Archive for the ‘Conservation & Natural Areas’ Category

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:

Reiter

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: dnr.wa.gov/volunteer

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Controlled burn at Rocky Prairie planned for October 10

October 10, 2014
DNR 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

Controlled burn is planned for October 10 at Rocky Prairie Natural Area Preserve.

On October 10, if wind and weather conditions are favorable, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) may conduct a controlled burn at Rocky Prairie Natural Area Preserve. The project may be moved to next week or later this fall if weather conditions do not allow for safe burning on October 10.

Why burn?
Fire has played an integral role in the development and maintenance of prairies and oak woodlands in the Puget Sound lowlands. Fire promotes the growth of native prairie plant species and reduces thatch and shrubs in these rare grassland ecosystems. Planned burns are part of a larger effort to restore native prairie grasslands in western Washington. Controlled burns are a safe and cost-effective way to restore natural conditions. Burns are conducted when weather conditions allow for safe burning and the least impact of smoke on nearby residents.

Will firefighters be present during the burn? Yes, firefighters will be present during the burn. Firefighters will use fire engines and other fire suppression techniques to prevent the burn from spreading. DNR and the Center for Natural Lands Management, a partner with DNR in westside prairie restoration, both have considerable experience with prescribed fire.

When and where will the prescribed burn take place? Rocky Prairie Natural Area Preserve is five miles south of Tumwater, along Old Highway 99, and protects one of the best examples of native Puget prairie grassland as well one of the last remaining populations of golden paintbrush, a federally-threatened plant species that thrives in healthy prairie habitat.

DNR-managed natural areas — a significant statewide system of natural resources conservation areas and natural area preserves totaling more than 150,000 acres — protect native ecosystems and the plant and animal species that depend on them.

Do you have other questions or concerns about controlled burning? Contact David Wilderman, natural areas program ecologist for DNR’s Natural Areas Program, at (360) 902-1556.

 

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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.

Take a trip to visit a mystic mounded prairie

August 14, 2014

Looking for something kid-friendly to do on DNR-managed conservation lands? Let their imaginations run wild on 637 acres of grassland mounds at the DNR Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve (NAP).

Mima Mounds

Camas blooms at the unique Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve managed by DNR. Photo: DNR/Birdie Davenport

Located next to Capitol State Forest near Olympia, Washington, Mima Mounds NAP protects the mounded Puget prairie landscape. Scientists differ on how the mounds formed; ice age flood deposits, earthquakes — even gophers — are among the formation theories offered.

Mima Mounds

Unique topography is one of the features of DNR’s Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve south of Olympia. Photo: DNR.

Rising to landmark status
In 1966, the National Park Service designated Mima Mounds a National Natural Landmark for its outstanding condition, illustrative value of a landform, rarity, and value to science and education. The site is one of 17 National Natural Landmarks in Washington state.

The NAP, established in 1976, includes native grasslands, a small Garry oak woodland, savannah (widely spaced oak trees with grass understory), Douglas-fir forest, and habitat for prairie-dependent butterflies and birds.

Unearthing site information and education

Mima Mounds Interpretive Center

Mima Mounds NAP has a lot of informational material for visitors to read while they’re there. DNR photo

Visitors to the site can stop at its interpretive center before stepping onto the trail that skirts around the mounds. The center provides historical and educational information about the site.

For those looking to get a better view of the area, a short set of stairs to the rooftop of the interpretive center provides a look from above.

Discover Pass logoDiscover Pass required
Don’t forget to grab your Discover Pass before heading out on this prairie
adventure. The Discover Pass is required to park a car at Mima Mounds NAP or anywhere in Capitol State Forest. This $30 annual access pass (or $10 day pass) is your ticket to Washington state great outdoors. All proceeds directly support state-managed outdoor recreation.

Adventure on!
Learn more about Mima Mounds NAP and other DNR adventures on our website at www.dnr.wa.gov/recreation.

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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?

(more…)

Recreation Alert: Woodard Bay NRCA to close temporarily for construction

June 10, 2014

Starting in July, DNR will close a large portion of Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) through December 2014.

Woodard Bay NRCA will be closed July through December 2014 for construction efforts. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

Woodard Bay NRCA will be closed July through December 2014 for construction. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

The access point from Whitham Road, and the trails leading from this area, will be closed to protect public safety during construction of public access facilities and interpretive sites in the NRCA.

Once completed, the updated interpretative design will highlight both the ecological values and rich cultural history of Woodard Bay.

Will I be able to visit Woodard Bay NRCA this summer?
Partially. The entire NRCA will be closed for the month of July. However, the Woodard Bay Upper Overlook Trail—currently closed to protect nesting herons—will re-open in August, providing public access to views of the bay. The Overlook Trail will be accessible from the parking lot at the north end of the Chehalis Western Trail.

What’s happening at Woodard Bay NRCA?

Woodard Bay NRCA concept drawings

This concept drawing shows one possible final look for Woodard Bay NRCA once construction is complete later this year. Click this image to see a larger version. Drawing by: DNR

This temporary closure marks the next phase of a larger project to restore and improve Woodard Bay NRCA.

The restoration phase was completed in March 2013, allowing DNR to develop improved educational and low-impact recreation opportunities.

In addition to the natural beauty of Woodard Bay NRCA, the area holds valuable cultural, historical, recreational, and conservation qualities.

Project details
The development project includes four major features:

  • A new environmental and cultural learning shelter.
  • An expanded parking lot with a new bike shelter to accommodate bike parking, since bicycle use is not allowed in the NRCA.
  • Relocation of the current “boom foreman’s” office and bathroom away from the shoreline.
  • Installation of several educational areas and signs.

Where can I go instead?
We encourage you to visit nearby parks and the Chehalis Western Trail during this closure. Nearby parks include:

This site shows the future home of new public access facilities and interpretive sites in the NRCA. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

This site is the future home of new public access facilities and interpretive sites in the Woodard Bay NRCA. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

Learn more about Woodard Bay NRCA on the DNR website: http://bit.ly/WoodardBayNRCA.

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DNR announces Washington Rare Plants virtual plant guide for Native Plant Appreciation Week!

April 28, 2014

Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed this week, April 28 through May 3, Native Plant Appreciation Week in Washington.

Red columbine

Red columbine (Aquilegia formosa). Photo by: DNR

Native Plant Appreciation Week is a celebration of the amazing diversity of Washington’s native plant species.

The diverse climates in Washington allow for an incredible variety of native plants, from sword ferns to cacti, to the many different species that call prairies, forests and shrub-steppe home.

One of the main contributors to Native Plant Appreciation Week is the Washington Native Plant Society. Learn more about the week, events occurring, conservation efforts, and how you can get involved on their website.

Washington Rare Plants app
Just in time for Native Plant Appreciation Week, the DNR Natural Heritage Program has released a cellphone app called Washington Rare Plants. This application catalogues Washington’s rarest plant species. Read on to learn more… (more…)

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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The 12th bird: See it live at West Tiger Mountain NRCA

January 17, 2014
osprey

Osprey diving with wings folded, head first and at the last second thrusting its talons downward into the water. The osprey is the only raptor that will plunge into the water to catch a fish. Photo: Rodney Cammauf/National Park Service.

If the anticipation of this Sunday’s NFC playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers whets your curiosity about hawks, or you just want a good place to hike this weekend, consider one of the many recreation areas managed by DNR, such as West Tiger Mountain Natural Resources Conservation Area. This 4,430-acre site is 35 miles east of Seattle and protects a vast variety of rare ecosystems and many species of native western Washington wildlife. Children can delight in knowing they are walking through the habitat of deer, cougar, bobcats, black bear, coyote, elk, red-tailed hawks, osprey (AKA SEA HAWK), owl, and woodpecker. This area is an excellent outdoor classroom with an education shelter, interpretive displays, and accessible trails.

Head into nature today! Studies show that nature exposure and education can help students excel in classroom subjects as well. The trip can also teach kids about the importance of state-protected rare species and their habitat. So, grab your children (and their friends) and hit the trail. Rain or shine, grab your Discover Pass and head out for some extra-curricular activities!

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Streams provide habitat and much of our drinking water

January 6, 2014
Snag Creek

Snag Creek runs through a DNR-managed forest near the Columbia Gorge. Photo: Florian Deisenhofer/DNR

Did you know that approximately 117 million people in the United States – more than one-third of the nation’s population – get some or all of their drinking water from public drinking water systems that rely in part on headwater, seasonal, or rain-dependent streams. That includes the great majority of people in Washington State.

DNR helps to keep streams free and flowing with clean, cool water by:

  • Retaining working forestland,
  • Repairing culverts and other structures that block fish travel in streams,
  • Administering state Forest Practice rules on 13 million acres of non-federal forest, and
  • Following through on its commitments to protect plant and animal habitat on millions of acres of state trust lands.

View the EPA’s map and zoom in on Washington State to see the percentage of people in your county that gets some of their drinking water directly or indirectly from streams that are seasonal, rain-dependent or headwaters.

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