take a look at these important site conditions: above- and below-ground conflicts (such as buried utilities), expected site modifications, and how much maintenance and care the tree will require.

You also want to evaluate the site to make sure it’s a good place for a tree so you can pick the best species for that site. List the tree attributes you are looking for that fit the limitations of the site. Attributes may include crown shape or flower color. You might also consider whether the tree can tolerate a lot of shade from nearby trees or buildings. Is the soil often damp? Will there be room for the tree when it reaches its mature height?

Consider a species appropriate for your area of the state, too. Look to see if your city or county has a list of appropriate community trees.

Now comes the fun part for ‘tree geeks.’ Pull out the nursery catalogs or search the web for tree availability to find the perfect tree for your site.

Ed Gilman of the University of Florida Agricultural Sciences has created a site evaluation form that can guide you through the evaluation process. To find a great volume of information about tree selection, planting, care, maintenance, and management, visit Gilman’s website.

The U.S. Forest Service has a checklist of points to consider before, during and after planting your tree.

Visit DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program webpage for additional information.

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Celebrate going back to school in nature’s classroom

September 8, 2014
ChildWoods

Take kids out to play and learn on DNR-protected land. Photo by: DNR/Jennifer Allison

As your children return to school, why not stretch their learning beyond the classroom?

DNR has many recreation opportunities in Washington’s great outdoors to connect your child with nature as their learning environment grows.

Why do kids need nature?
Lack of nature education and outdoor exposure is called Nature Deficit Disorder, coined by the writer Richard Louv in his 2005 book, “Last Child in the Woods.”

Studies have found that connecting children with nature improves their ability to perform in school subjects such as math, reading, and science.

Check out some of the outdoor education opportunities DNR has to offer below, and help give your kid an extra edge. Read the rest of this entry »

Extra, Extra! Read all about it!

September 5, 2014

At-risk critters and habitat to be protected…comments requested

Black tern Photo: Mike Yip

Black tern Photo: Mike Yip

The at-risk ‘water-dependent’ critters that we protect under our draft Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan are pretty interesting. Some species live long lives in the wild—like 70-to-100 years, and we’re not talking mammals like whales. We are talking FISH and TURTLES! Yes, the yellow-eye rockfish can reach 39 pounds and live for 100 years, and little western pond turtle up to 70 years. And then there are FROGS. The 2-to-4 inch carnivorous northern leopard frog can eat its way through beetles, flies, ants, dragonflies and other bugs, and mysteriously move overland to migrate from breeding ponds to other waters (we know not how yet)—and the black terns that winter in south and central America and come to breed in the cattails and bulrushes of shallow waters of the Columbia plateau in eastern Washington. Take a look at our other covered species factsheets.

Western pond turtle. Photo: W. P. Leonard

Western pond turtle. Photo: W. P. Leonard

Washington’s Department of Natural Resources set out to find a better way to protect at-risk native aquatic critters such as these on the 2.6 million acres of lands under marine and fresh waters of the state, managed by DNR for all Washingtonians. That better way is contained in the draft Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan, now available for your review, along with all related documents.

The species above are a few of the ‘fascinating 29’ that DNR is working to protect through guidelines in an HCP. They also show us which habitat challenges and activities may be causing harm not only to them but to other critters that use the same habitats. DNR’s goals are to protect sensitive, threatened and endangered aquatic species, several of which have been listed under the federal Endangered Species Act; and to identify, improve and protect important habitats on state-owned aquatic lands.

The draft HCP took nearly eight years of effort by DNR aquatics staff, working closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. The draft HCP formalizes DNR’s efforts to conserve and enhance aquatic lands, and provides a stable management framework grounded in science and based on the principles of sustainability.

Northern leopard frog Photo: K. McAllister

Northern leopard frog Photo: K. McAllister

Public Comments welcomed on environmental analysis of plan

The Services have jointly prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) to analyze the potential environmental effects of the proposed plan. This analysis will support permitting decisions to be made by each of the federal agencies.

We are soliciting your review and comments on the Draft EIS and other draft documents during a 90-day comment period beginning today, September 5 through December 4, 2014.    

Public meetings will be held in October to explain the HCP and how to best offer your ideas regarding the potential environmental impacts addressed in eh Draft EIS.

Celebrate Seattle Seahawks’ opening game day and National Wildlife Day with DNR

September 4, 2014

Ever wonder about the majestic bird behind your 12th Man pride in the Seattle Seahawks?

In recognition of National Wildlife Day and the Seattle Seahawks’ opening game today, we’re highlighting a DNR recreation opportunity that is home to the osprey, the only raptor willing to dive into the sea for fish.

osprey

An osprey dives into the water. The osprey is the only raptor that plunges into the water to catch fish. Photo: Rodney Cammauf / National Park Service.

Whether you’re an avid Seattle Seahawks fan, curious about hawks, or just looking for a place to explore in Washington’s great outdoors, read on for where to find nature’s sea hawk, the osprey, on DNR-managed recreation lands.

Home to the sea hawk:
West Tiger Mountain NRCA

This Natural Resource Conservation Area (NRCA) is 35 miles east of Seattle and protects a vast variety of rare ecosystems and many species of native wildlife.

This 4,430-acre expanse is home to deer, cougars, bobcats, black bears, coyote, elk, red-tailed hawks, owls, woodpeckers and… our native sea hawk, the osprey.

The area is an excellent outdoor classroom with an education shelter, interpretive displays, and accessible trails.


Discover Pass logoDiscover Pass

Before you celebrate this special day by visiting DNR-managed lands, don’t forget a Discover Pass, your ticket to state recreation lands in Washington.

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Mountain bikers rejoice: New trail opens tomorrow in east Tiger Mountain State Forest (with more to come!)

August 29, 2014

Off-the-Grid Trail in Tiger Mountain State Forest.

Mountain biker enjoying the new Off-the-Grid Trail in Tiger Mountain State Forest. Photo: Robin Fay.

DNR opens a new trail for mountain biking tomorrow (Saturday, August 30) in Tiger Mountain State Forest near North Bend. The area, located just off of I-90, east of Seattle, is open to visitors from dawn to dusk.

The addition of the new 2.5-mile-long Off-the-Grid Trail brings the forest’s mountain bike trail system to approximately 15 miles, making this area even more attractive to enthusiasts of the sport.

DNR carefully designed the new trail, with input from the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, to avoid erosion, habitat damage, and other negative impacts to the environment. Built by DNR with a lot of help from Puget SoundCorps crews and volunteers, the Off-the-Grid Trail features rock gardens, berms, rollers, and 120 feet of elevated boardwalk. If you aren’t familiar with those mountain bike terms, come out and see for yourself (but bring your helmet), and get Off-the-Grid.

Download a map of the new Off-the-Grid Trail.

More trails to come
Even better news for mountain bikers in the Northwest is that DNR will soon add more mountain biking trails in Tiger Mountain State Forest thanks to funding from Washington state’s Nonhighway and Off-Road Vehicle Activities Program. Construction, with help from Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, has just started on a new descent trail for advanced riders. Work begins this fall on a climbing trail that will allow bikers to reach other trails without the need to use the forest’s road system.

Discover Pass Discover Pass logo
Remember to grab a Discover Pass to keep your recreation opportunities on DNR-managed land available season after season.

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Labor Day Weekend brings vital need for fire safety

August 27, 2014
The Carlton Complex fires started on July 14 by lightning from a weather system that moved through the Methow Valley. Photo: Jacob McCann

The Carlton Complex fires started on July 14 by lightning from a weather system that moved through the Methow Valley. Photo: Jacob McCann/DNR.

As the last holiday weekend of summer arrives, please be careful when driving a vehicle, tending a campfire, or using tools outdoors over this Labor Day weekend. These are just a few activities that can ignite a wildfire.

This has been an unprecedented fire season for Washington state, and DNR has responded to well over 1,000 fires this year.

Please program this important number in your cell phone before you head out: 800-562-6010. It’s a direct line to report forest fires.

Another recommended ‘to-do’ before leaving home to go camping or hiking is checking for local restrictions on campfires. DNR’s burn risk map lists outdoor burning restrictions by county. Campgrounds may choose to ban open fires, so always check with the campground host before lighting your campfire.

In areas where campfires are allowed, DNR asks the public to follow these suggestions:

  • Clear all vegetation away from the fire ring (remove all flammable materials, such as needles, leaves, branches, etc.).
  • Keep your campfire small.
  • Keep plenty of water and a shovel nearby for throwing dirt on the fire if it gets out of control.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended!

Put it out!

Don't let your spark do this to the forest! Photo: Mike Minion

Don’t let your spark do this to the forest!
Photo: Mike Minion/DNR.

When putting out your campfire, you should:

  • First, drown the campfire with water.
  • Next, mix the ashes and embers with soil. Scrape all partially burned sticks and logs to make sure all the hot embers are removed.
  • Stir the embers after they are covered with water and make sure everything is wet.
  • Feel the coals, embers, and any partially burned wood with your hands; everything should be cool to the touch.
  • When you think you are done, take an extra minute and add more water. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again.
  • If you don’t have water, use moist dirt. Be careful not to bury any hot or burning material, as it can smolder and later reignite.
  • If it’s too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.

In an effort to reduce human-caused wildfires, DNR issued a statewide burn ban on all lands under the department’s protection, effective through September 30, 2014. The ban applies to all forestlands in Washington state, except federal lands. While campfires are allowed in approved pits west of the Cascade Mountains in designated state, local and private campgrounds, they are not allowed east of the Cascade Mountains.

 

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