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The 12 ‘tips’ of Christmas (they can keep you and your family safe all year long)

December 23, 2013
Nisqually earthquake debris in Olympia

The 2001 Nisqually Earthquake caused building debris to fall into the streets of downtown Olympia. Make sure you’re prepared for the next natural disaster. Photo: Joe Dragovich/DNR.

Maybe you have heard all the carols and holiday music you care to hear for one year. Or, maybe you are still brimming with yuletide enthusiasm. Regardless, we bring you 12 tips that can keep you and your family safe throughout your lifetime. As you spend time with friends and family this holiday season, consider the possible emergencies that can occur and what you can do to keep everyone you love prepared. Here are a dozen tips for year-round preparedness…

1.       Prepare your trees for winter
Winter storms can do a number on your trees. Downed and damaged trees could fall on your home, your car, a powerline, or even a person. Follow these tips to keep your trees healthy and better able to resist storm damage this winter.

2.       Identify your hazards
Identify the potential hazards in your home and learn how to fix them. People are often injured or killed in earthquakes by unsecured objects such as bookshelves. Secure anything heavy enough to hurt you if it falls on you, or fragile enough to be a significant loss if it falls.

3.       Learn about your area’s natural hazards
Learn about the natural hazards that put your family at risk and what to do if they occur. Teach your kids what to do and practice your emergency action plan.

4.       Develop an Emergency Action Plan
Make an emergency plan with your family and practice it! Have different plans for different variables. What if your kids are at school or a sports practice? Make sure they know what to do if you can’t be there to help them.    


Eco-Friendly holiday tips

December 19, 2013

We want to help you get prepared for the holidays and do it sustainably.

12-19-2013 11-39-31 AM

Here are 12 tips for you to have an Eco-Friendly holiday:

  1. Shop responsibly
    Remember to take re-usable shopping bags on your gift finding excursions, they’re not just for grocery stores. Single-use bags are a waste of trees (paper) or fossil fuels (plastic). They contribute to water pollution during production and landfill overload at disposal. Re-usable cloth or paper bags reduce these problems.

  2. Keep your pets safe and in a festive mood
    Remember the year you had to rush the cats to the vet and vowed never to put tinsel on your tree again? Visit the Washington Department of Ecology to make sure you have a toxin-free holiday and view these special holiday safety tips for pets. Let’s keep everyone eco-friendly and healthy this holiday.
  3. Give a sustainable gift
    It’s easy to go overboard during the holidays and give gifts with a ‘use once and throw it away’ sentiment. Instead of panicking and giving a gift that will end up in storage (or worse- the trash) make your gift thoughtful and of benefit to the environment.

  4. Consider alternatives to traditional presents
    It really is the thought that counts with gift giving. Consider non-traditional gift ideas that are not only extremely thoughtful, but encourage the gift of time spent together with friends and family. For example, donations in the name of a friend of a gift certificate for your time (babysit or pet sit). Give the gift of classes or a special skill you have.
  5. Gift wrap
    This is an opportunity for you to really get creative. Decorate old paper bags using glitter and paint with your kids, use the funnies from the newspaper, or recycle some old fabric you have to make unique, recycled gift wrap. You can also release wrinkles from saved paper with a warm iron. Find more great green gift wrapping ideas here.
  6. Have a natural, germ-free holiday
    Use and give real soap as gifts this holiday season. Soap is safer than anti-bacterial products in the long run and germs can’t build up a resistance to it. Learn more about the benefits of real soap here.
  7. Give a monthly or yearly transit ticket
    This is about as eco-friendly a gift the average city-dweller can get! The American Public Transportation Association reports the American national average savings of using public transportation Is almost $10,000 a year! That’s a pretty substantial gift!
  8. Lights
    For some of us, the holidays just aren’t festive without the soft colorful twinkle of lights strung around the house, in every window, and all around the tree. Save yourself the electricity bill and save the environment some strife by switching to energy-efficient outdoor LED lights, which pull almost 90 percent less power and are several hundred times brighter than traditional lights.
  9. Build a rain garden
    Give the gift of beautiful summer gardens that hold our winter rains in the ground instead of allowing them to carry garden chemicals down the street into the gutter and on to a stream, river, or bay. Put in the work for a friend or family member’s rain garden this holiday and they will be ready for planting flowers come spring!
  10. Keep that natural holiday smell
    Learn how to keep your home smelling sweet naturally! Create a warm and festive atmosphere that won’t give your guests headaches or endanger the planet. Click here for some great natural air freshening tips.
  11. Redefine Boxing Day
    The day after Christmas is called Boxing Day, because it was the day when the lords and ladies of the manor took boxes of food or gave money to their servants. You can start a new Boxing Day tradition by using this day to box up unwanted or duplicate items and donate them to one of the many charities that accept used items.
  12. Discover Pass!
    Give the gift that encourages time outside and supports the agencies that protect and manage Washington’s natural resources. Give the Discover Pass. This tiny gift gives an entire year of vehicle access to DNR-managed state lands gives the opportunity to be enjoyed again and again all across the state.

 Have a fun and happy holiday from DNR!

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DNR weekend reading: CO2 injection pilot project near Richland, whales, volcanoes and other science news

December 15, 2013
DNR's Pacific Cascade Region office in Castle Rock, Washington

DNR’s Pacific Cascade Region office in Castle Rock, Washington, after the 2013 season’s first snowfall (but before we shoveled the steps!) 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:

Scientific American: Richland Pilot Project is Burying CO2 in Basalt
Since July 17, 2013, researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, have been pumping carbon dioxide into the Columbia River Basalt formation near the town of Wallula. The pilot project aims to determine if basalt formations can hold — and permanently mineralize — vast quantities of the gas.

Oregon State University: New study identifies five distinct humpback populations in North Pacific
The first comprehensive genetic study of humpback whale populations in the North Pacific Ocean has identified five distinct populations – at the same time a proposal to designate North Pacific humpbacks as a single “distinct population segment” is being considered under the Endangered Species Act.

McGill University: Deep-Sea Study Reveals Cause of 2011 Tsunami: Unusually Thin, Slippery Geological Fault Found
The tsunami that struck Japan’s Tohoku region in 2011 was touched off by a submarine earthquake far more massive than anything geologists had expected in that zone. Now, a team of scientists has shed light on what caused the dramatic displacement of the seafloor.

BBC: Yellowstone ‘supervolcano’ even more colossal than thought 
A study shows that the magma chamber of the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park is far larger — 2.5 times bigger — than was previously thought. The cavern stretches for more than 55 miles and contains 200-600 cubic km of molten rock.

Scientific AmericanCleaner Than Coal? Wood Power Makes a Comeback A power plant in northwestern Ontario Province will be the largest commercial power generation plant in North America to convert from coal to biomass; it’s part of Ontario’s plan to be the first jurisdiction in North America to shut down its entire coal fleet.

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Thin ice dangers abound in Washington State

December 6, 2013

With record low temperatures in many parts of Washington State, local fire departments are warning of the dangers of thin ice on ponds, lakes, streams and other waterways. The same goes for the millions of acres of state trust lands that DNR manages on both sides of the Cascades.

Just because an ice-covered pond or small lake is frozen doesn’t mean it’s safe for walking, skiing, skating, snowmobiling, etc. Same goes for pets. Ice should be at least 2 inches or more thick before it can be considered safe to walk on but ice seldom freezes evenly — it could be several inches thick in one spot and less than an inch thick nearby. Falling through ice into frigid water can easily be fatal within a few minutes.

Here are some tips from people who know their ice: our friends at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Planning on some ice fishing? Here are some ice fishing safety tips from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Or you can check out this video about ice rescues from an unidentified fire department.

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Maps, wood and more maps… A look at our top blogs from November

December 3, 2013
Snoqualmie Bog NAP

The DNR-managed Snoqualmie Bog Natural Area Preserve protects a sphagnum moss bog and freshwater wetland system that is now extremely rare in the Puget Sound basin. This site is not ADA accessible and has no public facilities. Photo: Joe Rocchio/DNR.

DNR maps of trust lands, and information about firewood-cutting and finding Christmas trees seemed foremost on the minds of visitors to Ear to the Ground last month. Here are the most popular postings on our blog during November:

No need to burn outdoors; there are better options: Outdoor burning is a leading cause of wildfires. Fortunately there are easy and practical alternatives to burning woody debris, such as chipping and composting.

Top 5 reasons to download the new Capitol State Forest map onto your smartphone: The 2013 Capitol State Forest map has been developed to easily download for free to your smartphone or tablet.

No, we don’t have any Christmas trees for you to cut (but we know where to find them): The many lovely trees in the state trust forests that DNR manages are intended to provide revenue to public schools and other state trust land beneficiaries. Fortunately, there are private growers and federal lands where you can legally cut your own Christmas tree for a small fee.

Cutting firewood on DNR-managed state trust lands: We allow firewood cutting when a trust land timber harvest area has enough leftover down wood or slash to make it worthwhile for you. See our woodcutting permit web page or check with the U.S. Forest Service district office nearest you.


Our newest ‘quad maps’ arrive just in time for ‘Cyber Monday’ shoppers

December 2, 2013

Snoqualmie Quad Map coverUpdated maps popular with hunters, backcountry hikers and others who use public lands for recreation are available now to order online (just in time for Cyber Monday when retailers are expecting some 131 million people in the U.S. to shop online for holiday gifts).

Each of our Public Lands Quadrangle maps covers about 1,600 square miles and details boundaries, trails, water features, access points and other information you’ll want to know when seeking out public lands in Washington State. Our maps are full-color and available only on paper (sorry, no downloadable versions at this time).

The three maps most recently updated cover quadrants near Snoqualmie Pass (including portions of King, Pierce, Kittitas and Yakima counties) and in Chelan, Klickitat, and Skamania counties. An additional map update published earlier this year covers the popular Banks Lake area in central Washington.

More information about the maps

How to order a map online or purchase in person

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DNR weekend reading: Storing CO2, googling fish catches, and other stories

December 1, 2013
Capitol State Forest near Olympia

Thanks to the many volunteers who donated their time, sweat, and muscle to trail maintenance and other projects, many hiking trails and other recreation opportunities remain open on DNR-managed state trust lands like Capitol State Forest near Olympia. 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:

Scientific American: A Vault for Carbon Dioxide
What if there was an easy way to take the carbon dioxide from coal power smokestacks and turn it back into a rock that would sit quietly, deep below the earth’s surface?

University of British ColumbiaGoogle Earth reveals untold fish catches
Large fish traps in the Persian Gulf could be catching up to six times more fish than what’s being officially reported, according to the first investigation of fish catches from satellite imagery, to validate catch statistics and fisheries operations in general.

US Forest Service: Lowering Stand Density Reduces Mortality of Ponderosa Pine Stands
As trees grow larger in even-aged stands, competition develops among them. Competition weakens trees, as they contend for soil moisture, nutrients, and sunlight. Competition also increases trees’ risk to bark beetles and diseases, and subsequently leads to a buildup of dead fuels. A recent study considered if the onset of this risk could be determined.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: The lingering clouds
Scientist know that  pollution causes thunderstorms to leave behind larger, deeper, longer lasting clouds and now researcher have found why: pollution makes clouds linger by decreasing the size but increasing the lifespan of cloud and ice particles. The difference affects how scientists represent clouds in climate models.

DNR offices closed today but most recreation sites and natural areas are open all weekend

November 29, 2013
DNR forest road

Thanksgiving or not, this wild turkey is taking it’s time going down the road under the close supervision of a DNR Law Enforcement Officer. Photo: DNR.

DNR offices and work centers are closed over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, but many of our recreation sites and natural areas are open as usual.

We’re between recreation seasons here in Washington. Make sure to check if your recreation destination is open before you go. See a list of the open and closed sites the DNR recreation website.

Please report any illegal activity you see on DNR-managed state trust lands to DNR’s Forest Watch program at 1-855-883-8368 or Or call 911.

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Today is GIS Day: Celebrate the technology that is changing how we see the world around us

November 20, 2013
GIS layers

Geospatial information systems technologies compile multiple layers of information about a specific area on a map. GIS can be used to map crime, show land use, track wildfire, and more. Image: NOAA

Today (November 20) is GIS Day when we salute the dedicated technicians who use geospatial technology to show us new ways of looking at the world around us. Attend a GIS Day event in your area, or take a minute to view a  high-powered use of this technology on DNR’s Washington Geological Information Portal.

For an opportunity to see and interact with people who use geographic information systems (GIS) technology to make a difference in our world, stop by the State Capitol Rotunda in Olympia today where dozens of GIS users and experts from DNR, Washington State Department of Transportation, and several other state agencies will describe how they use GIS in the public’s interest. DNR, for example, shares GIS data about geologic formations and hazards  as well as about forest roads, streams, trails and other features with the public, other agencies and industry. Other state agencies, as well as local governments and nonprofits, use GIS data to track the spread of invasive species, map marine vegetation, plan land use, and monitor the health of vulnerable populations.

To see a real-world application of GIS data, visit the Washington Geological Information Portal where you can interact with multi-layered maps to find the locations of major earthquake faults, lahar and tsunami evacuation zones, underground geologic formations and more.

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DNR weekend reading: November 16, 2013

November 16, 2013
West Jackman Creek view

Mount Baker and Baker Lake as seen from West Jackman Creek near Concrete in Skagit County.

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:

Atmos News: Scientists nearing forecasts of long-lived wildfires
Scientists have developed a new computer modeling technique that offers the promise, for the first time, of producing continually updated daylong predictions of wildfire growth throughout the lifetime of long-lived blazes.

University of Alabama-Huntsville: Warming since 1950s partly caused by El Niño
A natural shift to stronger warm El Niño events in the Pacific Ocean might be responsible for a substantial portion of the global warming recorded during the past 50 years, according to new research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: Lignin-Feasting Microbe Holds Promise for Biofuels
Researchers hope that their discovery of a microbe that feasts on the lignin in plant leaf litter will lead them to a more cost-effective process of producing advanced biofuels from wood.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: Tracking young salmon’s first moves in the ocean
Basic ocean conditions such as current directions and water temperature play a huge role in determining the behavior of young migrating salmon as they move from rivers and hit ocean waters for the first time, according to new research that is intended to inform restoration policies and practices that will boost endangered salmon species in the Pacific Northwest.

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