Extra, Extra! Read all about it!

September 5, 2014

At-risk critters and habitat to be protected…comments requested

Black tern Photo: Mike Yip

Black tern Photo: Mike Yip

The at-risk ‘water-dependent’ critters that we protect under our draft Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan are pretty interesting. Some species live long lives in the wild—like 70-to-100 years, and we’re not talking mammals like whales. We are talking FISH and TURTLES! Yes, the yellow-eye rockfish can reach 39 pounds and live for 100 years, and little western pond turtle up to 70 years. And then there are FROGS. The 2-to-4 inch carnivorous northern leopard frog can eat its way through beetles, flies, ants, dragonflies and other bugs, and mysteriously move overland to migrate from breeding ponds to other waters (we know not how yet)—and the black terns that winter in south and central America and come to breed in the cattails and bulrushes of shallow waters of the Columbia plateau in eastern Washington. Take a look at our other covered species factsheets.

Western pond turtle. Photo: W. P. Leonard

Western pond turtle. Photo: W. P. Leonard

Washington’s Department of Natural Resources set out to find a better way to protect at-risk native aquatic critters such as these on the 2.6 million acres of lands under marine and fresh waters of the state, managed by DNR for all Washingtonians. That better way is contained in the draft Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan, now available for your review, along with all related documents.

The species above are a few of the ‘fascinating 29’ that DNR is working to protect through guidelines in an HCP. They also show us which habitat challenges and activities may be causing harm not only to them but to other critters that use the same habitats. DNR’s goals are to protect sensitive, threatened and endangered aquatic species, several of which have been listed under the federal Endangered Species Act; and to identify, improve and protect important habitats on state-owned aquatic lands.

The draft HCP took nearly eight years of effort by DNR aquatics staff, working closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. The draft HCP formalizes DNR’s efforts to conserve and enhance aquatic lands, and provides a stable management framework grounded in science and based on the principles of sustainability.

Northern leopard frog Photo: K. McAllister

Northern leopard frog Photo: K. McAllister

Public Comments welcomed on environmental analysis of plan

The Services have jointly prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) to analyze the potential environmental effects of the proposed plan. This analysis will support permitting decisions to be made by each of the federal agencies.

We are soliciting your review and comments on the Draft EIS and other draft documents during a 90-day comment period beginning today, September 5 through December 4, 2014.    

Public meetings will be held in October to explain the HCP and how to best offer your ideas regarding the potential environmental impacts addressed in eh Draft EIS.

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.


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.

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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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Mountain bikers rejoice: New trail opens tomorrow in east Tiger Mountain State Forest (with more to come!)

August 29, 2014

Off-the-Grid Trail in Tiger Mountain State Forest.

Mountain biker enjoying the new Off-the-Grid Trail in Tiger Mountain State Forest. Photo: Robin Fay.

DNR opens a new trail for mountain biking tomorrow (Saturday, August 30) in Tiger Mountain State Forest near North Bend. The area, located just off of I-90, east of Seattle, is open to visitors from dawn to dusk.

The addition of the new 2.5-mile-long Off-the-Grid Trail brings the forest’s mountain bike trail system to approximately 15 miles, making this area even more attractive to enthusiasts of the sport.

DNR carefully designed the new trail, with input from the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, to avoid erosion, habitat damage, and other negative impacts to the environment. Built by DNR with a lot of help from Puget SoundCorps crews and volunteers, the Off-the-Grid Trail features rock gardens, berms, rollers, and 120 feet of elevated boardwalk. If you aren’t familiar with those mountain bike terms, come out and see for yourself (but bring your helmet), and get Off-the-Grid.

Download a map of the new Off-the-Grid Trail.

More trails to come
Even better news for mountain bikers in the Northwest is that DNR will soon add more mountain biking trails in Tiger Mountain State Forest thanks to funding from Washington state’s Nonhighway and Off-Road Vehicle Activities Program. Construction, with help from Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, has just started on a new descent trail for advanced riders. Work begins this fall on a climbing trail that will allow bikers to reach other trails without the need to use the forest’s road system.

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Remember to grab a Discover Pass to keep your recreation opportunities on DNR-managed land available season after season.

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Labor Day Weekend brings vital need for fire safety

August 27, 2014
The Carlton Complex fires started on July 14 by lightning from a weather system that moved through the Methow Valley. Photo: Jacob McCann

The Carlton Complex fires started on July 14 by lightning from a weather system that moved through the Methow Valley. Photo: Jacob McCann/DNR.

As the last holiday weekend of summer arrives, please be careful when driving a vehicle, tending a campfire, or using tools outdoors over this Labor Day weekend. These are just a few activities that can ignite a wildfire.

This has been an unprecedented fire season for Washington state, and DNR has responded to well over 1,000 fires this year.

Please program this important number in your cell phone before you head out: 800-562-6010. It’s a direct line to report forest fires.

Another recommended ‘to-do’ before leaving home to go camping or hiking is checking for local restrictions on campfires. DNR’s burn risk map lists outdoor burning restrictions by county. Campgrounds may choose to ban open fires, so always check with the campground host before lighting your campfire.

In areas where campfires are allowed, DNR asks the public to follow these suggestions:

  • Clear all vegetation away from the fire ring (remove all flammable materials, such as needles, leaves, branches, etc.).
  • Keep your campfire small.
  • Keep plenty of water and a shovel nearby for throwing dirt on the fire if it gets out of control.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended!

Put it out!

Don't let your spark do this to the forest! Photo: Mike Minion

Don’t let your spark do this to the forest!
Photo: Mike Minion/DNR.

When putting out your campfire, you should:

  • First, drown the campfire with water.
  • Next, mix the ashes and embers with soil. Scrape all partially burned sticks and logs to make sure all the hot embers are removed.
  • Stir the embers after they are covered with water and make sure everything is wet.
  • Feel the coals, embers, and any partially burned wood with your hands; everything should be cool to the touch.
  • When you think you are done, take an extra minute and add more water. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again.
  • If you don’t have water, use moist dirt. Be careful not to bury any hot or burning material, as it can smolder and later reignite.
  • If it’s too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.

In an effort to reduce human-caused wildfires, DNR issued a statewide burn ban on all lands under the department’s protection, effective through September 30, 2014. The ban applies to all forestlands in Washington state, except federal lands. While campfires are allowed in approved pits west of the Cascade Mountains in designated state, local and private campgrounds, they are not allowed east of the Cascade Mountains.


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Celebrate National Dog Day with DNR recreation opportunities

August 26, 2014

Celebrate National Dog Day

Celebrate National Dog Day by taking your four-legged best friend for a walk today.

Is your dog having a ruff day? Not anymore! It’s National Dog Day today and what better way to recognize our furry friends than by taking them for a walk on a DNR-managed recreation trail?

Here’s a short list of great places to go with your pup on DNR-managed state trust lands:

Bob Bammert Trail, Capitol State Forest
The Bob Bammert Trail is one of the few hiker-only trails in Capitol State Forest, making it perfect for your dog to explore – on a leash, of course. Enjoy this two-mile trail through hills of older, second growth trees and watch as your dog takes in the smells, sounds, and forest terrain.

Dougan Falls, Yacolt Burns State Forest

The large boulders, forested edges, and cascading water of Dougan Falls are a treat for visitors – and their dogs – who come to Yacolt Burn State Forest. These picturesque 100-foot wide falls empty into a deep pool. After enjoying a quick bite to eat, you and your dog can explore the falls and take a walk on nearby trails.

Manastash Ridge, southwest of Ellensburg
Located in the Wenas recreation area, Manastash Ridge is the perfect spot for you and your dog to explore. This area also is a popular destination for hunters, hikers, bird watchers, off-road vehicle enthusiasts, equestrians, and snowmobile riders, so be sure to keep your dog leased at all times.

Lily Lake has lovely paths to walk with your dog.

Lily Lake has lovely paths to walk with your dog. Photo: DNR

Lily Lake, Blanchard Forest
Nestled in the Blanchard Forest and Chuckanut Mountains near Bellingham, Lily Lake is a peaceful setting with six backcountry camp sites for overnight stays. You and your dog can enjoy climbing up through the Chuckanut Mountains to Lily Lake, accessible to hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrian use. You and your pup can expect a trail through ferns and forestland with occasional mountain views.

Safe celebration for you and your dog
Remember, dogs are allowed in all DNR-managed recreation, except Natural Area Preserves. Dogs should be on a leash at all times and please pick up after your dog — that’s right, the ‘pack-it-in/pack-it-out’ concept applies to dogs, too.

Discover Pass
Grab a Discover Pass so you and your dog can celebrate recreation on DNR-managed state trust land all year long.

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DNR to reopen Naneum State Forest this Friday

August 26, 2014

Naneum RidgeThe Naneum Ridge State Forest is scheduled to reopen at 8 a.m. this Friday. The western half of the state forest has been closed since August 4 due to the Snag Canyon Fire, north of Ellensburg. In recent days, fire suppression efforts in the area have reduced the risks to firefighter and public safety.

Although the forest will reopen, a ban on campfires remains in effect. If you are planning to set up a back country camp, plan on using any of the following permitted devices:

  • Liquid gas stoves and propane stoves that do not use solid briquettes.
  • Camp stoves and lanterns with attached pressurized gas canisters.
  • Solid fuel and citronella candles in metal or glass containers.
  • Propane gas camp stoves.

When hunting in the forest, please use caution. There may still be firefighters in the area.

Before you head out, check out the Forest Road Survival Guide for helpful tips on staying safe on forest roads.

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.


Napa earthquake a reminder of risks in Washington state; New map shows risk levels

August 25, 2014
Earthquake damage risk

Relative risk for earthquake damage in Washington and Oregon shown in red, orange and yellow. Image: USGS.

A few weeks before Sunday’s 6.0 magnitude earthquake in northern California, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released an updated earthquake risk map for the lower 48 states. The maps, used for building codes and insurance purposes, calculate how much shaking a building might experience during its lifetime from the biggest earthquake likely in the area. As the maps show, Washington state — from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean — is at high risk from damaging earthquakes. In fact, we face a triple threat:

  • Shallow or crustal earthquakes, such as those that can be caused by the Seattle Fault
  • Deep intraslab earthquakes, such as the 6.8 magnitude Nisqually earthquake of 2001
  • Mega-thrust earthquakes, such as the 9.0 magnitude Cascadia earthquake of 1700

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake on the Cascadia subduction, which lies just off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, northern California, and British Columbia, would be one thousand times more powerful than the Nisqually earthquake of 2001. The impacts on coastal communities could be similar to the effects of earthquakes that struck Japan in March 2011 and Chile in February 2010.

Emergency managers and preparedness experts agree that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” can help reduce injuries and deaths during earthquakes.

  • DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),
  • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
  • HOLD ON to your shelter and be prepared to move with it until the shaking stops.

You cannot tell from the initial shaking if an earthquake will suddenly become intense… so always Drop, Cover, and Hold On immediately.

Find information about preparing for — and surviving — an earthquake on the Washington State Emergency Management Division website.

Visit the Washington State Seismic Hazards Catalog to see interactive graphic representations of how a major earthquake might affect your area of the state.

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Rec alerts: Some DNR-managed recreation sites to close for fall, winter seasons

August 22, 2014

Don’t let the end of summer recreation pass you by!

With Labor Day weekend coming up, some DNR-managed recreation campgrounds and recreation sites will close for the fall and winter seasons.

Cypress Island Campgrounds to close after Labor Day Weekend
Pelican Beach Campground and Cypress Head Campground will close after September 1 for the 2014 season. These campgrounds are the only places to camp in the Cypress Island Natural Resources Conservation Area, the largest relatively undeveloped island in the San Juan Islands.


Kayakers enjoy an evening paddle at Cypress Island, one of the many areas where campgrounds and other DNR recreation facilities close for the winter. Photo: Jason Goldstein.

Pelican Beach Campground is perfect if you like camping near the beach and campers can hike along Pelican Beach Trail to explore more of northern Cypress Island. A stay at Cypress Head Campground is perfect for exploring Cypress Island via the Cypress Head Trail.

Both areas will be open again Memorial Day Weekend.

Planning Ahead

If you’re planning to take advantage of the last few weeks of the summer season’s recreation, check the recreation open and closure webpage before you go.

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Remember to grab a Discover Pass to keep your recreation opportunities on DNR-managed land available season after season.

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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.

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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 www.dnr.wa.gov/recreation.

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