Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

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…)

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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DNR weekend reading: Magnetic fields guide salmon home

March 9, 2014
State trust land

Fog and below-freezing temperatures combine to give the illusion of recent snowfall on a tract of DNR-managed state trust land in Pend Oreille County. Photo: James Hartley/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:

Oregon State UniversityStudy confirms link between salmon migration and magnetic field
The Earth’s magnetic field may explain how fish can navigate across thousands of miles of water to find their river of origin, say scientists following experiments at the Oregon Hatchery Research Center in the Alsea River basin.

Cornell UniversityDeer proliferation disrupts a forest’s natural growth
Cornell researchers have discovered that a burgeoning deer population forever alters the progression of a forest’s natural future by creating environmental havoc in the soil and disrupting the soil’s natural seed banks.

Science DailyWhat has happened to the tsunami debris from Japan?
The driftage generated by the tragic 2011 tsunami in Japan gave scientists a unique chance to learn more about the effects of the ocean and wind on floating materials as they move across the North Pacific Ocean.

Harvard UniversityInfrared: A new renewable energy source?
Physicists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences envision using current technologies to create a device that would harvest energy from Earth’s infrared emissions into outer space.

DNR weekend reading: Earthquake lights, tallest trees, and more

March 1, 2014
hoarfrost

Hoarfrost in Capitol State Forest near Fall Creek campground. Photo: Bryan Hamlin/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:

Nature: Earthquake lights linked to rift zones
A new catalogue of earthquake lights — mysterious glows sometimes reported before or during seismic shaking — finds that they happen most often in geological rift environments, where the ground is pulling apart. The work is the latest to tackle the enigmatic lights, which have been described by eyewitnesses for centuries but are yet to be fully explained by scientists.

Science Daily: Temperature Most Significant Driver of World’s Tallest Trees
The tallest specimens of the world’s nine tallest tree species grow in climates with an unusually small seasonal temperature variation. Understanding the role of temperature in driving tree height, may help scientists forecast how forests adapt to climate change.

University of California-BerkeleySuburban Sprawl Cancels Carbon Footprint Savings of Dense Urban Cores
According to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse gas emissions per person than other areas of the country, but these cities’ extensive suburbs essentially wipe out the climate benefits.

University of California-Santa Barbara: Cities Support More Native Biodiversity Than Previously Thought
Rapid conversion of natural lands to cement-dominated urban centers is causing great losses in biodiversity. Yet, according to a new study involving 147 cities worldwide, surprisingly high numbers of plant and animal species persist and even flourish in urban environment.

environment360: Urban Nature: How to Foster Biodiversity in World’s Cities
As the world becomes more urbanized, researchers and city managers from Baltimore to Britain are recognizing the importance of providing urban habitat that can support biodiversity.

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National Bird Feeding Month

February 20, 2014

bird bro!Even though February is a winter month, not all birds fly south to find warmer weather. In fact, February is National Bird Feeding Month. Time to dust off those bird houses and crack the ice on the bird bath because our feathered friends are here and they are hungry. Whether you are a seasoned feeder or just wanting some natural music in the back yard, this is the month to do it.

Several different types of birdhouses and feeders cater to a wide variety of birds. Knowing what birds you might be catering to is a great place to start. There are several sites that can help you find what you are looking for. Here is a quick rundown of a few of the basics types of feeders you can use.

Feeder types:

  • Tube Feeder: Good for fending off squirrels and feeding chickadee-like birds
  • Hopper Feeders: Good for multiple birds at once, it will accommodate all types, even larger birds.
  • Suet Feeder: Good for attracting insects to organically feed woodpeckers and the like.
  • Thistle Feeder: Good for small-beaked birds and keeping bigger animals out.
  • Ground Feeder: Good for all types of birds, even those who would not fit on a hung feeder.
  • Nectar Feeder: Good for long-beaked birds like hummingbirds

When setting up a feeding station, keep in mind the location and what you are putting into the feeders. If you are looking to excite the local aviary population, add some variety to the diet. Mix in a few berries or bits of fruit here and there or give them a reason to stick around with some peanut butter. Just having a different seed mix every once in a while can make all the difference.

Due to the cold in the winter, most of the natural food supply is exhausted during the winter. So have a good time making a birdhouse and then fill it up for all to enjoy.

Here is a quick FAQ with some of the dos and don’ts of winter bird feeding if you would like to get more involved.

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A few scary facts for Halloween 2013

October 31, 2013
common garter snake

In Washington State, the common garter snake (which is nonpoisonous) is found from coastal and mountain forests to sagebrush deserts, usually close to water or wet meadows—or your garden. Photo: Jon McGinnis/WDFW.

If the parade of costumed tricker-treaters coming to your door tonight or the endless reruns of horror movies on TV these past few weeks (or today’s close-up photo of snake) are not enough to give you a fright, here are some scary facts about the state of the environment in Washington State, with an emphasis on biodiversity.

  • Approximately 33 percent of the Puget Sound’s 2,500 miles of shorelines have been armored with bulkheads and other structures to protect homes, ports, marinas, roads and railways, and other property. More than half of the shoreline in the central Puget Sound has been modified by port development, armoring of beaches, and other uses, causing significant loss of habitats important to beach and nearshore species.
  • More than half of the Columbia Plateau Ecoregion (roughly the area known as the Columbia Basin) has undergone conversion from its shrub-steppe landscape to cropland. What remains is a fragmented shrub-steppe, which compromises the habitat of many species that rely on this type of habitat.
  • More than 90 percent of the original Palouse grasslands in Washington have been converted to agriculture, housing or other uses. A number of plant species once common throughout the Palouse now hang on in small, isolated remnants.

What’s so important about biodiversity?

Native species (such as shellfish, salmon and Douglas-fir) and their ecosystems contribute billions of dollars to fisheries, timber harvests, outdoor recreation and other sectors of our state’s economy. Native ecosystems also provide clean water, natural flood control, and habitats for fish, plants, and wildlife.

To help protect these important native habitats that help nurture biodiversity, DNR manages a statewide network of Natural Area Preserves and Natural Resources Conservation Areas. Many of these areas represent the finest natural, undisturbed ecosystems in state ownership; they also protect one-of-a-kind natural features unique to this region, such as the Mima Mounds in Thurston County or Selah Cliffs in Yakima County.

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Plan your summer getaway on DNR-managed land

July 22, 2013

Looking for inspiration for your next nature adventure? Try the Northeast Region of Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This region of DNR manages the northeastern corner of Washington State; counties like Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, and Spokane.

Too far to visit just to plan a vacation?
No worries, now you can take a virtual tour of many of the beautiful recreation sites this area has to offer on DNR’s Flickr page. Here’s a taste…

Starvation Lake Campground, Stevens County

Cold Springs, Loomis State Forest, Okanogan County

Sherry Creek ATV riders photo given to DNR curtacy of Gary and Ronda Nielsen

Like what you see?
DNR’s Northeast Region offers a wide array of recreational opportunities. With 27 recreational sites that include campgrounds near lakes and rivers, single-track motorcycle trails, high country hiking and horseback riding, and lowland hunting, you’re sure to find something for your friends and family to love. (more…)

DNR weekend reading: Economic value of urban trees, forests shifting northward and other stories

May 11, 2013
Capitol State Forest snag

A snag like this one in Capitol State Forest can provide shelter and forage to birds, small mammals, and other wildlife. Photo: Jessica Payne/DNR.

Here are links to articles about natural resources, climate, energy and other topics published recently by universities, scientific journals, organizations, and other sources:

US Forest Service: US urban trees store carbon, provide billions in economic value
America’s urban forests store an estimated 708 million tons of carbon, an environmental service with an estimated value of $50 billion, according to a recent U.S. Forest Service study. The annual net carbon uptake by these trees is estimated at 21 million tons and their economic benefit at $1.5 billion.

NASA–Jet Propulsion Laboratory: NASA Opens New Era in Measuring Western U.S. Snowpack
A new NASA airborne mission has created the first maps of the entire snowpack of two major mountain watersheds in California and Colorado, producing the most accurate measurements to date of how much water they hold. The agency plans to exand the mapping to other mountain watersheds.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: New Study: As Climate Changes, Boreal Forests to Shift North and Relinquish More Carbon Than Expected
Boreal forests will likely shift north at a steady clip this century. Along the way, the vegetation will relinquish more trapped carbon than most current climate models predict.

University of Wisconsin: Decline in snow cover spells trouble for many plants, animals
In a warming world, winter and spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is in decline, putting at risk many plants and animals that depend on the space beneath the snow to survive the blustery chill of winter.

University of Calgary: Human impacts on natural world underestimated
A comprehensive five-year study by University of Calgary ecologists indicates that conservation research may not giving enough consideration to the influence of human activity on natural ecosystems and food chains.

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Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work® at DNR

April 26, 2013
Smokey Beark DNR

Kids had the chance to meet Smokey Bear at DNR’s Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work® Day event. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

Yesterday the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) celebrated Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work® Day with the children of state employees.

This year, the Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work® Foundation partnered with the National Association of State Foresters to introduce children to careers in forestry. Almost a hundred kids came out to learn about the jobs we do at DNR, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington Department of Agriculture.

For half a day, the Natural Resources Building here in Olympia was transformed into an education fair featuring trees, bugs, and geodes. Kids had an opportunity to learn how foresters work in the woods and try to stump the forester with their questions. They got up close with bugs while learning about forest health from one of DNR’s entomologists.

Washington Geology Library

This little girl is proud to show off a sparkly geode at the Washington Geology Library exhibit for the event. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

At the Washington Geology Library, children learned the life-cycle of a rock and identified special rocks, from geodes to the Washington state gem:petrified wood. Many kids put their directional skills to the test by learning to use a compass and trying to complete the orienteering course mapped out by DNR’s recreation staff. They were given a noble fir seedling from DNR’s Webster Nursery and practiced proper planting with the Washington Conservation Corps Urban Forestry team.

DNR bugs

These little girls got to get an up close look at the bugs that affect the health of Washington’s trees. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

Participants also learned how Geographic Information System (GIS) specialists make maps and use technology to help DNR teams fight wildland fires.

They also experienced what it’s like to be a DNR firefighter by meeting some of the team, trying on personal protective equipment, and meeting Smokey Bear, who paid a special visit. Even Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark came down to meet the children, thank the volunteers, and snap a quick photo with Smokey.

View photos from the event on our Flickr page here.

DNR is happy to have had the opportunity to recruit our future generations of state land managers. If you are interested in finding out about the several types of careers that DNR has to offer, visit our jobs page and apply to work with DNR today.

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2013 Salmon Recovery Conference

April 19, 2013
2013 Salmon Recovery Conference

Today is the final day to get early-bird rates for the 2013 Salmon Recovery Conference in Vancouver, WA.

State hosts salmon recovery conference
About 600 people who live and breathe salmon recovery are expected to descend on Vancouver May 14 and 15 for a two-day salmon recovery conference. Hosted by the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the conference includes 12 different educational tracks on all things salmon recovery. Lean more about the 2013 Salmon Recovery Conference and register today. (Student volunteers are needed.)

Conference focus

  • Building better salmon recovery projects and sharing lessons learned.
  • Celebrate what is working in salmon recovery
  • Examine what could work better
  • Share experiences and lessons from the field
  • Assess and reflect on over ten years of salmon recovery work
  • Learn ways to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of projects

Who should attend: You, and others like you who are engaged in salmon recovery—project managers, land trust staff, conservation district personnel, tribal members, city and county staff, planners, landowners, fishery enhancement groups, hatchery workers, fishing professionals, sport fishers, state and federal agency staff, fish scientists, restoration ecologists, wetland biologists, and others involved with salmon recovery in Washington, Oregon, and along the Pacific Coast.

  (more…)


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