DNR has history to celebrate this President’s Day

DNR Forester Jesse Steele with old growth Douglas-fir estimated to be 250-300 years old. Photo by: DNR

This Douglas-fir has seen a lot in its lifetime. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conducted an old growth assessment on it and concluded it was between 250 – 300 years old.

We celebrate our country’s history of presidents today on the birthday of our first leader; United States President George Washington. When George Washington was born 281 years ago, this tree may have been already standing in the forests we see today.

Can you imagine what changes have taken place since this tree was a seedling over 250 years ago?

250 years ago – When this tree was young, Benjamin Franklin was conducting his kite experiment to uncover the complexities of lightning and electricity.

224 years ago – By the time George Washington was elected president in 1789, this tree was already as old as most of the ones you see in our forests today.

202 – 206 years ago – When Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809, Washington State was already rapidly undergoing many of the changes that would shape it into the community we know today. Just four years before Lincoln’s birth the Lewis and Clark Expedition entered the area that is now Washington State. Two years after Lincoln was born David Thompson sailed down and completing the first formal mapping of the Columbia River.

163 years ago – Just 11 years before Lincoln was elected president in 1861, the area that is now Washington State had its first census conducted counting a population of 1,201. The population increase 865.4% in the next ten years.

124 years ago – The State of Washington was admitted to the Union on November 11, 1889. That year the U.S. government endowed the state with 3.2 million acres of trust land.

56 years ago – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources was established in 1957; just over 150 years after our first president began his term in office; by combining seven agencies and boards, including the Commissioner of Public Lands who administers the state trust lands, and the Division of Forestry, and the State Forester.

Over the next years, DNR was very busy transitioning the management of Washington’s resources.

48 years ago – The first formal DNR recreation sites were created in 1965.

42 – 43 years ago – In 1971, Washington State legislature stopped the sales of state tidelands and shorelands, and the State Environmental Policy Act was established. The next year, DNR was selected to manage our Natural Area Preserves and the first Natural Resource Conservation Areas were established.

Florian doug fir
DNR Forester Florian Deisenhofer with an old growth Douglas-fir estimated to be over 400 years old. Photo by DNR/Dan Friesz

Today, DNR manages 5.6 million acres of land. That’s over 3 million acres of state trust lands, 2.6 million acres of aquatic lands, and 145,000 acres of natural areas. We maintain 54 Natural Area Preserves, 30 Natural Resource Conservation Areas, and 143 recreation sites. DNR also protects 12.7 million acres of forest from wildfire.

Washington State has come a long way since the days of those first presidents. We can celebrate history and the accomplishments of our country and state today while remembering these majestic old growth trees that have seen it all.

Happy President’s Day!

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