Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Celebrate Seattle Seahawks’ opening game day and National Wildlife Day with DNR

September 4, 2014

Ever wonder about the majestic bird behind your 12th Man pride in the Seattle Seahawks?

In recognition of National Wildlife Day and the Seattle Seahawks’ opening game today, we’re highlighting a DNR recreation opportunity that is home to the osprey, the only raptor willing to dive into the sea for fish.

osprey

An osprey dives into the water. The osprey is the only raptor that plunges into the water to catch fish. Photo: Rodney Cammauf / National Park Service.

Whether you’re an avid Seattle Seahawks fan, curious about hawks, or just looking for a place to explore in Washington’s great outdoors, read on for where to find nature’s sea hawk, the osprey, on DNR-managed recreation lands.

Home to the sea hawk:
West Tiger Mountain NRCA

This Natural Resource Conservation Area (NRCA) is 35 miles east of Seattle and protects a vast variety of rare ecosystems and many species of native wildlife.

This 4,430-acre expanse is home to deer, cougars, bobcats, black bears, coyote, elk, red-tailed hawks, owls, woodpeckers and… our native sea hawk, the osprey.

The area is an excellent outdoor classroom with an education shelter, interpretive displays, and accessible trails.


Discover Pass logoDiscover Pass

Before you celebrate this special day by visiting DNR-managed lands, don’t forget a Discover Pass, your ticket to state recreation lands in Washington.

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Look up! It’s the forest canopy (Part 2)

June 20, 2014
Forest canopy at Deception Pass

Forest canopy at Deception Pass. Photo: Ken Bevis/DNR.

The canopy layer in the forest—the interacting tree crowns that create a remarkable maze of three-dimensional spaces between and on the branches—is a habitat niche with specialized functions for many species of wildlife. The surfaces of these branches and leaves provide shelter and food for a wide variety of arboreal (forest canopy inhabiting) mammals, birds and insects.

Arboreal mammals

Truly arboreal mammals are not as numerous as bird species, but are important members of the forest wildlife ecosystem. Our native conifer squirrels are the Douglas and red squirrels (members of the genus Tamiasciurus), locally known as chickarees. These two species are actually very similar, but occupy different habitat regions. Douglas squirrels are associated with wetter, westside type forests dominated by Douglas fir and hemlock. Red squirrels live on the drier and colder east side, as well as in Rocky Mountain forest types we have in Northeast Washington. Both are common and important mammal species directly tied to the forest canopy as conifer specialists, actively harvesting and caching cones each year. Who among us woods walkers hasn’t been scolded by one of these little dervishes?

Fungi (mushrooms), which help trees grow by adding root absorptive surface to trees, is food for squirrels. The squirrels spread spores throughout the forest through their feces. Flying squirrels occupy a similar niche, but work the night shift, often foraging on the ground for mushrooms to cache. For this reason, flying, Douglas and red squirrels can be considered keystone species in forest ecosystems, e.g., species whose presence has far-reaching impacts. These squirrels need canopy to provide hiding places and food, but also need down logs for cache sites, and woody cavities in snags for denning. Habitat for these squirrels also includes low branches for resting and eating cones dropped to the ground.

Caring for the Canopy    (more…)

DNR weekend reading: Are golfers fire hazards? … and other interesting news from recent scientific research

March 22, 2014
elk in the Cowlitz River

An elk drinks from the Cowlitz River in eastern Lewis County near Packwood, Washington. PHOTO: Scott Hilgenberg/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:

University of California, Irvine: Titanium clubs can cause golf course fires, study finds
Titanium alloy golf clubs can cause dangerous wildfires, according to UC Irvine scientists. When a club coated with the lightweight metal alloy is swung and strikes a rock, it creates sparks that can heat to more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit for long enough to ignite dry foliage, according to findings published Fire and Materials (includes video).

Manchester University: Linking storms to climate change a ‘distraction’, say experts
Connecting extreme weather to climate change distracts from the need to protect society from high-impact weather events which will continue to happen irrespective of human-induced climate change, say University of Manchester researchers.

University of Cincinnati: A ‘Back to the Future’ Approach to Taking Action on Climate Change
Through an interdisciplinary research technique for approaching climate change vulnerability called Multi-scale, Interactive Scenario-Building, researchers are examining ways to begin dealing with the disastrous consequences of extreme climate changes before they occur.

Duke University: Lessons Offered by Emerging Carbon Trading Markets
Although markets for trading carbon emission credits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have stalled in United States federal policy-making, carbon markets are emerging at the state level within the U.S. and around the world, teaching us more about what does and doesn’t work.

Science Daily: Animals losing migratory routes? Devastating consequences of scarcity of ‘knowledgeable elders’
Small changes in a population may lead to dramatic consequences, like the disappearance of the migratory route of a species. Scientists have created a model of the behavior of a group of individuals on the move (like a school of fish or a flock of birds) that reproduces the collective behavior patterns observed in the wild.

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National Bird Feeding Month

February 20, 2014

bird bro!Even though February is a winter month, not all birds fly south to find warmer weather. In fact, February is National Bird Feeding Month. Time to dust off those bird houses and crack the ice on the bird bath because our feathered friends are here and they are hungry. Whether you are a seasoned feeder or just wanting some natural music in the back yard, this is the month to do it.

Several different types of birdhouses and feeders cater to a wide variety of birds. Knowing what birds you might be catering to is a great place to start. There are several sites that can help you find what you are looking for. Here is a quick rundown of a few of the basics types of feeders you can use.

Feeder types:

  • Tube Feeder: Good for fending off squirrels and feeding chickadee-like birds
  • Hopper Feeders: Good for multiple birds at once, it will accommodate all types, even larger birds.
  • Suet Feeder: Good for attracting insects to organically feed woodpeckers and the like.
  • Thistle Feeder: Good for small-beaked birds and keeping bigger animals out.
  • Ground Feeder: Good for all types of birds, even those who would not fit on a hung feeder.
  • Nectar Feeder: Good for long-beaked birds like hummingbirds

When setting up a feeding station, keep in mind the location and what you are putting into the feeders. If you are looking to excite the local aviary population, add some variety to the diet. Mix in a few berries or bits of fruit here and there or give them a reason to stick around with some peanut butter. Just having a different seed mix every once in a while can make all the difference.

Due to the cold in the winter, most of the natural food supply is exhausted during the winter. So have a good time making a birdhouse and then fill it up for all to enjoy.

Here is a quick FAQ with some of the dos and don’ts of winter bird feeding if you would like to get more involved.

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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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Our top posts during September: Lighting, wildfire, and ‘angular unconformity’ were popular topics

October 2, 2013
Lightning strike

Lighting has been striking more often this summer in Washington and Oregon — about 238,109 times, which four times higher than normal. Photo: DNR.

Here’s a roundup of the most popular blog posts on Ear to the Ground during September:

Snap, crackle, pop! More lightning than past years. Does it seem like Washington and Oregon have had more lightning this year than past years? That’s because it’s true — four times the normal rate, according to reports.

DNR’s Fire Dispatch Center takes the heat. Ever wonder how DNR mobilizes personnel, trucks, aircraft, and supplies to respond to wildland fires?

Former firefighter seeks — and finds — names of rescuers 32 years later. A former firefighter gets DNR’s help in tracking down crew members who rendered first aid and carried him to safety after he collapsed while working on a wildfire in 1981.

End summer the ‘Reiter-way. DNR announces that two new sections for off-road fun at Reiter Foothills Forest are now open to the public: The ATV Purple Line and the intimidating 4×4 Connector Challenge trails.   

Our Geology Image of the Month: ‘Angular unconformity’. The Washington State Geology News (a free e-newsletter from DNR) shows off a well-exposed angular unconformity in the rocks at Beach 4, located along coastal Highway 101 between Ruby Beach and Kalaloch.

Working forests, working double-time. Most people know about the monetary benefits of harvesting trees from forest lands, but what people may not know are the other services forests provide, such as clean water, flood control and carbon sequestration.

Small earthquake shakes Lake Wenatchee area. A small, 3.0 magnitude, earthquake shook the east end of Lake Wenatchee at 8:15 a.m. on September 24.

Can animals survive wildfires? You’ll be glad to know that most wild animals do survive wildfires. They are much smarter than we give them credit for.

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SEE SMOKE…? REPORT IT

August 23, 2013

cell phonesTake a moment & add this number to your cell phone! Report a forest fire: 800-562-6010

Stay Connected this
#WaWildfire season:


DNR’s social media sites:

“Ear to the Ground” blog
Twitter
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Chinese ‘Year of the Snake’ is time to put spotlight on local species

February 12, 2013
Northwestern garter snake

The Northwestern garter snake reaches 2-feet long at maturity, lives on slugs and worms, and is harmless to humans. Photo: Wash. Natural Heritage Program

 With the Chinese lunar ‘Year of the Snake’ beginning this past weekend, let’s take a look at the smallest of our three garter snake species: the Northwestern garter (Thamnophis  ordinoides), one of 12 native snake species in Washington state.

Northwestern garter snakes are not rare. You can find them in open grassy areas, forest openings and edges of coniferous forests, frequently in city parks and suburban areas. They are also common near lakes, ponds and other bodies water. They reach about 2 feet at maturity and tend to be dark above with stripes of red and orange. The Northwestern garter snake lives mainly on slugs and earthworms … and it does not have a poisonous bite.

Of course, this particular year of the snake in the Chinese zodiac recognizes the water snake but we don’t have those in Evergreen State, according to the Washington Herp Atlas, an online atlas of amphibians and reptiles in the state. The atlas was produced by the Washington Natural Heritage Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service.

Learn more about snakes and other wildlife in Washington state

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Loads of progress on Woodard Bay NRCA restoration

December 14, 2012
Contractors prepare to pull one of last segments of train trestle across Woodard bay in earlier phase of project in 2010. This location is where large volume of fill currently is being removed to restore natural shoreline. DNR Photo: Lisa Kaufman

Contractors prepare to pull one of last segments of train trestle across Woodard Bay in an earlier phase of the project in 2010. This location is where large volume of fill currently is being removed to restore natural shoreline. DNR Photo: Lisa Kaufman

Part closed, part open during big job
Treasured by naturalists and walkers, Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area is enjoyed throughout the year.

And we know that it’s disappointing to have most of this special place closed until spring, but it will be well worth it! It’s a big job removing hundreds of tons of fill and restoring the natural coastline, pulling out more creosote logs and piers, and developing long-term access for the public.

WB-map_

The Overlook Trail on the south side of Woodard Bay is open during daylight hours, and Whitham Road and the Loop Trail on the north side are closed for restoration and construction.

With state ‘jobs funding’ available, we are taking advantage of the opportunity to contract out for projects that wedidn’t think we’d be able to complete for many years. We’re moving quickly to make as much progress as possible during the winter ‘fish window’ when species such as salmon are not moving through the area waters.

Project progress highlighted in The Olympian

View the changes
Even though the large north side of the conservation area is closed to the public for safety, the southern ridgeline trail is still open, with parking available in the adjacent lot at the northern terminus of the Chehalis Western Trail.

As you walk the southern trail, you will be able to see part of the big project’s progress—the removal of fill where the trestle once stood, and restoration of the Woodard Bay Shoreline.

We look forward to sharing with the public the improvements at the site…as soon as we can.

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DNR law enforcement officer meets his match: one sassy turkey

November 23, 2012
wild turkey on DNR managed road
This wild turkey put the brakes on DNR Law Enforcement Officer Gary Margheim’s routine patrol of a forest road. Photo: DNR

Keeping DNR’s 2 million acres of forested state trust lands safe and sustainable requires watchfulness, resourcefulness and, often, a good measure of patience. That’s how DNR Law Enforcement Officer Gary Margheim decided to deal with this wild turkey taking its time to cross a forest road that he was patrolling. DNR officers and staff  are especially thankful for the opportunities working at DNR gives them to get outdoors during the week…  even it means dealing with a stubborn, feathered state trust land resident from time to time.

If you like this photo and want to see more, visit DNR on Facebook… and give us ‘like’ please, while you are there.

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