Posts Tagged ‘Washington’

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…)

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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Mount Adams: Majestic giant has been quiet but still poses a threat

May 16, 2014
Mount Adams

Mount Adams as seen from Mount St. Helens in this aerial photo. Photo: USGS.

May is Volcano Awareness Month in Washington State. As we approach this Sunday’s 34th anniversary of the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens, DNR Ear to the Ground is featuring each of our state’s five active volcanoes this week. Today, the spotlight is on Mount Adams.

One of the largest volcanoes in the Cascade Range, Mount Adams has been less active during the past few thousand years than its neighbors (Mounts St. Helens, Rainier, and Hood). The most common type of eruptions over the long history of Mount Adams have been lava flows–streams of molten rock–which created a volcanic field that now covers about 500 square miles of the landscape in Skamania, Yakima, Klickitat, and Lewis counties and the Yakama Indian Reservation. Even if there is no eruption, landslides of weakened rock originating on the steep upper flanks of Mount Adams can spawn dangerous lahars, which are watery flows of volcanic rocks and mud that surge downstream like rapidly flowing concrete.

Here is the current alert status for Cascade Range volcanoes from the U.S. Geological Survey’s 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, such as Mount Adams.

Have you been to Mount Adams lately? Join in the discussion on DNR’s Facebook page.

Region’s landmark mountain also is nation’s most dangerous volcano

May 13, 2014
MtRainier

The community of Orting, Washington, is built on top of 500-year-old lahar debris from Mount Rainier. Photo: USGS.

May is Volcano Awareness Month in Washington State. As this Sunday’s anniversary of the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens, approaches DNR Ear to the Ground is featuring one of our state’s five active volcanoes each day this week. Today, the spotlight is on Mount Rainier.

Because of its elevation (14,410 feet), massive icecap, glacier-fed valleys, and proximity to the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area, Mount Rainier is considered the most potentially dangerous volcano in the nation — it’s also ranked among the top ten most-most dangerous in the world.

According to the US Geological Survey’s Volcano Hazards Program, there hasn’t been a major eruption on Mount Rainier in 1,000 years, but an explosive eruption (a la Mount St. Helens in 1980) isn’t the primary concern. Mount Rainier can generate huge lahars — rapidly flowing slurries of mud and boulders — even without an eruption. Avalanches caused by heated rock or volcanic gases can swiftly melt snow and ice and produce torrents of meltwater that pick up loose rock and become a lahar.

In its role as the state’s geological survey, DNR has mapped the routes of past Mount Rainier lahars. The most destructive — and most likely — lahar routes are on the mountain’s north and west sides. A lahar here could feed into the Puyallup River valley where cities, towns, and housing developments have been built on top of lahar deposits from as recently as 500 years ago.

DNR estimates that a moderately large lahar in the Puyallup River valley would cause $6 billion or more in damages to structures and other property. Large lahars of the past have reached Puget Sound via the Nisqually River Basin, Commencement Bay and Elliott Bay, including the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

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Rec Alerts: Harvest activities & road work might affect your visits to NW Washington

April 29, 2014

Timber harvests and road work are familiar hazards to DNR recreationists.

This blog will help keep you aware of forest activity on DNR land in Northwest Washington over the next month.

A truck loaded down with timber is driving down a forest road

Be aware of logging trucks and pull off to the side in a designated pull out if you see one coming your way. Photo by: DNR

Read more to find out about recreation alerts in the following areas:

  • Blanchard State Forest Road building and timber harvest activities will restrict access to the north end of Blanchard Mountain through August 31
  • Harry Osborne State Forest Read more to learn updates on the Wrangler Connection Trail and Mac Johnson Trail closures.
  • Stewart Mountain Heavy truck traffic continues on the Olsen Creek Road System.
  • North Fork Road System This road system will close July through mid-August.

Check back frequently, as we will post updates here as they become available. (more…)

DNR weekend reading: Frequency and size of wildfires in western US growing

April 19, 2014
Trees in this patch of old-growth forest in southwest Washington State survived the Yacolt Burn of 1902.

Trees in this patch of old-growth forest in southwest Washington State survived the Yacolt Burn of 1902. Timber harvests are restricted in this area because it is habitat for the northern spotted owl, a federally listed species. Photo: 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:

American Geophysical Union: More, bigger wildfires burning western U.S., study shows
Wildfires across the western United States have been getting bigger and more frequent over the last 30 years – a trend that could continue as climate change causes temperatures to rise and drought to become more severe in the coming decades, according to new research.

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA): Nutrient-rich forests absorb more carbon
The ability of forests to sequester carbon from the atmosphere depends on nutrients available in the forest soils, shows new research from an international team of researchers. “This paper produces the first evidence that to really understand the carbon cycle, you have to look into issues of nutrient cycling within the soil,” said one of the researchers.

University of Utah: Warm U.S. West, Cold East: A 4,000-Year Pattern: Global Warming May Bring More Curvy Jet Streams during Winter
Last winter’s curvy jet stream pattern that brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, and may become more extreme as Earth’s climate warms. By examining oxygen isotope ratios in lake and cave sediments, University of Utah researchers were able to determine several thousand years of past jet stream patterns.

Environment360: UN Panel Looks to Renewables as the Key to Stabilizing Climate
In its latest report, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes a strong case for a sharp increase in low-carbon energy production, especially solar and wind, and provides hope that this transformation can occur in time to hold off the worst impacts of global warming.

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DNR Adventure: Your outdoor gym: mountain biking

April 18, 2014

As spring gets rolling, so can you, on your mountain bike. There are many DNR trails that accommodate mountain bikes. Read on for some trip ideas to inspire you to pump up your tires and dig out the riding gear.

Abandon your stationary bike and take to the trails for some serious cardio action. Photo courtesy of Friends of Capitol Forest

Abandon your stationary bike and take to the trails for some serious cardio action. Photo courtesy of Friends of Capitol Forest

Grab your Discover Pass, strap the bike rack on your car, and enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of your bike seat.

Capital Forest—Mima Falls
The Mima Falls trail is a great ride for all ages and skill levels. The trail is a 7 mile loop so you can decide if you want to roll through and take in the views or try a different line on each time around.

Take an afternoon and ride Capitol State Forest's outdoor gym. Photo by: DNR

Take an afternoon and ride Capitol State Forest’s outdoor gym. Photo by: DNR

This trail is not too technical, allowing you to relax and enjoy the scenery. Make sure you stop to take in the views when you pass by the breathtaking Mima Falls waterfall. Bring a lunch - the falls create musical natural soundtrack to accompany your picnic.

Get there: From I-5 South
Take exit 95 and make a slight left onto Maytown Road SW. Continue onto 128th Avenue. Turn left onto Mima Road SW and continue 1.3 miles, then turn right onto Bordeaux Road SW. Turn right onto Marksman Street SW. Keep left to stay on Marksman Street SW, then make a slight left to stay on Marksman St SW. The trailhead will be on your left.

Tiger Mountain Trail- Fully Rigid, Joy Ride, Silent Swamp
These new trails are now open to the public for hiking and mountain biking. You can be one of the firsts to take tread to the trail and enjoy the climb to a lovely picnic area set at the top. Whether you are looking for a short quick uphill route (Fully Rigid), a more pleasant flatter slower route (Silent Swamp), or something in between (Joy Ride) these three new trails have something for everyone.

Mountain Bike Rider on East Tiger Mountain

Enjoy the natural and rugged terrain at East Tiger Mountain this summer. Photo: Sam Jarrett, DNR

No matter what trail you choose going up, they all share the same hilltop destination. Go ahead out and be the first of your friends to conquer these new tails and try all the different combinations.

Get there: From I-90
Take exit 25 and drive south on State Route 18 to the Tiger Mountain summit. At the summit, turn right (west) into the large parking lot. Drive through the first lot, and turn left onto a gravel road. Continue about 0.25 mile to a second, larger parking lot on the right. The road is gated just past this lot.

Before you go:
As fun as mountain biking can be, make sure you take the following precautions to play safely:

  • Always wear a helmet and personal protective gear.
  • Never recreate alone on DNR-managed lands. Taking a buddy not only makes the ride more fun, but it also provides someone to help you if you get into trouble.
  • Know the trails, and check to see if they’re open.
  • Practice proper trail etiquette.
  • Read tips for safe and sustainable mountain biking.

So take your spin class outdoors and get some fresh air in your lungs as you enjoy great trails and great scenery.

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New commercial geoduck harvest period starts April 1

March 31, 2014

The next harvest period for DNR-managed commercial wild stock geoducks begins tomorrow.

Photo of a geoduck harvest boat.

Commercial geoduck harvest dive boat. Photo: DNR

From April 1 through June 5, harvests will take place in select “tracts” in the Puget Sound harvest region. If you are on or near the water in these tract areas, you may wonder what’s up. Here’s the scoop:

What tracts are open this harvest period?

How are wild stock geoducks harvested? Divers use hand-operated water jets to loosen the sediment around a geoduck and remove them by hand from state-owned aquatic lands. Harvests take place in sub-tidal areas between minus 18 and minus 70 feet. (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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