Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Teanaway, a land of geologic mystery

March 11, 2016

Last week, we revealed a new one-page geologic map and summary centered on the agency’s new Teanaway Community Forest and surrounding area. We told you about the kinds of rocks found in the area and some of the processes that formed them. Yet, for what we know, there are just as many intriguing questions that scientists with our Washington State Division of Geology and Earth Sciences are still wondering. In many ways, the geology of the Teanaway is still very much mystery.

Cheese rock_teanaway_sml

Cheese Rock in Teanaway Community Forest. Photo / DNR

Here are a few of our unanswered questions. If you have relevant research, let us know so we can add it to the State’s Geologic Library. If you’re looking for a research project, here are some ideas.

Teanaway Mystery #1 – Given that there are multiple fault lines in the area and numerous small earthquakes, we think that a large earthquake here may be possible. But what we don’t know is how large or how often such events have been in recent history. (Recent history is defined as the last 20,000 years in geologic terms, by the way).

Teanaway Mystery #2 – As an area with many steep slopes, it’s not surprising that we see evidence of landslides over millennia. But, how old are they, what triggered them, and what is it about the underlying geology that led the land to slide?

Mammoth Rock_teanaway_sml

Mammoth Rock in Teanaway Community Forest. Photo / DNR

Teanaway Mystery #3 – The Eocene, a period 34 to 58 million years ago, was a time of dynamic geologic change. Giant volcanic and tectonic shifts were taking place. The Cascade Range had yet to be made. Rivers and swamps existed near present-day Cle Elum. Although we know that many of the changes were related to how the continent was shifting, we don’t exactly know why things changed the way that they did.

Exclamation point rock modern

Exclamation Point Rock in Teanaway Community Forest. Photo / DNR

As the state’s repository for geologic information, our quest is to understand what lies beneath our state and its likely impact on us today. That’s an unending task when you consider what we don’t know – even for this one part of Washington. Yet, with talented professionals entering the field and quality education programs throughout Washington we’re confident that many of our mysteries will be revealed in the decades to come.

We hope these mysteries inspire you to ask your own questions. Find out more about:

  • Pursuing a geology career. You can study Washington geology in Bellingham, Cheney, Ellensburg, Pullman, Seattle, Tacoma, or Walla Walla as most of Washington’s 4-year schools offer a bachelors of arts and Science degree in general geology, seismology and geophysics, or geochemistry science. Almost half of these schools also offer post-graduate degrees.
  • The Teanaway Community Forest
  • The Geology and Earth Sciences Division
  • The geology of this region, the South Cascades and Columbia Basin provinces

One thing we know for sure is that we’re going to continue enjoying the forests’ mysterious rock formations, no matter how long it takes us to fully understand them.

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Lessons remain vital five years after deadly Japan earthquake, tsunami

March 11, 2016

On March 11 five years ago, the earth reminded us of its destructive and unstoppable power when a magnitude 9 earthquake in northern Japan touched off a tsunami and caused tens of thousands of deaths and devastated much of the nation’s infrastructure.

Waves from the tsunami reached the coast of Washington and other western states, where they damaged California coastal communities and washed some of the estimated 1.5 million tons of tsunami debris onto our shores.

Not only is the anniversary a time to remember those lost in Japan, but it should also serve as a reminder that Washington needs to be prepared for a similar geologic hazard threat.

An earthquake fault with similar potential lies just off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. Geologists say it is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ the Cascadia fault off our coast unleashes another mega quake.

Damaging tsunamis have hit the Washington and Pacific Northwest coast in the past. These events are recorded in oral Native American history and in the geologic record.


To get a picture of what we may need to do in the recovery, DNR and other members of the Washington State Seismic Safety Committee produced the ‘Resilient Washington State’ report.

DNR’s Geology and Earth Resources Division, the state’s official geologic survey, is helping Washington communities identify how they are vulnerable to similar tsunami events and how they can craft innovative strategies for dealing with those threats.


Following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the Tsunami Warning and Education Act of 2006 was put in place. The act allowed NOAA to formalize and expand the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, a partnership with Pacific states to protect the West Coast from tsunamis.

Hazards geologists with the Department of Natural Resources Division of Geology and Earth Resources, the National Center for Tsunami Research at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, and scientists with the University of Washington model tsunami inundation in population centers both along the Washington coast and within the Puget Sound.

To do this complex math, the geologists use software (Clawpack), developed by the Applied Mathematics Department of UW or the MOST model, developed by NOAA.

A recently published inundation map for the city of Everett models how a tsunami would likely impact the Everett area. We also have dozens of publications for communities like Neah Bay, Tacoma, Anacortes and many others that would be hit by tsunamis.

DNR has charted evacuation routes for those in communities that might be impacted by tsunamis on our interactive geologic map. You can take those routes with you on your phone with this tsunami evacuation app.

To stay up to date on tsunamis, tune in to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

For more on tsunamis, visit DNR’s Geology Division web page.

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Back Country Horseman tackle Harry Osborne drainage issues with a flood of support

March 11, 2016

Skagit County Back Country Horsemen volunteers lay gravel in the Harry Osborne State Forest. Photo/ DNR.

A big thank you to volunteers with the Skagit County chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of Washington, who have been hard at work caring for trails in DNR’s Harry Osborne State Forest to manage drainage issues.

Using crushed rock, meshed fabric, and logs to drain water, volunteers have been working to manage drainage with the forest’s 40-mile trail system, popular for horseback riding.

Their work comes with the help of a roughly $18,000 Washington Recreation and Conservation Office grant, just for the chapter to use in Harry Osborne.

Join the effort
The chapter has had two work parties this year dedicated to trail drainage. Their next work party is:

9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday, March 12
Les Hilde Trailhead

Visit our event listing for more information. Watch our calendar for future work parties.

To read more about their efforts, visit this Skagit Valley Herald article.

Lasting stewardship
Volunteering on DNR-managed lands is about more than just giving back to the landscapes you love most, you’ll also gain new skills, meet new people, and spend valuable time in Washington’s great outdoors. For more information about volunteering with DNR, visit our website.

Need wildland fire equipment? Applications open to small fire districts and departments

March 9, 2016
With DNR's Phase 1 Grant, fire districts can acquire personal protective equipment like this fire shelter.

With DNR’s Phase I Grant, fire districts can acquire personal protective equipment like this fire shelter.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Forest Service are offering grant funding to eligible fire districts and departments through the Volunteer Fire Assistance Phase I Grant Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

DNR administers this grant program, which is open to all fire districts and fire departments serving communities of less than 10,000 residents. Fire districts and departments serving communities with more than 10,000 residents may qualify, providing their service area includes a rural area or rural community with a population of less than 10,000. The application deadline is April 29, 2016.

The Phase I grant program allows eligible districts to order personal protective equipment and other fire equipment at 50 percent cost through the DNR fire cache. Federal grant funding covers the remaining 50 percent cost. Districts apply online using the Phase I Order, an online shopping cart that allows districts to submit orders directly to DNR. This grant funding helps eligible rural fire districts across Washington state buy new fire and safety equipment.

The application period opens today, March 9, 2016, and closes April 29, 2016. Interested districts can find more information on DNR’s Fire District Assistance Program webpage.

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Defend your home from wildfire (Defienda su casa de incendios forestales)

March 8, 2016
Important tips to save your home from wildfire

Important tips to save your home from wildfire

Many people would like to live in a serene setting, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but not completely isolated from familiar conveniences. The housing market is responding to these desires by building new neighborhoods in the countryside – and scores of new home buyers are settling in each year. Unfortunately, this trend is happening as signs point to a warmer climate with more intense and frequent wildfires ahead.

How can you – as just one member of a community in an outlying area – prepare for the threat of wildfires?

You can clear out the brush, tree limbs and other woody material from along driveways and other access roads to your property. This firebreak may stop, or at least slow, an oncoming wildfire.

Protect your home by lopping off those pesky low-lying limbs from trees and removing flammable material from the grounds around your house. To some, a green lawn looks out of place around a rural home site, but it may just save your house from the worst of a wildfire. If you’re remodeling or building a new home, consider installing a metal roof and using other fire-resistant materials where possible.

With the help of the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs, DNR has created a flyer in English & Spanish that tells how to create a space around homes that helps defend from wildfires.

…Con la ayuda de La Comisión de Asuntos Hispanos del estado de Washington, el Departamento de Resources Naturales (DNR) ha creado un volante en español que describe visualmente cómo crear un espacio de seguridad alrededor de las casas para ayudar a defenderlas de incendios forestales.

Here are tips to make the area surrounding your home into a defensible space more likely to resist wildfire.

Resources to help you defend your home

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Jobs open: Wildland firefighters needed

March 7, 2016
Fighting wildfires is extremely rewarding. Photo/Joe Smillie, DNR

Fighting wildfires is extremely rewarding. Photo/Joe Smillie, DNR

Would you make a good firefighter? Do you know someone who would? DNR is looking for courageous, motivated men and women to join us in our efforts of protecting 13 million acres of Washington lands from wildfire this upcoming summer.

The work of seasonal wildland firefighters is strenuous, yet rewarding. We provide the training, safety clothing and protective gear. You must bring enthusiasm and the ability to perform strenuous outdoor work, safely and productively. You must also be willing to accept direction and act responsibly.

Though important, these jobs are temporary. You can generally expect to work three to four months beginning mid-June and ending in mid-September. However, the experience and training that you take with you can form the foundation for a successful lifelong career in forestry and other natural resource professions.


  • 18 years old when hired (typically mid-June)
  • Have a high school diploma or GED when hired (typically mid-June)
  • Have a valid driver’s license2 years of driving experience and an acceptable driving record with no serious traffic violations. We cannot accept the following:
  • License suspension/revocation due to reckless driving, hit and run, leaving an accident scene, failure to appear, DUI or other vehicle-related felony
  • More than 3 moving violations in the past 12 months
  • More than 4 moving violations in the past 24 months
  • Able to operate a manual transmission
  • Able to buy regulation boots for $250 – $270 (reimbursed up to $270 with a receipt after purchase)

To apply

When you apply for this position, your application cannot be edited after it is sent, and you can only apply once a year. Therefore, it is important to meet all of the requirements before applying. The application that you fill out on will ask questions on basic information, education, past work history, references and include a simple questionnaire.

Be sure to identify the specific regions you are willing to work out of and apply for all that are appropriate for you: Northeast, Northwest, Olympic, South Puget Sound, Pacific Cascade, and/or Southeast. The more flexible you are, the more likely you are to be successful. For tips on preparing for an interview, check out

Learn more about DNR’s diverse Wildfire Division here.

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The Teanaway, a geologic story worth telling

March 5, 2016
Balanced or Exclamation Point Rock then&now

Exclamation Point Rock (aka. Balanced Rock), of Teanaway Community Forest, in 1911 and today. Photos: Ellensburg Public Library/DNR

If these hills could talk they would tell tales of bubbling lava, ancient jungles roamed by coyote-sized horses, and a shoreline sculpted by great blocks of ice.

While all is quiet in the Teanaway now, the beauty that we enjoy today was formed by massive events that gave rise to one-of-a-kind geologic features. The fascinating landscape has a history of drawing people to its location, just a few miles east of Cle Elum.

Here the work of erosion has exposed impressive formations of resistant Roslyn Formation sandstone, remnants of 40 million year-old swamps and rivers that also left behind a coal field mined for more than 80 years.

Even older, a dark, blocky rock unique to this area, and accordingly named Teanaway Basalt, holds up the high ridges north and west of the forest. It was formed as continental plates moved and stretched creating cracks and fissures that basalt lava filled up from below. This process also formed small cavities in the basalt that later filled with silica-rich fluid. This fluid eventually crystallized and become rare Ellensburg Blue agates. It’s the only place in the world where the Ellensburg Blue agate exists.

So, we see that these hills, or at least their rocks, do talk. The Division of Geology and Earth Resources, a part of Washington state’s Department of Natural Resources, is helping people to interpret what these stones say.

A new one-page geologic map and summary centers in on the agency’s new Teanaway Community Forest and surrounding area. Print it and take it with you as you camp, hike, hunt, or climb across this special rockscape. Use it to spot signs of the area’s geology or explore points of interest in this scenic landscape. You’ll leave with a greater understanding and appreciation for how the surrounding mountains and valleys were formed.

The division intends to produce more such one-page summaries for other landscape destinations in the future. This one is available at

When you go, remember to bring your Discover Pass – its display on vehicles is required, as in other state lands.

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Students leap to help assess seismic stability of schools

February 29, 2016

With their classmates huddled nearby around the laptop of DNR geologists, a group of students wait for the count of three to jump in the air together. Their landing generates a tiny earthquake picked up by sensors laid in the ground.

Around the computer, students yell “whoa!” as waves from the student-generated quake show up on the screen.

Last fall, DNR seismologists visited 21 schools in Thurston County for a project aimed at assessing how well these buildings would withstand earthquakes. (more…)

Fifteen years after Nisqually quake; efforts to map, predict damage stepped up

February 28, 2016

Falling debris like these bricks that fell off the Washington Federal Bank in Olympia during the 2001 Nisqually earthquake are one of the top causes of injuries during an earthquake. Photo by Steve Bloom, The Olympian.

Earthquake centered under Anderson Island touched off increased attention in earthquake science and emergency preparedness.

It’s been a decade and a half since Washington felt its last damaging earthquake.

At 10:54 a.m. on Feb. 28, 2001 a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck near Anderson Island. Known as the Nisqually Earthquake, the temblor shook the Pacific Northwest, with shaking being felt around Puget Sound, in Vancouver, B.C., Portland, Ore., and as far east as Montana. The Nisqually earthquake produced some $2 billion in damages and injured about 400 people.

Damage could have been much worse, according to reports prepared by DNR’s Division of Geology and Earth Resources. This quake stemmed from the Benioff zone, meaning it came from deep underground (more than 32 miles underground.) The depth of the epicenter meant much of its force was buffered by layers of earth.

But on the plus side, the Nisqually quake was responsible for a new set of preparedness measures and research into Washington’s tectonics. (more…)

The tree you save may be your own

February 24, 2016
Healthy urban trees

Smart planning assures not just lots of trees for urban areas, but a healthy and sustainable urban forest. Photo: DNR

If you believe that healthy trees and forests are important to the future of cities and towns here in the Evergreen State, you’ll want to sign up for DNR’s coolest online newsletter, the Tree Link.

Tree Link publicizes tips for proper tree care, research about community trees and their benefits, opportunities for training and grant funding, and trends affecting urban and community forests in Washington.

The Tree Link is delivered to subscribers every month by email. Each edition contains 8-10 articles written by DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program to be timely, informative and concise, with just a dash of whimsy to keep it interesting.

Readership is increasing. More and more, Washingtonians recognize that trees are essential to the health, character, safety and livability of their communities. They understand that trees and forests need people to care for them properly, and they are turning to the Tree Link for advice.

The tree you save may be your own, so be proactive and subscribe to Tree Link today.

If what I say resonates with you, it’s merely because we’re branches of the same tree”

~ William Butler Yeats

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