Archive for the ‘Conservation & Natural Areas’ Category

Take a trip to visit a mystic mounded prairie

August 14, 2014

Looking for something kid-friendly to do on DNR-managed conservation lands? Let their imaginations run wild on 637 acres of grassland mounds at the DNR Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve (NAP).

Mima Mounds

Camas blooms at the unique Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve managed by DNR. Photo: DNR/Birdie Davenport

Located next to Capitol State Forest near Olympia, Washington, Mima Mounds NAP protects the mounded Puget prairie landscape. Scientists differ on how the mounds formed; ice age flood deposits, earthquakes — even gophers — are among the formation theories offered.

Mima Mounds

Unique topography is one of the features of DNR’s Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve south of Olympia. Photo: DNR.

Rising to landmark status
In 1966, the National Park Service designated Mima Mounds a National Natural Landmark for its outstanding condition, illustrative value of a landform, rarity, and value to science and education. The site is one of 17 National Natural Landmarks in Washington state.

The NAP, established in 1976, includes native grasslands, a small Garry oak woodland, savannah (widely spaced oak trees with grass understory), Douglas-fir forest, and habitat for prairie-dependent butterflies and birds.

Unearthing site information and education

Mima Mounds Interpretive Center

Mima Mounds NAP has a lot of informational material for visitors to read while they’re there. DNR photo

Visitors to the site can stop at its interpretive center before stepping onto the trail that skirts around the mounds. The center provides historical and educational information about the site.

For those looking to get a better view of the area, a short set of stairs to the rooftop of the interpretive center provides a look from above.

Discover Pass logoDiscover Pass required
Don’t forget to grab your Discover Pass before heading out on this prairie
adventure. The Discover Pass is required to park a car at Mima Mounds NAP or anywhere in Capitol State Forest. This $30 annual access pass (or $10 day pass) is your ticket to Washington state great outdoors. All proceeds directly support state-managed outdoor recreation.

Adventure on!
Learn more about Mima Mounds NAP and other DNR adventures on our website at

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UPDATE: Controlled burn at Mima Mounds planned for July 8

July 2, 2014
DNR and Nature Conservancy 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

UPDATE (July 7; 12:30 p.m.): The controlled burn is now planned for July 8 at Mima Mounds.

On July 8, 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 next week or later this summer if weather conditions do not allow for safe burning on July 8.

Why burn?


Recreation Alert: Woodard Bay NRCA to close temporarily for construction

June 10, 2014

Starting in July, DNR will close a large portion of Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) through December 2014.

Woodard Bay NRCA will be closed July through December 2014 for construction efforts. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

Woodard Bay NRCA will be closed July through December 2014 for construction. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

The access point from Whitham Road, and the trails leading from this area, will be closed to protect public safety during construction of public access facilities and interpretive sites in the NRCA.

Once completed, the updated interpretative design will highlight both the ecological values and rich cultural history of Woodard Bay.

Will I be able to visit Woodard Bay NRCA this summer?
Partially. The entire NRCA will be closed for the month of July. However, the Woodard Bay Upper Overlook Trail—currently closed to protect nesting herons—will re-open in August, providing public access to views of the bay. The Overlook Trail will be accessible from the parking lot at the north end of the Chehalis Western Trail.

What’s happening at Woodard Bay NRCA?

Woodard Bay NRCA concept drawings

This concept drawing shows one possible final look for Woodard Bay NRCA once construction is complete later this year. Click this image to see a larger version. Drawing by: DNR

This temporary closure marks the next phase of a larger project to restore and improve Woodard Bay NRCA.

The restoration phase was completed in March 2013, allowing DNR to develop improved educational and low-impact recreation opportunities.

In addition to the natural beauty of Woodard Bay NRCA, the area holds valuable cultural, historical, recreational, and conservation qualities.

Project details
The development project includes four major features:

  • A new environmental and cultural learning shelter.
  • An expanded parking lot with a new bike shelter to accommodate bike parking, since bicycle use is not allowed in the NRCA.
  • Relocation of the current “boom foreman’s” office and bathroom away from the shoreline.
  • Installation of several educational areas and signs.

Where can I go instead?
We encourage you to visit nearby parks and the Chehalis Western Trail during this closure. Nearby parks include:

This site shows the future home of new public access facilities and interpretive sites in the NRCA. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

This site is the future home of new public access facilities and interpretive sites in the Woodard Bay NRCA. Photo by: DNR/Jessica Payne

Learn more about Woodard Bay NRCA on the DNR website:

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DNR announces Washington Rare Plants virtual plant guide for Native Plant Appreciation Week!

April 28, 2014

Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed this week, April 28 through May 3, Native Plant Appreciation Week in Washington.

Red columbine

Red columbine (Aquilegia formosa). Photo by: DNR

Native Plant Appreciation Week is a celebration of the amazing diversity of Washington’s native plant species.

The diverse climates in Washington allow for an incredible variety of native plants, from sword ferns to cacti, to the many different species that call prairies, forests and shrub-steppe home.

One of the main contributors to Native Plant Appreciation Week is the Washington Native Plant Society. Learn more about the week, events occurring, conservation efforts, and how you can get involved on their website.

Washington Rare Plants app
Just in time for Native Plant Appreciation Week, the DNR Natural Heritage Program has released a cellphone app called Washington Rare Plants. This application catalogues Washington’s rarest plant species. Read on to learn more… (more…)

Help celebrate Earth Day by cleaning up the beach at Point Robinson, Maury Island

April 10, 2014
ps corps team on Piner Point

Puget SoundCorps doing some clean-up

Maury Island Beach clean-up

Are you tired of seeing bottles, food wrappers and so much other trash floating around on what could be beautiful beaches and tidelands? Celebrate Earth Day with Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Puget SoundCorps to help clean up the beach at Point Robinson, Maury Island.

The cleanup is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday, April 22. Parking is available at the upper lot of the Point Robinson Lighthouse.


 – Coming on the ferry from Tacoma take Vashon Hwy SW.

 – Take a right onto SW Quartermaster Dr.

 – Follow SW Quartermaster Dr until you take another right onto Dockton Rd SW.

 – Continue straight onto SW Point Robinson Rd; this will take you all the way into the park.

What to bring and what is provided?

Please bring your work gloves, water, and appropriate work wear and come help DNR and Puget SoundCorps make a difference this Earth Day.

DNR will provide garbage bags and light refreshments. Volunteers can also take guided tours of the Point Robinson Lighthouse.

For further information, contact Kirsten Miller, DNR Puget SoundCorps crewmember or visit the event page on Facebook.

About the Puget Sound Corps

The Puget SoundCorps Program creates jobs while cleaning up state-owned aquatic lands and uplands across the 12-county area that makes up the Puget Sound basin.

SoundCorps members are young adults (18 to 25 years old) or military veterans who are serving a year of service as AmeriCorps members. Age restrictions may be waived for military veterans.

Puget SoundCorps is part of the broader Washington Conservation Corps program administered by Washington Department of Ecology in partnership with DNR. The Washington Conservation Corps is supported through grant funding and education awards provided by AmeriCorps.

For more information about the Puget SoundCorps Program, visit:

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The 12th bird: See it live at West Tiger Mountain NRCA

January 17, 2014

Osprey diving with wings folded, head first and at the last second thrusting its talons downward into the water. The osprey is the only raptor that will plunge into the water to catch a fish. Photo: Rodney Cammauf/National Park Service.

If the anticipation of this Sunday’s NFC playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers whets your curiosity about hawks, or you just want a good place to hike this weekend, consider one of the many recreation areas managed by DNR, such as West Tiger Mountain Natural Resources Conservation Area. 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. Children can delight in knowing they are walking through the habitat of deer, cougar, bobcats, black bear, coyote, elk, red-tailed hawks, osprey (AKA SEA HAWK), owl, and woodpecker. This area is an excellent outdoor classroom with an education shelter, interpretive displays, and accessible trails.

Head into nature today! Studies show that nature exposure and education can help students excel in classroom subjects as well. The trip can also teach kids about the importance of state-protected rare species and their habitat. So, grab your children (and their friends) and hit the trail. Rain or shine, grab your Discover Pass and head out for some extra-curricular activities!

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Streams provide habitat and much of our drinking water

January 6, 2014
Snag Creek

Snag Creek runs through a DNR-managed forest near the Columbia Gorge. Photo: Florian Deisenhofer/DNR

Did you know that approximately 117 million people in the United States – more than one-third of the nation’s population – get some or all of their drinking water from public drinking water systems that rely in part on headwater, seasonal, or rain-dependent streams. That includes the great majority of people in Washington State.

DNR helps to keep streams free and flowing with clean, cool water by:

  • Retaining working forestland,
  • Repairing culverts and other structures that block fish travel in streams,
  • Administering state Forest Practice rules on 13 million acres of non-federal forest, and
  • Following through on its commitments to protect plant and animal habitat on millions of acres of state trust lands.

View the EPA’s map and zoom in on Washington State to see the percentage of people in your county that gets some of their drinking water directly or indirectly from streams that are seasonal, rain-dependent or headwaters.

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Maury Island: ‘Before’ and ‘after’ impact of DNR work starting to become clear

December 30, 2013
Maury Isle-before and After

Once covered with Scotch broom and other invasive plants (left) Puget SoundCorps crews cleared and replanted the site (mostly by hand) to restore it with native vegetation and improved trails (right). Photo: Bryan Massey/DNR.

It’s no easy job to restore 70-plus acres of a former gravel mine to its pre-development glory, but a DNR-led project is getting the job done on Maury Island. As the before and after photos with this post show, we are starting to get the upper hand on the numerous invasive plants that moved into the area during the many years it served as a surface mine producing gravel and sand for road and building construction in the South Sound.

Those doing the hard work of removing the non-native varieties of blackberries, Scotch broom, poison oak, poison ivy and more at the site — now a King County Regional Park — are Puget SoundCorps teams composed of young people and military veterans, plus many volunteers from the local community. Working for more than a year, through cold winter months and hot summer days, the SoundCorps teams also are rehabilitating trails, removing trash and doing other restoration work on the steeply sloped site.    (more…)

A few scary facts for Halloween 2013

October 31, 2013
common garter snake

In Washington State, the common garter snake (which is nonpoisonous) is found from coastal and mountain forests to sagebrush deserts, usually close to water or wet meadows—or your garden. Photo: Jon McGinnis/WDFW.

If the parade of costumed tricker-treaters coming to your door tonight or the endless reruns of horror movies on TV these past few weeks (or today’s close-up photo of snake) are not enough to give you a fright, here are some scary facts about the state of the environment in Washington State, with an emphasis on biodiversity.

  • Approximately 33 percent of the Puget Sound’s 2,500 miles of shorelines have been armored with bulkheads and other structures to protect homes, ports, marinas, roads and railways, and other property. More than half of the shoreline in the central Puget Sound has been modified by port development, armoring of beaches, and other uses, causing significant loss of habitats important to beach and nearshore species.
  • More than half of the Columbia Plateau Ecoregion (roughly the area known as the Columbia Basin) has undergone conversion from its shrub-steppe landscape to cropland. What remains is a fragmented shrub-steppe, which compromises the habitat of many species that rely on this type of habitat.
  • More than 90 percent of the original Palouse grasslands in Washington have been converted to agriculture, housing or other uses. A number of plant species once common throughout the Palouse now hang on in small, isolated remnants.

What’s so important about biodiversity?

Native species (such as shellfish, salmon and Douglas-fir) and their ecosystems contribute billions of dollars to fisheries, timber harvests, outdoor recreation and other sectors of our state’s economy. Native ecosystems also provide clean water, natural flood control, and habitats for fish, plants, and wildlife.

To help protect these important native habitats that help nurture biodiversity, DNR manages a statewide network of Natural Area Preserves and Natural Resources Conservation Areas. Many of these areas represent the finest natural, undisturbed ecosystems in state ownership; they also protect one-of-a-kind natural features unique to this region, such as the Mima Mounds in Thurston County or Selah Cliffs in Yakima County.

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Teanaway Community Forest introduces new way of managing public forestlands

October 3, 2013
Fall view of the Teanaway Community Forest, the first Washington State-managed community forest. Photo: The Wilderness Society.

Fall view of the Teanaway Community Forest, the first Washington State-managed community forest. Photo: The Wilderness Society.

This week, Washington State celebrated the formation of the first state-managed community forest, the Teanaway Community Forest.

The Teanaway Community Forest is a 50,272-acre property situated at the headwaters of the Yakima Basin watershed (map).

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is collaboratively managing the Teanaway Community Forest with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and with significant public input from a community-based advisory committee.

The Teanaway acquisition is the largest single land transaction by Washington State in 45 years and reflects more than a decade of collaboration involving many organizations and individuals. The property will become Washington’s first Community Forest under the terms of legislation enacted in 2011, a model designed to empower communities to partner with DNR to purchase forests that support local economies and public recreation.

“The Teanaway Community Forest is one of the most beloved landscapes in Washington, and it will be cared for and managed for years to come to reflect the values and priorities of the community that has worked so hard to protect it,” said Peter Goldmark, Commissioner of Public Lands. “That’s the beauty of the Community Forest Trust model: it allows local communities to help protect the forests they love.”

Still have questions? Check out the Teanaway Community Forest Q & A or email them to

>>Sign up to receive the Teanaway Community Forest e-newsletter
>>View a media release about the purchase
>>Check out photos

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