Storms are here. How to protect your trees

October 22, 2014
Wind with drenching rains can damage or topple some trees. Photo: DNR

Wind with drenching rains can damage or topple some trees. Photo: DNR

The storm that moved into western Washington last night is bringing plenty of moisture and wind. The combination of soggy ground and strong winds can spell bad news for some trees–weak branches can snap, dead limbs may fall and, in extreme cases, shallow-rooted trees can topple, but let’s not panic. The good news is that most trees are well-adapted to the conditions and will weather this storm.

Proper pruning–we recommend arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)–in advance of storms increases the resilience of your trees but what can you do after the storm?  Check out our tree tips   Read the rest of this entry »

Do you have bark beetles? How do you know? There’s a workshop for that

October 20, 2014
This tiny bark beetle is expanding to places it's never been before.

This tiny bark beetle is expanding to places it’s never been before.

Now is the time to take advantage of the season when beetles go dormant. Join experts at a free workshop in the to learn the best way to prune and thin pine trees and to reduce risks of bark beetle infestations.

The workshop will address the continued outbreak of Ips bark beetles in the Columbia River Gorge area.

When: Thursday, October 30, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: White Salmon Library
77 NE Wauna Avenue
White Salmon, WA

State foresters and entomologists from both Oregon and Washington will provide expert advice and answer questions about bark beetles and pine tree health. The Underwood Conservation District will promote cost-share programs to assist in beetle-killed tree removal.

For the first time ever in 2010, the California fivespined Ips was recorded in the Underwood area of Washington state. This species was unknown to occur at damaging population levels in eastern Oregon until then. The range of this Ips beetle had recently been documented to extend throughout the Willamette Valley. Now experts have found the beetle as far north as Fort Lewis, Washington in Thurston County and as far east as Goldendale, Washington and The Dalles, Oregon. The California fivespined Ips only feeds on pine trees and can affect ornamental trees as well as those in the forest.

To learn more, WSU Extension has developed a factsheet, Pest Watch: California Fivespined Ips – A pine engraver new to Washington State which can be downloaded for free at:

For more information about the workshop, please contact Todd Murray (, 509-427-3931) at the WSU Extension office or Dan Richardson (, 509-493-1936) at the Underwood Conservation District.

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Lidar day!

October 17, 2014

Originally posted on Washington State Geology News:

Today is (informally) lidar day! You might not have the day off work, your kids might not bring home art projects featuring lidar, and it’s probably not possible to have a cake emblazoned with a point cloud, but lidar is taking center stage in science throughout the world and we want to celebrate!


Wave goodbye to the moon—lidar tells us it’s receding by inches per year.

But what is it? Lidar—Light Detection and Ranging, or a combination of ‘laser’ and ‘radar’—has been around since the 1960’s when folks first used lasers to measure the distance between objects. During the Apollo mission, in addition to collecting great moon rocks for geologists to study, the astronauts also installed a reflector that scientists use with lidar to measure how quickly the moon is moving away from the earth (~3.8 cm/yr it turns out, slowing our orbit about 2 seconds per century).

point cloud ‘Point cloud’…

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‘Fire Storm’ 23 years ago today in eastern Washington raised prevention awareness

October 16, 2014

forest fireTwenty-three years ago today, gale-force winds combined with dry and unseasonably warm weather combined to ignite the Fire Storm in Spokane County. It was called ‘Fire Storm’ because that’s exactly what took place. On October 16, 1991, wind gusts of up to 62 miles per hour were recorded in eastern Washington. Within hours, 92 wildfires had started — approximately 90 percent of them due to the gale-force winds that snapped power lines or pushed trees into power lines.

Most of the homes lost to wildfire in the following days were in what we call the wildland urban interface, where homes and forest intermix. There was one fatality during the fire and 114 homes and numerous other structures were destroyed. Population growth in wildland urban interfaces is a major reason that wildfires have become more disastrous.

Lessons learned
Many homeowners affected by the Fire Storm of 1991 were caught with a lack of knowledge about the wildfire risks where they lived. As a result, the National Fire Protection Association developed a program, Firewise, to help homeowners protect themselves and their property from wildfire. Since then, dozens of communities in eastern and western Washington state have qualified as Firewise communities because they took steps to reduce wildfire risks.

The two largest risks for homes during wildfires are:

  • A flammable roof, vulnerable to the wind-carried embers during a wildfire
  • Vegetation close to a house that can ignite and generate heat or flames that burn siding or other parts of the structure

The legacies of Fire Storm include the establishment of the State Mobilization Process that is under the authority of the Washington State Patrol and a greater awareness of the problems associated with people moving into the wildland urban interface.

Quick facts about Fire Storm 1991
Maximum wind gust: 62 mph
Homes destroyed: 114
Acres burned: 35,000
Homes threatened: 511
Separate fires: 92
Largest single fire: 13,840 acres
Firefighters responding: 4,000
Fire engines responding: 400
Fatalities: 1
9-1-1 calls received, first 24 hours: 3,000


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Storm season already? Wind and rain raise risks of falling trees and branches

October 16, 2014
Trees that grow near power lines can be dangerous and cause power outages.

Trees that grow near power lines can be dangerous and cause power outages.

Wind, rain, and floods…the season is here. Winter storms and high winds are in store for us this fall. These big storms can cause headaches for all of us. This means damage to trees and big bills if a tree or large limbs fall on your house or car.

Be aware of the problems that can be caused by soggy ground and strong winds. Tree branches could snap, and shallow-rooted trees could topple. This can cause power outages, too. People living along the rivers in Washington should pay close attention to the latest weather updates over the fall and winter months. Rivers can rise very quickly during storms.

We can’t prevent storms from coming into our area, but there are ways to reduce the damage that winds can cause to trees. How? First of all, never top your trees, and second, keep them in great shape with regular maintenance. Proper pruning means careful cutting, not topping; smart staking; and thoughtful planting, as this video about tree care explains.

For more details about assessing storm damage, here’s what forest landowners look for after a storm:

More safety tips for storm season
Winter safety when outdoors
Dressing for the outdoors
General emergency preparedness


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Get down for statewide earthquake drill

October 16, 2014
A tasty "Earth-cake" made by DNR geology staff shows the subduction zone off Washington's Pacific coast. Photo: DNR

A tasty “Earth-cake” made by DNR geology staff shows the subduction zone off Washington’s Pacific coast. Photo: DNR

Sitting at the convergence of the North America and Juan de Fuca tectonic plates, Washington is subject to more than 1,000 earthquakes each year.

While most of these are barely detectible, there have been at least 20 damaging earthquakes recorded in our state’s 125 years. Large earthquakes in 1946, 1949, and 1965 killed 15 people and caused more than $200 million (1984 dollars) in property damage.

Though you can’t predict or stop an earthquake, you can be prepared.

That’s why the Department of Natural Resources is urging everyone to participate in the “The Great Washington ShakeOut” at 10:16 a.m. Thursday, October 16.

At that time, “drop, cover and hold on.” That means drop to the ground, take cover under a desk or table and hold on until the “earthquake” stops.

Be sure to hold on throughout the duration of the earthquake drill. The state’s most recent major earthquake—the Nisqually earthquake—measured a magnitude 6.8 and lasted for more than 40 seconds, causing over $1 billion damage.

“Drop, cover and hold on” is the most effective way to protect yourself from collapsing walls, flying glass and falling debris, which are the primary causes of earthquake-related injuries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Also, make sure you have an emergency kit prepared to ensure you have water, food, light, first aid supplies, batteries, cash, etc.

There have been six earthquakes with measured or estimated magnitudes of 6.0 or larger in the Puget Sound basin since 1870.

There are numerous earthquake faults in Washington state but one of the most dangerous is the Cascadia Subduction, caused by the convergence of the North America plate and the Juan de Fuca plate, which are moving toward each other at about 3 to 4 centimeters per year. The strain builds up between the converging plates and eventually causes a massive earthquake.

DNR geologists closely watch those forces. To find out more information, visit the DNR Division of Geology and Earth Science’s page about earthquakes where you can find information about Washington’s relationship to tectonic plates, a scenario about what would happen from a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, and links to more resources.

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Ready for some harvest-season service? Join our volunteer work parties in NW WA this month.

October 15, 2014

boy scout volunteers

Here at DNR, we rely on volunteers for a number of things. Our wonderful volunteers help:


Rain or shine, DNR’s volunteers are always happy to show up and lend a hand. Photo by: DNR

Head (North) West 
This month, some of our northwest lands need your volunteer help in hiking, horseback riding, paragliding, and off-road vehicle (ORV) areas. If you’re looking to build some trail karma, work off some steam outdoors, or just lend a hand–we’ve got the event for you.

October 18 – Anderson Mountain
BURLINGTON: Join DNR, the Skagit Whatcom Island Trail Maintenance Organization (SWITMO) and other volunteers to complete trail maintenance on the Anderson Mountain portion of the Pacific Northwest Trail.

October 18 – Harry Osborne
SEDRO WOOLLEY: Join DNR staff, the Skagit Chapter of Backcountry Horsemen of Washington, and other volunteers to help install new trail gravel on the Les Hilde Trail in Harry Osborne State Forest.

October 18 – Samish Overlook
BELLINGHAM: Join DNR staff and North Cascades Soaring Club at a work party to clean up Samish Overlook. Come help improve drainage on trails and around the day-use area.

October 25 – Reiter Foothills
GOLDBAR: Join DNR staff and other volunteers to enhance the Motorcycle Trials Trail Area and work other ORV trail projects.

October 26 – Walker Valley
MOUNT VERNON: Join DNR staff, members of the Northwest Motorcycle Association, and other volunteers to work on the Webfoot trail. Come do trail maintenance, use hand tools, put down gravel, and help repair this trail which has been closed due to logging activity and trail wear.

Volunteers move big rock

Together, volunteers move big rock at a trail maintenance event.  Photo: DNR

Get details
Find directions, who to contact, and details on the DNR Volunteer Calendar.

Volunteers get rewards!
If you participate in any of the volunteer events listed above you get a voucher towards a free Discover Pass. Collect enough vouchers to show you’ve volunteered 24-hours of approved work time and you can turn them in for an Annual Discover Pass (good for an entire year of playing on DNR-managed lands.)

Learn more about all DNR volunteer opportunities on our webpage:

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Forces of Columbia River displayed on new map poster

October 14, 2014

geo map

The raw earth exposed by the path of the Columbia River offers a look at the power of natural systems, and a new poster-quality map issued by Washington and Oregon geologists shows where you can see those natural forces.

“Washington and Oregon are privileged to share in the stewardship of one of the world’s most remarkable river systems: the Columbia River, a geologic and cultural treasure that has shaped the destinies of our two states,” says David Norman, Washington State Geologist.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resource’s Geology and Earth Resources Division, in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, has produced a map to highlight the geologic influences that converge along the river in recognition of Geologic Map Day October 17. The map highlights the geology of the 309-mile stretch of the river that divides the two states and presents hazards like floods and benefits like how winds and water are captured to produce electricity.

The map poster is available for download as a 34-by-44-inch PDF or as eight 11-by-17-inch PDFs for easy assembly:

In other activities recognizing Geologic Map Day, the Washington Geology Library will have geologic maps on display and some geologically-themed baked goods from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Washington Geology Library, Room 173, Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St SE, Olympia, WA.

The Washington Geology Library holds more than 3,000 topographic and geologic maps of Washington, in addition to volumes of research on our state’s unique geology.

For more information about DNR’s Division of Geology and Earth Resources, visit


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Earth Science Week a ‘swell’ time to plan for tsunami

October 13, 2014


With waves capable of reaching 100 feet high and traveling at speeds up to 600 mph, tsunamis are one of the most powerful forces the earth.
Typically caused by powerful earthquakes under the ocean floor, tsunamis push tremendous and potentially destructive volumes of water across the surface of the ocean, presenting catastrophic dangers to coastal communities. With the North America tectonic plate and the Juan de Fuca plate converging at the Cascadia subduction zone off Washington’s coast, our state faces particular danger from tsunamis.
There is no way to prevent tsunamis. But you can prepare.
You would have at least 25 minutes to get out of the way of a tsunami caused by a megathrust earthquake, like the one off the coast of Japan in 2011.
As part of Earth Science Week 2014, Washington State Department of Natural Resources encourages residents, officials, and visitors to communities near the Pacific coast to review plans in order to be prepared when a tsunami hits.
DNR and its Division of Geology and Earth Resources works closely with the Washington Emergency Management Division, federal agencies, and local governments to prepare maps of recommended tsunami evacuation routes for many coastal Washington communities. Local and state emergency officials rely on maps of earthquake faults, tsunami inundation zones, and other information to plan their responses to earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters.
Even after the initial tsunami wave hits, you should follow evacuation routes. The first wave is often not the largest; successive waves may be spaced many minutes apart and continue to arrive for several hours. Return only after emergency officials say it is safe.
DNR is also helping communities prepare for tsunamis with research and evacuation maps. TsuInfo Alert is a bi-monthly newsletter published by the Division of Geology and Earth Resources that links scientists, emergency responders, and community planners to the latest tsunami research.
DNR geologists were among the experts who advised local officials and participated in public workshops with residents about tsunami dangers in Westport and other at-risk communities on Washington’s outer coast.
In addition, DNR geologists were part of the planning process for one of the first large tsunami refuges in the U.S. With their community less than a mile from the ocean, voters in the Ocosta School District at Westport last year approved a $13.8 million bond issue to replace an aging elementary school and build a gymnasium that will double as the nation’s first tsunami refuge structure.
The new gym’s roof, designed to withstand earthquakes and the impact of a tsunami, will sit about 55 feet above sea level, well above the highest surges predicted for the school site, and be able to hold 1,500 people. Elevated refuges can be the most practical and affordable options to survive a tsunami in communities where rapid evacuation is not possible.

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Anniversary of the Columbus Day Storm of 1962 is Sunday

October 12, 2014
This tree would have benefitted by pruning to develop a strong structure when it was just beginning to grow. Photo: DNR

This tree would have benefitted by pruning to develop a strong structure when it was just beginning to grow. Photo: DNR

Wind storms are part of living in Washington state, but were you around when the Columbus Day Storm hit in 1962?

Considered the ‘granddaddy of all windstorms’ in these parts, the storm claimed 46 lives (7 in Washington state) and injured hundreds more. In the Willapa Hills of southwestern Washington, a wind gust of 160 miles per hour was recorded.

This Sunday, October 12, is the 52nd anniversary of the 1962 Columbus Day Storm, the strongest non-tropical wind storm ever to hit the lower 48 states in recorded U.S. history.

Not around in 1962? Maybe you recall the Hanukkah Eve Wind Storm of 2006, a powerful storm that slammed into the Pacific Northwest region between December 14, 2006, and December 15, 2006, causing 18 deaths and widespread damage and power outages.

Weather events as large as these storms may be infrequent, but today’s Columbus Day Storm anniversary is a good reminder to be prepared.

What can you do to prepare for the ferocious wind storms that strike our state almost every winter? Check out the Washington State Emergency Management Division’s “Windstorms in Washington State” publication to get useful preparation and survival tips.

Whatever storm you’ve experienced, DNR encourages you to join other Washington residents in preparing your trees before the next big storm hits. Take action now to reduce the damage caused by windstorms. It could keep you from losing power in your area or even save your home from damage.

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