DNR brings in chopper help to clean Puget Sound beach

May 3, 2015
DNR restoration specialist Kristian Tollefson waits for a load of debris to be brought in via helicopter. Photo: Joe Smillie, DNR.

DNR restoration specialist Kristian Tollefson waits for a load of debris to be brought in via helicopter. Photo: Joe Smillie, DNR.

With some whirlybird help, DNR crews spent the past week cleaning out one of the primary catch traps of the Puget Sound kitchen sink.

Crews cleared about 120 tons of that debris that washed into the Doe-Kag-Wats estuary at Indianola on the Kitsap Peninsula from as far south as the Tacoma Narrows. Read more about it in this Kitsap Sun article.

“The way the sound circulates, there’s a pretty good chance that if something falls into Puget Sound, it will end up here,” DNR restoration manager Chris Robertson said.

However, the estuary is located on a remote section of the Read the rest of this entry »

Spring brings plants, amphibians and… fungus to Washington forests

May 2, 2015
Calypso orchid. Photo: K. Bevis.

Calypso orchid. Photo: K. Bevis.

As the days grow longer and the earth warms, new growth appears first on the forest floor and in the bushes and grasses, then on the tall trees above. Flowering plants like the calypso orchid are specialists on the forest floor, living on moist decaying wood in older forests and are a wonderful surprise to see. Calypso, or fairy slipper, orchids are fragile and seldom survive picking or transplanting due to their fragile root systems and their association with particular soil fungi.

Amphibians

Rough-skinned newt.

Rough-skinned newt.

Frogs, toads and salamanders become active in the spring as well, breeding as ponds and wetlands lose their ice cover and the edges warm. Depending on where you are, the woods can be alive with their breeding migrations and choruses from late-February to June. Spend an evening listening to their singing or an afternoon watching rough-skinned newts wandering the woods.

Fungus

Lobster mushroom.

Lobster mushroom.

Moist soils and rotting wood produce amazing springtime explosions of mushrooms all over Washington. Mushrooms are the fruiting body of fungi, with the mycelium or “root mass” buried below ground. The mycelium unobtrusively break down organic material on the forest floor, helping to ensure the health of the forest and its residents. When conditions are right, the mushrooms themselves appear, often literally overnight, in crazy and varied shapes, sizes and colors. Mushrooms are also abundant in the fall. If you plan on picking mushrooms, be careful and take along an experienced mushroomer or a good field guide. Although some mushrooms are a tasty treat for humans and wildlife alike, others can make you sick or even kill you.

This blog first appeared in a longer version in Small Forest Landowner News, a free e-newsletter published quarterly by the DNR Small Forest Landowner Office. Click here to get Small Forest Landowner News delivered to your email in-box each quarter

May is Washington Volcano Month — be prepared

May 1, 2015
Mount St. Helens eruption viewed from an airplane.

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.

If you think you need to let off some steam from the pressures of daily life is something, imagine holding the pressure of dissolved gas and magma in for centuries.

May is Washington’s Volcano Preparedness Month, and DNR has all you need to know about how the stunning mammoths dominating much of our skyline handle the geothermal pressure bubbling below.

Washington is home to five major composite volcanoes or stratovolcanoes (from north to south): Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams. These volcanoes and Mount Hood to the south in Oregon are part of the Cascade Range, a volcanic arc that stretches from southwestern British Columbia to northern California. If you want to check them out, take along DNR’s five-day field trip guide of the Cascade volcanoes. Read the rest of this entry »

We’ve got new trail opportunities flying your way

April 30, 2015

This month a helicopter delivered two trail bridges in the Snoqualmie Corridor. Watch along with us via the clips below.

Granite Creek Trail, Middle Fork Snoqualmie Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA), near North Bend

With the addition of a 40-foot bridge over Mine Creek River, the popular 5-mile hiker-only trail will better serve visitors for years to come.

Climbing Trail, East Tiger Mountain, near Issaquah

This 4-mile trail is expected to open Spring 2016, and it will be well worth the wait. This primarily mountain biking trail provides a more direct ascent to higher elevation trails within the 15-mile East Tiger Mountain trail system. With the new trail, mountain bikers won’t need to navigate forest roads to make the climb. Until then, please be aware of timber harvest activities while biking on roads in East Tiger Mountain.

Want a closer look at our plans for fun and safe trips to DNR rec sites in the Snoqualmie Corridor? Check out our Snoqualmie Corridor Recreation Plan, which we published in March.

Want to stay in the loop with DNR’s recreation program? Subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

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Spring is for the birds

April 30, 2015

After a long winter, life seems to suddenly return to the forests, as well as the backyards, parks, shorelines and, even, along streets and highways of the Pacific Northwest.

Townsends warbler

Townsends warbler

Between March and May, migratory songbirds arrive to take advantage of the explosion of insect life in our temperate forests and countryside. Many of these birds return yearly from Central and South America to breed and remain with us through the summer months. Others merely pass through on their way to breeding grounds farther north, using our forests and shores to refuel and rest. Listen carefully at dawn to the chorus of song, as birds declare breeding territories and try to attract mates.

Research suggests that some of our migratory birds (western tanagers, Townsend’s warblers, flycatchers) may key in on our deciduous trees either because of the insect populations, or because the trees are similar to the broad-leafed forests where they spend the winter. Interestingly, many of the neo-tropical migrants arrive as trees are leafing out. Conifers have more consistent habitat features, with needles present all year long, and provide habitats utilized more by year around residents such as chickadees and nuthatches.

Western pee wee. Photo: G. Thompson.

Western pee wee. Photo: G. Thompson.

Rich shrub layers and overlapping canopy trees can provide critical habitats for these nesting birds. Many like snags along the forest edge, particularly if there are meadows or water nearby. Watch for flycatchers “hawking” (catching on the wing) insects by darting up into the air and flying back to their favorite perches. There are at least eight species of birds known as flycatchers that will grace your forest this spring and summer including the western wood pee wee and both the Hammond’s and dusky flycatchers. These birds nest in forked branches high up in trees, and actively feed throughout the day. Try telling them apart by their behavior and calls. Appreciate the journey they just made from central Mexico or Arizona back to our area.

This blog first appeared in a longer version in Small Forest Landowner News, a free e-newsletter published quarterly by the DNR Small Forest Landowner Office. Click here to get Small Forest Landowner News delivered to your email in-box each quarter.

Nepal quake reminder of Washington’s tectonic influences

April 28, 2015
The U.S. Geological Survey produced a report on the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal April 25 and the surrounding aftershocks that continued throughout much of south central Asia.

The U.S. Geological Survey produced a report on the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal April 25 and the surrounding aftershocks that continued throughout much of south central Asia.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake that devastated the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal Saturday was the strongest quake in the world so far this year and a reminder of the importance of properly planning in advance for natural disasters. More than 4,000  were reported dead, as buildings collapsed in cities surrounding the fault line.

The shallow depth of the quake’s epicenter was placed between 7 and 10 miles. Waves were amplified through sedimentary basin of a former lake, increasing the destruction. The strength of the quake was so strong it was picked up by a Pacific Northwest Seismic Network seismometer at Gold Mountain on the Kitsap Peninsula.

Saturday’s earthquake was the result of the northward movement of the Indian tectonic Plate under the Eurasian Plate. The plate lurched some 10 feet over 30 seconds, the LA Times reported.

The Indian Plate met the Eurasian Plate some 40 to 50 million years ago. The Indian Plate is forced beneath the Eurasian Plate as it continues its northward move. The joining of the two faults is called a “suture” and is revealed by the increasing elevation of the Himalaya Mountains.

This Wall Street Journal image of the collision between the Indian Plate and the Eurasian Plate at Tibet shows the similarities the subduction zone has to the Cascadia subduction zone off Washington's coast.

This Wall Street Journal image of the collision between the Indian Plate and the Eurasian Plate at Tibet shows the similarities the subduction zone has to the Cascadia subduction zone off Washington’s coast.

The two plates interact not entirely differently than the Juan de Fuca Plate and the North American Plate, an area known as the Cascadia subduction zone, the 750-mile fault line that runs off the coast of Washington, Oregon, Northern California and British Columbia.

The very significant difference is that the Cascadia Plate is an oceanic plate, so our subduction zone doesn’t produce the same high peaks as the two continental plates, according to Chief Hazards Geologist Tim Walsh.

“Our subducting slab melts as it goes down and makes our volcanoes,” Walsh explained.

DNR’s Geology and Earth Resources Division, the state’s official geologic survey, is helping Washington communities identify how they are vulnerable to earthquakes.

DNR geologists have produced models of what impacts an earthquake from the Cascadia subduction zone could do at differing magnitudes. We’re also developing models of tsunami inundation in population centers both along the Washington coast and within the Puget Sound to help communities plan for the impacts that would likely occur from a tsunami stemmed by a Cascadia quake.

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Get ready for the 13th annual “Pick Up the Burn”

April 26, 2015
Volunteers help clean up the Yacolt Burn State Forest in a previous "Pick Up the Burn" event. Photo/DNR.

Volunteers help clean up the Yacolt Burn State Forest in a previous “Pick Up the Burn” event. Photo/DNR.

In its 13th year, theYacolt Burn State Forest-based “Pick up the Burn” brings ORV riders, hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders together to help improve Yacolt Burn State Forest trails. This year’s work will include picking up littler, site maintenance, and improving campgrounds to prepare for the summer season.

This is the 13th annual "Pick Up the Burn," a Yacolt Burn State Forest volunteer event. Photo/DNR.

This is the 13th annual “Pick Up the Burn,” a Yacolt Burn State Forest volunteer event. Photo/DNR.

Want to get involved? 
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 2, 2015
Yacolt Burn State Forest
Meet at the Jones Creek ORV trailhead

Getting there

  • Start in Camas at junction with SR-14. Go N on SR-500 for 3.8 miles to Fern Prairie
  • Turn right on NE 19th St. and go .8 miles.
  • Turn right on NE Reilly Rd., which becomes NE 292 Ave. Go 1.9 miles.
  • Turn right on NE Ireland Rd.
  • G .2 milies, turn left on NE Lessard Rd. At 2 miles, pavement ends.
  • Continue on gravel road for 1.6 miles to trailhead.

Visit DNR’s volunteer calendar for more information or check out this year’s flier.

Want to stay in-the-loop with DNR’s recreation program? Subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

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DNR’s Dry Hill gears up for the races

April 24, 2015

Need a thrill this weekend? Look no further than Dry Hill, a gravity – or downhill – mountain biker’s dream located on DNR-managed land near Port Angeles.

Riders gather at NW Cup, an annual downhill mountain biking race at DNR's Dry Hill.

Riders gather at NW Cup, an annual downhill mountain biking race at DNR’s Dry Hill.

Today through Sunday the large network of downhill mountain biking trails will be the setting for the first and second round of races in the nationally acclaimed NW Cup.

A downhill mountain biker races at Dry Hill.

A downhill mountain biker races at Dry Hill.

DNR manages Dry Hill in partnership with Olympic Dirt Society, which has a stewardship agreement with DNR to maintain the trails.

With this unique relationship, you’re more than welcome to ride Dry Hill, but vehicle access to the site is limited to trail maintenance and events.

Interested in riding Dry Hill? Send an email to olympicdirtsociety@yahoo.com.

Want to stay in-the-loop with DNR’s recreation program? Subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

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Celebrate National Picnic Day with DNR

April 23, 2015

Today is National Picnic Day and we’re celebrating with a roundup of recreation opportunities on DNR-managed land sure to be the perfect setting for a picnic. Read on to find a site near you.

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

Samish Overlook, Blanchard Forest, Skagit County 
At an elevation of 1,300 feet, Samish Overlook has stunning views of the San Juan Islands and Skagit Valley. Enjoy a picnic lunch as you watch hang gliders and paragliders take off and soar over Skagit Valley.

Murdock Beach, Olympic Region, near Port Angeles 
Murdock Beach, located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, gives visitors a view of Vancouver Island. This is the only public beach access for 12 miles between Camp Hayden and the East Twin River.

Beaver Creek, Elbe Hills State Forest, near Elbe
Beaver Creek Trailhead, in the Elbe Hill State Forest, provides visitors with access to non-motorized trails. There are also high lines for horses. The forested setting is perfect for a picnic.

Douglas falls campground

Douglas Falls Campground offers a volunteer camp host site, campsites and a day-use area. Photo: DNR

Douglas Falls Grange Park and Campground, near Colville 
The 120-acre Douglas Falls Grange Park is surrounded by mountains of rocky bluffs and conifer forests. Mill Creek runs through the campground with a 60-foot waterfall. Enjoy a picnic at its day-use area.

Merrill Lake Campground, Merrill Lake Natural Resources Conservation Area, near Cougar 
Merrill Lake Campground includes a lake formed by a volcano. Merrill Lake also has catch-and-release fly-fishing, non-motorized boating and a 1-mile interpretive trail through mature trees.

Beverly Dunes Recreation Area,  near Beverly 
Beverly Sand Dunes offers ORV riders a dose of excitement.  Enjoy a picnic at one of its 11 campsites.

Have another area in mind? Before you make the drive, check our website to see what’s open and closed. Make sure to bring a Discover Pass to continue celebrating recreation on DNR-managed land all year long.

Want to stay in-the-loop with DNR’s recreation program? Subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter today.

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The Washington Geology Library’s best kept secret

April 16, 2015

3-20-2015 3-32-53 PM

In honor of National Library Workers day, DNR would like to celebrate Stephanie Earls of the Washington Geology Library (WGL). Stephanie has worked with the WGL for the past two years, a position that seamlessly incorporates her own unique background in geology and library sciences.

The WGL was created in 1935 by way of legislation for the Division of Mines and Mining, a predecessor of the Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources. The library provides support to the employees of DNR, but is also open to the public, government agencies (federal, state, and local), geotechnical consultants, and the academic community.

Library Resources

A number of unique services are available at the Washington Geology Library, and Stephanie extends a personal invitation to the public to explore the various resources available. Whether you are looking for specific information on geologic hazards or mining, or you harbor general curiosities about the landscape in your community, the library is a useful resource.

Services include:

  • Reference/research/public information geologist
  • Circulation (DNR employees only)
  • Scanning maps/documents into digital format
  • Aid with online tools: Division of Geology Interactive Geologic Map Portal & USGS National Geologic Map Database
  • Aid in finding obscure items

Catalogue collections

Along with the numerous services it provides, the Washington Geologic Library houses an impressive collection of more than 50,000 titles. These include books, maps, reports, journal articles, theses/dissertations, and more.

Topics include:006

  • general geology
  • geologic hazards
  • mining
  • soils
  • Environmental Impact Statements
  • watershed analyses
  • private consulting reports

Publishers:

  • Government (federal, state, and local)
  • private consulting firms
  • universities

Maps:

  • Geologic hazards – landslide, tsunami inundation zones, earthquake faults
  • topographic
  • coal map mine collection
  • coastal zone atlas

The library also offers access to the online database GeoRef, and The National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program Library.

For more information on the Washington Geologic Library, take a look at the website, or for those adventurous types, visit the library in room 174 at the Natural Resources Building at 1111 Washington Street S.E. in Olympia.

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