Thankful today, and every day, for DNR’s volunteers

November 26, 2015
Volunteers clear brush on a trail in Capitol State Forest. Photo/ DNR.

Volunteers clear brush on a trail in Capitol State Forest. Photo/ DNR.

Each year, volunteers of all ages put in hundreds of thousands of hours helping DNR maintain and improve recreation sites, trails, and natural areas on DNR-managed lands.

Last year, we benefited from the highest recorded volunteer hours in more than a decade, and that’s thanks to all of you.

Some volunteers devote hundreds of hours; others pitch in a few hours here and there. Either way, we’re thankful to all of you who:

  • Helped us care for recreation sites
  • Volunteered for the Forest Watch program
  • Provided information and nature interpretation to school children and other forest visitors
  • Served as a campground host at one of DNR’s 70+ campgrounds
  • Trekked out in the field to collect data or monitor plant species — providing valuable information to staff scientists.
  • Organized volunteer work parties
  • Provided clerical assistance

…and the many other activities that relied on volunteer efforts in the past year.

National Trails Day

Volunteers help restore and improve recreation trails on DNR-managed trust lands. Photo/ DNR.

To all of you, our sincere thanks, and a Happy Thanksgiving.

Did you know that volunteers can earn vouchers toward a complimentary Discover Pass by putting in 24 hours of time working on eligible projects on recreation lands managed by DNR, Washington State Parks, or Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Get details.

To join the effort, visit our calendar to find a volunteer work party that suits your interests near you. For a round-up of the month’s volunteer events sent right to your inbox, subscribe to our free monthly recreation e-newsletter. For more information, visit our website.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter Join in the DNR Forum

No need to burn outdoors; there are better options

November 21, 2015
silvicultural burning

Landowners must obtain a burn permit before burning large amounts of forest debris on lands protected from wildfire by DNR. Photo DNR

Fall and winter can bring rough weather conditions that wreak havoc with roadways, homes, business and utilities. Storms can quickly create hazardous trees or limbs but there’s no need to compound the adverse event by raising the risks of a runaway wildfire. When you need to clear away yard and tree debris after a storm, think about options other than outdoor burning.

Outdoor burning is a leading cause of wildfire ignitions. If you must burn, know the rules, and choose the right weather for burning. If you have a burn barrel, don’t use it. In fact, just get rid of it – burn barrels are illegal in Washington state.

Fortunately there are alternatives to burning, such as chipping and composting, which are easy and practical ways to dispose of many organic materials or convert them to another use.

Alternatives to outdoor burning 

  • Compost it.It’s a practical and convenient approach for disposing of forest debris. Any vegetable matter can be composted. Organic material, such as fallen leaves, grass clippings, weeds, and the remains of garden plants, make excellent compost. Used as mulch for paths where it will eventually decompose and become compost to use in your garden. Check with your local county extension office, city, or county for schedules of composting classes.
  • Chip it.Turn large branches and debris into mulch. If you don’t already own a chipper, check with your local equipment rental agency. Invite your neighbors to join in to make it more cost efficient for everyone.
  • Use curbside pickup.
  • Take it to an approved landfill that accepts forest debris. Many counties have forest debris waste composting facilities.

Also, outdoor burning is a cause of smoke and certain pollutants. This smoke can be unhealthy, because the small particles in smoke are so tiny they can easily get into your lungs. People most at risk are children, patients with respiratory illnesses, and adults over 65 years old. Visit the Department of Ecology’s air quality website to find out if your local clean air agency has issued a burn ban and other advice.

Don’t risk burning

The biggest human cause of wildfires in Washington is outdoor burning. These escaped wildfires are investigated and, if found guilty, you can be fined. If burning is allowed in your area, the only material that can be burned is natural vegetation grown on the property where the burning occurs. And, be sure to check DNR’s webpage on silvicultural outdoor burning.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter Join in the DNR Forum

Getting a permit to gather firewood on DNR-managed state trust lands

November 19, 2015

Cutting firewood on

People often ask DNR if they can cut their own firewood on the forested state trust lands we manage. Generally, we provide places for you to cut firewood from downed wood or slash following timber harvests. Unfortunately, we don’t have as many of these opportunities as you might think.

DNR allows firewood cutting only when a timber harvest area has enough leftover downed wood or slash to make it worthwhile for you to go all the way out there. Many sites may have this left-behind wood but not enough for people to harvest for firewood.

Why do we insist on keeping some of this down wood around?

Because DNR manages forested state trust lands for habitat, as well as revenue production, a certain amount of the snags, downed wood and stumps left after a timber harvest must remain for birds, mammals and other critters. Habitat management is a key component of our State Trust Lands Habitat Conservation Plan.

Another factor limiting our supply is that the commercial timber harvesters who bid on trust lands timber are using more of the branches and stumps these days, so there’s less left behind to gather for firewood.

Check this web page to find out where DNR firewood gathering permits are still available. You’ll also find instructions for where and what to gather.

Some of the federal lands in Washington issue permits to gather firewood for personal use:

It is a violation of state law to cut down trees or take firewood from state trust lands without permission from DNR.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter Join in the DNR Forum

GIS Day: Celebrating the technology that reveals the world around us

November 18, 2015
GIS layers

Geospatial information systems technologies gives us new insights by more easily compiling multiple layers of information about a specific area on a map. GIS is used to map crime, show land use, reveal historic trends on the land and more. Image: NOAA

Geographic information systems (GIS) — the technology that helps us see the world around us in new ways — is in the spotlight today, November 18 — also known as “GIS Day.” Among the many events bringing together GIS professionals, students, and the general public to learn about and discuss the impact of this technology is an all-day conference at the Washington State Capitol today. Washington State Joint Agency Day features technicians from more than two dozen state, county and city agencies who gather to explain how they use GIS in the public’s interest and to save time and money. DNR, for example, uses GIS to reveal geologic hazards, map streams, route trails, track the spread of invasive species, and map marine vegetation.

DNR offers its trove of GIS data about forestry, geology, wildfire, wildlife and more to the public for download at no charge.

To see a real-world application of GIS data, visit DNR’s Washington Geological Information Portal where you can toggle multi-layered maps to find locations of major earthquake faults, lahar and tsunami evacuation zones, underground geologic formations, and more.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter

DNR part of effort to improve safety for loggers

November 17, 2015

As the largest landowner in the state (other than the federal government), DNR’s responsibilities go beyond managing Washington’s trust lands for wildlife habitat and sustainable revenue for state trust land beneficiaries: we also are working to improve safety for those who work in the woods. That’s why we are onboard with the Logger Safety Initiative.

Logging is historically one of Washington’s most hazardous industries — one where workers, particularly in non-mechanized logging jobs, suffer serious injuries much more often than in any other major industry. It’s also an industry where employers face accelerating workers’ compensation insurance costs. That’s why DNR, along with the Washington Contract Loggers Association, Washington Forest Protection Association, Department of Labor & Industries, numerous private land owners and private logging companies, formed the Washington State Logger Safety Initiative. The goal of this effort is to promote occupational safety, reduce fatalities, and decrease workplace injuries in the logging industry.

We all use products made of wood, so looking out for the workers who help bring us those products is the right thing to do.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter

Go take a hike on DNR-managed lands

November 17, 2015

DNR has more than 1,100 miles of trails to enjoy outdoor recreation activities, including hiking. Photo/ DNR.

How are you enjoying Take a Hike Day, today? Look below for our round-up of hikes worthy of getting outdoors to celebrate.

Bob Bammert Grove, Capitol State Forest, near Olympia
The Bob Bammert Trail is a hiker-only trail in Capitol State Forest. Enjoy this two-mile trail through hills of mature trees and the sounds of a nearby creek.

Lily Lake, Blanchard Forest, near Bellingham
This trail ascends the Chuckanut Mountains for views of the Bellingham Channel and Mount Baker. Enjoy backcountry camping at one of the lake’s secluded campsites.

Murdock Beach, Olympic Peninsula, near Port Angeles
This short trail provides beach access and expansive views of Vancouver Island.

Grouse Vista, Yacolt Burn State Forest, near Vancouver
With views of Yacolt Burn State Forest, this 2.2-mile trail ascends into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest by Pyramid Rock.


Hikers enjoying DNR forestland in the Snoqualmie Corridor. Photo/ DNR.

Disappointment Trailhead, Loomis Natural Resources Conservation Area, near Loomis 
Don’t let the name discourage you. Located in the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountain Range, this trail provides views of Disappointment Peak and Showshoe Mountain.

Buck Creek Trailhead, near Trout Lake 
This 18-mile loop trail twists around Nestor Peak and along Buck Creek.

Visit our statewide interactive recreation map for other ideas of where to get outdoors today. Remember to bring your Discover Pass, the gateway to exploring state lands in Washington.

For more information about recreation on DNR-managed lands, visit our website.

Be prepared for storm-damaged trees; five tips to stay safe and five more to ensure proper care

November 11, 2015
Wind can damage even young trees if they are not planted, pruned nor cared for properly. Photo Janet Pearce/DNR

Wind can damage even young trees if they are not planted, pruned nor cared for properly. Photo Janet Pearce/DNR

Homeowners have two good reasons for caution as fall storms encroach your property. Beware of residual hazards from storm-damaged trees, and roving “tree cutters” who may not have the best interests of you and your trees in mind.

Five tips to stay safe around storm-damaged trees

  1. Never touch or attempt to remove fallen limbs from downed or sagging power lines; always report downed lines to your local utility company.
  2. Keep away from areas where uprooted trees may have damaged underground utilities.
  3. Avoid walking underneath trees that have broken limbs dangling.
  4. If you need to inspect a tree after a storm, do not walk underneath its suspended branches or leaning trunk. Approach a leaning tree from the opposite side of the direction it is leaning. Binoculars are great for inspecting trees from a safe distance.
  5. Refrain from doing tree work yourself. Pruning large limbs or removing trees is dangerous business that requires specialized equipment and training.

After storms that cause heavy damage to trees, be wary of approaches from unskilled “tree cutters.” These individuals may pressure homeowners into costly and unnecessary work, cause additional property damage due to their lack of expertise or training, or put homeowners at risk by operating without proper licensing or insurance coverage.

Five more tips to ensure that you, your property, and your trees are cared for properly

  1. Hire a company that is licensed, bonded and insured. Look to see if it is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).
  2. Seek at least three estimates; ask for copies of the estimates in writing.
  3. Never put down a deposit for work without a signed contract that includes the company’s refund policy.
  4. Ask for references, and check them.
  5. Reject any company that recommends “topping” your tree. Don’t top trees!

You can always contact DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program for additional guidance.


Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter Join in the DNR Forum

DNR offices closed for Veterans Day

November 11, 2015
DNR's Northeast Region office in Colville.

DNR’s Northeast Region office in Colville.

DNR offices and work sites are closed today, November 11, for the Veterans Day observance but many of the department’s recreation sites and other lands are open to visitors. Check our interactive map of what’s open and closed today on DNR-managed state trust lands across the state.

Here’s a list of Veterans Day events compiled by the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter

Unique ways to experience DNR-managed lands: Trial bikes

November 10, 2015
Trial bike riders enjoy the Reiter Foothills Forest trial bike area. Photo/ DNR.

Trial bike riders enjoy the Reiter Foothills Forest trial bike area. Photo/ DNR.

What has two wheels, no seat, and helps riders to navigate steep climbs, large obstacles, and tight turns? Trial bikes.

The off-trail recreation activity involves riders testing their agility by riding over natural obstacles in the forest, such as downed logs and rocks with low pressure tires. Skilled trial bike riders can maintain their balance within slow speeds and tight turns.

Puget Sound Trialers

The Puget Sound Trialers helped DNR install a new trial bikes sign at their October work party. Photo/ Puget Sound Trialers.

Valuable partnerships
One of DNR’s volunteer partners, the Puget Sound Trialers, have worked with DNR to support continued access to a trial bike areas in the Reiter Foothills Forest. The Puget Sound Trialers help to care for the site, and just last month the club installed a trials area sign and other boundary signs to reinforce the area for trials bike use specifically.

In addition to Reiter Foothills Forest, the Puget Sound Trialers also give back at Walker Valley ORV Area, near Sedro Woolley.

Volunteer at Reiter
Want to get involved? Consider volunteering. Visit our calendar to find an upcoming event in your area.

Batten down the hatches! Winter storms are on the way

November 10, 2015
neglected sailboat

This neglected sailboat broke free from its buoy and ended up beached and destroyed after a winter storm. Photo: DNR

Drenching rain and ferocious winds are forecast for this week. Remember to properly secure vessels so they don’t end up adrift. Double check mooring is secured; remove gas tanks and other chemicals not in use; mark down contact information on the boat, make sure covers are securely fastened.

DNR’s Derelict Vessels program frequently spends the first few days following big storms chasing down boats that broke free from their moorage or sank as rains got into unsecured covers.

Not only is this a problem for boat owners whose craft are now severely damaged, but these storm-damaged vessels also threaten the health of underwater habitat that is vital to so many sensitive species. Boats that break off moorage lines or fill with rainwater can leak oil, gas or other hazardous materials into the waters.

That can lead to stiff fines, in addition to the wrecked boats and recovery costs. The owner of a derelict or abandoned vessel is responsible for reimbursing the authorized public entity for all costs associated with the removal and disposal of that vessel.

Since DNR instituted the derelict vessel program in 2002, more than 580 abandoned or neglected vessels have been removed from Washington waterways.

Our partner agencies, too, are typically busy recovering lost boats after storms. The Washington Department of Ecology mobilizes response teams to clean up spilled chemicals. The U.S. Coast Guard treats every adrift vessel as a search and rescue situation.


Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 266 other followers