Archive for the ‘Conservation & Natural Areas’ Category

Hawks, deer and more on display in the wild today

January 10, 2016
The osprey is also known as a seahawk.

The osprey is also known as a seahawk.

After watching the Seahawks play this morning, you may want to get outdoors yourself to try and catch a glimpse of one of the real hawks of the sea.

Osprey, also known as sea hawks, are among the wildlife to watch for at West Tiger Mountain Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA). This 4,430-acre site is 35 miles east of Seattle and protects a vast variety of rare ecosystems and many species of native western Washington wildlife. This area, and neighboring Tiger Mountain State Forest — a working forest managed by DNR — are excellent outdoor classrooms and places to see native inhabitants including deer, elk, red-tailed hawks, osprey (aka sea hawk), owls, and woodpeckers. A good trail to try is West Tiger No. 1.

West Tiger Mountain is just one of 36 NRCAs across Washington that DNR manages to preserve high-quality ecosystems.

Learn more about where to visit or volunteer. Then, rain or shine, grab your Discover Pass and head out for some extra-curricular sea hawk-viewing activities!

Land purchase conserves area near Mailbox Peak

December 11, 2015
Mailbox Peak, part of the Middle Fork Natural Resources Conservation Area. Photo/DNR

Mailbox Peak, part of the Middle Fork Natural Resources Conservation Area. Photo/DNR

It takes a village to conserve land that was headed toward development. DNR and its partners did just that.

Joined by The Trust for Public LandKing County, and the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, DNR has conserved 82 acres of forestland near the Mailbox Peak trailhead.

The land, which was headed towards development, has been owned and harvested by local timber companies for more than 100 years.

Now, DNR will manage it as part of the Middle Fork Natural Resources Conservation Area, which includes some of the state’s most popular trailheads, like Mailbox Peak. The purchase allows DNR to provide better access and amenities for those coming to hike Mailbox Peak.

The purchase was funded in part from a state Recreation and Conservation Office grant awarded to DNR.

For more information, visit our website.

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Controlled burn at Camas Meadows planned for October 16

October 15, 2015
Mima Mounds NAP

Firefighter lights a controlled burn line across an area of Mima Mounds in 2009. Photo: Birdie Davenport/DNR.

On October 16, if wind and weather conditions are favorable, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) may conduct a controlled burn at Camas Meadows Natural Area Preserve in Chelan County. The project may be moved to next week or later this fall if weather conditions do not allow for safe burning on October 16.

Why burn?

Fire has played an integral role in the development and maintenance of arid forests and meadows in the east Cascades. Fire promotes the growth of native plant species, removes encroaching shrubs and trees, and reduces fuel accumulations in these ecosystems. Planned burns at Camas Meadows are part of a larger restoration effort to restore native meadow habitat on the preserve. Controlled burns are a safe and cost-effective way to restore natural conditions. Burns are conducted when weather conditions allow for safe burning and the least impact of smoke on nearby residents.

Will firefighters be present during the burn?
Yes, DNR firefighters will be present during the burn. Firefighters will use fire engines and other fire suppression techniques to prevent the burn from spreading.

When and where will the prescribed burn take place?
Camas Meadows Natural Area Preserve is twelve miles southeast of Leavenworth, off Camas Creek Road, and protects the largest remaining populations of two rare plant species that occur only in the Wenatchee Mts. of central Washington.

DNR-managed natural areas — a significant statewide system of natural resources conservation areas and natural area preserves totaling more than 157,000 acres — protect native ecosystems and the plant and animal species that depend on them.

Do you have other questions or concerns about controlled burning? Contact David Wilderman, natural areas program ecologist for DNR’s Natural Areas Program, at (360) 902-1556.

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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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Controlled burn at Mima Mounds planned for week of September 14

September 11, 2015
DNR fire crews supervise a controlled burn to help restore prairie habitat at Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve near Olympia. Photo: DNR

DNR fire crews supervise a controlled burn to help restore prairie habitat at Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve near Olympia. Photo: DNR

During the week of September 14, if wind and weather conditions are favorable, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) may conduct a controlled burn at Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve. The project may be moved to the following week or later this fall if weather conditions do not allow for safe burning on the week of September 14.

Why burn?
Fire has played an integral role in the development and maintenance of prairies and oak woodlands in the Puget Sound lowlands. Fire promotes the growth of native prairie plant species and reduces thatch and shrubs in these rare grassland ecosystems. Planned burns are part of a larger effort to restore native prairie grasslands in western Washington. Controlled burns are a safe and cost-effective way to restore natural conditions. Burns are conducted when weather conditions allow for safe burning and the least impact of smoke on nearby residents.

Will firefighters be present during the burn?

prescribed burn

Firefighters keep a close eye on prescribed burns. Photo: Kent Romney

Yes, firefighters will be present during the burn. Firefighters will use fire engines and other fire suppression techniques to prevent the burn from spreading. DNR and the Center for Natural Lands Management, a partner with DNR in western Washington prairie restoration, both have considerable experience with prescribed fire.

What about the burn ban?
DNR recently lifted the burn ban to allow for campfires in official campgrounds on western Washington lands protected by DNR. This burn at Mima Mounds was included in an exception to the current statewide burn ban, approved earlier this week by the Commissioner of Public Lands, for ecological prescribed burns on a number of South Puget Sound prairie sites.

When and where will the prescribed burn take place?
Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve is two miles west of Littlerock, off Waddell Creek Road, and protects the best remaining example of the unique Mima Mounds–one of the largest remaining areas of native Puget prairie grassland.

DNR-managed natural areas – a significant statewide system of natural resources conservation areas and natural area preserves totaling nearly 157,000 acres – protect native ecosystems and the plant and animal species that depend on them.

Do you have other questions or concerns about controlled burning?
Contact David Wilderman, natural areas program ecologist for DNR’s Natural Areas Program, at (360) 902-1556.

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Working for Conservation Corps is working for DNR, and Washington

September 7, 2015

This Labor Day, we’re celebrating how Washington Conservation Corps and Puget Sound Conservation Corps crews use valuable work on DNR-managed lands to launch them into Washington’s workforce and careers. 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 plant. Even now, crews are assisting the wildfire fighting efforts in Eastern Washington.

The Corps, founded in 1983, is a multi-agency effort that invests in future generations by building their professional skills  and stewardship for the state’s natural landscapeshigh-quality recreation opportunities, and the Puget Sound. Click the image below to watch our YouTube video and share with your friends.

In collaboration with DNR, Veteran Affairs, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, AmeriCorps, and State Parks, the Department of Ecology is seeking interested young people and veterans for next year’s Corps crews.

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

Apply today
The Corps is hiring right now. For more information and to apply online, visit www.ecy.wa.gov/wcc. Visit their member positions page for more info about qualifications and member benefits. Positions start October 5, 2015. (more…)

Road graders add to this summer’s scene at Cattle Point

August 6, 2015
Cattle Point Natural Resources Conservation Area on San Juan Island. Photo: DNR

Cattle Point Natural Resources Conservation Area on San Juan Island. Photo: DNR

Summer brings scenic and historic Cattle Point Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) a wide range of unique sights. Joining the more than 40 species of butterflies, 160 species of birds and 150 species of native plants, are excavators and road graders.

Erosion continues to take away the coastal bluffs along San Juan Island’s southern point, which has threatened the primary access road to Cattle Point, potentially cutting off access to public and private lands.

San Juan County and the National Park Service, along with the Federal Highway Administration, are realigning the road nearest the bluff. This project is underway now and scheduled for completion by this October. Visitors to the NRCA may experience minor traffic delays to accommodate construction activity. The Mt. Finlayson Trail and nearby roadside viewpoint in the NRCA will be closed during construction, but all other trails in the NRCA remain open.

You can track the progress on the U.S. Department of Transportation website at http://flh.fhwa.dot.gov/projects/wa/cattlepoint/

At Cattle Point NRCA, visitors will find grasslands, gravelly beaches, dunes, a mature conifer forest and steep bluffs. Cattle Point NRCA consists of two waterfront parcels at the south end of San Juan Island.

On just 112 acres, the NRCA provides a diverse range of geologic features, plant communities and wildlife habitat. The largest portion of the NRCA extends across the tip of the island from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, over the Mount Finlayson ridge and into Griffin Bay. A second parcel is near the U.S. Coast Guard lighthouse and includes an historic building, beach access and a day-use interpretive area. Adjacent to the western edge of the conservation area is the San Juan Island National Historical Park “American Camp” unit.

When visiting San Juan Island, make time to drop by our interpretive site near the Cattle Point Lighthouse. The day-use interpretive area includes parking [remember to bring your Discover Pass], beach access, hiking trails with viewpoints, and a picnic area with restroom. Wildlife is abundant and includes eagles and other birds of prey. Cattle Point offers outstanding views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains and surrounding islands.

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A boost for the Morning Star Natural Resources Conservation Area

May 17, 2015
Lake Stickney-Morning Star Natural Resources Conservation Area.

Lake Stickney (center-right in photo) is included in the 2,445 acres recently authorized for transfer into the Morning Star Natural Resources Conservation Area.

The terrain around Lake Stickney is rugged to say the least. No roads lead into the area and the site ranges from 1,000 to 4,000 feet in elevation. With steep slopes, high quality forest habitat, and numerous trees more than an century-and-a-half old, harvesting timber there for the Common School (construction) Trust would have required a high-level of forest practices oversight and, most likely, the use of helicopters to remove logs.

Those concerns are gone now with the Board of Natural Resource’s recent authorization for DNR to transfer 2,445 acres of Common School Trust land near the lake into the Morning Star Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA). The area, north of Gold Bar in Snohomish County, will continue to offer low-impact outdoor recreation to hardy visitors. In return for the transfer, the state’s school construction account will receive $5.1 million for future school projects. The amount reflects the value of standing timber on the land. DNR will receive $599,000—the land’s value—to purchase replacement lands better suited to natural resources revenue for the trust. The money to complete the transfer comes through the legislatively funded Trust Land Transfer program, which helps the school trust get value from lands that cannot be harvested and replace them with other properties more conducive to management for long-term revenue.

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Road graders add to this summer’s scene at Cattle Point

May 13, 2015
Cattle Point NRCA offers beautiful views of the San Juan islands. Photo: Paul McFarland, DNR.

Cattle Point NRCA offers beautiful views of the San Juan islands. Photo: Paul McFarland, DNR.

Spring and summer bring scenic and historic Cattle Point Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) a wide range of unique sights. Joining the more than 40 species of butterflies, 160 species of birds and 150 species of native plants this year, will be giant excavators and road graders.

Erosion continues to take away the coastal bluffs along San Juan Island’s southern point, which has threatened the primary access road to Cattle Point, potentially cutting off access to public and private lands.

San Juan County and the National Park Service, along with the Federal Highway Administration, are realigning the road nearest the bluff. This project is underway now and scheduled for completion by this October. Visitors to the NRCA may experience minor traffic delays to accommodate construction activity. The Mt. Finlayson Trail and nearby roadside viewpoint in the NRCA will be closed during construction, but all other trails in the NRCA remain open.

You can track the progress on the U.S. Department of Transportation website at http://flh.fhwa.dot.gov/projects/wa/cattlepoint/

At Cattle Point NRCA, visitors will find grasslands, gravelly beaches, dunes, a mature conifer forest and steep bluffs. Cattle Point NRCA consists of two waterfront parcels at the south end of San Juan Island.

On just 112 acres, the NRCA provides a diverse range of geologic features, plant communities and wildlife habitat. The largest portion of the NRCA extends across the tip of the island from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, over the Mount Finlayson ridge and into Griffin Bay. A second parcel is near the U.S. Coast Guard lighthouse and includes an historic building, beach access and a day-use interpretive area. Adjacent to the western edge of the conservation area is the San Juan Island National Historical Park “American Camp” unit.

When visiting San Juan Island, make time to drop by our interpretive site near the Cattle Point Lighthouse. The day-use interpretive area includes parking [remember to bring your Discover Pass], beach access, hiking trails with viewpoints, and a picnic area with restroom. Wildlife is abundant and includes eagles and other birds of prey. Cattle Point offers outstanding views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains and surrounding islands.

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Noxious weeds – we don’t want ‘em

March 20, 2015
Noxious weeds can come in the form of a beautiful flower, such as the common St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum).

Noxious weeds can come in the form of a beautiful flower, such as the common St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum), but this plant produces large amounts of persistent seed and spreads easily.

We’re being invaded! By noxious weeds and invasive plants, that is. Each year, landowners and public agencies in Washington state spend millions of dollars to control or eradicate these invaders, which can seriously damage our native species and ecosystems.

What’s the difference between noxious weeds and invasive species? Are both bad?

  • An invasive plant is not native to the area and has a tendency to spread and crowd out other species. Many noxious weeds are also invasive plants.
  • A noxious weed is any plant designated by a federal, state, or county government as harmful to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildfire safety, or property.

How do noxious weeds spread?

Cars, cargo ships, hiking boots, and even bicycle tires can all spread weed seeds, so the more people travel and trade, the more likely we are to accidentally transport weed seeds. Some noxious weeds and invasive plants, like Canada thistle arrived here by accident with early European settlers; others, like Scotch broom, were imported as ornamental plants which then escaped into the wild ­– and innumerable hillsides, vacant lots and pastures.

Wildlife and domesticated animals also can spread weed seeds, either through their digestive systems or in their fur.

You can find out about weeds and other invasive species or report a sighting through the Washington Invasive Species Council either online or by downloading the council’s app for your iPhone or Android.

Invasive species are everyone’s problem. Learn more about what you can do to “weed” out your invasive plants from the Washington Invasive Species Council or the National Invasive Council (http://www.doi.gov//invasivespecies/index.cfm).

Why not teach kids about invasive species in Washington? The Washington State Department of Agriculture publishes what they call the Invasive Species “Fun Book”, an educational activity book for children focused on the impacts of invasive plants and animals in Washington. 

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