Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Black trees, green trees, ash pits and other hazards after a wildfire

September 25, 2015
kettle fire

A void is left under this tree after its roots partially burned away in the Kettle Fire in northeast Washington state this summer.

Wildfires in forested areas can leave behind a lot more than ashes and burnt limbs. Trees that are still standing, as well as the remains of those consumed by flames, can pose dangers to workers, hikers, hunters, trail riders and others for months if not years after a wildfire.

Ash pits: Ash pits are created by when trees and stumps and their root systems are burned away. Insulated by layers of ash and debris, embers remaining inside these pits can stay hot enough to burn flesh for weeks. Falling into an ash pit or stepping into one can cause serious burns, so warn your family and neighbors to keep clear of these pits and make sure that children and pets are kept away, too.

Black trees: With so many thousands of acres of forestland in Washington state burned this summer, there will be an abundance of fire-killed trees to watch out for on the landscape. The US Forest Service’s Forest Health Protection program warns that conifer trees, especially firs, that died in a wildfire are especially susceptible to toppling over about three to five years after the fire. Keep clear of these snags, and be especially alert whenever the wind blows or the snow falls.

Green trees: Monitoring by the US Forest Service reveals that surviving trees — those with green crowns but visible fire damage — may start to fail (fall or drop large limbs, that is) in as little as three years after a fire. If the bark on the trunk has been burned off or scorched by very high temperatures completely around the circumference, the tree is unlikely to survive. The failure rate of green trees with fire damage increases dramatically by the fourth year after a fire as additional damage from opportunistic wood-dwelling insects takes it toll.

If any of these hazards are present, approach a landscape cautiously and consider an alternate route.

If these hazards exist on your property, seek advice from a consulting forester or a certified arborist. Washington State University Extension’s wildfire website lists many resources for farm and woodland owners. The University of Idaho Extension publication “After the Burn” digs deep into post-wildfire land care, from damage assessment to salvage logging to replanting ground cover and new trees.

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Get outdoors and help celebrate National Public Lands Day with DNR

September 24, 2015
Volunteers remove weeds from Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve on National Public Lands Day in 2009. Photo/ DNR.

Volunteers remove weeds from Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve on National Public Lands Day in 2009. Photo/ DNR.

Want to give back on National Public Lands Day? This Saturday, Sept. 26 we’re celebrating your public lands with two volunteer work parties.

Jones Creek Staging Area Work Party, near Vancouver
8:30 to 3 p.m.
Join DNR staff and partners from Jones Creek Trail Riders to harden trail services, repair water bars, haul gravel, and brush trails.
Get directions.

Mima Mounds Work Party, near Olympia 
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Join DNR staff and partners from the Center for Natural Lands Management for broom pulling at the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve.
Get directions.

These events are also eligible for a voucher toward a complimentary Discover Pass.

A historic day 
National Public Lands Day first started in 1994 with 700 volunteers across the country. Now, more than 175,000 volunteers turn out each year to help care for public lands nationwide. For more information about National Public Lands Day, visit their website.

Volunteers and DNR: An enduring partnership 
Volunteers are an integral part of keeping our recreation areas safe and functional and this year is no different. In 2014 DNR’s dedicated volunteers donated more than 75,000 hours, making it the most productive year for our volunteers ever.

Join the effort by visiting our website at From work parties around the state, campground host openings, and opportunities to protect our lands through our Forest Watch volunteer program, we’ve got something sure to fit your skill set.

Get upcoming volunteer events sent straight to your inbox by subscribing to our free monthly recreation e-newsletter. Click here for September’s issue.


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What’s in a name? The McCauslands would tell you, quite a bit

September 23, 2015

On its surface, a name does no more than allow for shared understanding of a noun, a person, or a place. Yet, names have ability to do so much more.

Mount McCausland's naming dedication in 1989.

Mount McCausland’s naming dedication in 1989. Photo/ McCausland

A place’s name can inspire. It can inform. It can poke fun. It can share history. Or, it can honor a memory. In the end, meaningfully named places help create a unique sense of place and character, deepening our connections to the land.

Case-in-point: Mount McCausland, just north of Steven’s Pass. In 1989, the Board of Natural Resources, which oversees transactions of and many policies for DNR-managed lands, performed its role as the arbiter of official geographic names, and designated a previously unnamed peak, elevation 5,747 feet, to honor the memory of Norm McCausland. McCausland spent his U.S. Forest Service career, 1925-69, working in the area. It was an era that allowed him to serve in fire lookouts, fight forest fires, stock lakes, check on miners, enforce sheep grazing permits, and construct trails including portions of the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs along the mountain’s wild blueberry-studded flank.

Hikes on Lake Valhalla

McCausland family members ascent Mount McCausland in 2015 with Lake Valhalla in the background. Photo/ McCausland

Those who make it to the peak’s registry learn a bit about McCausland and the contributions that his generation made to Washington’s wild areas. Last weekend, a troupe of McCauslands made a not-uncommon 3.5-mile trek to the top.

Other hikers on the trail who had time to visit with McCausland’s relations heard first-hand tales about the mountain’s namesake, enriching their own experience.

Washington’s landscapes are full of interesting places accompanied by names that compel you to learn more. Even now, DNR’s Committee on Geographic Names is seeking public input on three proposals from the public that will be heard next month. How do Copper Creek, Vancouver Notch, and Wildcat Pond sound to you? Whether for, or against, (even the naming of Mount McCausland didn’t go unopposed) people have until Oct. 13, 2015, to submit comments to the committee.

signing Mount McCausland's registry

Mike McCausland (grandson of Norm McCausland, right) and Carrie McCausland (DNR’s own Deputy Communications Director, left) sign the mountain’s registry. Photo/ McCausland

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Controlled burn at Mima Mounds planned for week of September 21

September 18, 2015
Mima Mounds NAP

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

During the week of September 21, 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 21. The 11-acre controlled burn this past week was successful.

For any prescribed burns at Mima Mounds NAP, the site will remain open, but we will close the south loop trail to keep the public at a safe distance. We will have DNR natural areas staff stationed at the trail closure point.

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?
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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Camp among Teanaway ghosts in Casland

September 13, 2015

Teanaway Campground near Cle Elum, Washington. Photo/DNR

Head to the 64-site Teanaway Campground near Cle Elum these days and you’ll find a grass plain dotted by shady conifer trees. Amenities include all of two toilets, a dirt road, and new picnic tables. Yet, if you were to find yourself back in time nearly a hundred years ago, this would have been the bustling 50-acre company logging town of Casland.

In Casland, you would have had access to a general store, blacksmith, tack shop, bank, hospital, school, and a community/dance hall. If married, you may have lived in a house, and if single, you would have headed to a bunkhouse each night. Eventually, the town was served by both plumbing and electricity.

To get to Casland, you would have probably arrived by narrow-gauge railroad – initially it was the only way to get there. The 1914 railroad and its Cascade Lumber Company builder gave rise to both the semi-permanent town and its name – a derivative of “Cascade Land”. The trains were served by stations, a locomotive machine shop, roundhouse, and switching yard. Engines and their cars would have been chugging up and down the Teanaway’s valleys transporting lumber, supplies, and people.

Casland map

Map of Casland, Washington.

Casland thrived from 1917 through the 30s, declining over the next two decades. As late as 1972 buildings still stood in the area next to what had already become a popular spot for camping.

Today, not much evidence of Casland exists, though lucky campers may stumble upon an old bottle or piece of machinery. If you do, we ask you to leave such items where they were found. Though, before doing so, consider sending a photo of your find, with its GPS coordinates, to Maurice Major at Major is the DNR cultural resource archeologist currently working to record this location as archeological site. Recently, DNR and WDFW recreation staff worked closely with Major to locate campsites away from culturally sensitive areas so that future generations may also experience the thrill of uncovering our State’s rich cultural history.


Casland, Washington.

And, some evening if you find yourself camping here and sitting on the banks of the Teanaway River, where the middle and west forks come together, keep an ear out. Maybe you’ll catch a train whistle or the music and laughter from a yester-year community hall dance. It is, after all, a captivating landscape.

Prater, Y. (1972, December 1) Old logging days remembered. Ellensburg Daily Record, pp 5. Retrieved from:,3366299&hl=en

Historic photo/map source:

Recovered maritime gear up for auction to recover derelict vessel costs

August 11, 2015
Items recovered from derelict vessels like this helms wheel can be bid on through the state's surplus auction site.

Items recovered from derelict vessels like this helms wheel can be bid on through the state’s surplus auction site.

Are you in the market for an old helm steering wheel or antique wheel house telegraph?

DNR is the agency chiefly responsible for removing and destroying vessels found derelict or abandoned in Washington’s waterways. Most often, the derelict or abandoned vessels we recover are destroyed. But prior to destruction, our crews are many times able to recover equipment from inside the boats that are still shipshape and Bristol fashion.

As part of our efforts to recover the considerable costs of removing and destroying derelict vessels, DNR sells those usable parts through the Department of Enterprise Services Public Surplus auction site.

An antique wheelhouse telegraph is one of the many items recovered from derelict vessels you can find on auction.

An antique wheelhouse telegraph is one of the many items recovered from derelict vessels you can find on auction.

Until Thursday evening, August 13, you can bid on items like a Helm Steering Wheel and several wheel house telegraphs.

“This helps the state receive some additional revenue while keeping some of these historic pieces out of the landfill,” said Derelict Vessel Program Manager Melissa Ferris.

More items are added as they are recovered.

Removing environmental hazards

Abandoned or derelict water craft cause any number of problems on our waterways, and it’s not just that they are unsightly. A sinking or derelict boat can pose environmental hazards.

Sometimes, abandoned craft become illegal dumping grounds for trash, and even waste oil and other nasty stuff we want to keep out of the water. Boats can pose dangers to the environment if their owners neglect them. For example, boats with leaky engines will emit polluted water into waterways when their bilge pumps kick in. Others just fill up with rainwater and sink.

Since DNR instituted the derelict vessel program in 2002, more than 580 abandoned or neglected vessels have been removed from Washington’s waterways.

A proactive program

In 2014, DNR also instituted a new program to help owners of boats in disrepair voluntarily dispose of their boats before they become problems in the water.

The Vessel Turn-In Program allows owners of vessels less than 45 feet long to get rid of their boats, if they cannot afford to dispose of it themselves.

DNR works with boatyards and contractors throughout the state to destroy boats taken in through the program.

Owners do not receive payments for their boats, but disposal is free for those who qualify.

You can see a list of vessels currently pending custody action here.

Geographic names committee seeks your input

August 10, 2015

Wildcat Pond, named by the students at McCleary School, is up for consideration by the state’s Committee on Geographic Names. Photo: DNR.

Should a previously unnamed pond near the town of McCleary be officially called Wildcat Pond in honor of a nearby elementary school’s mascot? How about designating a unnamed waterway in Jefferson County as Cooper Creek to honor early homesteaders in the area?

Small changes, but all part of the job for the volunteers on the Washington State Committee on Geographic Names. The committee, which was created by the state legislature, is seeking input on three proposals before its October 23 meeting in Olympia. You can review the proposals — all submitted by Washington residents — and make your own comments on the DNR website.

The formal geographic naming process we use today was created in 1890 by presidential order because surveyors, map makers, and scientists needed uniform, non-conflicting geographic nomenclature. In this age of geographic information systems and the Internet, standard geographic names are more important than ever.

Changes approved by the committee would advance to the Board of Natural Resources for a final determination. Then, if approved, the proposal would go before the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for a decision.

(NOTE: The McCleary City Council approved the Wildcat Pond name in 2014)

Crawl around with the critters that come out at low tide at Sunday festival on Vashon Island

July 31, 2015
Photo of people on the beach near Pt. Robinson at the 2012 Vashon-Maury Island Low Tide Celebration

Visitors enjoy a sunny day at the 2012 Vashon-Maury Island Low Tide Celebration.
Photo: Michael Grilliot

As the caretaker for state-owned intertidal lands, DNR spends every day looking at its critters and vegetation. For the last decade, though, we have also helped celebrate the things that feed and breathe when tides recede with the community of Vashon-Maury Island.

That time comes again this Sunday, Aug. 2, when the Vashon-Maury Island Low Tide Celebration takes over Point Robinson Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) designated Maury Island as an Aquatic Reserve in 2000. The site is known for its significant habitat diversity, including eelgrass beds, Pacific herring spawning habitat, Chinook salmon and bull trout migratory corridors. There are few other places within this region that compare to Maury Island.

Along with the celebration of the tide, the day’s activities will feature a party to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Point Robinson Lighthouse and the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Coast Guard, which still owns the lighthouse.

This free event offers opportunities to:

  • Tour beach and tide flats with the Vashon Beach Naturalists
  • Tour the Pt. Robinson Lighthouse
  • Enjoy flora, fauna and cultural displays
  • Learn about traditional native uses of shoreline resources with Odin Lonning – traditional Tlingit artist and cultural educator

In addition, many conservation groups will be on hand.


Turkish towel is one of the many species exposed by low tides that can be spotted at this weekend’s Vashon-Maury Island Low Tide Festival. DNR Photo

Lowest water level will be around 1 p.m., so be there to commune with , hairy chitons, tukish towels and frilled dog whelk that will be exposed.

A shuttle bus will run along Point Robinson Road to transport people between their parked cars and the festivities. Refreshments, native crafts and Low Tide T-shirts will also be available for sale. To get to Vashon by ferry, take either the Fauntleroy – Vashon Island or the Point Defiance – Talequah ferries.

DNR’s Aquatic Reserve Program will have a booth at the event presenting recent and on-going studies happening on Maury Island Aquatic Reserve, as well as discussing the Mooring Buoy project happening in Quartermaster Harbor.

The Vashon-Maury Island Low Tide Celebration is sponsored by: Vashon Beach Naturalists, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Vashon Hydrophone Project, Washington Scuba Alliance, Vashon Park District, Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society, Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust, King County, Vashon College and Keepers of Point Robinson.

It only takes 90 seconds to learn how to prevent a wildfire from starting

July 22, 2015

The blue skies and warmer weather are a nice change for us living in the Pacific Northwest. However, along with the heat and extreme dryness comes the danger of wildfires. This summer, Washington state has already faced more than 570 wildfires. Unfortunately, most of these wildfires are caused by people.

The good news is that there are steps we can take to help prevent wildfires. Watch this 90-second video to learn some simple wildfire prevention tips and then be sure to share them with your loved ones.

Visit our website to learn more about wildfire prevention.

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The western red-cedar: A 1500 year old giant

July 20, 2015
Western Redceder

Away from the coast, pure groves of redcedar are limited to forested wetlands or sections of alluvial forest in the north Cascades, such as this stand from a swamp in the south Cascades. Photo: DNR

The western red-cedar is a tree that continues to surpass the others. Not only is it the largest tree in the Pacific Northwest, it is also one of the longest lived tree species in western Washington. Some western red-cedars have been recorded to reach 1,500 years of age. (The tree’s name is spelled either red-cedar or redcedar to indicate that it is not a “true” cedar, which grows only in Mediterranean regions.)

The age of a western red-cedar can be roughly estimated by looking at the tree’s crown. For the first several centuries, the top of the red-cedar has a relatively simple crown. However, with age, the crown form changes and candelabra tops – which are often seen in ancient trees – begin to emerge. (See drawing).

Western Redceder Drawing

Changes in crown form of western redcedar over time. Note that trees remain relatively simple for the first several centuries — it is only in great age that the individual character and candelabra tops often seen in ancient stands emerge. Drawing: DNR

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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