Anniversary of the Columbus Day Storm of 1962 is Sunday

October 12, 2014
This tree would have benefitted by pruning to develop a strong structure when it was just beginning to grow. Photo: DNR

This tree would have benefitted by pruning to develop a strong structure when it was just beginning to grow. Photo: DNR

Wind storms are part of living in Washington state, but were you around when the Columbus Day Storm hit in 1962?

Considered the ‘granddaddy of all windstorms’ in these parts, the storm claimed 46 lives (7 in Washington state) and injured hundreds more. In the Willapa Hills of southwestern Washington, a wind gust of 160 miles per hour was recorded.

This Sunday, October 12, is the 52nd anniversary of the 1962 Columbus Day Storm, the strongest non-tropical wind storm ever to hit the lower 48 states in recorded U.S. history.

Not around in 1962? Maybe you recall the Hanukkah Eve Wind Storm of 2006, a powerful storm that slammed into the Pacific Northwest region between December 14, 2006, and December 15, 2006, causing 18 deaths and widespread damage and power outages.

Weather events as large as these storms may be infrequent, but today’s Columbus Day Storm anniversary is a good reminder to be prepared.

What can you do to prepare for the ferocious wind storms that strike our state almost every winter? Check out the Washington State Emergency Management Division’s “Windstorms in Washington State” publication to get useful preparation and survival tips.

Whatever storm you’ve experienced, DNR encourages you to join other Washington residents in preparing your trees before the next big storm hits. Take action now to reduce the damage caused by windstorms. It could keep you from losing power in your area or even save your home from damage.

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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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Storm water runoff poses significant threats to water quality in Washington

October 10, 2014
Trees reduce stormwater runoff by intercepting rainfall in their canopies and roots. Photo: Guy Kramer

Trees reduce stormwater runoff by intercepting rainfall in their canopies and roots. Photo: Guy Kramer

Storm water runoff – the rain that falls on streets, driveways, rooftops and other developed land — is one of the most widespread challenges to water quality in Washington state. It carries oil, grease, fertilizers, soaps, and waste from pets and failing septic systems into streams and other bodies of water.

DNR has set a goal to clean up and restore Puget Sound, because even the clean water that originates in the upland forests we manage can become polluted as it flows through urban and suburban areas.

One of the best ways to mitigate the negative impacts of urban and suburban storm water runoff is to reduce how much of it ends up in natural waterways. Trees and shrubs are part of the solution because they help detain storm water on-site, in addition to slowing its flow and reducing erosion. October is an excellent time to recognize the many benefits that trees provide, including reduction and filtration of storm water runoff, because they:

  • Reduce storm water runoff by intercepting rainfall in their canopies where it is later re-released into the atmosphere.
  • Slow down runoff rates and reduce pollutants by absorbing storm water through their roots.
  • Store pollutants and transform them into less harmful substances.
  • Create healthy soil conditions that allow rainwater to filter into the soil so that less flows down streets, sidewalks, gutters, and storm sewers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Flashy, quick Harlequin duck among HCP protection targets

October 9, 2014
Because it feeds and mates in near shore aquatic habitat, the Harlequin Duck is one of 29 species protected by the DNR's Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan. Photo by L. Barnes

Because it feeds and mates in near shore aquatic habitat, the Harlequin Duck is one of 29 species protected by the DNR’s Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan. Photo by L. Barnes

Meet the Harlequin duck.

Named after the colorfully-dressed Harlequin character from 16th Century Italian Commedia dell’arte, the flashy bird lives an agile, resourceful life along mountain streams and coastlines where it feeds on a mostly-animal diet of fish, crabs and mollusks.

Because Harlequin ducks rely on nearshore and streamside habitats to feed and nest, they are one of 29 species addressed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ Aquatics Lands Habitat Conservation Plan, or HCP.

Along with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Marine Fisheries Service, DNR officials are unveiling an environmental analysis of the HCP at a series of public meetings this week and next.

A public meeting about the draft Environmental Impact Statement on the HCP will be at the Cowlitz County PUD office at 961 12th Ave. in Longview from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. tonight, Thursday.

Some 400 pairs of harlequin ducks nest along Olympic and Cascade mountain streams and an estimated 3,000 spend their winters along the outer coast and in northern Puget Sound, northern Hood Canal, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the San Juan Archipelago. They may also be seen in the Blue Mountains of southeast Washington.

Harlequin ducks are not listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, but are listed listed as a Species of Concern in Washington.

Threats that warrant protection of harlequin ducks include:

  • Changes in habitat structure
  • Increase in predation
  • Decline in water and sediment quality
  • Physical harm or harassment from covered activities

To find out how DNR’s HCP will protect habitat vital to the harlequin duck and 28 other species, attend tonight’s Longview meeting or upcoming meetings in Tacoma and Pasco.

To view the HCP and the draft Environmental Impact Statement, visit the DNR web site at: http://1.usa.gov/1pO9f3Y

Written comments on the Environmental Impact Statement will be welcomed until December 4, 2014, to be addressed to: Tim Romanski, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 510 Desmond Drive SE, Suite 102, Lacey, WA, 98503; or Scott Anderson, NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region, 510 Desmond Drive SE, Suite 103, Lacey, WA, 98503. Comments may also be submitted by email, to WFWOComments@fws.gov.

 

 

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Tiger Mountain trail re-route means a more sustainable trail

October 6, 2014

DNR has something to celebrate as agency staff, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, and Puget SoundCorps crews successfully re-routed a half-mile segment of the Tiger Mountain Trail (TMT) located in the West Tiger Mountain Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA).

Tiger Mountain trail re-route

This half-mile trail re-route is more sustainable and opens more miles of access to trail visitors.
Click map for larger view.

Small change, big effort, huge difference
The re-routed trail segment, located around 4 miles from the High Point Trailhead accessed from Exit #20 of Interstate 90, was moved to a more sustainable alignment after flooding caused irreparable trail erosion damage.

In addition, a 50-foot-long trail bridge was relocated to an upstream location in order to complete the project.

The new trail segment officially opened late in September and is part of the roughly 15-mile length TMT originally built by the Issaquah Alps Trails Club.

West Tiger Mountain NRCA bridge

The new bridge and trail segment brings a better experience for hikers.
Photo by: Sam Jarrett/DNR

“Relocating this remote trail segment to a more sustainable location will help ensure long-term TMT connectivity, while providing a primitive hiking and trail running experience for visitors,” said Sam Jarrett, DNR Snoqualmie Corridor Recreation Manager.

The project was funded through storm disaster relief funds provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Tiger Mountain needs your help!
Volunteers are needed to continue maintaining and repairing hiking trails within the West Tiger Mountain NRCA.

DNR has coordinated upcoming volunteer trail maintenance work parties with the Washington Trails Association (WTA), beginning this fall.

West Tiger Mountain NRCA

Join the crew and help maintain trails on Tiger Mountain.
Photo by: Sam Jarrett/DNR

To get involved, please check the WTA volunteer calendar for more information and to sign-up for upcoming volunteer trail work opportunities.

DNR volunteers help the agency build and maintain recreation opportunities. They also help out by becoming a camp host or member of our Forest Watch team. For more information on DNR volunteer opportunities across the state visit
www.dnr.wa.gov/volunteer.

Visit West Tiger Mountain NRCA
Learn more about recreation in the West Tiger Mountain NRCA area and learn what’s open and closed by visiting our website.

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Ceremony kicks off Urban & Community Forestry Month

October 3, 2014
planting trees

Children from an Olympia-area daycare program help ‘plant’ new street trees. Photo: Bob Redling/DNR

Helping Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark kick off Urban & Community Forestry Month this afternoon in Olympia were several dignitaries, a dozen pre-school children from a nearby daycare facility, two wooden benches, and three large boxes of tree-shaped cookies. More about the benches and the cookies in a minute.

DNR sponsors Urban & Community Forestry Month in Washington state as part of its effort to provide technical support, advice and encouragement to community forestry programs across the state. Today’s brief ceremony took place near the Natural Resources Building in Olympia. Also at the ceremony, Sheila Gray, chair of the Washington Community Forestry Council, presented the City of Olympia with an award marking its 21st year as an official ‘Tree City’ (there are 84 Tree Cities in Washington state).

tree bench

Cedar Creek Correctional Camp inmates milled the wood and made this bench and other items from three black locust trees recently removed from an Olympia streetside. Black locust is a highly rot-resistant wood. Photo: Bob Redling/DNR

Three recently planted starlight dogwood trees at the site were commemorated by the reading of a short poem by several children (followed by cookies!). The dogwoods replace three black locust trees that had grown too large for the narrow streetside median strip in which they had been planted. With a potential height of 80 feet, extensive root systems, and a tendency for limbs to break in high wind, the locust trees were just in the wrong place. In contrast, dogwoods are highly adaptable to urban sites.

DNR made good use of the wood from the removed trees; inmates at Cedar Creek Correctional Camp milled the wood into several items, including two benches (see photo). Black locust is one of the most rot-resistant woods available… you just might not want it growing in your yard or on your street.

Learn more about DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry program.

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Controlled burn at Camas Meadows planned for October 1

September 30, 2014
prescribed burn

Firefighters keep a close eye on prescribed burns. Photo: Kent Romney

If wind and weather conditions are favorable, DNR may conduct a controlled burn at Camas Meadows Natural Area Preserve on Wednesday, October 1. The project may be moved to later in the week or later this fall if weather conditions do not allow for safe burning on October 1.

Why burn? Fire helped develop the arid forests and meadows in the east Cascade Mountains and using it through planned burns promotes the growth of native plant species. Controlled burns are a safe and cost-effective way to restore natural conditions and remove encroaching shrubs, trees, and other growth that can lead to uncontrolled wildfires.

Will firefighters be present during the burn? Yes, DNR firefighters and fire engines will be present during the burn to prevent it from spreading.

What about the burn ban? DNR lifted the statewide burn last week. The prescribed burn at Camas Meadows will be conducted in compliance with prescribed burning regulations and closely monitored.

Where will the prescribed burn take place? Camas Meadows Natural Area Preserve is 12 miles southeast of Leavenworth, off Camas Creek Road, and protects the largest remaining populations of two rare plant species — the Wenatchee Mountain checker-mallow and the Wenatchee larkspur — that occur only in the Wenatchee Mountains of central Washington.

DNR-managed natural areas protect native ecosystems and the plant and animal species that depend on them.

Do you have other questions or concerns about controlled burning? Email David Wilderman, natural areas program ecologist for DNR’s Natural Areas Program, which is a statewide system of natural resources conservation areas and natural area preserves totaling more than 155,000 acres.

How much carbon does that tree store? There’s a tool for that

September 26, 2014
Don't see the leaves in your yard as a nuisance. View them as an exercise plan to get in shape.

Don’t see the leaves in your yard as a nuisance. View them as an exercise plan to get in shape.

That maple tree in the backyard that seems to produce twice its weight in leaves every fall is more than just good lookin’. In addition to a home for wildlife, summer cooling, rain run-off control and more, that tree – if you live in the city – is part of the urban forest. Trees in urban areas also have a measurable role to play in absorbing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.

How measurable? See for yourself, and try out the National Tree Carbon Calculator. The calculator allows anyone to estimate benefits from an individual street tree in their yard. Casey Trees and the Davey Tree Expert Company came up with this brilliant tool.

Try it out. Just enter the tree species, size (diameter-at-breast height) and find out how much biomass and carbon is stored in the tree. The calculator also helps show the benefits of energy savings.

Visit the Washington State Urban and Community Forestry Program to find more tools and links to information about the economic, environmental, social and aesthetic benefits of trees.

 

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Grants available for fire protection districts and departments through DNR-administered program

September 18, 2014
Water tender

This water tender used in wildland fire response by Klickitat Fire District #15 was purchased through a federal grant program administered in Washington State by DNR.

The application period is open for Volunteer Fire Assistance Phase II grants to help fire protection districts and departments in Washington state gear up for wildfire protection. This U.S. Department of Agriculture funding provides a 50 percent match for qualifying fire departments to purchase personal protective equipment and general equipment.

The grants are available to fire protection districts and departments in Washington state that respond to wildland fires on private, state, or federal lands and:

  • Serve communities with a population of 10,000 or fewer residents.
  • Serve communities of more than 10,000 residents AND a service area that includes a rural community of fewer than 10,000 residents

The application process for the Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program closes October 31, 2014, 5:00 p.m.

Grant information, including district eligibility, types of projects eligible for funding, and grant applications, can be viewed on DNR’s Fire District Assistance webpage.

For questions, contact DNR Fire District Assistance at 360-902-1300.

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Cultural heritage is all around us in the forest

September 15, 2014
Cedar tree used for bark harvest

Cedar tree used by Native Americans for a bark harvest. Note the scarring at the top of the photo. Photo: DNR

Woodlands provide a home for plants and animals, but they’re also home to the remains of past uses. Whether it’s an old well, homestead, railroad or a Tribal site, these cultural and historical resources on the land tell the story of our past – a tangible link to the people and events that shaped our shared history, communities and ourselves.

Most small landowners are willing to identify and protect cultural resources, but may not know how to go about doing so. They may also lack the financial resources to develop an organized and consistent approach to identifying and protecting the sites.

Both DNR’s stewardship foresters and Washington State University (WSU) Extension foresters can help private woodland owners develop forest stewardship plans that include steps to protect these resources. Addressing these resources in a stewardship plan also helps ensure that the plan meets state and federal laws that protect our cultural and historic resources. To find out more, go to the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation or contact the office by phone at (360) 586-3065. For more information on the state’s Forest Practices Rules and to find out which Tribes are in your area, contact your closest DNR Region Office.

Two helpful resources about protecting cultural resources in the forest come from the 2012 Cultural Resources Workshop sponsored by the Quinault Indian Nation and Washington Forest Protection Association, and from the American Tree Farm Systems webinar Archeology in Your Woods.

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