Archive for the ‘State Trust Land’ Category

The noble fir: A tree whose seeds are made to wander

July 13, 2015
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A small noble fir seedling in the middle of the pumice plain on the northeast section of Mount Saint Helens. The nearest mature noble fir to this tree is more than 5 kilometers (just over 3 miles) away. Photo: DNR

Noble fir is a popular ornamental tree throughout the Pacific Northwest and many consider it the premiere holiday tree. The firs you might see at Christmas tree lots typically come from tree farms, but this tree will grow quite large naturally throughout the southern Cascade Mountains of western Washington.

While the noble doesn’t produce a large number of cones, the seeds within those cones are large — large enough to provide young sprout with nutrients for up to a year while its roots try to find a favorable spot to grow. As a result, noble firs can sprout and grow well in areas with deep winter snowpacks that would crush or smother the smaller seedlings of other species such as Douglas fir.

You wouldn’t expect such large seeds to spread very far from their origin tree, but the windy, icy conditions at high-elevations can allow noble fir seeds to slip, slide and blow around great distances — sometimes a few miles as shown in our photo of a seedling that took root more than three miles from the nearest mature noble fir.

Interesting facts like this and more can be found in DNR’s guides for identifying old trees and forests in Washington: Identifying Mature and Old Forests in Western Washington and Identifying Old Trees and Forests in Eastern Washington, both written by Robert Van Pelt, PhD. Both guidebooks are free to download.

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DNR tips its hat to farmers on National Ag Day

March 18, 2015

PotatoesandOrchard_bohnet article

This Friday marks the first day of spring! Though it was a mild one, winter is officially at an end and new life will soon begin blossoming across the state in vivid color. And what better way to celebrate than with National Agriculture Day, sponsored by the Agriculture Council of America? It’s a day to celebrate the vibrant-hued fruits of our labor.

In Washington state, apples, cherries, wheat, and other agricultural products bring in millions of dollars each year. Contributing to the bounty are DNR-managed agriculture and grazing land trusts.

Apple Bin5In 1889, Congress delegated trust lands to Washington, many of them intended to support the state’s public educational institutions. Today, about 85 percent of the revenue from state trust lands in agriculture and grazing leases helps fund the construction of schools statewide. DNR works with the farmers and ranchers who lease trust lands to assure that the lands remain ecologically sustainable and productive, while protecting public resources such as clean water, fish, and wildlife.

DNR manages more than one million acres of trust lands that are leased or permitted for agriculture and grazing lands. They include:

  • 500,000 acres – Grazing leases
  • 322,000 acres – Grazing on forested lands (range permits)
  • 110,000 acres – Dryland grain crops
  • 32,000 acres – Irrigated row crops
  • 14,000 acres – Orchards and vineyards

In 2014, agriculture leasing and grazing lands managed by DNR produced roughly $23.5 million in revenue with a significant portion of that revenue used in support of public school construction. The revenue generated from agriculture and grazing lands in 2014 saw a 9.7 percent increase from 2013. The revenue production was divided as follows:

  • $6.4 million – Dryland grain crops
  • $16.1 million – Irrigated row crops
  • $904,858 – Grazing and other production

To learn more about agriculture on DNR-managed lands including information on leases and permits, visit DNR’s Leasing for Agriculture page.

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Communication site leases support schools and counties

February 19, 2015
Grass Mountain communication site

A privately contracted technician repairs microwave dishes on a DNR-leased communication tower on 4,382-foot-high Grass Mountain in King County. PHOTO: Steve Diamond/NW Tower Eng Inc.

Communication site leases were a small-but-visible contributor to the $265 million in leasing and product sales revenues that DNR produced from state trust and aquatic lands last year. Our Communication Site program generated more than $4.28 million from some 100 wireless telecommunication sites in fiscal year 2014. State trust lands provide many ideal locations for communications towers—hilltops and mountaintops throughout many parts of Washington state–that private firms and other agencies lease to carry their radio, television, microwave, cellular and other wireless signals to urban and rural communities. State trust land beneficiaries receiving communication site revenues last year included K-12 public school construction ($1.9 million) and public services in several counties ($1.4 million).

See a list of DNR-managed communication sites by county.

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Is it cherry season yet?

February 16, 2015

No, these little green things aren’t grapes. They are actually maturing Chelan cherries, a dark-sweet cherry variety that will eventually turn dark red once they are fully ripe.

February brings with it a certain aroma. A sweet, pink-tinged scent that glides through the streets, floating    around heads and pulling back, a tickle at the edge of our nostrils. This strange and exhilarating phenomenon is the phantom manifestation of the promise for cherries. That’s right, February is National Cherry Month! Despite Valentine’s Day stealing the weekend spotlight, pink and red foiled chocolate hearts have some competition for favored treat this season against the sweet, succulent, slowly ripening Washington cherries.

Many farmers grow and harvest cherry orchards on DNR–managed lands throughout the state. Currently, DNR has 17 leases with cherry orchards in various counties throughout Washington spanning across 1,014 acres of state trust lands. These orchards produce about 7,228 tons of harvested cherries each year.

Even though National Cherry Month is celebrated in February, cherries aren’t actually harvested on state trust land orchards until June or July. Farmers harvest two types of cherries in summer: tart or sour cherries, and sweet cherries. Washington state is one of the largest producers of sweet cherries in the nation.

Washington sweet cherry varieties
Dark-sweet cherries – These cherries are usually dark red, mahogany, or near black in color outside, and purple or deep red inside. These round or heart shaped berries are firm and slightly crunchy, releasing plenty of juice when bitten into or crushed. Dark-sweet cherries can be eaten fresh, frozen, baked in desserts, or mixed in salads. Popular varieties are: Brooks, Chelan, Garnet, Sequoia, Bing, Lapins, Skeena, Sweetheart, and Staccato cherries

Rainier cherries – The colorful kid sister of dark-sweet cherries, Rainier cherries are a vibrant yellow-orange color with hints of red blush and occasional light brown “sugar spots” on the skin. These cherries are larger than dark-sweet cherries and have a near translucent interior. Rainier cherries are best when eaten fresh or used as garnish for salads and drinks.

Royal Anne cherries – Similar to Rainier cherries, Royal Anne, or Queen Anne cherries are bright yellow and red in appearance. With a light and honeyed flavor, they can be eaten fresh much like Rainier cherries. Royal Anne cherries, however, are widely known for their use in making maraschino cherries. They are also great for canning and baking desserts.

There is no question that cherry orchards on state trust lands produce some of the most delectable cherries in the country, and these cherries generate approximately $435,845 in revenue and $96,583 in cash rents. Learn more about farming state trust lands. Sign up for DNR’s The Dirt e-newsletter here.

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$265 million earned for public schools and other trust land beneficiaries

January 27, 2015
DNR 2014 Annual Report

DNR released its 2014 Annual Report, which describes the department’s activities, land management and fiscal results on behalf of state trust beneficiaries.

If you look at what DNR generated from timber harvests, product sales, leases and other activities on state trust lands during Fiscal Year 2014, you’ll find that we earned a tidy $265 million for beneficiaries, such as k-12 public schools. A description of these earnings and much more is in the department’s 2014 Annual Report, released Monday morning.

The amount includes $120 million from trust lands dedicated to funding construction at public schools statewide and $75 million generated from lands that DNR manages for the benefit of 21 ‘timber’ counties. Other trust land beneficiaries receiving funds from DNR’s management of 5.6 million acres of trust and aquatic lands last fiscal year included the University of Washington, Washington State University and other state universities.

Take a look at the DNR 2014 Annual Report.

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Teanaway Community Forest – A Year in Review

January 3, 2015

A snowy river in the Teanaway Community Forest

Just over a year ago the Washington departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) began an exciting endeavor to jointly manage the state’s first community forest. Since then, we believe we’ve made good progress toward preserving the more than 50,200 acres located in the Teanaway Valley near Cle Elum.

In February, our agencies selected a diverse and committed group of advisory committee members to provide input on a management plan for the Teanaway Community Forest. The 20-member group includes representatives from the Yakama Nation, local community, conservation organizations, and several recreation groups.

The Teanaway Community Forest Advisory Committee met 10 times in 2014, devising objectives and strategies for watershed protection, fish and wildlife habitat, forestry and grazing. Committee members also have discussed recreation and community involvement in the forest.

The public continues to engage around this beautiful landscape. DNR and WDFW, with help from the committee, held well-attended public open houses in June and December regarding future management of the forest. In addition, we have reviewed the more than 1,400 public comments provided online.

In the meantime, the agencies and volunteers have completed several efforts on behalf of the Teanaway Community Forest, including:

  • Volunteers helped prepare the forest’s campgrounds for summer recreation by removing damaged picnic tables, cleaning out fire rings and picking up litter. In the fall, volunteers returned to remove litter and perform maintenance to prepare the campgrounds for winter. Overall, volunteers logged 268 hours of time in the community forest in 2014.
  • Crews repaired 11 miles of road in the forest, including a nearly 5-mile stretch of dirt road at the end of the Middle Teanaway Road, improving driving access to Indian Creek campground and three U.S. Forest Service trails. Work crews also replaced a culvert that was restricting the movement of fish in a tributary of Jungle Creek.
  • New informational kiosks were installed at three locations and hazardous trees were removed at campgrounds.

The DNR and WDFW would like to thank the members of the advisory committee and volunteers for their hard work and continued commitment to the Teanaway Community Forest throughout 2014. And, as we move into 2015 and management plan completion, we encourage you to become, or stay, involved via our e-newsletter or online resources!

Oh the weather outside is getting frightful – and to snow-lovers that’s so delightful!

January 2, 2015

With skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling just around the snowbank, now’s the time to start planning and preparing. Use our graphic (below) for tips to help you enjoy your favorite winter adventure on DNR-managed lands while preserving both Washington’s landscapes and yourself!

Safe and sustainable winter recreation

Follow these steps for safe and fun winter recreation on DNR-managed land.

One important winter tip is to plan in advance to keep from getting stymied by winter closures. Closures serve to protect trails and roads for summertime fun and/or to give wildlife a chance to eat without the presence of people stressing them out.

Darland Mountain

Snow-plastered white bark pines at Darland Mountain in Ahtanum State Forest. Photo: Donn Rasmusson/DNR

 

Check online or contact your region’s DNR office for closure info. (Hint: If you call, do so ahead of the weekend as we’re closed Saturdays and Sundays. And, use the opportunity to ask region staff for their recommended areas too.)

 

 

Northwest Region (Bellingham, Everett, Sedro Woolley) 360-856-3500

South Puget Sound Region (Olympia, Enumclaw, Seattle) 360-825-1631

Olympic Region (Olympic Peninsula, Forks, Ocean Shores) 360-374-2800

Pacific Cascade Region (Long Beach, Vancouver, Castle Rock) 360-577-2025

Southeast Region (Ellensburg, North Bend, Yakima) 509-925-8510

Northeast Region (Okanogan, Colville, Methow) 509-684-7474

 

DNR sustainably manages 3 million acres of state trust lands to earn revenue for trust beneficiaries (i.e. money for schools, hospitals, emergency services, and lots of other services Washingtonians need), provide wildlife habitat and help you access winter (and summer) outdoor adventures.

 

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Our “pick-six” blogs from 2014

January 1, 2015

Happy New YearHappy New Year! Here, in no particular order, are six blog posts from Ear to the Ground during 2014 that drew many views, social media mentions, shares and comments by you and our other readers. Enjoy!

‘Red Lizard’s Lair’ recovered by Quileute Tribe; authenticated by DNR

With nearly all of its pre-European-contact artifacts destroyed in an 1889 fire, Quileute tribal officials and elders were pleased with the discovery this year of an ancient petroglyph depicting an important Quileute legend.

Students’ innovation could change how we respond to fighting wildfires

Sometimes the best ideas come from unexpected places. Say, for example, a handful of Olympia-area middle school students whose science and technology contest entries might someday help make wildland firefighting safer for helicopter pilots.

Region’s landmark mountain also is nation’s most dangerous volcano

Last May – Volcano Awareness Month – we portrayed each of our state’s five active volcanoes, including Mount Rainier, which is among the top ten most-dangerous volcanoes in the world.

Forces of Columbia River displayed on new map poster

A new poster-quality map issued by Washington and Oregon state geologists offers a look at the power of natural systems exposed by the path of the Columbia River.

Celebrate National Dog Day with DNR recreation opportunities

A national celebration urging responsible dog ownership is our ticket to promote responsible use of the hundreds of miles of trails open to hikers (and their pets) on state trust lands.

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

The all-outdoor population of felines on DNR-managed trust lands includes cougars, bobcats, and the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) –- the rarest of the three cat species native to Washington state.

What do Washington state, the Wall Street Journal and Nintendo have in common?

December 29, 2014
Vincent School

Vincent School, in the Snoqualmie Valley near Carnation, Washington, was built by residents in 1905 and is typical of schools of the day, many of which were constructed with proceeds from state trust lands.

Washington state celebrated its 125th anniversary this year and, as we get ready to recycle our 2014 wall calendars, it’s a good time to reflect on the legacy that state trust lands have brought to our state. Among the benefits of being admitted to the Union back in 1889 was the federal government’s transfer of three million acres of trust land to the new state. That gift continues to give back to Washington residents. In fiscal year 2014 (which ended June 30, 2014), DNR’s management of state trust lands produced $120 million for public school construction and $75 million for county services.

Washington state, of course, was not the only entity that began in 1889 and remains a viable going concern. The year 1889 also saw the founding of Carhartt, Lee (jeans), the Wall Street Journal and Nintendo (originally a playing card company). Just as those companies brought a good return to their shareholders over time, we want Washington state trust lands to continue producing clean water, viable natural habitat and sustainable revenue for our state and you.

What are the origins of state trust land funding for schools and other institutions? Read more here

How does DNR produce revenue for schools from state trust lands? Learn about it here.

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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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