Posts Tagged ‘DNR’

DNR Website Maintenance

June 21, 2014

June 21

Staff will be upgrading some of DNR’s online systems June 21.

The website and web based programs may not be available for use. In the meantime, please stay connected on our “Ear to the Ground” blog and/or other social media tools.

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DNR’s social media sites:
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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…)

Look up! It’s the forest canopy (Part 1)

June 19, 2014
Mature forest canopy, Upper Skagit River

Mature forest canopy, Upper Skagit River drainage. Ken Bevis/DNR

When we walk in the forest, we are dazzled and soothed by the leaves and needles of the trees above and around us. These surfaces — the photosynthetic factory of the forest — gather sunlight and pull carbon from the air to build themselves and all of the organisms that depend on trees.

When trees reach into the sky to form a canopy layer in the forest, the interacting crowns create a remarkable maze of three-dimensional spaces between and on the branches. The surfaces of these branches and leaves, known as the canopy, can be considered a habitat niche with specialized functions for many species of wildlife. Animals that live in trees — “arboreal” species — feed on the cones and seeds that trees produce. The surfaces of needles and branches also are home for insects, and hunting grounds for their predators. This complex habitat contains varying opportunities for wildlife to make a living by hunting insects, eating lichens, gathering seeds, or other taking specialized actions.

Birds in the canopy

Birds are the most obvious species to utilize this habitat niche, with rich varieties showing up at different times of the year. Some are resident, remaining in the same, or nearby, habitats year around, while others are migratory. Many of our migratory birds come back from the neo-tropics (that is, Central America and even South America) for breeding season, and return south in the fall.       (more…)

What good is a cottonwood tree anyway? (part 1)

June 16, 2014
Black cottonwood

Black cottonwood tree (also called western cottonwood). Photo: David Powerll/U.S. Forest Service. bugwood.org

Here at DNR we often talk about trees in terms of their value for habitat as well as for revenue to state trust land beneficiaries, such as public schools, state universities, many counties, and others. Then there are the trees whose main value is for habitat and beauty. Cottonwoods fall squarely into this latter category.

Cottonwoods aren’t worth much on the timber market, they can crowd out and shade new conifer plantations, and they don’t have many BTUs of energy for firewood use. They sprout when and where they aren’t wanted and form impenetrable stands. They can clog septic drain fields. They are notorious for breaking apart during minor storms and, among other annoying habits, their billowing cottony seeds can clog water intake structures and screens. Yet, they are one of the most widespread and important wildlife trees in the western United States and Canada.

Cottonwoods belong to genus Populus. There are at least four primary species of Populus in North America: eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides), balsam poplar (P. tacamahacca), black or western cottonwood (P. trichocarpa), and quaking or trembling aspen (P. tremuloides). Two of these–western cottonwood (also called black cottonwood) and quaking aspen–are found on appropriate sites across Washington.

Balsam poplar occurs throughout the intermountain west and is most prevalent in northern Canada and Alaska while aspen, the most widespread native poplar throughout the northern hemisphere, is unique enough for an article of its own. In this article, we will focus on the black or western cottonwood.    (more…)

DNR & WSU Extension to present forestry education for small land owners this summer

June 12, 2014
Forest & Range Owners Field Days

Forest & Range Owners Field Days give participants hands-on, ‘in-the-field’ education presented by experts in forest and land management. Photo: DNR

Got a little “home in the woods”? Manage several acres of forestland? Or, do you hope to have a little woodland of your own someday? If that’s you, then this summer’s Forest and Range Owners Field Days presented by DNR and WSU Extension on June 21 and August 9 are just the ticket.

Meet top forestry experts and learn how to reduce risks, protect your financial investment, and accomplish your forestland management objectives at one of these events:

An additional event–the North Puget Sound Forest Owners Field Day–is planned for July 26 in Arlington.

These low-fee educational events are co-sponsored by DNR and Washington State University Extension. Each Field Day features classes and hands-on workshops led by experts in forest and range health, wildlife habitat, grazing, soils, fire protection, forestry skills, and timber and non-timber forest products.

Keep informed about these and other educational, landowner assistance events, courses and workshops in DNR’s Small Forest Landowner News, a bi-monthly e-newsletter that’s free and chock full of information articles for anyone who owns forestland or, really, any land.

Subscribe to DNR’s Small Forest Landowner News

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Recreation Alert: Woodard Bay NRCA to close temporarily for construction

June 10, 2014

Starting in July, DNR will close a large portion of Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) through December 2014.

Woodard Bay NRCA will be closed July through December 2014 for construction efforts. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

Woodard Bay NRCA will be closed July through December 2014 for construction. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

The access point from Whitham Road, and the trails leading from this area, will be closed to protect public safety during construction of public access facilities and interpretive sites in the NRCA.

Once completed, the updated interpretative design will highlight both the ecological values and rich cultural history of Woodard Bay.

Will I be able to visit Woodard Bay NRCA this summer?
Partially. The entire NRCA will be closed for the month of July. However, the Woodard Bay Upper Overlook Trail—currently closed to protect nesting herons—will re-open in August, providing public access to views of the bay. The Overlook Trail will be accessible from the parking lot at the north end of the Chehalis Western Trail.

What’s happening at Woodard Bay NRCA?

Woodard Bay NRCA concept drawings

This concept drawing shows one possible final look for Woodard Bay NRCA once construction is complete later this year. Click this image to see a larger version. Drawing by: DNR

This temporary closure marks the next phase of a larger project to restore and improve Woodard Bay NRCA.

The restoration phase was completed in March 2013, allowing DNR to develop improved educational and low-impact recreation opportunities.

In addition to the natural beauty of Woodard Bay NRCA, the area holds valuable cultural, historical, recreational, and conservation qualities.

Project details
The development project includes four major features:

  • A new environmental and cultural learning shelter.
  • An expanded parking lot with a new bike shelter to accommodate bike parking, since bicycle use is not allowed in the NRCA.
  • Relocation of the current “boom foreman’s” office and bathroom away from the shoreline.
  • Installation of several educational areas and signs.

Where can I go instead?
We encourage you to visit nearby parks and the Chehalis Western Trail during this closure. Nearby parks include:

This site shows the future home of new public access facilities and interpretive sites in the NRCA. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

This site is the future home of new public access facilities and interpretive sites in the Woodard Bay NRCA. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

Learn more about Woodard Bay NRCA on the DNR website: http://bit.ly/WoodardBayNRCA.

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Climate change and the Northwest’s trees

June 9, 2014

Can we predict how future climatic changes will affect the growth of important Northwest tree species?

Parts of a Douglas fir

Photo: Nancy Charbonneau/DNR

Mathematical models developed by area researchers show great promise in predicting how future climate changes will affect the timing of the budding and flowering of coniferous trees here. That’s important knowledge because conifers, such as Douglas fir, are important to Washington State’s economy and environment.

DNR’s Meridian Seed Orchard, southeast of Olympia, is a major source of tree seeds for state forestlands and small family forestland owners. Owned and operated by DNR, the orchard produces seed for western red cedar, noble fir, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, western larch, western white pine, and other coniferous tree species used to replant after timber harvests around the state.

Meridian Seed Orchard also is an efficient and reliable resource for collecting data to develop climate models because the seeds it gathers and grows come from many different areas and elevations in Washington. DNR’s self-funded Webster Forest Nursery uses seed from Meridian to produce between 8 million and 10 million seedlings annually to plant after timber harvests on state trust lands and small, privately-owned woodlands. The secret to successful planting is matching tree seedlings to meet the many different weather and soil zones around the state.    (more…)

Have fun and stay fire safe this Memorial Day Weekend

May 21, 2014
The Table Mountain Fire burned 42,312 acres in the fall of 2012. Photo by Kent Romney

The Table Mountain Fire burned 42,312 acres in the fall of 2012. Photo by Kent Romney

Rain or shine, Washington State has already had more than 80 wildfires this year.

With studies showing that about 85 percent of Washington’s wildfires are human-caused, we all need to be aware and more cautious of our actions this Memorial Day weekend.

See what the Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark says about Memorial Day weekend wildfire safety.

As you head out to picnic, camp, or hike in the outdoors, we want you to be safe from the risk of wildfire. Here are some steps to ensure a fire-safe holiday weekend:

  • Make sure all off-road vehicles have a properly functioning catalytic converter or approved spark arrester.
  • Only build campfires when and where authorized, and put them completely out; use plenty of water, and stir until the coals are cool to the touch.
  • Dispose of lit, smoking materials appropriately.
  • Remember that discharging fireworks is illegal on public lands.

If you decide to stay home for the three-day weekend and avoid the crowds, now is a good time to think about protecting your home from wildfire. For tips on creating a defensible space for your home and firefighters, go to www.firewise.org.

DNR encourages homeowners, land managers, first responders, developers, business owners, and civic leaders to focus on “Knowing Your Role” when it comes to preparing communities for wildfire. Visit the Fire Adapted Communities website (http://fireadapted.org/) to learn more about defensible space, fire-resilient building construction, and community wildfire prevention planning.

Remember, before you go out, know the burning restrictions in your area. Daily updates on burn restrictions are available at 1-800-323-BURN or the burn risk map website.

Parents, don’t forget that Smokey Bear has some fun activities to get your children interested in wildfire safety.

For updated information on wildfire incidents, follow DNR Fire Twitter.

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Mount St. Helens: The big blast was 34 years ago on this date

May 18, 2014
Mount St. Helens explodes

On the morning of May 18, 1980, Keith Stoffel, then a DNR employee, took this photo while on a sightseeing flight over Mount St. Helens. It is the only known image of the initial eruption. Stoffel, his wife and the plane’s pilot narrowly escaped the rapidly spreading ash cloud. Photo: Keith Stoffel (c) 2010.

After weeks of rumbling, Mount St. Helens exploded to life on May 18, 1980, producing a powerful blast that destroyed 230 square miles of national, state and private forest, and took 57 lives. Some of those who died from the powerful shock waves and clouds of hot ash and superheated gases were several miles away. Others drowned when lahars — mud flows — spilled down local valleys and river beds.

Today, a 110,000-acre area around the mountain is a National Volcanic Monument. The mountain has been a lot quieter since the events of May 1980; several steam eruptions occurred in 2004, but caused no injuries or deaths.

In its role as the state’s geologic survey, DNR’s Geology and Earth Resources Division works with the U.S. Geological Survey and other agencies to monitor Mount St. Helens and the other active volcanoes in Washington State. We also create and disseminate maps and other information to help citizens, government agencies, and emergency planners prepare for eventual re-awakening of any of the five active volcanos in our state.

Here is the current alert status for Cascade Range volcanoes, including Mount Baker, from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cascades Volcano Observatory.

Learn more about the 1980 eruption and its after-effects on our Mount St. Helens information page.

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Glacier Peak: Out of sight to most but this active volcano should not overlooked

May 17, 2014
Glacier Peak

Glacier Peak viewed from the east. Photo: USGS.

May is Volcano Awareness Month in Washington State. As we lead up to the 34rd anniversary of the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens, DNR Ear to the Ground is featuring one of our state’s five active volcanoes each day.

Glacier Peak. Located in a wilderness area in eastern Snohomish County, Glacier Peak is not easily visible from any major metropolitan centers, and so the hazards (and attractions) of this 10,451-foot peak may get overlooked. Yet, Glacier Peak has produced larger and more explosive eruptions than any other Washington volcano except Mount St. Helens. Glacier Peak is only 70 miles from Seattle, which puts it closer to the state’s largest metropolitan area than any volcano except Mount Rainier.

Eruptions of Glacier Peak have characteristically produced large volumes of volcanic ash and airborne pumice that could endanger the closest centers of population. The last major eruption of Glacier Peak was around the year 1700.

We want our awareness-raising about Washington State volcano threats to encourage preparation and not raise unnecessary alarm, so here is the very latest on alert levels for Cascade Range volcanoes from the U.S. Geological Survey Cascades Volcano Observatory.

DNR and its Division of Geology and Earth Resources help map, monitor and educate the public, governments and others about geologic hazards, including volcanoes.

Join our discussion on Facebook about your favorite volcano in Washington State.

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