Archive for the ‘State Trust Land’ Category

Sorry, no Christmas tree cutting on state trust lands, but we know where you can find a tree (cheap)

November 28, 2014
Webster Nursery

Sorry, no Christmas trees here. About 8 million of the seedlings—like these Douglas fir—raised last year at DNR’s Webster Forest Nursery (shown here) were used to replant state trust lands after timber harvests. Another 2 million were purchased by private landowners for replanting after harvests. Photo: DNR.

We know that for many of you, going out into the woods to cut your own Christmas tree is a grand tradition. And while there are many lovely trees in state trust forests, DNR does not allow them to be cut down for Christmas trees. We don’t want to be Scrooges, but the trust forests in DNR’s care are intended for sustainably managed habitat, clean water, and revenue to the beneficiaries of state trusts, such as public schools, state universities, and public services, such as libraries and emergency medical services, in many counties.

When we hold timber auctions, we seek the highest return to fund these many trust beneficiaries, which means waiting until the trees reach maturity.

Fortunately, there are many places on federal lands where you can legally cut your own Christmas tree for a small fee. Contact your local US Forest Service Office, or support your local private tree farm:

National Forests

Private tree farms

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8 reasons DNR is thankful for volunteers

November 27, 2014
volunteers building trails

Volunteers help keep DNR-managed recreation sites clean, safe, and healthy. Photo: DNR.

Each year, volunteers of all ages put in thousands of hours helping DNR.

Their dedicated efforts and skills help us maintain and improve recreational sites, trails, natural areas, and other outdoor volunteer opportunities on the state trust lands we manage.

Some volunteers devote time every month; others pitch in a few hours here and there. Either way, we’re happy to get the help.

At DNR, we’re thankful to all of those who:

  1. Spent countless hours battling blackberries and scotch broom to keep these invasive plants from overtaking trails and natural areas.
  2. Volunteered for the Forest Watch Program.
  3. Provided information and nature interpretation to school children and other forest visitors.
  4. Trekked out in the field to collect data or monitor plant species — providing valuable information to staff scientists.
  5. Helped us maintain and build recreational trails.
  6. Organized volunteer work parties.
  7. Helped DNR keep campgrounds open to the public by becoming a volunteer camp host.
  8. …. and the many, many other activities that rely on the efforts of volunteers.

Rain or shine, DNR’s volunteers are always happy to show up and lend a hand. Photo by: DNR

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

Got some time this winter? Plan to do some good for the DNR-managed lands you love! Check the DNR Volunteer Calendar to find opportunities to give back.

State trust lands: 125 years of building public schools for you

November 18, 2014
Ellensburg High School

Opened in 2005, the new Ellensburg High School was built partly with funds produced from state trust lands.

Last Tuesday, November 11, was the 125th anniversary of Washington statehood. Part of the legacy of gaining recognition as a state in 1889 is the three million acres of trust lands that the federal government transferred to Washington state. It’s a gift that continues to give back to Washington residents every day.

Providing gifts of land to support institutions dates to the Middle Ages in Europe. In the United States, as far back as 1785, Section 16 of each township was reserved as a “school section” to provide funding and a central location for schools, so no child would have to travel too far to school. (In the U.S. Public Land Survey System, survey townships are one-mile square; 36 sections equal one township.)

As new states joined the union, Congress provided land grants to each. The federal Enabling Act of 1889 granted Washington state lands in Section 16 and 36 of most townships. (more…)

National Cat Day — We’ve got cats but don’t even think of petting one

October 29, 2014
male Canada lynx

Blends right in, doesn’t he? This male Canada lynx is one of about 50 that remain in Washington state. Photo: DNR

It’s National Cat Day! We’ve got lots of cats but don’t even think about petting one. DNR has an all-outdoor population of felines living on the millions of acres of state trust lands we manage… and none of them are ‘fixed!’ Many of these felines in our care are cougars and bobcats, but one cat in particular—the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis)–is worthy of special attention because it is the rarest of the three cat species native to Washington state. Perhaps fewer than 50 Canada lynx remain in Washington.

With their large feet and long legs, lynx are well designed for hunting in their native ranges: the mountains of north-central and northeastern Washington. Unfortunately, the continuity of this forest landscape has become fragmented over the decades, which has contributed to declines in the numbers of snowshoe hares–a primary food source for the lynx. Since 1996, we’ve been following our Lynx Habitat Management Plan—one of the most comprehensive conservation plans for lynx in the United States. We use this plan to guide forest activities in an effort to create and preserve high-quality lynx habitat.

To better understand of how lynx use certain habitats throughout the year, and how past and future land management has affected them, DNR works with other agencies, including the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, each winter to track and capture the lynx, put radio collars on them (for GPS tracking) and examine and chart their health.

Read more about Washington native wildcats and get some important safety tips about the dos and don’ts of living in cougar country

Cultural heritage is all around us in the forest

September 15, 2014
Cedar tree used for bark harvest

Cedar tree used by Native Americans for a bark harvest. Note the scarring at the top of the photo. Photo: DNR

Woodlands provide a home for plants and animals, but they’re also home to the remains of past uses. Whether it’s an old well, homestead, railroad or a Tribal site, these cultural and historical resources on the land tell the story of our past – a tangible link to the people and events that shaped our shared history, communities and ourselves.

Most small landowners are willing to identify and protect cultural resources, but may not know how to go about doing so. They may also lack the financial resources to develop an organized and consistent approach to identifying and protecting the sites.

Both DNR’s stewardship foresters and Washington State University (WSU) Extension foresters can help private woodland owners develop forest stewardship plans that include steps to protect these resources. Addressing these resources in a stewardship plan also helps ensure that the plan meets state and federal laws that protect our cultural and historic resources. To find out more, go to the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation or contact the office by phone at (360) 586-3065. For more information on the state’s Forest Practices Rules and to find out which Tribes are in your area, contact your closest DNR Region Office.

Two helpful resources about protecting cultural resources in the forest come from the 2012 Cultural Resources Workshop sponsored by the Quinault Indian Nation and Washington Forest Protection Association, and from the American Tree Farm Systems webinar Archeology in Your Woods.

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Mountain bikers rejoice: New trail opens tomorrow in east Tiger Mountain State Forest (with more to come!)

August 29, 2014

Off-the-Grid Trail in Tiger Mountain State Forest.

Mountain biker enjoying the new Off-the-Grid Trail in Tiger Mountain State Forest. Photo: Robin Fay.

DNR opens a new trail for mountain biking tomorrow (Saturday, August 30) in Tiger Mountain State Forest near North Bend. The area, located just off of I-90, east of Seattle, is open to visitors from dawn to dusk.

The addition of the new 2.5-mile-long Off-the-Grid Trail brings the forest’s mountain bike trail system to approximately 15 miles, making this area even more attractive to enthusiasts of the sport.

DNR carefully designed the new trail, with input from the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, to avoid erosion, habitat damage, and other negative impacts to the environment. Built by DNR with a lot of help from Puget SoundCorps crews and volunteers, the Off-the-Grid Trail features rock gardens, berms, rollers, and 120 feet of elevated boardwalk. If you aren’t familiar with those mountain bike terms, come out and see for yourself (but bring your helmet), and get Off-the-Grid.

Download a map of the new Off-the-Grid Trail.

More trails to come
Even better news for mountain bikers in the Northwest is that DNR will soon add more mountain biking trails in Tiger Mountain State Forest thanks to funding from Washington state’s Nonhighway and Off-Road Vehicle Activities Program. Construction, with help from Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, has just started on a new descent trail for advanced riders. Work begins this fall on a climbing trail that will allow bikers to reach other trails without the need to use the forest’s road system.

Discover Pass Discover Pass logo
Remember to grab a Discover Pass to keep your recreation opportunities on DNR-managed land available season after season.

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DNR to reopen Naneum State Forest this Friday

August 26, 2014

Naneum RidgeThe Naneum Ridge State Forest is scheduled to reopen at 8 a.m. this Friday. The western half of the state forest has been closed since August 4 due to the Snag Canyon Fire, north of Ellensburg. In recent days, fire suppression efforts in the area have reduced the risks to firefighter and public safety.

Although the forest will reopen, a ban on campfires remains in effect. If you are planning to set up a back country camp, plan on using any of the following permitted devices:

  • Liquid gas stoves and propane stoves that do not use solid briquettes.
  • Camp stoves and lanterns with attached pressurized gas canisters.
  • Solid fuel and citronella candles in metal or glass containers.
  • Propane gas camp stoves.

When hunting in the forest, please use caution. There may still be firefighters in the area.

Before you head out, check out the Forest Road Survival Guide for helpful tips on staying safe on forest roads.

For daily updates on burn restrictions, call 1-800-323-BURN 24 hours a day or visit DNR’s Fire Danger and Outdoor Burning webpage to view fire conditions and burning restrictions for each county in Washington state.


Small land transfer brings needed funds for Skamania County public services

June 30, 2014
Southwestern Washington State

Circled in red are two parcels (totally 42.5 acres) of forestland whose transfer into conservation status will provide $327,000 to Skamania County. Colored sections indicate other state trust lands managed by DNR. CLICK on PHOTO to see larger image.

How can changing a few words on the deed for a couple of small parcels of remote forestland provide welcomed relief to a struggling rural county? Thanks to a legislatively funded program, an additional $327,000 will be available for public services in Skamania County. The land in question is two parcels of forestland — 42.5 acres in all — that DNR manages for revenue to support public services in Skamania County. However, with that state-owned parcel encumbered by federal endangered species restrictions, it was unlikely that timber or other forest products would ever be harvested there.

A solution  (more…)

Forestlands pressured by residential development; Housing density near Washington State forests grew faster than in Oregon

April 18, 2014

The number of structures on private lands bordering public forests in Washington and Oregon has more than doubled since the 1970s. The greatest increases in density were on the fringes of public forests in Pierce, King, Snohomish, and Clark counties in Washington, and Deschutes County in Oregon. That growth brings higher risks of wildfire and more negative impacts on native fish and wildlife habitat.

Aerial photographs from 1995 (upper photo) and 2006 document the increased number of private structures -- most residential--on private lands near this unidentified section of National Forest

Aerial photographs from 1995 (upper photo) and 2006 document the increased number of private structures — most residential–on private lands near this unidentified section of National Forest. Photo: National Agriculture Imagery Program.

Using aerial photography to inventory structures and compare the pace of development next to public forests, the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station found that the development growth rate on private lands bordering Washington DNR-managed state trust lands was twice that seen on private lands next to state forests in Oregon. The study’s authors speculate that some of the disparity is because Oregon enacted its Land Conservation Act in 1973 while the Washington State Growth Management Act did not become law until 1990 — the study covered 1974 to 2005. All the same, more and more private structures are being built on private lands bordering public forests in both states.

The expansion of development at the edges of public lands raises numerous management issues for forest managers, including:

  • Introduction of invasive plants;
  • Increases in unmanaged recreation;
  • Negative impacts on native fish and wildlife; and
  • More use of roads, which can lead to a rise in human-caused wildfire starts.

While fewer new structures were built next to U.S. Forest Service lands in Washington during the 30-year period studied, it was because DNR-managed lands and commercial forestlands tended to buffer federal lands from activities on private lands. Read the study.

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Cherry orchards reap sweet rewards

February 16, 2014

Cherries photo from the Pacific Northwest extension publication.

Did you know that February was declared National Cherry Month, even though these tasty fruits don’t ripen until June and July in Washington State? Monday, February 17, is President’s Day, and we tip our hats to our great national leaders… even the one that is said to have chopped down a cherry tree with his trusty hatchet.

But George Washington wouldn’t have chopped down a cherry tree on state trust lands in eastern Washington. He would have loved that these cherries help build our state’s public schools and help us educate future leaders.

So just how ‘sweet’ are cherries on trust lands?
In 2013, Washington DNR leased more than 891 acres of state trust lands to private landowners for growing cherry trees. And those sweet cherry trees earned $365,000 in revenue for schools with the per-acre average of $410. That’s sweet! Cherries are a small but significant part of the irrigated agriculture program, which includes wine grapes, other fruit trees and row crops. DNR’s agriculture and grazing programs brought in $20.5 million last year.

The right cherry for the right place
Although one of the top varieties of cherries on state trust land is the ever popular Bing, there also were varieties specially bred at the Washington State University research center for areas of eastern Washington—with names such as Chelan, Benton, and the long-popular Rainier.

Cherries on state trust lands ripen from mid-June to the end of July.

  • Bing (June 30-July 5)
  • Rainier (July 5-10)
  • Benton (July 5-10)
  • Chelan (June 15-20)
  • Lapins (July 10-15)
  • Van (July 5-10)
  • Sweetheart (July 20-30)

It’s only a couple of months until Washington’s sweet cherry season will be here.

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