DNR has many volunteer opportunities planned in August

July 31, 2014
DNR volunteer event

Popular trails get worn and become more susceptible to erosion. Volunteers help DNR stretch its scarce maintenance dollars to keep trails safe. Photo: DNR

Interested in recreation on DNR managed land, but not sure how to get involved? Luckily, DNR has all sorts of volunteer opportunities on deck for August and we would love to see you there.

DNR volunteers are vital to maintaining a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience for visitors to DNR’s recreation facilities and trails. This isn’t an easy feat, and DNR is blessed with many dedicated volunteers. In 2013, volunteers totaled 61,300 volunteer hours on recreation projects.

If you’d like to join in on the fun, check out some of DNR’s volunteer opportunities below. For more details and updates on all DNR recreation volunteer opportunities, visit our volunteer calendar.

August 2
Friends of Capitol Forest Monthly Work Party
Capitol State Forest
Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
What: Join DNR staff and volunteers from Friends of Capitol Forest for a work party to improve road crossing areas, remove wood supports on berms, and drainage. Kids are welcome! There is often a mountain bike ride after the work party.
Directions: (Map) Meet at the “Y” intersection of Waddell Creek Road and Sherman Valley Road.
Contact: Nick Cronquist, 360-480-2700

August 9
Walker Valley ORV Area Work
Where: Walker Valley
Time: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
What: Join DNR staff and other volunteers to help work on trails, clean ditches, haul gravel, brush trails, paint, pick up garbage, and more! No need to call first.
Directions: (Map) Meet at the Walker Valley Trailhead Information Kiosk: 18652 Peter Burns Rd., Mount Vernon, WA
Contact: Jim Cahill, 360-854-2874

August 16
Nicholson Horse Trails Work Party
Where: Sahara Creek Campground
Time: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
What: Please join DNR staff and Pierce County Chapter Back Country Horsemen to work on the Nicholson Horse Trails.
Directions: Start at Elbe. Go 5.3 miles on Hwy 706. Turn left into the site.
Contact: Nancy Barker, 253-312-4301

August 23
Reiter Foothills ORV Work Party
Where: Reiter Foothills Forest
Time: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
What: Join DNR staff to enhance the Motorcycle Trials trail area and work other ORV trail projects.
Directions: Drive East on Hwy 2 through the town of Gold Bar. Turn left onto Reiter Road. Continue for 3.8 miles. Deer Flats Mainline Road will be on your left. Meet at the Deer Flats Mainline Gate.
Contact: Daniel Christian, 360-333-7846

Need a Discover Pass?
If you don’t have a Discover Pass, DNR staff can provide you with one for the day you volunteer. These volunteer events are eligible toward a complimentary Discover Pass.

Before you go, make sure to check our open and closure notices page.

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The Yacolt Burn: A look back at Washington state’s second-largest wildfire

July 31, 2014
Douglas fir burn scars

Older Douglas-fir trees (center) still show burn scars from the massive Yacolt Burn wildfire of 1902 in southwest Washington state. Photo: Florian Deisenhofer/DNR.

With the Carlton Complex fire (now 67 percent contained) in Okanogan County officially the largest recorded wildfire in Washington State at more than 250,000 acres, it may be worth looking back at what was, until now, the state’s largest wildfire: the Yacolt Burn.

Known also as the “Big Burn,” the fire started on September 11, 1902, and burned across 238,920 acres in southwestern Washington. Strong easterly winds and dry weather allowed the fire to grow quickly. At the time there was no clear plan for dealing with wildfires, which further aided its growth. The speed with which the fire spread across Clark, Cowlitz, and Skamania counties surprised many people and gave them little time to evacuate. Thirty-eight people died as a result and many homes and buildings were destroyed.

This destructive fire ultimately led to increased and better-organized efforts to fight wildfires. The next several years would see the formation of new organizations to fight wildfire, new tactics, and the creation of a state fire warden’s office. Even today, 112 years later, the scars of that fire and subsequent wildfires can be seen at the Yacolt Burn State Forest, a 90,000-acre working forest and popular recreation area managed by DNR.

 Stay up-to-date on fire conditions with these important links:

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Use the nine “P’s of Preparedness” to get ready for major emergencies

July 29, 2014

Wildfires, floods, and other imminent hazards can lead local officials to issue evacuation orders. If you live in an area at high risk for any of these events, make sure you are prepared evacuate quickly and smoothly.

Here are the “P’s of Preparedness” to remember in case of an immediate evacuation:

  • People
  • Pets
  • Papers (important documents)
  • Phone numbers
  • Prescriptions (medications and glasses)
  • Pictures (and other mementos)
  • PCs (for the info stored on them)
  • Plastic (credit cards, cash)
  • Planning

Let’s talk about each point…    

Evacuating your family safely requires planning ahead. Know at least two routes out of your community. Know how to contact each other. Have an emergency kit with food and water. Firewise.org has many publications available to help you get ready for the threat of a fire. Practice evacuation drills and make sure that children know what to do in an emergency. FEMA has great guidelines to help you start your disaster plan and build an emergency preparedness kit.
 people image
Be ready to quickly transport your pets and have a plan for where they will stay if you cannot return to your house for a while.
 pets image
Keep deeds, birth certificates, vehicle titles, and other important documents in one location, and look through your papers frequently to make sure everything is up to date. Being able to grab everything important at once will make the evacuation go much smoother.
 papers image
Phone numbers
Make sure everyone in your family has access to important phone numbers. Try to keep cellphones charged and keep a backup hardcopy of all your phone numbers just in case.
 phone image
During an evacuation pharmacies and drug stores may be closed or out of the items you need. Keep extra medicine and prescriptions within easy reach as you hurry out the door. Put a special focus on any critical medications such as diabetes medication, asthma inhalers, and EpiPens.
 prescription image
Pictures and other mementos
Collect items that hold a lot of personal significance. In the unfortunate event that your house is lost or damaged in a fire, at least you won’t lose irreplaceable items, like family photos.
 pictures image
Personal computers (hard drives)
Computers store a lot of important information and personal items that you’ll want to keep. Be ready to unplug the computer box and take it with you. It also would be a good idea to make a digital copy of family photos, important documents, and business papers that can be downloaded onto an easy-to-carry flash drive or external hard drive.
 computer images
Plastic (credit cards and cash)
Keep credit cards on hand and store extra cash and checks with your evacuation kit. You may have to buy food, fill up your gas tank, or stay in a hotel.
 credit card image
Evacuating from your home and your community is stressful. If you have a clear plan for what to do (the Ps of preparation), the process will go easier for you and your family.
 Planning image
IMAGES: Pets designed by Anne Caroline Bittencourt Gonçalves, Document designed by Rob Gill, Cell Phone designed by Marwa Boukarim, Hash designed by Michael Rowe, Medicine designed by Emmanuel Mangatia, Picture designed by Ilias Ismanalijev, Computer designed by Simple Icons, Computer designed by Anton Outkine, Keyboard designed by Herbert Spencer, Credit Cards designed by Alex Auda Samora, Checklist designed by Maico Amorim. All images from thenounproject.com


Visit the Ready, Set, Go! (RSG) Program for more information about wildfire safety and what you can do before a fire strikes to be prepared.

Check out the DNR Burn Map to view the fire danger in your area and stay connected with this year’s wildfire season on the DNR_Fire Twitter feed

Tree trouble from the wind storm in eastern Washington? 10 tips to keep you and your family safe

July 25, 2014
Wind storm topples trees in Spokane area. Photo by Garth Davis

Wind storm topples trees in Spokane area. Photo by Garth Davis

On the evening of July 23, 2014, thunderstorms packing high winds and hail pummeled Spokane and many other areas in eastern Washington. In its wake, the storm toppled thousands of trees and damaged many more.

Here are two things homeowners may experience the days and weeks following a tree-damaging storm: residual hazards from storm-damaged trees and roving “tree cutters” who may not have the best interests of you and your trees in mind.

5 tips to stay safe around storm-damaged trees

  1. Never touch or attempt to remove fallen limbs from downed or sagging power lines.
  2. Keep away from areas where uprooted trees may have damaged underground utilities.
  3. Avoid walking underneath trees that have broken limbs dangling.
  4. If you feel the need to inspect a tree after a storm, do not walk underneath its suspended branches or leaning trunk. Approach a leaning tree from 180 degrees opposite of the direction it is leaning. Binoculars are great for inspecting trees from a safe distance.
  5. Refrain from doing tree work yourself. Pruning large limbs or removing trees is dangerous business that requires specialized equipment and training.

No matter what, always report downed lines to your local utility company.

After storms that cause heavy damage to trees, expect to see scores of poorly trained “tree cutters” come out of the woodwork, so-to-speak. These individuals may pressure homeowners into costly and unnecessary work, cause additional property damage due to lack of expertise or training, and put homeowners at risk by operating without proper licensing or insurance coverage.

5 more tips to ensure that you, your property, and your trees are cared for properly

  1. Hire a company that is licensed, bonded and insured. Look to see if it is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).
  2. Seek at least three estimates; ask for copies of the estimates in writing.
  3. Never put down a deposit for work without a signed contract that includes the company’s refund policy.
  4. Ask for references, and check them.
  5. Reject any company that recommends “topping” your tree. Don’t top trees!
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Recent showers didn’t douse fire danger; Statewide burn ban remains in effect

July 24, 2014

Mile Marker 28 fireEven though we’ve had rain showers in several parts of western Washington recently, a statewide ban on outdoor burning remains in effect for all lands that DNR protects from wildfire on both sides of the Cascades.

Fire officials at DNR and local fire districts say they are seeing an recent increase in outdoor burning in western counties, which is not allowed under the current statewide burn ban. Please don’t be misled by the recent, brief wet spell. Summer rains tend to be isolated events, which means that clouds may dump rain where you are but the countryside a few miles away could remain fairly dry. The thick canopy of forests on the westside can prevent much of a summer shower’s raindrops from reaching the dry needles and grasses on the ground below. Even where grasses and light brush have greened-up, the heavier fuels — trees and thick brush — are still quite dry for this time of year.

More worrisome is that we are only in the third of week of July — there are many warm summer days to go. This weekend, in fact, will bring sunnier, warmer, and drier weather to much of western Washington while the heat and fire danger continues in eastern Washington.

Please be safe as you plan your outdoor adventures. Remember to be especially careful with fire and outdoor activities.

For daily updates on burn restrictions, call 1-800-323-BURN 24 hours a day or visit DNR’s Fire Danger and Outdoor Burning webpage to view fire conditions and burning restrictions for each county in Washington state.

Information about the current statewide burn ban
Report a Forest Fire: 800-562-6010

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Stormy weather expected to bring heavy rain and dangerous lightning to eastern Washington

July 23, 2014

lightning boltsA special weather statement issued this morning by the National Weather Service in Spokane warns of severe thunderstorms this afternoon and evening in many areas of central and eastern Washington state. While the rainfall may help tamp down the spread of the several wildfires in the region, the heavy rains could cause flash flooding, especially on recently burned areas. Another problem could be the numerous lighting strikes expected.

Please remember that if you hear thunder, lightning is likely within striking distance — lightning threats can extend as far as 10 miles from the storm.

Please play it safe by remembering this little phrase: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! The National Weather Service advises waiting 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder before going back outside. Check out this collection of Lightning Facts & Myths from the National Weather Service

Even with the current wet weather, Washington remains under a statewide burn ban because wildfire danger remains high in many areas.

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Keep up-to-date with wildfire information online

July 21, 2014


Stay up to date on the wildfire situation in eastern Washington state this week with these links:

Evacuation & Road Information

Wildfire Information

  • Northwest Interagency Coordination Center – Blogspot
  • Incident Information System InciWeb

DNR Fire Resources

Report a Forest Fire: 800-562-6010
Reminder: DNR has expanded the seasonal burn ban to include all DNR-protected lands in western Washington, effective through September 30, 2014. A burn ban is already in place for eastern Washington .

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Governor Inslee urges extreme caution with rapidly growing fires

July 18, 2014
Twisp, WA

Smoke from one of the wildfires in the Carlton Complex towers over the town of Twisp in the Methow Valley of eastern Washington state..

In a news conference today, Gov. Jay Inslee called upon Washington state residents to respond quickly if requested to evacuate by authorities, as approximately 2,000 personnel from DNR and other fire agencies battle several wildfires in eastern Washington state.

“This is an extreme fire event. It requires extreme caution, and we are responding to it as rapidly as possible,” Inslee said. The governor said the rapid growth of the fires “calls for all of us to be on the highest level of alert and also on the highest level of cooperation with emergency responders. The focus is on getting people away from the fires.”

With wildfires jumping both the Okanogan and Methow rivers to threaten the town of Okanogan, Inslee said the 100 National Guard troops already deployed to wildfires will be supplemented by about 1,000 more troops in coming days as they complete DNR wildfire training.

About 50 fires are burning on the state’s eastside. Among them are the Mills Complex, which includes several wildfires covering about 35 square miles, and the Carlton Complex, which ballooned from an estimated 28 square miles on Thursday to 260 square miles by Friday morning.

Stay up-to-date on fire conditions with these important links:

Thank you Washington National Guard!

July 17, 2014
National Guard Helicopter

A National Guard helicopter aiding in the fight against a wildfire. PHOTO: Dan Boyle

Big thanks to the Washington National Guard and the efforts they are putting in to fight these wildfires! The Washington National Guard has been called in to aid wildfire responders in this very difficult and busy fire season in Washington state.

A state of emergency was declared by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen on Tuesday in 20 Eastern Washington counties because of the multiple wildfires in the region. Within less than 24 hours the Washington National Guard responded.

Guard members are aiding in the fight against wildfires. These wildfires threaten not only forests but many homes and other buildings. Already two helicopters from the National Guard are on duty and with more coming the next few days.

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Best bird’s eye views from DNR hikes

July 15, 2014

With summer comes sunny days, and what better way to enjoy them than while recreating on DNR-managed land. DNR recreation opportunities offer visitors many places to take in Washington’s vistas.

Whether viewed from a trailhead picnic bench or after a long hike, the vistas you’ll find on DNR-managed lands are sure to awe.

Read on for a list of recreation opportunities sure to leave a lasting impression.

Samish Bay Overlook

View of Samish Bay from the Samish Overlook and Day-Use Area, managed by DNR. Photo DNR.

Samish Overlook
At Blanchard Mountain you can catch a great view of the San Juan Islands and have a picnic while watching the paragliders!

Eagle Nest Vista
Located in the Ahtanum State Forest, Eagle Nest Vista is just what its name implies – a bird’s eye view over the breathtaking sub-alpine forest. Enjoy a picnic while taking in the sights.

Mount Si

Enjoy a day hike up to Mount Si NRCA for great views. Photo by Diana Lofflin/ DNR

Mount Si Trailhead
Pack a picnic lunch and expect to see views of the Snoqualmie valley and Cascades. Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) draws about 100,000 visitors each year.

Twin Falls Lake
The high cascading inlet falls of Twin Falls Lake, located in the Morning Star NRCA, provide incentives to visitors willing to hike for their view. Start at the Ashland Lakes Trailhead for a 4.5-mile hike to the site.

Discover Pass
As you plan your next vista-viewing adventure, make sure to remember to grab a Discover Pass to make the most of Washington’s sunny days.

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