Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Hazard or habitat?

January 13, 2016
Over time, this snag creates habitat for many animals as long as it's not a danger to public safety. Photo WA State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Over time, this snag creates habitat for many animals as long as it’s not a danger to public safety. Photo WA State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

If your tree has yellowing foliage, canopy dieback, broken or cracked branches, decay cavities, mushrooms growing on it or other defects, then you may be concerned about the health and safety of the tree.

Unless of course you’re a small woodland mammal. Or a songbird. Or an insect. Or a mushroom!

Trees that might appear risky to a human may be a cozy condo, a lunch buffet or a Home Depot of nest-building materials for countless other species. Some people have even compared ancient trees and forests to coral reefs based on the abundance and diversity of life that each supports.

Even city trees contribute to wildlife habitat, however, our obligations to protect public safety demand that we pay close attention to trees and tree defects that may be problematic. Although, a little birdie recently told us that new ideas in professional tree risk assessment and tree preservation may spare a few sparrows and other critters from needlessly losing their homes.

Attitudes, practices and technologies are evolving and some professionals are treating older trees and other trees with defects differently than they once did. Less-than-perfect trees still hold high value for wildlife habitat and other ecosystem services, so progressive tree managers are seeking opportunities to preserve such trees in cases when doing so will not jeopardize public safety.

This budding trend may lead to better management of mature tree canopy and increased wildlife habitat in urban areas, but time will tell.

Terms like “conservation arboriculture” and “ecological arboriculture” are gaining prominence in the tree industry. Today, these terms describe new ideas, but tomorrow they may be the norm for how we manage trees in the thriving urban ecosystems that we all—including wildlife—call home.

Here are a few resources to learn more about this shift in how we view our elder trees:

This article was first published in the January 2015 Tree Link Newsletter.

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Partnerships are our key to success: Thanks Yakima Ski-Benders

January 11, 2016
Yakima Ski-Benders help maintain recreation opportunities in DNR's Ahtanum State Forest. Photo/ Yakima Ski-Benders.

Yakima Ski-Benders help maintain recreation opportunities in DNR’s Ahtanum State Forest. Photo/ Yakima Ski-Benders.

Formed in 1965, the Yakima Ski-Benders snowmobile club enjoys snowmobiling and other recreation opportunities in the Ahtanum State Forest. Each year, the 125-member club supports these opportunities with their annual summer clean-up and camping weekend, when they pick up litter along roads and trails and maintain green dot roads and campgrounds. The club, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015, also often hosts winter events in Ahtanum State Forest to educate younger riders on snow safety and rider etiquette.

To learn more about volunteering with DNR’s recreation program and its partners, visit our volunteer page. Use our calendar to find an event near you.

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2015: A great year for volunteer partnerships

January 8, 2016

Partner organizations are extremely important to DNR’s ability to provide recreation access to the lands we manage on behalf of trust beneficiaries. The work of our volunteers is expected to exceed a value of $1.2 million last year alone¹. Here are just a few examples of how fortunate we are to be working with incredible groups, and people, across the state of Washington to enhance quality of life for everyone.

Washington Trails Association volunteers maintaining the trail to Oyster Dome. Photo/ Washington Trails Association.

Washington Trails Association volunteers maintaining the trail to Oyster Dome. Photo/ Washington Trails Association.

Washington Trails Association
Washington Trails Association (WTA) helps maintain many of DNR’s most popular recreation opportunities, such as trails in West Tiger Mountain Natural Resources Conservation Area and Oyster Dome, in the Blanchard Forest Block.

North Central ATV
Based in Okanogan County, North Central ATV Club is committed to stewardship and from May to October  hosts bi-weekly volunteer events to maintain DNR trails and campgrounds, including the Rock Lake, Rock Creek and Leader Lake campgrounds in the Loup Loup Forest Block.

Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust volunteer pose for a photo on Little Si. Photo/ Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust

Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust volunteers pose for a photo on Little Si. Photo/ Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust

Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust
Based in Seattle, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust helps to conserve and enhance landscapes in the Greenway, which include some of DNR’s most-loved recreation locations, such as Mailbox Peak, Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area, and Tiger Mountain State Forest. In partnership with DNR, the Greenway Trust and its dedicated volunteers are working to maintain and repair trails on Little Si and Tiger Mountain.

Back Country Horsemen of Washington
The Back Country Horsemen of Washington (BCHW) members volunteer more 60,000 hours each year and help organize DNR’s Great Gravel Pack-In each year to harden trails in the Capitol State Forest. Chapters also organize work parties to maintain and improve campgrounds, trailheads, and trails on DNR-managed lands throughout the year. Last year, BCHW also worked with DNR to improve BBQ Flats in the Wenas area north of Yakima.

Timber Tamers
The Timber Tamers, a four-wheel drive club based out of Western Washington, partner with DNR to care for trails in the Walker Valley Off-Road Vehicle Area, near Mount Vernon. Most recently, they helped to build about 100-feet of post and rail fence to protect sensitive meadow land at Walker Valley.

American Whitewater was one of many groups to give back to DNR-managed lands. Photo/ American Whitewater.

American Whitewater was one of many groups to give back to DNR-managed lands. Photo/ American Whitewater.

American Whitewater
American Whitewater has about 3,000 members in Washington state and has been actively engaged in planning and volunteer efforts to enhance the recreational facilities within DNR’s Middle Fork Snoqualmie Natural Resources Conservation Area. American Whitewater volunteers also helped build a trail to access the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River.

Watch This Fourwheelerz
Watch This Fourwheelerz Club
‘s 30 members are regular volunteers with DNR’s Elbe Hills ORV Monthly Work Party. The Orting-based club partners with DNR to design and maintain obstacles within the 13-mile Elbe Hills ORV Trail System. Projects include the log crawl on the Gotcha Trail, as well as new rocks on the Alder and Mainline trails.

The Access Fund and Washington Climbers Coalition led more than 65 volunteers over two days to cut a more sustainable trail to Dirty Harry's Balcony. Photo/ Access Fund.

The Access Fund and Washington Climbers Coalition led more than 65 volunteers over two days to cut a more sustainable trail to Dirty Harry’s Balcony. Photo/ Access Fund.

Washington Climbers Coalition and Access Fund 
In June, Washington Climbers Coalition, Access Fund, and DNR began an effort to reroute an eroded trail that leads up to Dirty Harry’s Balcony and the Exit 38 Far Side climbing area. With additional support from the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, the Vertical World Climbing Youth Team, The Mountaineers, and others, the Access Fund and Washington Climbers Coalition led more than 65 volunteers over two days to cut a new, sustainable trail away from an old eroded roadbed historically used by hikers and climbers. Washington Climbers Coalition and Access Fund have also been involved with trail projects on DNR’s Little Si, a popular sport climbing area in the Snoqualmie Corridor, and with stewardship at the Gold Bar boulders, near Gold Bar.

Puget Sound Trialers
The Puget Sound Trialers have more than 90 members and help to care for the a trials bike area in the Reiter Foothills Forest. In October, the club installed a trials area sign and other boundary signs to reinforce the specific area for trials bike use.

The Cold Creek Mountain Bikers work on a trail kiosk for the Thrillium Trail. Photo courtesy Cold Creek Mountain Bikers.

The Cold Creek Mountain Bikers work on a trail kiosk for the Thrillium Trail. Photo/ Cold Creek Mountain Bikers.

Cold Creek Mountain Bikers
Based in Battleground and Vancouver, Cold Creek Mountain Bikers has about 250 members who care for trails in Yacolt Burn State Forest. The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance chapter just finished marking a future connector trail from the new lower Yacolt Burn trailhead parking area to the Thrillium trail exit. The completed trail, scheduled for construction in early 2016, will allow riders to skip forest roads in favor of added single track.

We love sharing the amazing work of our partners. If you know of a group we should feature, please let us know.

To learn more about volunteering on DNR-managed lands visit our website. To find an event near you, visit our calendar.

     1. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data and DNR’s volunteer hours from January 2015 through September 2015.

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What you need to know as a homeowner, before it’s too late

January 7, 2016
This house was saved from the Chelan Complex Fire because it had defensible space. Photo Kari Greer/USFS

This house was saved from the Chelan Complex Fire because it had defensible space. Photo Kari Greer/USFS

Winter weather may tempt you to let wildfire be the last thing on your mind. Well, don’t let it. Now is the time to prepare.

Wildfires are not going away. In fact, they are getting more destructive. Why? One reason is because many of us want to live in the woods, far from the hubbub of city life. Washington state ranks highest among all western states with the most developed with homes in the wildland-urban interface. Making this popular choice comes with more responsibility to create a safe place around your home.  If there are trees and shrubs up against your home, your house has very little chance of surviving a wildfire.

This is where defensible space and these 12 simple steps can play not only an important role, but also the most important role, in saving your home from wildfire. A community that bands together and takes responsibility to prepare for the threat of wildfire may suffer less loss in the end. Take it from someone who knows. Carolyn Bergland, a landowner who had to evacuate during the 2012 Taylor Bridge Fire in Ellensburg, advises:

“Landowners need to take fuels reduction and Firewise efforts seriously and educate their neighbors so that communities are able to be more resilient. By employing the principles of defensible space, you make it easier for firefighters to fight the fire and easier for a fire to go around you. It’s a sense of responsibility to the other people that live close by, and the community as a whole.”

If you think that wildfire isn’t something you have to worry about, consider the safety of the men and woman assigned to fight the fire that may threaten your home. We appreciate defensible homes, because they’re safer places for our firefighters to fight wildfire and crews can be more efficient, allowing them to move on to other areas that still need help.

Even in a more developed neighborhood, you can still be affected by wildfire. Look for green belts or open space areas around you that have the potential to catch fire and threaten your home. If you live in this situation, you may have winter work to do too.

For an in-depth look at what you can do to protect yourself, see the Ready Campaign’s How to Prepare for a Wildfire or go to www.firewise.org. See more of the story from Suzanne Wade with the Kittitas County Conservation District in the National Fire Protection Association newsletter, Fire Break.

 

 

Help shape recreation from Baker to Bellingham

January 6, 2016
The recreation planning includes some of the Nooksack River. Photo by Patrick McNally.

The recreation planning area includes part of the Nooksack River. Photo by Patrick McNally.

Do you have ideas about how you’d like to experience recreation on DNR-managed lands between Mount Baker and Bellingham? We’d love to hear them.

This month, DNR is beginning a recreation planning process that will determine how we manage recreation on state lands in Whatcom County for the next 10 to 15 years. The Baker to Bellingham Recreation Plan, once complete, will guide recreation in the 86,000-acre planning area, which includes Sumas Mountain, borders the three forks of the Nooksack River, connects with Whatcom County park lands, and provides views of the north Cascade Range. View a map of the planning area.

Share your thoughts via open house, volunteer committee
Attend one of our upcoming open houses to hear more about the planning project and provide input. Each open house will begin with a brief presentation followed by opportunities to speak with DNR staff one-on-one.

Tuesday, Jan. 19
7 to 9 p.m.
Port of Bellingham Cruise Terminal
Dome Room
355 Harris Ave.
Bellingham, WA 98225

Wednesday, Jan. 20
7 to 9 p.m.
Lynden Community Center
401 Grover Street
Lynden, WA 98264

You can also consider applying to serve on our volunteer recreation planning committee, which will provide draft recommendations to guide plan development. To apply, click here.

Learn more
To stay involved with the project, subscribe to our Baker to Bellingham E-news or visit our project page. Have a question? Send us an email.

Are you a forest landowner with trees damaged by recent winter storms?

January 4, 2016
A severe wind storm knocked down these Ponderosa pines, which are now susceptible to pine engraver beetle. Photo: State of Idaho

A severe wind storm knocked down these ponderosa pines, which are now susceptible to pine engraver beetle. Photo: State of Idaho

Severe November and December wind and snow storms in Spokane and other areas could be causing more damage than you realize. By this spring, you may notice little piles of reddish bark dust around your trees. This is a sign that bark beetles are attacking the trunks and branches of your damaged trees.

When the weather warms up, bark beetles become active, infesting and feeding on the sugary inner bark of your uprooted or broken trees. Over just a few weeks, inside the damaged logs, these beetles can build up populations, which then attack and kill neighboring healthy trees.

The chief culprits are known as the pine engraver beetle and the Douglas-fir beetle.

Prime targets

Ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine trunks and branches that are larger than three inches in diameter can be infested by the pine engraver beetle. Pine engraver beetles that infest wind-thrown trees in April and May will lay eggs that develop into adults and emerge in June of the same year. Although beetles that emerge in June often continue to infest damaged trees, the next generation of beetles that emerges in August may attack adjacent healthy trees.

The Douglas-fir beetle infests Douglas-fir trunks that are larger than about 10 inches in diameter. These beetles’ offspring require a year to mature and could infest healthy Douglas-fir trees in spring of 2017.

Both types of bark beetle are highly attracted to the thick, moist, nutritious inner-bark tissue of trees that are recently wind-thrown or have broken tops, as well as logs.

How to minimize your chance for infestations

The best option to reduce beetle infestations is to interrupt the amount of moist inner bark tissue that is available for beetles to breed. Remove damaged trees by salvaging the larger timber and safely burning or chipping smaller material. Try to increase the rate at which the inner bark dries out by cutting green logs into smaller pieces, removing branches, dispersing the woody material in a sunny area.

Leaving damaged trees or logs in the shade or in small sheltered piles lengthens the time the inner bark is suitable beetle food and habitat; it also increases the chances that the wood will become infested.

DO NOT stack green firewood next to healthy standing trees. The idea is to reduce the number of places the damaging beetles have easy access to breed this spring, so high populations won’t develop and threaten remaining trees later.

If you own forestland and need advice about tree care, contact a DNR Region Office near you or the WSU Extension Office in your county.

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Thanks to our volunteers: Southeastern Washington highlights

January 2, 2016
Volunteers building elk fence at BBQ Flats. Photo/ DNR.

Volunteers building elk fence at BBQ Flats. Photo/ DNR.

This last year was a big year for some of our southeastern Washington forestland, including Teanaway Community Forest, Ahtanum State Forest, and the new BBQ Flats. That’s thanks, in large part, to all of you.

In 2015, volunteers donated 5,855 hours. They spent more than 500 hours volunteering as Forest Watch volunteers and 1,400 at BBQ Flats. Volunteers spent nearly 300 in the Teanaway Community Forest and 2,350 in the Ahtanum State Forest, too.

Some of volunteers’ biggest accomplishments included removing old fence and building 2000′ of new field fence and almost 8000′ of elk fence at BBQ Flats. Volunteers also installed 55 new fire rings and 40 new picnic tables at Teanaway Campground in the Teanaway Community Forest. Volunteers in the Ahtanum State Forest, Naneum Ridge State Forest, Elk Heights, Rattlesnake and Beverly Dunes patrolled miles of green dot roads, maintained signage, and helped to keep campgrounds and roads clean.

Volunteers install new picnic tables at Teanaway Campground. Photo/ DNR.

Volunteers install new picnic tables at Teanaway Campground. Photo/ DNR.

This work couldn’t be done without the valuable efforts of our volunteers and partners.

Special thanks to:

Backcountry Horsemen of Washington (Wenas, Tahoma, Pierce County, Lewis County, Mount Adams, Purple Sage Riders, Trail Dusters chapters), Eastern Washington Adventures, Jeeping Nomads, Yakima Valley Timberwolves, Selah Cub Scouts, Sky Meadows Residents/Sky Riders Snowmobile and ORV Club, Wenatchee Mountain Masters, Yakima Ski Benders, Friends of the Teanaway, Washington Aerospace Club and Chelan Flyers, Master Hunters, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Mount Adams Snowmobile Club, Yakima County Search and Rescue, Kittitas County Field and Stream and all of the individuals who came out to lend a hand.

Thank you for the continued support of DNR’s recreation program and recreation opportunities across the state. Here’s to accomplishing even more in 2016. To learn more about volunteering with DNR visit our website.

 

Winter weather burn bans may be in effect; before any outdoor or silvicultural burning, check local conditions

December 31, 2015
Follow the outdoor burning rules before lighting any fire.

Follow the outdoor burning rules before lighting any fire.

Due to current and forecasted air quality in many parts of Washington, some clean air agencies have implemented burn bans.

DNR-regulated silvicultural burning is not allowed where an air quality burn ban has been declared. Air quality across the state is not expected to improve until the middle of next week.

For specific burn restrictions, go to DNR’s Fire Danger map and click on your county. Please follow the outdoor burning rules before lighting any fire.

Visit Department of Ecology’s air quality website to find your local clean air agency air quality and burn ban information. To find your local air monitoring site, visit Washington’s Air Monitoring Network.

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2015 DNR recreation, by the numbers

December 31, 2015

celebrate_for_web

Thanks to all of you for your support of recreation opportunities on DNR-managed lands. To learn more about what’s up and coming for recreation on DNR-managed lands, visit our website or subscribe to our recreation e-newsletter.

 

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Winter tree tips

December 30, 2015
Red oak tree

This handsome red oak tree is well suited for it location along a residential street in Snoqualmie. Photo: DNR

It’s cold and flu season and a time to take especially good care of ourselves. A doctor may ask about your eating, sleeping and exercise habits, or question you about preventative care measures, such as flu shots or vitamins. Proactive care makes us less susceptible to bugs and other circumstances that make us sick.

So what about your trees? Winter is challenging for trees as well, and the same advice applies to ensure that they are healthy and can withstand the stresses of the season. Here are some simple tips for preventative care of your trees to boost their health and decrease susceptibility to insects and diseases, storms, and winter damage.

  • Watering. Our summers have been hotter and drier than normal, resulting in chronic drought stress for many landscape trees. Watering can be just as effective in the winter as it is in the summer. If the ground isn’t frozen then trees will still benefit from winter watering. The Tri-Cities’ Washington State University Extension Horticulturalist, Marianne Ophardt offers this helpful winter watering advice.
  • Mulching. Mulching is perhaps one the best, most cost-effective preventative treatments for trees. Mulch helps regulate soil temperatures, retain soil moisture, reduce soil compaction, reduce competition from other plants, improve soil structure and fertility, and is a physical barrier that discourages damage from lawn maintenance equipment. Best of all it is cheap, especially if you’re mulching with recycled wood chips. Many tree service providers are happy to deliver loads of wood chips to your yard for free. Read more about mulch from the Morton Arboretum.
  • Structural Pruning.  A little light pruning when your tree is young can go a long way toward preventing the development of structural defects and mitigating future storm damage. It’s like teaching your tree to behave properly when it’s little so it can grow up to be a fine, upstanding adult–but you need to know what limbs to prune and why. Read more about structural pruning from the Barlett Research Lab.
  • Regular Inspections by a Professional. Think about this like getting a check-up from your doctor. Having an ISA Certified Arborist or other qualified tree professional inspect your trees on a 3-5 basis, and after storms, can alert you to specific tree problems or potential issues of concern. It is easier, safer and less expensive to deal with tree-related problems before the next storm rolls through. Learn more about hiring an arborist.

The old adage says “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. We hold this to be true for our own well-being, so let’s extend the same courtesy to our trees.

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