Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Have you watered your trees lately?

August 21, 2014

The dog days of summer are still upon us. It’s a good thing we have trees to help keep us cool! Summer is a great time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the nice weather. But this month and next can be hard on trees, and they can use our help. Don’t be fooled by cooler weather. Cooler weather does not necessarily mean moisture.

In Washington, most of the annual accumulation of moisture comes in three seasons, fall, winter and spring. Summer is typically very dry. This weather pattern is great for vacatioTreens and back yard barbecues, but difficult for trees – particularly newly planted trees.

When we do get moisture, it may not be enough for our leafy friends, especially those planted within the last year or two. Even if you are watering your lawn on a regular basis, your trees might not be getting enough to drink. Grass roots, after all, only grow to a depth of several inches. In contrast, trees roots are deeper, from about 18” to 24” deep.

Long, slow watering under the drip-line of a tree with a soaker hose or even a bucket with small holes drilled into will ensure that moisture seeps down into the root zone.

Or build a low ring of dirt about 1 foot from the trunk of the tree to create a soil dam. With your hose turned on to a slow trickle, fill the tree ring with water (this will take about 30 minutes). Keeping the hose on a trickle will allow the water to soak in rather than run off, while the dam will keep the water directly over the roots of the tree.

Remember that a 2-4 inch thick layer of bark mulch around the base of a tree will maintain soil moisture and help control weeds, (but keep the bark about a hands-width away from the trunk).

There are many factors involved when considered how much and how long to water. Check out this article by Oregon State University Extension (OSUE) about watering trees and shrubs the right way, and how watering needs differ depending on soil texture.

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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

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DNR Website Maintenance

June 21, 2014

June 21

Staff will be upgrading some of DNR’s online systems June 21.

The website and web based programs may not be available for use. In the meantime, please stay connected on our “Ear to the Ground” blog and/or other social media tools.


DNR’s social media sites:
“Ear to the Ground” blog
Fire Twitter
Facebook Fan page
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Come see aquatic critters and celebrate our shoreline

June 12, 2014
Maury Island beach and Pt. Robinson

Maury Island beach and Pt. Robinson Lighthouse

June 14 at the Low Tide Celebration at Maury Island State Aquatic Reserve

It’s family fun that’s free, local, educational and 100% natural! Come fete Puget Sound at the ninth annual Vashon-Maury Island Low Tide Celebration.

Saturday, June 14, 2014
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Point Robinson on Maury Island

Explore, discover and appreciate the panorama of marine life on our shoreline. The summer low tide of minus 3.3 feet exposes beach and tide pools we rarely see—and you can ask Vashon Beach Naturalists about all that is revealed.

Welcome Skipper Mike Evans and the Blue Heron Canoe Family with a traditional Salish welcoming song as they paddle their way to the Point to honor the celebration. Learn about traditional native uses of shoreline resources from Odin Lonning, Tlingit artist and cultural educator. Tour the Point Robinson Lighthouse and hear its history from Captain Joe Wubbold, the Head Keeper. The beautiful Maury Island Aquatic Reserve and learn the many ways you can help protect this valuable natural resource.

A shuttle bus will run along Point Robinson Road to transport people between their parked cars and the festivities. Refreshments, native crafts and Low Tide t-shirts also will be available for sale on site.

Broad community support

The Vashon-Maury Island Low Tide Celebration is sponsored by: Vashon Beach Naturalists, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Washington Scuba Alliance, Vashon Park District, Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society, King County, Vashon College, Keepers of Point Robinson, Washington Environmental Council, and Vashon Watersports.

State aquatic reserve

For the people of Washington, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is steward of more than 2.6 million acres of aquatic lands—the lands under Puget Sound and the coast, navigable lakes and rivers, and many tideland beaches—including those at Maury Island Aquatic Reserve, where the Low Tide Celebration is being held. State aquatic lands are home to fish and wildlife, and support commerce and navigation, and access for all the people of the state.


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Yard Talk – Puget Sound is our front yard

June 5, 2014
Maury Island homes across Quartermaster Harbor

Maury Island homes across Quartermaster Harbor

Puget Sound—such an important asset for Washington— looks pristine as we gaze out at our watery ‘front yard.’ And we love to see the wildlife and eat fish, shellfish, and other tasty delights from the bay.

For decades we have progressed significantly on restoring habitat and cleaning up messes. And yet, beneath the surface are junk and chemicals ‘flushed’ into the Sound through storm drains.

Stormwater outfall

Stormwater outfall

Take a look at YouTube: Puget Sound is Our Front Yard, King County TV’s Yard Talk program that sheds some light on why and how we can be great stewards of the Sound AND create solutions that benefit our home and personal lives, too.

Many of the underwater and beach shots were taken at Maury Island Aquatic Reserve, managed by DNR to protect this aquatic ecosystem and provide research and educational opportunities for scientists, students and the public.

Rain garden along a Seattle street

Rain garden along a Seattle street

Most of the reserve is healthy, but even here, cleanup and restoration are necessary to undo damage of the past 150 years—and sustain the long-term health of the ecosystem.

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DNR offices closed for Memorial Day; Many recreation sites are open today

May 26, 2014

Memorial DayDNR’s regional and headquarters offices are closed for Memorial Day in honor of the men and women who died while serving in the nation’s armed forces.

Most of the recreation sites that the department manages are open today. See the latest list of open and closed DNR-managed recreation sites before you go. Offices will reopen on Tuesday morning at regular business hours.


Planned Ocosta tsunami refuge would provide safe area for students, staff and residents

May 20, 2014

First vertical-evacuation tsunami refuge in nation

Ocosta school project

Ocosta school project

The Ocosta School District hosted an open house last week (Thursday, May 15) to show off its plans for what will become the first vertical-evacuation tsunami refuge in the United States – the Ocosta Elementary School & Tsunami Safe Haven. This voter-approved, locally funded school construction project will include a large platform atop a new gymnasium, part of a planned replacement for the community’s aging elementary school. Students, faculty, and staff, as well as nearby residents, could flee to the building’s upper-level in the event a tsunami hit the Washington coast. By placing the earthquake-resilient building atop a small hill, the rooftop haven will sit about 55 feet above sea level, well above the tallest surges predicted for the school site.

Washington State’s outer coast is susceptible to tsunamis, particularly those caused by local earthquakes. The Cascadia Subduction Zone, which lies off the coastline of Washington, Oregon, Northern California, and British Columbia, is capable of producing very large earthquakes, similar to the one that struck Japan and generated devastating tsunami waves in March 2011.

This new structure is a product of Project Safe Haven, a collaboration between DNR, Washington State Emergency Management Division, University of Washington’s Hazard Mitigation Institute, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States Geological Survey, coastal communities, and Tribal Nations. Also instrumental in the project was NOAA’s National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program which encourages safety planning in communities at risk of tsunamis.

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Water safety first as warm temperatures return

May 1, 2014
Blow-hole along the Strait of Juan De Fuca west of Neah Bay

Kayaker is sprayed by a blow-hole along the Strait of Juan De Fuca west of Neah Bay. Photo: DNR

This week’s warm temperatures are drawing large crowds to Washington State’s lakes, rivers, ocean beaches, and Puget Sound.

Safety first
Rafting, boating, and swimming can be great fun, but we want to make sure you make safety your first priority.

Washington’s cold waters can turn a sunny adventure into a scary situation in a matter of seconds.

Water excursions on DNR-managed land
Look on our Recreation web page to find out which waterside recreation sites on DNR-managed lands are open. Locate resources for safe and sustainable paddling here.

Boater Education Card required
Remember, if you operate a boat, you’ll need to get your Boater Education Card from State Parks and have one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket available for each person aboard.

Additional water safety reminders come from the Washington State Department of Health.

National Boating Safety Week is May 17 through May 23. Teach your loved ones the essentials of water safety with tips from the Safe Boating Campaign.

Cypress Head camping

Sunrise at Cypress Head on Cypress Island — a DNR-managed Natural Resources Conservation Area. Photo: Jason Goldstein/DNR

Something to look forward to…
Cypress Island: rich in DNR’s most popular boat-in campgrounds and day-use recreation sites will open Memorial Day weekend.

Make sure you get your Discover Pass before you go! One $35* Annual Discover Pass grants you vehicle access to DNR recreation sites, campgrounds, trails, and 2.2 million acres of state trust lands.

Most importantly, be safe and have fun!

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*Annual Discover Pass is $35 including transaction and dealer fees if purchased at a license dealer, by phone or online. 

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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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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