DNR weekend reading: Frequency and size of wildfires in western US growing

April 19, 2014
Trees in this patch of old-growth forest in southwest Washington State survived the Yacolt Burn of 1902.

Trees in this patch of old-growth forest in southwest Washington State survived the Yacolt Burn of 1902. Timber harvests are restricted in this area because it is habitat for the northern spotted owl, a federally listed species. Photo: DNR

Here are links to articles about recent research, discoveries and other news about forests, climate, energy and other science topics gathered by DNR for your weekend reading:

American Geophysical Union: More, bigger wildfires burning western U.S., study shows
Wildfires across the western United States have been getting bigger and more frequent over the last 30 years – a trend that could continue as climate change causes temperatures to rise and drought to become more severe in the coming decades, according to new research.

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA): Nutrient-rich forests absorb more carbon
The ability of forests to sequester carbon from the atmosphere depends on nutrients available in the forest soils, shows new research from an international team of researchers. “This paper produces the first evidence that to really understand the carbon cycle, you have to look into issues of nutrient cycling within the soil,” said one of the researchers.

University of Utah: Warm U.S. West, Cold East: A 4,000-Year Pattern: Global Warming May Bring More Curvy Jet Streams during Winter
Last winter’s curvy jet stream pattern that brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, and may become more extreme as Earth’s climate warms. By examining oxygen isotope ratios in lake and cave sediments, University of Utah researchers were able to determine several thousand years of past jet stream patterns.

Environment360: UN Panel Looks to Renewables as the Key to Stabilizing Climate
In its latest report, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes a strong case for a sharp increase in low-carbon energy production, especially solar and wind, and provides hope that this transformation can occur in time to hold off the worst impacts of global warming.

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Forestlands pressured by residential development; Housing density near Washington State forests grew faster than in Ogegon

April 18, 2014

The number of structures on private lands bordering public forests in Washington and Oregon has more than doubled since the 1970s. The greatest increases in density were on the fringes of public forests in Pierce, King, Snohomish, and Clark counties in Washington, and Deschutes County in Oregon. That growth brings higher risks of wildfire and more negative impacts on native fish and wildlife habitat.

Aerial photographs from 1995 (upper photo) and 2006 document the increased number of private structures -- most residential--on private lands near this unidentified section of National Forest

Aerial photographs from 1995 (upper photo) and 2006 document the increased number of private structures — most residential–on private lands near this unidentified section of National Forest. Photo: National Agriculture Imagery Program.

Using aerial photography to inventory structures and compare the pace of development next to public forests, the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station found that the development growth rate on private lands bordering Washington DNR-managed state trust lands was twice that seen on private lands next to state forests in Oregon. The study’s authors speculate that some of the disparity is because Oregon enacted its Land Conservation Act in 1973 while the Washington State Growth Management Act did not become law until 1990 — the study covered 1974 to 2005. All the same, more and more private structures are being built on private lands bordering public forests in both states.

The expansion of development at the edges of public lands raises numerous management issues for forest managers, including:

  • Introduction of invasive plants;
  • Increases in unmanaged recreation;
  • Negative impacts on native fish and wildlife; and
  • More use of roads, which can lead to a rise in human-caused wildfire starts.

While fewer new structures were built next to U.S. Forest Service lands in Washington during the 30-year period studied, it was because DNR-managed lands and commercial forestlands tended to buffer federal lands from activities on private lands. Read the study.

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DNR Adventure: Your outdoor gym, mountain biking

April 18, 2014

As spring gets rolling, so can you, on your mountain bike. There are many DNR trails that accommodate mountain bikes. Read on for some trip ideass to inspire you to pump up your tires and dig out the riding gear.

Abandon your stationary bike and take to the trails for some serious cardio action. Photo courtesy of Friends of Capitol Forest

Abandon your stationary bike and take to the trails for some serious cardio action. Photo courtesy of Friends of Capitol Forest

Grab your Discover Pass, strap the bike rack on your car, and enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of your bike seat.

Capital Forest—Mima Falls
The Mima Falls trail is a great ride for all ages and skill levels.  The trail is a 7 mile loop so you can decide if you want to roll through and take in the views or try a different line on each time around.

Take an afternoon and ride Capitol State Forest's outdoor gym. Photo by: DNR

Take an afternoon and ride Capitol State Forest’s outdoor gym. Photo by: DNR

This trail is not too technical, allowing you to relax and enjoy the scenery.  Make sure you stop to take in the views when you pass by the breathtaking Mima Falls waterfall. Bring a lunch - the falls create musical natural soundtrack to accompany your picnic.

Get there: From I-5 South
Take exit 95 and make a slight left onto Maytown Road SW. Continue onto 128th Avenue. Turn left onto Mima Road SW and continue 1.3 miles, then turn right onto Bordeaux Road SW. Turn right onto Marksman Street SW. Keep left to stay on Marksman Street SW, then make a slight left to stay on Marksman St SW. The trailhead will be on your left.

Tiger Mountain Trail- Fully Rigid, Joy Ride, Silent Swamp
These new trails are now open to the public for hiking and mountain biking.  You can be one of the firsts to take tread to the trail and enjoy the climb to a lovely picnic area set at the top. Whether you are looking for a short quick uphill route (Fully Rigid), a more pleasant flatter slower route (Silent Swamp), or something in between (Joy Ride) these three new trails have something for everyone.

Mountain Bike Rider on East Tiger Mountain

Enjoy the natural and rugged terrain at East Tiger Mountain this summer. Photo: Sam Jarrett, DNR

No matter what trail you choose going up, they all share the same hilltop destination.  Go ahead out and be the first of your friends to conquer these new tails and try all the different combinations.

Get there: From I-90
Take exit 25 and drive south on State Route 18 to the Tiger Mountain summit. At the summit, turn right (west) into the large parking lot. Drive through the first lot, and turn left onto a gravel road. Continue about 0.25 mile to a second, larger parking lot on the right. The road is gated just past this lot.

Before you go:
As fun as mountain biking can be, make sure you take the following precautions to play safely:

  • Always wear a helmet and personal protective gear.
  • Never recreate alone on DNR-managed lands. Taking a buddy not only makes the ride more fun, but it also provides someone to help you if you get into trouble.
  • Know the trails, and check to see if they’re open.
  • Practice proper trail etiquette.
  • Read tips for safe and sustainable mountain biking.

So take your spin class outdoors and get some fresh air in your lungs as you enjoy great trails and great scenery.

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Are you ready? Wildfire season starts April 15

April 15, 2014
Taylor Bridge Fire

The Taylor Bridge Fire, which started August 13, 2012, destroyed 61 residences and burned 23,500 acres between Cle Elum and Ellensburg. Photo: DNR.

Regardless of what the thermometer or rain gauge say, wildfire season officially begins on April 15 in Washington State.

The risk of wildfires can change rapidly during the spring when spells of warmer, drier weather occur with increasing frequency. Wildfires can damage natural resources, destroy homes, and threaten the safety of the public and the firefighters who protect forests and communities.

In fact, there have already been more than 20 forest fires reported this year on lands protected by DNR. Last year, 764 fires burned approximately 126,219 acres on DNR-protected lands– about 70 percent of those were human-caused.

Now is a good time to consider fire-resistant landscaping techniques that can help keep your home safe, especially if you live close to the forest or other open lands. Fire-resistant landscaping can be both functional and beautiful. Try these tips to help keep your home safe from wildfire this year:

  • Use plants with high moisture content (deciduous) nearest the home;
  • Trim tree branches away from the home;
  • Keep vegetation, including the lawn, around the home low and green;
  • Limb trees at least six feet above the ground to reduce the chances that a fire on the ground will spread into tree tops – this is especially important if your property has lots of trees;
  • Keep decorative ground covers such as beauty bark away from direct contact with your home – bark and wood chip ground covers can smolder; and
  • Trim back trees and shrubbery around structures so that fire crews and their vehicles will have safe access in an emergency.

Defensible space
Trees, shrubs, grasses and other vegetation provide fuel for fires. Reducing or even eliminating vegetation close to structures is a way to create defensible space against a wildfire.

If you’re designing or updating your home’s landscaping, think of ways to incorporate firebreaks (things that don’t burn) into your landscape design. A defensible space doesn’t have to be an eyesore. Some examples of firebreaks are: concrete, brick or gravel walkways, concrete flower box borders or planters, and water features, such as a pond. Even the backyard swimming pool can serve as a firebreak.

Get Firewise
In Washington, numerous communities have received national recognition for their fire prevention efforts through the Firewise Communities USA Program. Many other neighborhoods have completed a wildfire protection plan that can help save lives and property.

We can all do our part to help prevent the spread of these wildfires. For additional tips on how to reduce the risk of wildfire to your community, home and family, visit www.firewise.org.

Learn more about wildfire rules that start this summer.

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DNR weekend reading: ‘High-tech’ trees, ecosystem cost-analysis methods, and more

April 12, 2014
One of the several UH-1H ('Huey') helicopters that DNR operates to suppress wildfires.

One of the several UH-1H (‘Huey’) helicopters that DNR operates to suppress wildfires. Although the official fire season in Washington State begins April 15, more than 20 wildfires have already occurred on lands protected by DNR. Photo: DNR.

Here are links to articles about recent research, discoveries and other news about forests, climate, energy and other science topics gathered by DNR for your weekend reading:

Oregon State University: Trees go high-tech: Process turns cellulose into energy storage devices
A fundamental chemical discovery should allow tress to soon play a major role in making high-tech energy storage devices. A method has been discovered to turn cellulose — the most abundant organic polymer on Earth and a key component of trees –- into the building blocks for cheaper and more environmentally friendly supercapacitors.

Bournemouth University: Putting a price on ecological restoration
Researchers at BU have shown that placing a monetary value on ecosystem services, such as timber, food and water, provides a useful mechanism to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of reforestation and other ecological restoration activities.

North Carolina State University: Where credit is due: How acknowledging expertise can help conservation efforts
A group of scientists is calling for conservation researchers to do a better job of publicly acknowledging the role of local experts and other non-scientists in conservation biology.

environment360: Soil as Carbon Storehouse: New Weapon in Climate Fight?
The degradation of soils from unsustainable agriculture and other development has released billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. But new research shows how effective land restoration could play a major role in sequestering CO2 and slowing climate change.

Coventry University: Health benefits of ‘green exercise’ for kids shown in new study
Children who are exposed to scenes of nature while exercising are more likely to experience health-enhancing effects after activity, according to a study published recently in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

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The simple act of planting a tree is hardly so simple

April 11, 2014
Planting trees by Seattle standards is always a good thing.

Planting trees by Seattle standards is always a good thing.

Most of us recognize that anyone who has stuck a tree into their front yard and managed not to kill it is hardly a tree planting expert. Unfortunately, even the pros will disagree on the best way to plant. At some point, you’ve all played witness to matter-of-fact tree planting dogma from a self-proclaimed tree planting expert, often with some pretty obscure ideas and methodologies.

There are no absolute right answers that apply to each unique tree planting situation, but if we can agree that ‘the right way’ to plant a tree should be based on modern best practices and the best available science, then we’re in luck.

Before you plant a tree this spring, be sure to check out the following resources: 

  1.  The Practical Science of Planting Trees, by Gary Watson and E.B. Himelick: Whoa! Published in 2013, this is a brand new, 250-page manual with full color photos and dozens of illustrations, covers everything there is to know about planting trees. This resource is an absolute must for the tree planting nerd you know. 
  2.  ANSI A300 Transplanting Standard, Part 6: This is the industry standard for planting and transplanting trees and shrubs. Especially if you work for a municipality, you’ll need this to help with writing and enforcing your tree planting contract specifications. 
  3.  ISA Best Management Practices, Tree Planting: Last revised in 2005, this companion publication to the ANSI standard is a modest investment for anyone who calls themselves a tree planter. Keep a copy in the truck for reference in the field. 
  4. DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program has a publication written by Jim Flott, an ISA Certified Arborist and consulting urban forester from Spokane, which specifically details the perils of planting trees too deeply. Check it out on our webpage: Proper Planting Begins Below Ground. 
  5.  Washington State University’s own Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has spent her career debunking numerous horticultural myths, including those relating to tightly held, but outdated beliefs about planting trees.
  6. Not so much the reading type? No worries. Casey Trees, a highly reputable non-profit tree planting organization in Washington D.C. has done a nice job of translating best practices for tree planting into some short, easy-to-follow instructional videos: Planting a Balled-and-Burlapped Tree; or, Planting a Container-grown Tree

Now go forth and plant trees (in accordance with best practices, of course).

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Help celebrate Earth Day by cleaning up the beach at Point Robinson, Maury Island

April 10, 2014
ps corps team on Piner Point

Puget SoundCorps doing some clean-up

Maury Island Beach clean-up

Are you tired of seeing bottles, food wrappers and so much other trash floating around on what could be beautiful beaches and tidelands? Celebrate Earth Day with Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Puget SoundCorps to help clean up the beach at Point Robinson, Maury Island.

The cleanup is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday, April 22. Parking is available at the upper lot of the Point Robinson Lighthouse.

Directions:

 - Coming on the ferry from Tacoma take Vashon Hwy SW.

 - Take a right onto SW Quartermaster Dr.

 - Follow SW Quartermaster Dr until you take another right onto Dockton Rd SW.

 - Continue straight onto SW Point Robinson Rd; this will take you all the way into the park.

What to bring and what is provided?

Please bring your work gloves, water, and appropriate work wear and come help DNR and Puget SoundCorps make a difference this Earth Day.

DNR will provide garbage bags and light refreshments. Volunteers can also take guided tours of the Point Robinson Lighthouse.

For further information, contact Kirsten Miller, DNR Puget SoundCorps crewmember or visit the event page on Facebook.

About the Puget Sound Corps

The Puget SoundCorps Program creates jobs while cleaning up state-owned aquatic lands and uplands across the 12-county area that makes up the Puget Sound basin.

SoundCorps members are young adults (18 to 25 years old) or military veterans who are serving a year of service as AmeriCorps members. Age restrictions may be waived for military veterans.

Puget SoundCorps is part of the broader Washington Conservation Corps program administered by Washington Department of Ecology in partnership with DNR. The Washington Conservation Corps is supported through grant funding and education awards provided by AmeriCorps.

For more information about the Puget SoundCorps Program, visit: www.ecy.wa.gov/wcc/psc.html

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College receives 2013 Tree Campus USA recognition

April 10, 2014
Students from the University of Puget Sound helped make their campus a Tree Campus USA®

Students from the University of Puget Sound helped make their campus a Tree Campus USA®

The University of Puget Sound has been honored with a 2013 Tree Campus USA® recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management.

Tree Campus USA® is a national program created in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation to honor colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.

“This national recognition is a well-deserved vote of appreciation for all that our grounds staff do to ensure the Puget Sound campus remains a place of local and regional pride,” said Bob Kief, Vice President for Facilities Services. “I want to thank our Grounds Manager, Joe Kovolyan, and his staff for their dedication and passion in maintaining such a beautiful campus.”

Puget Sound is one among only six colleges and universities in the Pacific Northwest to be awarded the Tree Campus USA® distinction since the program’s creation. Awardees must meet five standards, including: maintaining a tree advisory committee and a campus tree-care plan; dedicating annual expenditures for a campus tree program; observing Arbor Day; and offering a student service-learning project. The Tree Campus USA program is sponsored by Toyota.

“Students are eager to volunteer in their communities and become better stewards of the environment,” said John Rosenow, founder and chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Participating in Tree Campus USA sets a fine example for other colleges and universities, while helping to create a healthier planet for us all.”

The 97-acre Puget Sound campus is home to more than 2,000 trees, including towering Douglas Firs and other native evergreens, alongside deciduous shade and flowering trees such as birch, sycamores, dogwoods, and American Elms.

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Happy Arbor Day! Celebrate trees today and every day

April 8, 2014
Yvonne Sun, a fifth-grader at Clyde Hill Elementary School in Clyde Hill, was Washington State’s winner in 2010 of the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Arbor Day Poster Contest. She demonstrates what trees mean to her.

Yvonne Sun, a fifth-grader at Clyde Hill Elementary School, was Washington State’s winner in 2010 of the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Arbor Day Poster Contest. She demonstrates what trees mean to her.

Arbor Day is a celebration of trees and the many benefits they offer. Today is Arbor Day, and you might want to thank a healthy tree near you by taking good care of it. If you plant the right tree in the right place, the benefits will keep on giving: clean air, clean water, shade on a hot day, and habitat for wildlife.

One way we celebrate Arbor Day is through a special program called Tree City USA®. DNR and the Arbor Day Foundation recognize Tree City USA communities across the state for the dedicated efforts they invest in managing and caring for trees in their community. Communities that earn the Tree City USA award do so by meeting criteria that demonstrate their commitment to healthy community trees and forests, now and into the future.

To be acknowledged as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation, a city must designate staff to care for trees, appoint a citizen tree board to advocate for community forestry, establish a tree ordinance, spend at least $2 per capita on tree care, and celebrate Arbor Day. In doing so, Tree City USA communities are investing in a future that is healthy, vibrant, and sustainable.

The investments we make in community trees are very real. Trees pay us back in the form of benefits or “ecosystem services” they provide. See for yourself…pick a tree in your neighborhood, measure the diameter, and discover exactly what benefits it provides. You’ll be happily surprised! The healthier your trees, the greater benefits they return.

Be sure to never top a tree. Tree topping, best described as the indiscriminate removal of limbs resulting in a reduction of a tree’s height, will reduce tree health, increase tree-related risks, and create costly maintenance needs each year. Branches and leaves that re-sprout from a topped tree will grow very rapidly, are weakly attached, and rob the tree of precious energy, making it more likely to break in storm events. On the other hand, a healthy tree that is properly cared for will provide greater benefits and may only need pruning every five years or so. Learn to prune trees properly and your trees will be healthier, stronger, longer-lived, and less expensive to maintain.

Washington State has 84 Tree Cities. Is your city is a Tree City USA? Click here to find out.

Be a part of Arbor Day and celebrate the healthy trees all around us! If your community isn’t part of the Tree City USA Program, contact your city officials to find out why. You might be more qualified than you think! The Tree City USA program is designed so that any incorporated city or town can get involved, regardless of location, size, or economic standing. Make your community a Tree City USA and help them plan to take part in the Arbor Day celebrations next year.

DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program works with cities and towns throughout Washington State to help them plant, preserve, and maintain the trees that make our cities and towns wonderful places to live, work and play.

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Rec Alerts: Harvest activities & road work might affect your visit to NW Washington

April 1, 2014

Timber harvests and road work are familiar hazards to DNR recreationists.

This blog will help keep you aware of forest activity on DNR land in Northwest Washington over the next month.

A truck loaded down with timber is driving down a forest road

Be aware of logging trucks and pull off to the side in a designated pull out if you see one coming your way. Photo by: DNR

Read more to find out about recreation alerts in the following areas:

  • Harry Osborne State Forest
    Read more to learn updates on the Wrangler Connection Trail and Mac Johnson Trail closures.
  • Stewart Mountain
    Heavy truck traffic will begin the week of April 7 on the Olsen Creek Road System.
  • Van Zandt Road System
    Van Zandt scheduled to be closed April 3rd through April 11.
  • North Fork Road System
    This road system will close for the month of April.

Check back frequently, as we will post updates here as they become available. Read the rest of this entry »


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