Stormy weather expected to bring heavy rain and dangerous lightning to eastern Washington

July 23, 2014

lightning boltsA special weather statement issued this morning by the National Weather Service in Spokane warns of severe thunderstorms this afternoon and evening in many areas of central and eastern Washington state. While the rainfall may help tamp down the spread of the several wildfires in the region, the heavy rains could cause flash flooding, especially on recently burned areas. Another problem could be the numerous lighting strikes expected.

Please remember that if you hear thunder, lightning is likely within striking distance — lightning threats can extend as far as 10 miles from the storm.

Please play it safe by remembering this little phrase: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! The National Weather Service advises waiting 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder before going back outside. Check out this collection of Lightning Facts & Myths from the National Weather Service

Even with the current wet weather, Washington remains under a statewide burn ban because wildfire danger remains high in many areas.

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Keep up-to-date with wildfire information online

July 21, 2014

em_wildfire_info

Stay up to date on the wildfire situation in eastern Washington state this week with these links:

Evacuation & Road Information

Wildfire Information

  • Northwest Interagency Coordination Center – Blogspot
  • Incident Information System InciWeb

DNR Fire Resources

Report a Forest Fire: 800-562-6010
Reminder: DNR has expanded the seasonal burn ban to include all DNR-protected lands in western Washington, effective through September 30, 2014. A burn ban is already in place for eastern Washington .

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Governor Inslee urges extreme caution with rapidly growing fires

July 18, 2014
Twisp, WA

Smoke from one of the wildfires in the Carlton Complex towers over the town of Twisp in the Methow Valley of eastern Washington state..

In a news conference today, Gov. Jay Inslee called upon Washington state residents to respond quickly if requested to evacuate by authorities, as approximately 2,000 personnel from DNR and other fire agencies battle several wildfires in eastern Washington state.

“This is an extreme fire event. It requires extreme caution, and we are responding to it as rapidly as possible,” Inslee said. The governor said the rapid growth of the fires “calls for all of us to be on the highest level of alert and also on the highest level of cooperation with emergency responders. The focus is on getting people away from the fires.”

With wildfires jumping both the Okanogan and Methow rivers to threaten the town of Okanogan, Inslee said the 100 National Guard troops already deployed to wildfires will be supplemented by about 1,000 more troops in coming days as they complete DNR wildfire training.

About 50 fires are burning on the state’s eastside. Among them are the Mills Complex, which includes several wildfires covering about 35 square miles, and the Carlton Complex, which ballooned from an estimated 28 square miles on Thursday to 260 square miles by Friday morning.

Stay up-to-date on fire conditions with these important links:

Thank you Washington National Guard!

July 17, 2014
National Guard Helicopter

A National Guard helicopter aiding in the fight against a wildfire. PHOTO: Dan Boyle

Big thanks to the Washington National Guard and the efforts they are putting in to fight these wildfires! The Washington National Guard has been called in to aid wildfire responders in this very difficult and busy fire season in Washington state.

A state of emergency was declared by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen on Tuesday in 20 Eastern Washington counties because of the multiple wildfires in the region. Within less than 24 hours the Washington National Guard responded.

Guard members are aiding in the fight against wildfires. These wildfires threaten not only forests but many homes and other buildings. Already two helicopters from the National Guard are on duty and with more coming the next few days.

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Best bird’s eye views from DNR hikes

July 15, 2014

With summer comes sunny days, and what better way to enjoy them than while recreating on DNR-managed land. DNR recreation opportunities offer visitors many places to take in Washington’s vistas.

Whether viewed from a trailhead picnic bench or after a long hike, the vistas you’ll find on DNR-managed lands are sure to awe.

Read on for a list of recreation opportunities sure to leave a lasting impression.

Samish Bay Overlook

View of Samish Bay from the Samish Overlook and Day-Use Area, managed by DNR. Photo DNR.

Samish Overlook
At Blanchard Mountain you can catch a great view of the San Juan Islands and have a picnic while watching the paragliders!

Eagle Nest Vista
Located in the Ahtanum State Forest, Eagle Nest Vista is just what its name implies – a bird’s eye view over the breathtaking sub-alpine forest. Enjoy a picnic while taking in the sights.

Mount Si

Enjoy a day hike up to Mount Si NRCA for great views. Photo by Diana Lofflin/ DNR

Mount Si Trailhead
Pack a picnic lunch and expect to see views of the Snoqualmie valley and Cascades. Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) draws about 100,000 visitors each year.

Twin Falls Lake
The high cascading inlet falls of Twin Falls Lake, located in the Morning Star NRCA, provide incentives to visitors willing to hike for their view. Start at the Ashland Lakes Trailhead for a 4.5-mile hike to the site.

Discover Pass
As you plan your next vista-viewing adventure, make sure to remember to grab a Discover Pass to make the most of Washington’s sunny days.

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Statewide burn ban on all DNR-protected lands

July 14, 2014
Before having any campfire, check with your campground host or the local fire district to see if they are allowed. PHOTO BY: Sarah Foster

Before having any campfire, check with your campground host or the local fire district to see if they are allowed. PHOTO BY: Sarah Foster

DNR has extended the burn ban to include western Washington for all DNR-protected lands, effective through September 30, 2014. A burn ban was already in please for eastern Washington beginning July 1.

Hot and dry conditions increase the potential for wildfire over the next several weeks on both sides of the Cascades. With the current heat wave projected to last into next week, DNR is urging people to be extra vigilant.

Already this year, DNR has dealt with more than 260 wildfire starts which burned approximately 19,000 acres.

The burn ban includes all forestlands in Washington except for federal lands. Campgrounds may have additional burn restrictions in place. Campers should check with their campground host before starting a campfire.

The ban applies to all outdoor burning on DNR-protected forestlands with the following exceptions:

  • Recreational fires in approved fire pits in designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds;
  • DNR-approved prescribed fires for ecological purposes may be permitted if expressly approved by the Commissioner of Public Lands.
  • Gas and propane self-contained stoves/barbeque grills. Charcoal briquettes are not allowed.

DNR has a Wildfire Prevention Tip Card that explains how you can prevent wildfires and keep your home and community safe.

More information

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5 Boating Safety Tips: Know before you go

July 11, 2014
Kayakers take advantage of nice weather to paddle in Puget Sound. Photo: DNR.

Kayakers take advantage of nice weather to paddle in Puget Sound. Photo: DNR.

With the arrival of hot summer days, you may be anxious to get out on the water and play! However, there have been many close calls due to cold water and the unpredictable weather in Puget Sound.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is an advocate of safe and sustainable recreation. Before you head out to play, make sure you follow these five safety tips:

  1. Dress for the occasion. On a sunny day, a dip in the cool water might not sound like such a bad thing, but hypothermia can set in after only minutes of exposure. A wetsuit is a great way to stay safe and comfortable. If a wetsuit isn’t an option, wool clothing insulates better than cotton when wet.
  2. Practice self-rescue. In the event that you end up in the water unintentionally, being able to get back into your boat in deep water is imperative. Practice self-rescue in safe water before heading out.
  3. Be aware of offshore winds. When kayaking in open water, make sure to pay attention to off-shore winds that can make the paddle back to shore difficult.
  4. Paddle with a partner. If you kayak with a buddy, you’ll always have someone there in case of an emergency… plus, it’s much more fun.
  5. Always wear your PFD (personal floatation device). The most important thing to remember is that PFDs save lives. Don’t paddle without one.

    A group of kayakers paddle in Bellingham Channel. Cypress Island and one of the Cone Islands are in the background. Photo: DNR/Jason Goldstein

    A group of kayakers paddle in Bellingham Channel. Cypress Island and one of the Cone Islands are in the background. Photo: DNR/Jason Goldstein

If you want to take your paddling safety skills to the next level, check out these resources:

FREE online paddle safety course
Washington Water Trails Association

If you operate a motor boat, you’ll need to get your Boater Education Card from State Parks.

Remember, be safe and have a great time on the water!

Do you have any water safety tips? Please send your comments to recreation@dnr.wa.gov.

Find waterside recreation sites for DNR-managed lands, recreation rules, opening and closure information, and more on our Recreation web page.

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Rec Alert: Lake Spokane Recreation Area CLOSED

July 10, 2014

Lake Spokane Campground is closed to the public while fire crews use the site to host base camp operations to fight the Lake Spokane fire.

Spokane Lake Campground is closed to help firefighting efforts. Photo by: KXLY 4 News

Spokane Lake Campground is closed to help firefighting efforts. Photo by: KXLY 4 News

The Lake Spokane campground, day-use, water access areas, and boat launch are all completely closed to the public.

Although this is a DNR campground, the site has been managed by Washington State Parks since 2012. If you have questions about reservations at Lake Spokane, please call 509-465-5064.

Where can I go instead?
We’re asking the public to stay clear of Lake Spokane recreation area so fire crews can focus on their work. By visiting other sites, you will be helping the firefighters fight the fire. We understand the inconvenience of this situation and greatly appreciate your support.

During this closure, please visit one of the following nearby recreation instead:

  • Riverside State Park.
  • Nine Mile Recreation Area Campground. This location has a campground, day-use, and swimming area for public use.
  • Two public boat launches located at south end of Lake Spokane.
  • The DNR-managed Dragoon Creek Campground.

Nine Mile Recreation Area Campground
11226 W Charles Rd
Nine Mile Falls, Washington 99026

Riverside State Park
9711 W. Charles Road
Nine Mile Falls, WA 99026

Dragoon Creek Campground
Start in Spokane at the junction of US Hwy 2 and US Hwy 395.
Go north on US Hwy 395 for 10.2 mi.
Turn left on Dragoon Creek Rd. Go 0.4 mi. to camp entrance.

Please remember a Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to these campgrounds.

Stay connected
Make sure you’re in the loop this fire season. Get updates on Washington wildfires by following the DNR Fire Twitter.

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Public on hook for $millions when big, old boats sink

July 7, 2014
Uninsured, unmaintained once-fine-old tug hauled out of water before disposal.

Uninsured, unmaintained once-fine-old tug Chickamauga hauled out of water before disposal.

One of DNR’s priorities is to avoid expensive taxpayer-funded clean-up of large sunken vessels contaminating Washington’s public waterways. What we’re trying to avoid? One example: Last winter the Chickamauga—a hundred-year-old tugboat—sank in Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island, requiring more than $55,000 in state funding to haul and dispose of, and an unknown cost for clean up by the US Coast Guard of the leakage and pollution.

The costly sunken 70-foot Chickamauga was just one of many examples that prompted passage of a new state law that will help make a difference in the long term, and applies to both commercial and private vessels. The new requirements are designed to place responsibility on vessel owners, and significantly reduce the potential financial impacts to the public. This statute requires that owners have insurance for vessels 65-feet or longer and 40-years or older…and that marinas compel owners of vessels in their moorage to have insurance (although most marinas already have the requirement). Also required is an inspection of a vessel’s condition before the vessel is sold to a potential buyer.

Close-up detail of tug Chickamauga hull shows deeply rotted, unmaintained wood.

Close-up detail of tug Chickamauga hull shows deeply rotted, unsealed wood.

Washington State has had a rich and vigorous maritime history that continues today. With our thousands of miles of coastline and hundreds of square miles of marine and fresh waters in the state, vessels of the mosquito fleet, tugboats, fishing boats, barges are important parts of our heritage. But sometimes, preventive care has not been taken as they age, and they are not inexpensive to care for.

“Preventing damage is so much less expensive than taking action after a calamity occurs. In recent years, the public has paid millions of dollars for hauling, cleaning up pollution and disposing of older, larger vessels that have sunk and contaminated the public’s aquatic lands,” said DNR’s Aquatic Division Manager Kristin Swenddal. “We want to address the problem earlier in the life cycle of these vessels, when it is less expensive.”

DNR’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program works with a vessel owner to take responsibility to deal with their at-risk or derelict vessel, and if necessary,  remove it from the waters before it sinks and endangers sea critters and habitat with oils and other contamination.

Kitsap Sun 2013 Article on the Chickamauga

Kitsap Sun 2014 Article on new law

UPDATE: Controlled burn at Mima Mounds planned for July 8

July 2, 2014
DNR and Nature Conservancy fire crews supervise a controlled burn to help restore prairie habitat at Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve near Olympia. Photo: DNR

DNR fire crews supervise a controlled burn to help restore prairie habitat at Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve near Olympia. Photo: DNR

UPDATE (July 7; 12:30 p.m.): The controlled burn is now planned for July 8 at Mima Mounds.

On July 8, if wind and weather conditions are favorable, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) may conduct a controlled burn at Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve. The project may be moved to next week or later this summer if weather conditions do not allow for safe burning on July 8.

Why burn?

Read the rest of this entry »


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