Trees: a winning strategy for storm water woes

October 6, 2015
Storm water woes can happen in Washington. Photo DNR

Storm water woes can happen in Washington. Photo DNR

Storm water runoff – the rain that falls on streets, driveways, rooftops, and other developed land – is one of the most widespread challenges to water quality in Washington state. It carries oil, grease, fertilizers, soaps, and waste from pets and failing septic systems into streams and other bodies of water.

DNR has set a goal to clean up and restore natural areas in Puget Sound communities, because the clean water that originates in the upland forests we manage can become polluted as it flows through urban and suburban areas.

One of the best ways to mitigate the negative impacts of urban and suburban storm water runoff is to reduce how much of it ends up in natural waterways. Trees and shrubs are part of the solution.

October is an excellent time to recognize the many benefits that trees provide, including reduction and filtration of storm water runoff, because trees:

  • Reduce storm water runoff by intercepting rainfall in their canopies where it is later re-released into the atmosphere.
  • Slow down runoff rates and reduce pollutants by absorbing storm water through their roots.
  • Store pollutants and transform them into less harmful substances.
  • Create healthy soil conditions that allow rainwater to filter into the soil so that less flows down streets, sidewalks, gutters, and storm sewers.

Here’s what you can do to help the trees in your community do a better job of filtering and managing storm water runoff:

  • Decrease the amount of hard surfaces (like concrete) that block water from soaking into the soil.
  • Advocate for more trees and vegetation in your community.
  • Preserve healthy, established trees through proper maintenance and care.
  • Minimize the clearing of trees and vegetation ­– you’ll also help reduce soil erosion.
  • Avoid over-fertilizing or over-watering your trees and lawn.
  • Route excess storm water to a natural retention area, such as a vegetated area with healthy soil which can filter out pollutants, reduce runoff rates and volumes, and prevent soil erosion.
  • Retrofit parking areas and other locations with extensive hard surfaces with new plantings of trees, shrubs and other plants — strategically located, they can intercept storm water and allow it to filter into the ground.

Trees, of course, are not the only means to address the challenges of storm water runoff, but here at DNR, we believe they are a big part of the solution, which is why we support Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to proclaim October as Urban and Community Forestry Month.

For more tips and ideas, visit DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, which operates with support from the US Forest Service.

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Welcoming new conservation crews to DNR-managed lands

October 5, 2015

Today marks the first day of crew deployments for new Washington Conservation Corps and Puget Sound Corps teams. Every year crews gain valuable work skills on DNR-managed lands before beginning careers in Washington’s workforce or pursuing higher education. Corps members gain experience while helping to fill a variety of needs – from working on DNR trails and campgrounds to caring for wild spaces by removing invasive species and fostering the growth of native plants.

Where they’ll be 
In the next year about 10 crews will spend some time on DNR-managed lands all across Washington state. They’ll be doing valuable work:

Watch our video, below, to see the kind of valuable work these crews perform. When you run into WCC or PSC crews, say hello and let them share with you how they’re helping to improve these lands.

The Corps, founded in 1983, is a multi-agency effort with DNR, AmeriCorps, the Department of Ecology, Veterans Affairs, and others that invests in future generations by building their professional skills as they perform stewardship for the state’s natural landscapeshigh-quality recreation opportunities, and the Puget Sound. For more information, visit the Department of Ecology’s website.

To hear more about how these projects develop, stay connected with our monthly recreation e-newsletter.

Lesser known trail activity packs in fun

October 4, 2015

Volunteers are aided by their packgoats on the Little River Trail, in the Olympic Peninsula. Photo: Tony Nastansky/ Evergreen Packgoat Club.

Ever been hiking or horseback riding on one of DNR’s 1,100 miles of trails and come across a mule, burro, llama, or even a goat?

You might be surprised to know that DNR’s trails that allow horses for trail riding also allow packstock.

Many recreationists explore DNR-managed lands with their packstock animals, which make great hiking and horseback riding partners because they’re able to carry supplies.


Mules were part of the volunteer effort at the 2015 Great Gravel Pack-in at the Capitol State Forest. Photo/ DNR.

Want to learn more about packstock companions or try it out for yourself? Get in touch with your local packstock organization, like the Olympia-based Evergreen Packgoat Club, for the best ways to get started.

If you see packstock on the trail, give them the right-of-way as you would for horses, communicate with the handler, and hold your dog’s leash in closely.

For ideas of where to go, visit our statewide interactive recreation map and click on trailheads. Any trail that lists horseback riding as an activity has trails that are open to packstock too.

For more information on lesser known activities on DNR-managed lands go to and click on other activities.

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DNR burn ban expired; still a need for fire caution

October 2, 2015
Cougar Creek Fire, which started Aug. 10, 2015 by lightning, scorched 53,532 acres near Mount Adams. Photo Joe Smillie/DNR

Cougar Creek Fire, which started Aug. 10, 2015 by lightning, scorched 53,532 acres near Mount Adams. Photo Joe Smillie/DNR

Even though recent rains and lower temperatures have reduced fire danger, some parts of eastern Washington are still dry.

When you’re out this weekend hunting or recreating, remember to:

  • Check with a camp host or landowner to see if campfires are allowed.
  • If a campfire is allowed, don’t leave it to smolder.
  • Keep it small and have a bucket of water, as to not let it get out of hand.
  • After a campfire, be sure to extinguish it completely until it’s cold to the touch.

If you are hunting, check out our forest road survival safety tips from DNR’s Ear to the Ground blog. For hunting, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website. Also, don’t forget a Discover Pass, your gateway to exploring Washington’s great outdoors. 

County burn bans may still be in effect in various locations throughout Washington.  Check with your community fire district for local information. Before burning outdoors, check to see if there are any fire restrictions for your area.

In addition, industrial forest operations on DNR-protected lands remain regulated under the requirements of the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) system. If you’re involved in forest operations, check for and follow restrictions as they apply to the area you will be working.

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Trees are nature’s phenomenon

October 1, 2015
fall colors in urban forest

Happy Urban and Community Forestry Month! Healthy trees create a vibrant urban forest. Photo Guy Kramer

Happy Urban and Community Forestry Month! Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed October as such for the third consecutive year. Why? Because when you think about all the benefits that trees provide, you realize just how phenomenal they are.

Many benefits of trees are obvious: Trees create food for insects, wildlife and people; they supply wood for fuel, furniture and homes; and they provide beauty for all of us. Other tree benefits can be less obvious: A large tree in your front yard can intercept rainfall in its crown and absorb rainfall through its roots, reducing stormwater runoff and flooding on your property; if that same tree shades your house, it can save you hundreds of dollars every year in cooling costs; and, a healthy mature tree in your front yard can boost your property’s value.

So how in the world would you go about calculating your own tree’s benefits? Easy, but you’re going to need the size of the tree and approximate age. Then, use the National Tree Benefit Calculator to find out all the benefits. Plus, you can virtually plant a tree and find out what benefits it will provide. Autumn is generally a great time to plant new trees, too.

There are surprising benefits from all types of trees. You can learn more about them through Trees Are Good. DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is also a source for information, including technical, educational and financial assistance for cities, town, counties, tribal governments, non-profit organizations, and schools in Washington state.

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Something fishy: AmeriCorps crews work with DNR

September 30, 2015

The next AmeriCorps year starts on Monday and DNR has reason to celebrate.

In partnership with many Washington state agencies, conservation crews with the Washington Conservation Corps and Puget Sound Corps will begin another year of valuable service caring for Washington’s trails and campgrounds, natural areas, and even the watersheds that lead to the Puget Sound.

DNR’s aquatic reserves interns spent a year helping gather information about the species that call Washington’s aquatic lands home. Get a peek at their contributions through their culminating video of first-hand experiences

Learn more
To learn more about DNR’s Aquatics Reserves program and how it protects important native ecosystems on aquatic lands owned by the people of Washington, visit our website.

Visit the Department of Ecology’s website for more information about Washington Conservation Corps. To learn more about the Puget Sound Corps, visit our website.

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DNR helps you be prepared, not scared as nation marks PrepareAthon

September 30, 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.

Millions of Americans will consider the best ways to respond before, during and after disasters strike as they participate in America’s PrepareAthon! Sept. 30. The campaign encourages people to assess what hazards their communities face and what they can do if those hazards strike.

As Washington’s official geologic survey, DNR’s Division of Geology and Earth Resources is committed to making sure the people of Washington are prepared, not scared when disasters strike. We ensure this by improving our citizens’ understanding of the wide range of hazards our state faces – including volcanoes, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis and many others.

When those hazards happen, you should have the best information about what to do and where to go. DNR research and reports will let you know what hazards are near you and those important to you.

Preparation starts with knowledge

For 125 years, the Washington Geologic Survey has been studying Washington’s geologic hazards.

Seismic risk map

This map shows areas of seismic risk from high (red) to low (grayish-green) and is from a 2007 report on the seismic design categories in Washington.

That study has led to the production of materials to give citizens an idea of where fault lines are active, where ground could liquefy during an earthquake, and what damage earthquakes could be expected to cause.

Historic tsunami map

This map shows areas where inundation modelling has been completed in Washington. The entire coastline of Washington may be at risk for tsunamis. Landslide-caused tsunamis can happen anywhere there are landslide hazards and lakes, rivers, or ocean.

Tsunamis could strike coastal and low-lying communities at any time. DNR’s Geology Division has helped create innovative strategies to help those communities be prepared and mapped tsunami evacuation maps to help those nearby know where to go.

More reports produced from studying all of Washington’s geology are available at the Washington Geology Library or can be accessed online through our new publications catalog.

Summary of volcanic hazards in Washington state

Summary of volcanic hazards in Washington state

We’ve also mapped Washington’s hundreds of volcanic vents.

For more tips on how to be best prepared for the next disaster, check with Washington’s Emergency Management Division.

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Thanks to DNR’s National Public Lands Day volunteers

September 28, 2015

Volunteers pull Scotch broom at a National Public Lands Day work party. Photo courtesy of the Center for Natural Lands Management.

Here’s our shout out to the volunteers who joined us at two work parties to celebrate National Public Lands Day last Saturday.

Volunteers and partners from the Center for Natural Lands Management joined us at the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve just outside Olympia to remove scotch broom and gather Douglas Fir seedlings.

At our trail work party in the Yacolt Burn State Forest, volunteers and partners from the Jones Creek Trail Riders hardened trail surfaces, repaired water bars, hauled gravel, and brushed trails.

Volunteers and DNR: An enduring partnership 
Volunteers are an integral part of keeping our recreation areas safe and functional. In 2014, DNR’s dedicated volunteers donated more than 75,000 hours, making it the most productive year for our volunteers ever.

Join the effort 
For more information about volunteering, visit our website at From work parties around the state, campground host openings, and opportunities to protect our lands through our Forest Watch volunteer program, we’ve got something sure to fit your skill set.

Get upcoming volunteer events sent straight to your inbox by subscribing to our free monthly recreation e-newsletter. Click here for September’s issue.

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Fall is here – plan for tree planting

September 27, 2015
Susan Pierce, Trees Atlanta,

Put the kids to work planting trees this fall. Photo Susan Pierce, Trees Atlanta,

Fall is a perfect time for planting trees. Yet, have you planned what kind of tree and where it should grow?

Whether you plant a tree for aesthetics, to increase your property value, to save energy by providing shade, or to watch birds while lounging in a hammock, it is important to plan ahead. Start by thinking about your site.

For trees to grow to maturity and provide the many benefits we expect from them, they must be well-matched to site conditions. Take a look at these important considerations:

  • Above- and below-ground conflicts, such as buried utilities or view corridors,
  • Expected changes, including any future needs of the site, and
  • How much maintenance and care the tree will require.

You also want to pick the best species for that site. List the tree attributes you’re looking for, such as crown shape or flower color. Also list attributes based on the site’s limitations. Will it need to tolerate a lot of shade from nearby trees or buildings? Is the soil often damp? Will there be room for the tree when it reaches its mature height?

Consider a species appropriate for your area of the state, too. Look to see if your city or county has a list of appropriate community trees.

Now comes the fun part! Shop nursery catalogs, visit a local nursery, or search online to find available tree species and the perfect tree for your site.


Ed Gilman of the University of Florida Agricultural Sciences has created a site evaluation form that can guide you through the selection process. To find a great volume of information about tree selection, planting, care, maintenance, and management, visit Gilman’s website.

The U.S. Forest Service has checklists to help before, during and after planting your tree.

Remember, you can always contact DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program for additional guidance.

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Celebrate National Public Lands Day with a beautiful new bridge

September 26, 2015
DNR's Lower High Point Creek trail bridge connects the 15-mile Tiger Mountain Trail. Photo: Sam Jarrett/ DNR.

DNR’s Lower High Point Creek Trail Bridge connects the 15-mile Tiger Mountain Trail. Photo: Sam Jarrett/ DNR.

Not only is today National Public Lands Day, but it also marks the reopening of our full 15-mile Tiger Mountain Trail thanks to a new 200-foot bridge that can better withstand flooding.

A destination in itself, the Lower High Point Creek Trail Bridge provides views into the High Point Creek drainage from about 30 feet up and connects a continuous trail across the West Tiger Mountain Natural Resources Conservation Area and the Tiger Mountain State Forest.

Enjoy a roughly two-and-a-half-mile hike on the Tiger Mountain Trail from the High Point Trailhead to access the bridge.

The Tiger Mountain Trail meanders through a diverse forest canopy and healthy understory. It changes from a hiking-specific trail in west Tiger Mountain to horseback riding and hiking trail as it reaches south Tiger Mountain. The Issaquah Alps Trails Club was instrumental with building the majority of the trail’s original route.

Lower High Point Creek trail bridge

To access the Lower High Point Creek Trail Bridge, start at the High Point Trailhead and continue on the Tiger Mountain Trail for about two-and-a-half-miles. Photo: Sam Jarrett/ DNR.

The bridge construction is largely possible through a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, Washington Recreation and Conservation Office grant, DNR recreation funds and a $10,000 donation from the family of Murat Danishek, who passed away of a heart condition in his early thirties.  The family’s donation is a fitting tribute to honor Murat, who often accompanied his family & friends exploring the hiking trails of the West Tiger Mountain Natural Resources Conservation Area and surrounding Snoqualmie Corridor.

Visiting public lands can be such a pleasure, especially on National Public Lands Day. This bridge will will help enable the public’s access to such experiences for years to come.

For more information about hiking and horseback riding on DNR-managed lands, visit our website. To hear more about upcoming trail projects and developments, subscribe to our monthly recreation e-newsletter. View this month’s issue.

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