Alaska’s Good Friday quake, tsunami, providing lessons 51 years later

March 27, 2015
Earthquake damage

Damage to the State Highway 109 bridge over the Copalis River near Copalis Beach caused by a distant tsunami from the 1964 Alaska earthquake. Courtesy of the Daily World, Aberdeen.

On an evening just like this 51 years ago, the largest earthquake ever recorded in North America struck near Prince William Sound in southeast Alaska. The 9.2 Good Friday earthquake destroyed buildings and infrastructure in Alaska as it shook for almost four-and-a-half minutes and resulted in 131 deaths.

But it was Saturday morning that Washington felt effects of the quake. The tsunami that ensued from the subduction zone earthquake did damage along the west coast, washing over Washington as it spread south along Oregon and California.

Tsunami waves as high as 15 feet destroyed houses, cars, boats, and fishing gear. Waves of five to six feet high washed out a bridge on Highway 109 over the Copalis River.

Waves continued south, and took the lives of one person at the Klamath River in California, four people at Beverly Beach State Park in Oregon and 11 in Crescent City, Calif.

Warning system resulted

Fortunately, the quake didn’t just produce damage.

Recognizing the danger tsunamis present to coastal communities, emergency officials began posting signs to show tsunami evacuation routes along the Pacific Coast. Sirens were also added in coastal towns. Those warning systems were amplified after the devastating tsunami that swept through the Indian Ocean in 2004.

Boosting the warning

DNR’s Geology and Earth Resources Division, the state’s official geologic survey, is helping Washington communities identify how they are vulnerable to similar tsunami events and how they can craft innovative strategies for dealing with those threats.

DNR has produced tsunami inundation map to show how tsunamis would likely impact communities like Everett and another one soon in the . You can even download an app for your smart phone that will give hazard zones along the Washington and Oregon coasts.

DNR’s Geology Division also documents tsunami-related news in our bi-monthly newsletter, TsuInfo.

The Washington Emergency Management Division says the best way to survive any type of disaster is to have a plankeep informed, and have a mobile survival kit. Find out if you are in a tsunami inundation zone. Download a tsunami evacuation brochure for your community. DNR worked with local governments to produce these brochures.

For more on tsunamis, visit DNR’s Geology Division’s web site.

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Snoqualmie Corridor: Many ways to play

March 25, 2015

Ever taken a hike up Mount Si, mountain biked on Tiger Mountain, or watched hang gliders launch from Poo Poo Point?

Mt Si NRCA

Mt. Si Natural Resources Conservation Area in eastern King County is one of the many accessible areas managed by DNR. Photo: Tom Werner

Millions of people live within 30 minutes of the Snoqualmie Corridor, a recreation haven that includes 120 miles of trails, class III whitewater, class 5 rock climbing, and pristine hiking and picnicking areas.

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

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

All of these opportunities — and more — just got a lot better with DNR’s adoption of the Snoqualmie Corridor Recreation Plan, which will enable DNR to further develop recreation opportunities in the corridor’s 53,500 acres of DNR-managed natural areas and state trust lands.

In partnership with volunteers, partners, and local communities, DNR will use this plan to guide recreation in the corridor for the next 10 to 15 years.

For more information, take a look at the Snoqualmie Corridor Recreation Plan.

To stay up-to-date with DNR’s recreation program, subscribe to our e-newsletter.

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DNR crews remove derelict, decimated barge from Eld Inlet

March 24, 2015

Crews working for DNR’s Aquatic Restoration program pulled the remains of an old barge from the muddy shoreline of Eld Inlet last week.

The barge, of unknown origin, washed ashore some 17 years ago and deteriorated to the point it was barely recognizable as a vessel. Weather and tide took its toll on the barge, spreading chunks of metal, treated wood and plastic across a 7,500-square-foot area of the inlet.

Under a contract with DNR, Puyallup-based Woodland Industries removed the barge last week. Woodland workers used excavators mounted on a barge to pick pieces of the old barge out of the Eld Inlet tidelands. The approximately $70,000 removal project was funded from a large debris removal fund created by the 2012 Jobs Now Act.

Removal of the barge’s remnants was aimed at restoring the shoreline as habitat. Forage fish have been found living north of the barge site and are expected to eventually use the former debris field for habitat.

Nearshore environments, which are the land between beach bluffs and deep water, are crucial for many species and vegetation. DNR has volumes of research on the complex ecosystem of nearshore environments.

DNR – guardian of Washington’s aquatic lands

DNR is steward of 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands—including the bedlands under Puget Sound and manages them as a public trust for the people of Washington State.

Through its Aquatic Restoration program, DNR is working to restore, enhance and protect healthy ecological conditions in freshwater, saltwater and estuarine aquatic systems throughout Washington.

If you know of a site with restoration potential, please contact us. DNR Aquatics has three districts across the state. Each has an Aquatics Restoration Manager designated to the Program who can assist you.

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Off-road safety: Spark arrestors

March 23, 2015

In Washington state, millions of dollars are spent to combat forest fires. Is your off road vehicle (ORV) doing its part to help prevent wildfire? When operating an ORV, it is important to have a spark arrestor placed just inside the vehicle’s muffler. A spark arrestor is a small screen or object that traps sparks before they can hit the forest floor and ignite into a flame. If you don’t know how to check for a spark arrestor, this quick and easy video gives a step-by-step guide to locating and identifying your vehicle’s spark arrestor.

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Mark your calendars: Join us for the 10th annual Great Gravel Pack-In

March 21, 2015
Gravel Pack-in

Volunteers, horses, and mules pack in gravel to repair trails in Capitol State Forest at the Great Gravel Pack-In in 2009. Photo: DNR/Randy Warnock.

This year marks the 10th annual Great Gravel Pack-In, which draws volunteers from many recreation groups, including horseback riders, ORV riders, mountain bikers, and hikers to give back and care for Capitol State Forest trails.

Join DNR and partners from the Back Country Horsemen of Washington, Washington ATV Association, and Evergreen Sportsmen’s Club to help care for Capitol State Forest trails Saturday, March 28.

The Back Country Horsemen of Washington first started the event in 2005 as a way to train and showcase their animals’ abilities.

Volunteer efforts from ATV riders followed, and what started as an 18-person party has grown to an average of 150 people annually.

With the combined efforts from hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers and ATV riders, about 12 miles of trail have been graveled in this event’s 10-year history.

Ed Haefliger, one of the founders of the of the Great Gravel Pack-In announces the tasks to the equestrian group. Photo: Diana Lofflin

Ed Haefliger, one of the founders of the of the Great Gravel Pack-In announces the tasks to the equestrian group. Photo: Diana Lofflin

Want to join the fun?
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 28
Mima Falls Campground, Capitol State Forest

Directions
From I-5, turn onto WA-121 / Maytown Road SW going west toward Littlerock.
In 3.6 miles turn left onto Mima Road SW.
In 1.3 miles turn right onto Bordeaux Road SW.
In .7 miles turn right onto Marksman Street SW.
In .9 mi arrive at Mima Falls Campground near Marksman Street SW, Olympia, WA 98512.

For more information check out a flier for the event, or contact Nick Cronquist by phone at 360-480-2700 or by email at nick.cronquist@dnr.wa.gov.

To stay up-to-date with DNR’s recreation program, subscribe to our e-newsletter.

Noxious weeds – we don’t want ‘em

March 20, 2015
Noxious weeds can come in the form of a beautiful flower, such as the common St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum).

Noxious weeds can come in the form of a beautiful flower, such as the common St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum), but this plant produces large amounts of persistent seed and spreads easily.

We’re being invaded! By noxious weeds and invasive plants, that is. Each year, landowners and public agencies in Washington state spend millions of dollars to control or eradicate these invaders, which can seriously damage our native species and ecosystems.

What’s the difference between noxious weeds and invasive species? Are both bad?

  • An invasive plant is not native to the area and has a tendency to spread and crowd out other species. Many noxious weeds are also invasive plants.
  • A noxious weed is any plant designated by a federal, state, or county government as harmful to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildfire safety, or property.

How do noxious weeds spread?

Cars, cargo ships, hiking boots, and even bicycle tires can all spread weed seeds, so the more people travel and trade, the more likely we are to accidentally transport weed seeds. Some noxious weeds and invasive plants, like Canada thistle arrived here by accident with early European settlers; others, like Scotch broom, were imported as ornamental plants which then escaped into the wild ­– and innumerable hillsides, vacant lots and pastures.

Wildlife and domesticated animals also can spread weed seeds, either through their digestive systems or in their fur.

You can find out about weeds and other invasive species or report a sighting through the Washington Invasive Species Council either online or by downloading the council’s app for your iPhone or Android.

Invasive species are everyone’s problem. Learn more about what you can do to “weed” out your invasive plants from the Washington Invasive Species Council or the National Invasive Council (http://www.doi.gov//invasivespecies/index.cfm).

Why not teach kids about invasive species in Washington? The Washington State Department of Agriculture publishes what they call the Invasive Species “Fun Book”, an educational activity book for children focused on the impacts of invasive plants and animals in Washington. 

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Rec alert: Temporary closure at Lower Trailhead parking lot in Blanchard Forest

March 19, 2015

Heading to the Blanchard Forest near Bellingham? The Lower Trailhead parking lot will be temporarily closed starting 8 a.m. Monday, March 23 through 3 p.m. Thursday, March 26 as DNR staff re-gravel the parking area.

Hikers enjoy the view from Samish Overlook, the gateway to Oyster Dome Trail. Photo: Diana Lofflin, DNR

Hikers enjoy the view from Samish Overlook, the gateway to Oyster Dome Trail. Photo: Diana Lofflin, DNR


During the closure, please head to the Upper Trailhead parking lot to explore DNR recreation opportunities in the Blanchard Forest Block.

Lily Lake campground is a backcountry campground with six campsites in  the Blanchard Forest. Photo: DNR

Lily Lake campground is a backcountry campground with six campsites in the Blanchard Forest. Photo: DNR

The Upper Trailhead provides the main access for non-motorized recreation in the southern portion of the Chuckanut Mountains.

The trailhead ascends to backcountry campgrounds at Lilly and Lizard Lakes, as well as much of the largely connected non-motorized trail system in Blanchard Forest.

Trails provide views of Samish Bay, the San Juans, and pristine forest lakes.

For more information about the temporary closure, contact the DNR’s Northwest Region office at 360-856-3500.

To stay up-to-date with DNR’s recreation program, subscribe to our e-newsletter.

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DNR tips its hat to farmers on National Ag Day

March 18, 2015

PotatoesandOrchard_bohnet article

This Friday marks the first day of spring! Though it was a mild one, winter is officially at an end and new life will soon begin blossoming across the state in vivid color. And what better way to celebrate than with National Agriculture Day, sponsored by the Agriculture Council of America? It’s a day to celebrate the vibrant-hued fruits of our labor.

In Washington state, apples, cherries, wheat, and other agricultural products bring in millions of dollars each year. Contributing to the bounty are DNR-managed agriculture and grazing land trusts.

Apple Bin5In 1889, Congress delegated trust lands to Washington, many of them intended to support the state’s public educational institutions. Today, about 85 percent of the revenue from state trust lands in agriculture and grazing leases helps fund the construction of schools statewide. DNR works with the farmers and ranchers who lease trust lands to assure that the lands remain ecologically sustainable and productive, while protecting public resources such as clean water, fish, and wildlife.

DNR manages more than one million acres of trust lands that are leased or permitted for agriculture and grazing lands. They include:

  • 500,000 acres – Grazing leases
  • 322,000 acres – Grazing on forested lands (range permits)
  • 110,000 acres – Dryland grain crops
  • 32,000 acres – Irrigated row crops
  • 14,000 acres – Orchards and vineyards

In 2014, agriculture leasing and grazing lands managed by DNR produced roughly $23.5 million in revenue with a significant portion of that revenue used in support of public school construction. The revenue generated from agriculture and grazing lands in 2014 saw a 9.7 percent increase from 2013. The revenue production was divided as follows:

  • $6.4 million – Dryland grain crops
  • $16.1 million – Irrigated row crops
  • $904,858 – Grazing and other production

To learn more about agriculture on DNR-managed lands including information on leases and permits, visit DNR’s Leasing for Agriculture page.

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Get prepared NOW for wildfire!

March 17, 2015

DNR is the state of Washington’s largest on-call fire department. With fire season quickly approaching, there is no better time to take action and implement “firewise” strategies around your home. For the past few weeks, we’ve been posting video blogs in which Cisco Morris, book author and popular television and radio gardening show host, shares tips with homeowners and community members on fire prevention. In case you missed our Cisco Morris video series on fire prevention, here’s a recap:

Fire Resistant Homes

Don’t let your home become a fire hazard. There are many ways to protect your home from the risk of wildfire. Check out these construction and landscape techniques to make your house more fire-resistant.

Fighting Fire with Flowers

You can reduce the risk of wildfire by choosing fire resistant plants and knowing where to place them in your garden. The good news is that you’re not limited to just a few plants. There is a plethora of fire resistant plants available.

Communities Taking Action

More people than ever live in the wildland-urban interface, the transition zone between developed areas and wildlands–a zone where destructive wildfires can and do occur. Cisco Morris shows you how to make your community more resistant to wildfire.

Stay safe this summer. You can’t stop a fire from emerging naturally, but you can take precautions to protect your home, land, and loved ones from the risks of wildfire.

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Beetle invasions put forests at risk of wildfire

March 16, 2015

A healthy forest is a top priority in preventing wildfire, and insects are one of the things that can threaten the health of a tree. Bark beetles, such as the mountain pine beetle, feed on the inner bark of many types of pine trees, which can cause the trees to die. Although the beetles normally play an important role by attacking older or weakened trees to allow more room for younger trees to grow, the combination of warmer winters, densely packed forest stands and poor forest health conditions, such as seen across eastern Washington, puts entire forests at greater risk of destructive wildfire.

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