Crawl around with the critters that come out at low tide at Sunday festival on Vashon Island

July 31, 2015
Photo of people on the beach near Pt. Robinson at the 2012 Vashon-Maury Island Low Tide Celebration

Visitors enjoy a sunny day at the 2012 Vashon-Maury Island Low Tide Celebration.
Photo: Michael Grilliot

As the caretaker for state-owned intertidal lands, DNR spends every day looking at its critters and vegetation. For the last decade, though, we have also helped celebrate the things that feed and breathe when tides recede with the community of Vashon-Maury Island.

That time comes again this Sunday, Aug. 2, when the Vashon-Maury Island Low Tide Celebration takes over Point Robinson Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) designated Maury Island as an Aquatic Reserve in 2000. The site is known for its significant habitat diversity, including eelgrass beds, Pacific herring spawning habitat, Chinook salmon and bull trout migratory corridors. There are few other places within this region that compare to Maury Island.

Along with the celebration of the tide, the day’s activities will feature a party to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Point Robinson Lighthouse and the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Coast Guard, which still owns the lighthouse.

This free event offers opportunities to:

  • Tour beach and tide flats with the Vashon Beach Naturalists
  • Tour the Pt. Robinson Lighthouse
  • Enjoy flora, fauna and cultural displays
  • Learn about traditional native uses of shoreline resources with Odin Lonning – traditional Tlingit artist and cultural educator

In addition, many conservation groups will be on hand.

turkishtowel

Turkish towel is one of the many species exposed by low tides that can be spotted at this weekend’s Vashon-Maury Island Low Tide Festival. DNR Photo

Lowest water level will be around 1 p.m., so be there to commune with , hairy chitons, tukish towels and frilled dog whelk that will be exposed.

A shuttle bus will run along Point Robinson Road to transport people between their parked cars and the festivities. Refreshments, native crafts and Low Tide T-shirts will also be available for sale. To get to Vashon by ferry, take either the Fauntleroy – Vashon Island or the Point Defiance – Talequah ferries.

DNR’s Aquatic Reserve Program will have a booth at the event presenting recent and on-going studies happening on Maury Island Aquatic Reserve, as well as discussing the Mooring Buoy project happening in Quartermaster Harbor.

The Vashon-Maury Island Low Tide Celebration is sponsored by: Vashon Beach Naturalists, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Vashon Hydrophone Project, Washington Scuba Alliance, Vashon Park District, Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society, Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust, King County, Vashon College and Keepers of Point Robinson.

Explore the Capitol State Forest right from your smartphone

July 30, 2015
The Capitol State Forest geo-referenced map is ideal for  your smartphone. Photo/ DNR.

The Capitol State Forest geo-referenced map for your smartphone. Photo/ DNR.

Did you know that you can take all of Capitol State Forest’s trails with you – wherever you go? With our free geo-referenced map, you can easily navigate the 100,000-acre forest’s trails with your smartphone. Using the free Avenza PDF Maps app, watch along as the map pinpoints your location. Even without cell service the map will continue to work using your phone’s GPS chip.

Ready to give it a try? Follow the steps below: 

  • Download the free Avenza PDF Maps app to your phone.
  • Open the app on your phone. Click on the icon in the lower left hand corner of your screen called ‘Maps.’ You will see a ‘+’ sign in the upper right of your screen.
  • After you click on the ‘+’ sign, it will ask you where you want to grab the PDF file from. Enter the following address into the box titled “From the Web:’ http://bit.ly/1JWLMX0
  • The map will be copied into your app. This may take a moment depending on your connection speed.
  • After the map is copied into the app, it will automatically load when you click on the ‘Maps’ icon. If you have your GPS turned on, it will automatically zoom to your position in Capitol State Forest.

To receive more information like this right to your inbox, subscribe to our monthly recreation e-newsletter. Learn more about DNR’s recreation program by visiting our website.

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Sitka spruce: A tree with individuality

July 27, 2015

Western Washington’s Sitka spruce is not afraid to stand out from the rest. This tree can be seen sporting a variety of forms, from bizarrely shaped root systems to huge buttresses. Its unique shape has a lot to do with growing in a coastal environment. Being near the water, Sitka spruce faces challenges that inland trees don’t, such as a dense forest floor and extreme elements. These challenges force the tree to bend and twist in irregular ways.

How exactly does the forest floor of the coast affect the shape of Sitka spruce? The moist floor is often thick with bryophytes and other plants which makes it challenging for a tiny seed to grow. Therefore, Sitka spruce prefers to grow on elevated organic surfaces, such as logs and stumps. When these logs decay and disappear, the resulting Sitka spruce can display an oddly shaped root system and huge buttresses.

Sitka sprice root system

If a spruce started on a very large log, the resulting tree can often have a bizarrely shaped root system. Photo / DNR

Sitka spruce with broken trunk

The rotten top of a 400-plus year-old spruce snapped off in a violent winter storm, only to impale itself in the ground 65 feet from its base. Photo / DNR

Another factor that contributes to the individuality of Sitka spruce is its exposure to coastal elements. Violent winds can alter the shape of a Sitka spruce and if the tree’s top is rotten, the winds might even cause it to snap off.

Interesting facts like this and more can be found in DNR’s guides for identifying old trees and forests in Washington: Identifying Mature and Old Forests in Western Washington and Identifying Old Trees and Forests in Eastern Washington, both written by Robert Van Pelt, PhD. Both guidebooks are free to download.

Conservation of old-growth and other “structurally unique” trees is part of the State Trust Lands Habitat Conservation Plan that DNR uses to guide its management of working forests and provide habitat for endangered species on state trust lands.

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It only takes 90 seconds to learn how to prevent a wildfire from starting

July 22, 2015

The blue skies and warmer weather are a nice change for us living in the Pacific Northwest. However, along with the heat and extreme dryness comes the danger of wildfires. This summer, Washington state has already faced more than 570 wildfires. Unfortunately, most of these wildfires are caused by people.

The good news is that there are steps we can take to help prevent wildfires. Watch this 90-second video to learn some simple wildfire prevention tips and then be sure to share them with your loved ones.

Visit our website to learn more about wildfire prevention.

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The western red-cedar: A 1500 year old giant

July 20, 2015
Western Redceder

Away from the coast, pure groves of redcedar are limited to forested wetlands or sections of alluvial forest in the north Cascades, such as this stand from a swamp in the south Cascades. Photo: DNR

The western red-cedar is a tree that continues to surpass the others. Not only is it the largest tree in the Pacific Northwest, it is also one of the longest lived tree species in western Washington. Some western red-cedars have been recorded to reach 1,500 years of age. (The tree’s name is spelled either red-cedar or redcedar to indicate that it is not a “true” cedar, which grows only in Mediterranean regions.)

The age of a western red-cedar can be roughly estimated by looking at the tree’s crown. For the first several centuries, the top of the red-cedar has a relatively simple crown. However, with age, the crown form changes and candelabra tops – which are often seen in ancient trees – begin to emerge. (See drawing).

Western Redceder Drawing

Changes in crown form of western redcedar over time. Note that trees remain relatively simple for the first several centuries — it is only in great age that the individual character and candelabra tops often seen in ancient stands emerge. Drawing: DNR

Interesting facts like this and more can be found in DNR’s guides for identifying old trees and forests in Washington: Identifying Mature and Old Forests in Western Washington and Identifying Old Trees and Forests in Eastern Washington, both written by Robert Van Pelt, PhD. Both guidebooks are free to download.

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Recreate safely and check your ORV for a spark arrestor

July 19, 2015

This summer, the Pacific Northwest has witnessed a rapid spread of wildfires. Because of this, it is vital that we do all we can to prevent additional fires from damaging our planet, hurting our communities, and putting our loved ones at risk. One simple action that can help prevent wildfires is making sure your off-road vehicle (ORV) has a spark arrestor. A spark arrestor is a small screen or object placed just a few inches inside your muffler and/or silencer. The spark arrestor traps the sparks from your vehicle and keeps them from reaching the ground.  Without a spark arrestor, there is a greater possibility of your ORV starting a wildfire.

DNR Natural Resources Police Officers conduct random checks on off-road vehicles for spark arrestors. Without a spark arrestor, you will be cited and fined. If you cause a wildfire, you are responsible for the suppression costs.

Learn how to check for a spark arrestor by watching the step-by-step video guide above.
Visit our website for more information about safe and fun recreation.

Stay up to date and subscribe to the DNR’s recreation e-newsletter.

Read the state’s rules for spark arrestors.

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Have you watered your trees lately?

July 16, 2015

TreeThe dog days of summer are upon us, so it’s a good thing we have trees to help keep us cool! Summer is a great time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the nice weather. But this month and next can be hard on trees, and they can use our help. Don’t be fooled by cloudy weather, because it does not necessarily mean moisture.

In Washington, most of the annual accumulation of moisture comes in three seasons, fall, winter and spring. Summer is typically very dry. This weather pattern is great for vacations and back yard barbecues, but difficult for trees – particularly newly planted trees.

When we do get moisture, it may not be enough for our leafy friends, especially those planted within the last year or two. Even if you are watering your lawn on a regular basis, your trees might not be getting enough to drink. Grass roots, after all, only grow to a depth of several inches. In contrast, trees roots are deeper, from about 18” to 24” deep.

Long, slow watering under the drip-line of a tree with a soaker hose or even a bucket with small holes drilled into it will ensure that moisture seeps down into the root zone.

Or build a low ring of dirt about 1 foot from the trunk of the tree to create a soil dam. With your hose turned on to a slow trickle, fill the tree ring with water (this will take about 30 minutes). Keeping the hose on a trickle will allow the water to soak in rather than run off, while the dam will keep the water directly over the roots of the tree.

Remember that a 2-4 inch thick layer of bark mulch around the base of a tree will maintain soil moisture and help control weeds, (but keep the bark about a hands-width away from the trunk).

There are many factors involved when considering how much and how long to water. Check out this article by Oregon State University Extension (OSUE) about watering trees and shrubs the right way, and how watering needs differ depending on soil texture.

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As media duel on Cascadia threat, DNR works to keep communities ready

July 14, 2015
Tsunami inundation areas of Washington State. Source: DNR

Tsunami inundation areas of Washington State. Source: DNR

While the New Yorker and the Seattle Times duke it out to see who’s version of a Cascadia subduction zone quake and tsunami is scariest, DNR continues to offer information to help those of us who would be impacted be prepared.

Our Division of Geology and Earth Resources has maps based on modeled scenarios on the Cascadia subduction zone (as well as others like the Seattle and Tacoma faults) that can be used to assess potential danger for communities and to plot evacuation routes.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone is a 750-mile-long fault that runs from northern California to Vancouver Island where the Juan de Fuca and North American tectonic plates meet.

If and when a quake lets loose another megathrust earthquake, a tsunami surge is expected to slam the coast with 15 to 30 minutes.

Read the rest of this entry »

The noble fir: A tree whose seeds are made to wander

July 13, 2015
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A small noble fir seedling in the middle of the pumice plain on the northeast section of Mount Saint Helens. The nearest mature noble fir to this tree is more than 5 kilometers (just over 3 miles) away. Photo: DNR

Noble fir is a popular ornamental tree throughout the Pacific Northwest and many consider it the premiere holiday tree. The firs you might see at Christmas tree lots typically come from tree farms, but this tree will grow quite large naturally throughout the southern Cascade Mountains of western Washington.

While the noble doesn’t produce a large number of cones, the seeds within those cones are large — large enough to provide young sprout with nutrients for up to a year while its roots try to find a favorable spot to grow. As a result, noble firs can sprout and grow well in areas with deep winter snowpacks that would crush or smother the smaller seedlings of other species such as Douglas fir.

You wouldn’t expect such large seeds to spread very far from their origin tree, but the windy, icy conditions at high-elevations can allow noble fir seeds to slip, slide and blow around great distances — sometimes a few miles as shown in our photo of a seedling that took root more than three miles from the nearest mature noble fir.

Interesting facts like this and more can be found in DNR’s guides for identifying old trees and forests in Washington: Identifying Mature and Old Forests in Western Washington and Identifying Old Trees and Forests in Eastern Washington, both written by Robert Van Pelt, PhD. Both guidebooks are free to download.

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Celebrate Fourth of July by cooling off on DNR-managed land

July 2, 2015

DNR has more than 160 recreation sites across the state that are perfect for cooling off this holiday weekend. Read on for some ideas on where to beat the heat at our sites with water access.

As you plan your trip, keep in mind DNR’s statewide burn ban. Campfires and all outdoor burning activites are currently prohibited on state forests  and anywhere else on the 13 million acres of Washington forestlands DNR protects from wildfire.

Remember — fireworks are illegal on all DNR-protected lands.
Play it safe Washington.  Learn more. http://bit.ly/WaWildfireRisk

Yahoo Lake, Olympic Peninsula

Yahoo Lake, in DNR’s Olympic Region, has opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming. Photo/ DNR.

Yahoo Lake, Olympic Peninsula, near Olympic National Park 
At 2,400-feet elevation, the remote Yahoo Lake Campground provides opportunities for hiking, fishing, and swimming during a stay at one of its three campsites.

Lily and Lizard Lakes, Blanchard Forest, near Bellingham
Enjoy a swim at one of Blanchard Forest’s backcountry campsites. Watch for views of Samish Bay and the San Juan Islands on the hike to these forested lakes.

Howell Lake, Tahuya State Forest, near Bremerton 
This day-use site in the Tahuya State Forest is great for fishing, swimming, and picnicking. Access the lake from the Howell Lake Trail.

Dougan Falls, Yacolt Burn State Forest

Enjoy the gentle, cascading falls of Yacolt Burn State Forest’s Dougan Falls. Photo/ DNR.

Dougan Creek, Yacolt Burn State Forest, near Washougal
The large boulders, forested edges, and cascading 100-foot waterfalls of Dougan Creek are a treat for picnickers and campers who visit Yacolt Burn State Forest.

Palmer Lake Campground, Loomis State Forest, Okanogan area
Palmer Lake Campground is near a 2,100-acre lake surrounded by orchards and mountainous terrain. It is a popular site for boating.

Island Camp, Glenwood Forest, near White Salmon
Island Camp, along Bird Creek, is a perfect campground for exploring Mount Adams.

Remember to bring a Discover Pass, your ticket to Washington’s great outdoors. You can purchase the Discover Pass online, from more than 600 licensed vendors across Washington state, or at automated pay stations in select state parks.

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