Posts Tagged ‘Washington’

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…)

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 Alert Updates: Harvest activities & road work might affect your visits to NW Washington

April 29, 2014

Blog updated: August 6, 2014

Timber harvests and road work are potential hazards when using DNR-managed lands for recreation.

This blog will help keep you aware of forest activity on DNR-managed 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

Here are the latest recreation alerts:

  • Blanchard State Forest — Road building and timber harvest activities will restrict access to the north end of Blanchard Mountain through September 30.
  • 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.
  • New! Alger/Anderson Mountain — Mountain gate closed through September 15.

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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