Archive for the ‘Conservation & Natural Areas’ Category

Maury Island: ‘Before’ and ‘after’ impact of DNR work starting to become clear

December 30, 2013
Maury Isle-before and After

Once covered with Scotch broom and other invasive plants (left) Puget SoundCorps crews cleared and replanted the site (mostly by hand) to restore it with native vegetation and improved trails (right). Photo: Bryan Massey/DNR.

It’s no easy job to restore 70-plus acres of a former gravel mine to its pre-development glory, but a DNR-led project is getting the job done on Maury Island. As the before and after photos with this post show, we are starting to get the upper hand on the numerous invasive plants that moved into the area during the many years it served as a surface mine producing gravel and sand for road and building construction in the South Sound.

Those doing the hard work of removing the non-native varieties of blackberries, Scotch broom, poison oak, poison ivy and more at the site — now a King County Regional Park – are Puget SoundCorps teams composed of young people and military veterans, plus many volunteers from the local community. Working for more than a year, through cold winter months and hot summer days, the SoundCorps teams also are rehabilitating trails, removing trash and doing other restoration work on the steeply sloped site.    (more…)

A few scary facts for Halloween 2013

October 31, 2013
common garter snake

In Washington State, the common garter snake (which is nonpoisonous) is found from coastal and mountain forests to sagebrush deserts, usually close to water or wet meadows—or your garden. Photo: Jon McGinnis/WDFW.

If the parade of costumed tricker-treaters coming to your door tonight or the endless reruns of horror movies on TV these past few weeks (or today’s close-up photo of snake) are not enough to give you a fright, here are some scary facts about the state of the environment in Washington State, with an emphasis on biodiversity.

  • Approximately 33 percent of the Puget Sound’s 2,500 miles of shorelines have been armored with bulkheads and other structures to protect homes, ports, marinas, roads and railways, and other property. More than half of the shoreline in the central Puget Sound has been modified by port development, armoring of beaches, and other uses, causing significant loss of habitats important to beach and nearshore species.
  • More than half of the Columbia Plateau Ecoregion (roughly the area known as the Columbia Basin) has undergone conversion from its shrub-steppe landscape to cropland. What remains is a fragmented shrub-steppe, which compromises the habitat of many species that rely on this type of habitat.
  • More than 90 percent of the original Palouse grasslands in Washington have been converted to agriculture, housing or other uses. A number of plant species once common throughout the Palouse now hang on in small, isolated remnants.

What’s so important about biodiversity?

Native species (such as shellfish, salmon and Douglas-fir) and their ecosystems contribute billions of dollars to fisheries, timber harvests, outdoor recreation and other sectors of our state’s economy. Native ecosystems also provide clean water, natural flood control, and habitats for fish, plants, and wildlife.

To help protect these important native habitats that help nurture biodiversity, DNR manages a statewide network of Natural Area Preserves and Natural Resources Conservation Areas. Many of these areas represent the finest natural, undisturbed ecosystems in state ownership; they also protect one-of-a-kind natural features unique to this region, such as the Mima Mounds in Thurston County or Selah Cliffs in Yakima County.

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Teanaway Community Forest introduces new way of managing public forestlands

October 3, 2013
Fall view of the Teanaway Community Forest, the first Washington State-managed community forest. Photo: The Wilderness Society.

Fall view of the Teanaway Community Forest, the first Washington State-managed community forest. Photo: The Wilderness Society.

This week, Washington State celebrated the formation of the first state-managed community forest, the Teanaway Community Forest.

The Teanaway Community Forest is a 50,272-acre property situated at the headwaters of the Yakima Basin watershed (map).

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is collaboratively managing the Teanaway Community Forest with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and with significant public input from a community-based advisory committee.

The Teanaway acquisition is the largest single land transaction by Washington State in 45 years and reflects more than a decade of collaboration involving many organizations and individuals. The property will become Washington’s first Community Forest under the terms of legislation enacted in 2011, a model designed to empower communities to partner with DNR to purchase forests that support local economies and public recreation.

“The Teanaway Community Forest is one of the most beloved landscapes in Washington, and it will be cared for and managed for years to come to reflect the values and priorities of the community that has worked so hard to protect it,” said Peter Goldmark, Commissioner of Public Lands. “That’s the beauty of the Community Forest Trust model: it allows local communities to help protect the forests they love.”

Still have questions? Check out the Teanaway Community Forest Q & A or email them to teanaway@dnr.wa.gov

>>Sign up to receive the Teanaway Community Forest e-newsletter
>>View a media release about the purchase
>>Check out photos

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Say goodbye to summer this weekend

September 20, 2013
Morning Star Natural Resources Conservation Area

Morning Star Natural Resources Conservation Area includes more than 35,000 acres of mountainous terrain for hiking and other types of low-impact, outdoor recreation

This fall equinox this Sunday (September 22, 2013) signals the official end of summer. Many DNR recreation sites and trails are open this weekend. Check out a DNR recreation opportunity near you. For example, the Morning Star Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) is a 33,592-acre mountainous conservation area in Snohomish County. It offers access to a number of wilderness trails from various trailheads (Note: The trails are not ADA accessible; however, accessible toilets are available at the Ashland Lakes trailhead and at the Boulder/Greider trailhead).

A Washington State Discover Pass is required for parking at all trailheads in Morning Star NRCA.

DNR provides trails and campgrounds in primitive, natural settings on the 2.2 million acres of forests that the department manages as state trust lands for revenue to support school construction, state universities and services in many counties.

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Q & A: What’s that smoke near Capitol State Forest?

September 11, 2013
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

On September 12 & 13, 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.

Why burn?

(more…)

Proposed Boundary Expansion for Kennedy Creek Preserve…What do you think?

August 19, 2013
Kennedy Creek NRCA a short interpretive trail that captures the unique ecology of the ___. Photo: Diana Lofflin, DNR.

Kennedy Creek NRCA hosts a short interpretive trail that captures the unique ecology of the marsh. Photo: Diana Lofflin, DNR.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will hold a public hearing on the proposed boundary expansion for the Kennedy Creek Natural Area Preserve (NAP) on August 28. Find the answers to your questions below.

Where is Kennedy Creek NAP?
Kennedy Creek NAP is located in Oyster Bay, at the terminus of Totten Inlet, off of Highway 101 between Olympia and Shelton. The preserve currently protects 320 acres of aquatic and up-lands that include high-quality salt marsh ecosystems and habitat for shorebirds and salmon. The proposed expansion would protect an additional 33 acres of habitat along Schneider Creek (see map).

Will a new boundary affect my property?
A proposed natural area boundary imposes no change in land-use zoning, development code requirements, or any other restrictions on current or future landowners. A proposed natural area boundary is an administrative tool to indicate where DNR will work with willing property owners to expand the state-owned natural area.

A misty day at Schneider Estuary in Kennedy Creek NRCA. Photo: DNR.

A misty day at Schneider Estuary in Kennedy Creek NRCA. Photo: DNR.

If my land is in the new boundary, do I have to sell?
Privately owned lands within the boundary only become part of the natural area if DNR purchases them from a willing private seller at market value, which is determined by an independent, third-party appraisal.

How do I submit my comment?
Join us on August 28, 2013 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  DNR will make a record of the public testimony given at the hearing. Comments and testimony will assist the Commissioner of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark, with the decision either to approve or disapprove an expansion of the NAP boundary.

McLane Fire Station
125 Delphi Road NW
Olympia, WA 98502

Written comments may also be submitted through September 4 to:

Washington Department of Natural Resources
Conservation, Recreation, and Transactions Division
ATTN: Proposed NAP Boundary Expansion
PO Box 47014
Olympia, WA 98504

Comments also may be submitted by email to: AMPD@dnr.wa.gov with the subject line, “Proposed NAP Boundary Expansion-Kennedy Creek.”

For more information on the proposed boundary expansion, please contact Michele Zukerberg at 360-902-1417 or michele.zukerberg@dnr.wa.gov .

DNR’s Natural Areas Program
DNR manages 55 Natural Area Preserves (NAPs) and 36 Natural Resources Conservation Areas (NRCAs) on more than 150,000 acres statewide. NAPs protect high-quality examples of native ecosystems and rare plant and animal species. NAPs serve as genetic reserves for Washington’s native species and as reference sites for comparing natural and altered environments. NRCAs protect lands having high conservation values for ecological systems, scenic qualities, wildlife habitat, and low-impact recreational opportunities. Environmental education and approved research projects occur on both NAPs and NRCAs.

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Fidalgo Bay needs your help; Volunteers wanted this Sunday for Puget SoundCorps beach cleanup

August 14, 2013
Fidalgo Bay

Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve in Skagit County. Photo: Ecology.

Looking for an opportunity to get some light exercise outdoors this weekend while doing a good deed for the health of Puget Sound? Join in a beach cleanup this Sunday, August 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve, near Anacortes.

We need volunteers to help remove old plastic bottles, food wrappers, and other trash from the beach and tidelands in Fidalgo Bay. Bring work gloves, water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, and sturdy work shoes — we’ll provide the garbage bags. Parking is available at the Fidalgo Bay Resort, 4701 Fidalgo Bay Road (here are the driving directions).

The event is organized by DNR, Puget SoundCorps, Friends of Skagit Beaches, Skagit Land Trust, and the Skagit County Marine Resources Committee.

The Puget SoundCorps is part of the broader Washington Conservation Corps administered by the Washington Department of Ecology to create jobs for youth and military veterans. Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve is one of the seven DNR-managed aquatic reserves in Washington State.

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Q & A: What’s that smoke near Capitol State Forest? (UPDATE)

July 24, 2013
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 and Nature Conservancy fire crews supervise a controlled burn to help restore prairie habitat at Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve near Olympia. Photo: DNR

UPDATE (July 24, 2013): Tomorrow’s planned controlled burn has been cancelled due to changing fire conditions.

On Thursday July 25, if wind and weather conditions are favorable, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will conduct a controlled burn on 5 acres in Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve (NAP).

During the controlled burn, Mima Mounds will remain open but some trails will be closed to ensure public safety.

Why burn? (more…)

National Trails Day® is June 1; Find an event near you

May 29, 2013
National Trails Day event

Popular trails get worn and become more susceptible to erosion. Volunteers like these at a National Trails Day event help DNR stretch its scarce maintenance dollars. Photo: DNR

There is no shortage of interesting and beautiful places that need your help on National Trails Day® this Saturday, June 1. Shake off that cabin fever and get out on some of Washington’s most beautiful trails this weekend by volunteering to help clean up and improve one of our many popular recreation trails. A few hours of effort can make a big difference.

There are many National Trails Day projects on DNR-managed state trust lands statewide this weekend. Find a project near you.

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Native Plant Appreciation Week continues through May 4

April 29, 2013
Red columbine

Red columbine (Aquilegia formosa). Photo: DNR

Red columbine (Aquilegia formosa) is one of the many plants we celebrate during Native Plant Appreciation Week in Washington state, April 28 – May 4, 2013. Find out about Native Plant Appreciation Week events on the Washington Native Plant Society website or visit DNR DNR on Facebook.

DNR conservation and restoration efforts, include the Natural Heritage Program and the Natural Areas Program.

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