Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The future of biomass revealed?

October 24, 2014
Commissioner Peter Goldmark sees demo of woody debris conversion into usable energy.

Commissioner Peter Goldmark sees demo of woody debris conversion into usable energy.

This week, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark stopped by the Willis chip plant in Cle Elum to see a demonstration of how wood chips, bark, and twigs are converted into usable energy. Goldmark joined a group of landowners, foresters, and WSU students to view a demonstration of what is called ‘mobile pyrolysis.’ This emerging technology offers important potential to generate energy from woody debris often left on the forest floor.

Basically, pyrolysis is a thermochemical process where organic material, such as wood, is heated in the absence of oxygen, causing the material to thermally decompose into combustible gases and charcoal products, such as bio-oil, bio-char, and syngas. Bio-oil can be used for heating or can be upgraded to transportation fuel. Bio-char can be used to make charcoal briquettes and increase the water- and nutrient-holding capacity of soil. Syngas can be used to produce thermal energy or electricity.

Several large research projects are underway in the United States and overseas to create biofuels from woody biomass and, in the process, generate clean energy from materials that would otherwise be discarded. The goal is to help keep both forests and the forest industry around here more resilient while contributing to local economies.

Mobile pyrolysis unit demonstrates the transformation of woody debris into gas, char and oil. Photo Janet Pearce/DNR

Mobile pyrolysis unit demonstrates the transformation of woody debris into gas, char and oil. Photo Janet Pearce/DNR

In 2013, approximately 23 percent of all renewable energy consumed was from wood – more than wind and solar combined – and second only to hydroelectric energy, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The U.S. Forest Service works with partners to support the development of wood energy projects that promote sound forest management, expand regional economies and create new rural jobs. The Washington Department of Natural Resources recently obtained a grant from the Forest Service to support the development of small to mid-scale wood energy systems in Washington state. The Cle Elum demonstration was one of 40 events in 24 states and Canada held by the U.S. Forest Service, state agencies, timber companies, and the biomass industry to raise awareness about bioenergy.

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Storms are here. How to protect your trees

October 22, 2014
Wind with drenching rains can damage or topple some trees. Photo: DNR

Wind with drenching rains can damage or topple some trees. Photo: DNR

The storm that moved into western Washington last night is bringing plenty of moisture and wind. The combination of soggy ground and strong winds can spell bad news for some trees–weak branches can snap, dead limbs may fall and, in extreme cases, shallow-rooted trees can topple, but let’s not panic. The good news is that most trees are well-adapted to the conditions and will weather this storm.

Proper pruning–we recommend arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)–in advance of storms increases the resilience of your trees but what can you do after the storm?  Check out our tree tips   (more…)

Lidar day!

October 17, 2014

Originally posted on Washington State Geology News:

Today is (informally) lidar day! You might not have the day off work, your kids might not bring home art projects featuring lidar, and it’s probably not possible to have a cake emblazoned with a point cloud, but lidar is taking center stage in science throughout the world and we want to celebrate!

moon Wave goodbye to the moon—lidar tells us it’s receding by inches per year.

But what is it? Lidar—Light Detection and Ranging, or a combination of ‘laser’ and ‘radar’—has been around since the 1960’s when folks first used lasers to measure the distance between objects. During the Apollo mission, in addition to collecting great moon rocks for geologists to study, the astronauts also installed a reflector that scientists use with lidar to measure how quickly the moon is moving away from the earth (~3.8 cm/yr it turns out, slowing our orbit about 2 seconds per century).

point cloud ‘Point cloud’…

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Get down for statewide earthquake drill

October 16, 2014
A tasty "Earth-cake" made by DNR geology staff shows the subduction zone off Washington's Pacific coast. Photo: DNR

A tasty “Earth-cake” made by DNR geology staff shows the subduction zone off Washington’s Pacific coast. Photo: DNR

Sitting at the convergence of the North America and Juan de Fuca tectonic plates, Washington is subject to more than 1,000 earthquakes each year.

While most of these are barely detectible, there have been at least 20 damaging earthquakes recorded in our state’s 125 years. Large earthquakes in 1946, 1949, and 1965 killed 15 people and caused more than $200 million (1984 dollars) in property damage.

Though you can’t predict or stop an earthquake, you can be prepared.

That’s why the Department of Natural Resources is urging everyone to participate in the “The Great Washington ShakeOut” at 10:16 a.m. Thursday, October 16.

At that time, “drop, cover and hold on.” That means drop to the ground, take cover under a desk or table and hold on until the “earthquake” stops.

Be sure to hold on throughout the duration of the earthquake drill. The state’s most recent major earthquake—the Nisqually earthquake—measured a magnitude 6.8 and lasted for more than 40 seconds, causing over $1 billion damage.

“Drop, cover and hold on” is the most effective way to protect yourself from collapsing walls, flying glass and falling debris, which are the primary causes of earthquake-related injuries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Also, make sure you have an emergency kit prepared to ensure you have water, food, light, first aid supplies, batteries, cash, etc.

There have been six earthquakes with measured or estimated magnitudes of 6.0 or larger in the Puget Sound basin since 1870.

There are numerous earthquake faults in Washington state but one of the most dangerous is the Cascadia Subduction, caused by the convergence of the North America plate and the Juan de Fuca plate, which are moving toward each other at about 3 to 4 centimeters per year. The strain builds up between the converging plates and eventually causes a massive earthquake.

DNR geologists closely watch those forces. To find out more information, visit the DNR Division of Geology and Earth Science’s page about earthquakes where you can find information about Washington’s relationship to tectonic plates, a scenario about what would happen from a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, and links to more resources.

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Anniversary of the Columbus Day Storm of 1962 is Sunday

October 12, 2014
This tree would have benefitted by pruning to develop a strong structure when it was just beginning to grow. Photo: DNR

This tree would have benefitted by pruning to develop a strong structure when it was just beginning to grow. Photo: DNR

Wind storms are part of living in Washington state, but were you around when the Columbus Day Storm hit in 1962?

Considered the ‘granddaddy of all windstorms’ in these parts, the storm claimed 46 lives (7 in Washington state) and injured hundreds more. In the Willapa Hills of southwestern Washington, a wind gust of 160 miles per hour was recorded.

This Sunday, October 12, is the 52nd anniversary of the 1962 Columbus Day Storm, the strongest non-tropical wind storm ever to hit the lower 48 states in recorded U.S. history.

Not around in 1962? Maybe you recall the Hanukkah Eve Wind Storm of 2006, a powerful storm that slammed into the Pacific Northwest region between December 14, 2006, and December 15, 2006, causing 18 deaths and widespread damage and power outages.

Weather events as large as these storms may be infrequent, but today’s Columbus Day Storm anniversary is a good reminder to be prepared.

What can you do to prepare for the ferocious wind storms that strike our state almost every winter? Check out the Washington State Emergency Management Division’s “Windstorms in Washington State” publication to get useful preparation and survival tips.

Whatever storm you’ve experienced, DNR encourages you to join other Washington residents in preparing your trees before the next big storm hits. Take action now to reduce the damage caused by windstorms. It could keep you from losing power in your area or even save your home from damage.

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Storm water runoff poses significant threats to water quality in Washington

October 10, 2014
Trees reduce stormwater runoff by intercepting rainfall in their canopies and roots. Photo: Guy Kramer

Trees reduce stormwater runoff by intercepting rainfall in their canopies and roots. Photo: Guy Kramer

Storm water runoff – the rain that falls on streets, driveways, rooftops and other developed land — is one of the most widespread challenges to water quality in Washington state. It carries oil, grease, fertilizers, soaps, and waste from pets and failing septic systems into streams and other bodies of water.

DNR has set a goal to clean up and restore Puget Sound, because even the clean water that originates in the upland forests we manage can become polluted as it flows through urban and suburban areas.

One of the best ways to mitigate the negative impacts of urban and suburban storm water runoff is to reduce how much of it ends up in natural waterways. Trees and shrubs are part of the solution because they help detain storm water on-site, in addition to slowing its flow and reducing erosion. October is an excellent time to recognize the many benefits that trees provide, including reduction and filtration of storm water runoff, because they:

  • Reduce storm water runoff by intercepting rainfall in their canopies where it is later re-released into the atmosphere.
  • Slow down runoff rates and reduce pollutants by absorbing storm water through their roots.
  • Store pollutants and transform them into less harmful substances.
  • Create healthy soil conditions that allow rainwater to filter into the soil so that less flows down streets, sidewalks, gutters, and storm sewers.

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How much carbon does that tree store? There’s a tool for that

September 26, 2014
Don't see the leaves in your yard as a nuisance. View them as an exercise plan to get in shape.

Don’t see the leaves in your yard as a nuisance. View them as an exercise plan to get in shape.

That maple tree in the backyard that seems to produce twice its weight in leaves every fall is more than just good lookin’. In addition to a home for wildlife, summer cooling, rain run-off control and more, that tree – if you live in the city – is part of the urban forest. Trees in urban areas also have a measurable role to play in absorbing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.

How measurable? See for yourself, and try out the National Tree Carbon Calculator. The calculator allows anyone to estimate benefits from an individual street tree in their yard. Casey Trees and the Davey Tree Expert Company came up with this brilliant tool.

Try it out. Just enter the tree species, size (diameter-at-breast height) and find out how much biomass and carbon is stored in the tree. The calculator also helps show the benefits of energy savings.

Visit the Washington State Urban and Community Forestry Program to find more tools and links to information about the economic, environmental, social and aesthetic benefits of trees.

 

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Celebrate National Dog Day with DNR recreation opportunities

August 26, 2014

Celebrate National Dog Day

Celebrate National Dog Day by taking your four-legged best friend for a walk today.

Is your dog having a ruff day? Not anymore! It’s National Dog Day today and what better way to recognize our furry friends than by taking them for a walk on a DNR-managed recreation trail?

Here’s a short list of great places to go with your pup on DNR-managed state trust lands:

Bob Bammert Trail, Capitol State Forest
The Bob Bammert Trail is one of the few hiker-only trails in Capitol State Forest, making it perfect for your dog to explore – on a leash, of course. Enjoy this two-mile trail through hills of older, second growth trees and watch as your dog takes in the smells, sounds, and forest terrain.

Dougan Falls, Yacolt Burns State Forest

The large boulders, forested edges, and cascading water of Dougan Falls are a treat for visitors – and their dogs – who come to Yacolt Burn State Forest. These picturesque 100-foot wide falls empty into a deep pool. After enjoying a quick bite to eat, you and your dog can explore the falls and take a walk on nearby trails.

Manastash Ridge, southwest of Ellensburg
Located in the Wenas recreation area, Manastash Ridge is the perfect spot for you and your dog to explore. This area also is a popular destination for hunters, hikers, bird watchers, off-road vehicle enthusiasts, equestrians, and snowmobile riders, so be sure to keep your dog leased at all times.

Lily Lake has lovely paths to walk with your dog.

Lily Lake has lovely paths to walk with your dog. Photo: DNR

Lily Lake, Blanchard Forest
Nestled in the Blanchard Forest and Chuckanut Mountains near Bellingham, Lily Lake is a peaceful setting with six backcountry camp sites for overnight stays. You and your dog can enjoy climbing up through the Chuckanut Mountains to Lily Lake, accessible to hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrian use. You and your pup can expect a trail through ferns and forestland with occasional mountain views.

Safe celebration for you and your dog
Remember, dogs are allowed in all DNR-managed recreation, except Natural Area Preserves. Dogs should be on a leash at all times and please pick up after your dog — that’s right, the ‘pack-it-in/pack-it-out’ concept applies to dogs, too.

Discover Pass
Grab a Discover Pass so you and your dog can celebrate recreation on DNR-managed state trust land all year long.

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Have you watered your trees lately?

August 21, 2014

The dog days of summer are still upon us. It’s a good thing we have trees to help keep us cool! Summer is a great time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the nice weather. But this month and next can be hard on trees, and they can use our help. Don’t be fooled by cooler weather. Cooler weather does not necessarily mean moisture.

In Washington, most of the annual accumulation of moisture comes in three seasons, fall, winter and spring. Summer is typically very dry. This weather pattern is great for vacatioTreens and back yard barbecues, but difficult for trees – particularly newly planted trees.

When we do get moisture, it may not be enough for our leafy friends, especially those planted within the last year or two. Even if you are watering your lawn on a regular basis, your trees might not be getting enough to drink. Grass roots, after all, only grow to a depth of several inches. In contrast, trees roots are deeper, from about 18” to 24” deep.

Long, slow watering under the drip-line of a tree with a soaker hose or even a bucket with small holes drilled into will ensure that moisture seeps down into the root zone.

Or build a low ring of dirt about 1 foot from the trunk of the tree to create a soil dam. With your hose turned on to a slow trickle, fill the tree ring with water (this will take about 30 minutes). Keeping the hose on a trickle will allow the water to soak in rather than run off, while the dam will keep the water directly over the roots of the tree.

Remember that a 2-4 inch thick layer of bark mulch around the base of a tree will maintain soil moisture and help control weeds, (but keep the bark about a hands-width away from the trunk).

There are many factors involved when considered how much and how long to water. Check out this article by Oregon State University Extension (OSUE) about watering trees and shrubs the right way, and how watering needs differ depending on soil texture.

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Take a trip to visit a mystic mounded prairie

August 14, 2014

Looking for something kid-friendly to do on DNR-managed conservation lands? Let their imaginations run wild on 637 acres of grassland mounds at the DNR Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve (NAP).

Mima Mounds

Camas blooms at the unique Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve managed by DNR. Photo: DNR/Birdie Davenport

Located next to Capitol State Forest near Olympia, Washington, Mima Mounds NAP protects the mounded Puget prairie landscape. Scientists differ on how the mounds formed; ice age flood deposits, earthquakes — even gophers — are among the formation theories offered.

Mima Mounds

Unique topography is one of the features of DNR’s Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve south of Olympia. Photo: DNR.

Rising to landmark status
In 1966, the National Park Service designated Mima Mounds a National Natural Landmark for its outstanding condition, illustrative value of a landform, rarity, and value to science and education. The site is one of 17 National Natural Landmarks in Washington state.

The NAP, established in 1976, includes native grasslands, a small Garry oak woodland, savannah (widely spaced oak trees with grass understory), Douglas-fir forest, and habitat for prairie-dependent butterflies and birds.

Unearthing site information and education

Mima Mounds Interpretive Center

Mima Mounds NAP has a lot of informational material for visitors to read while they’re there. DNR photo

Visitors to the site can stop at its interpretive center before stepping onto the trail that skirts around the mounds. The center provides historical and educational information about the site.

For those looking to get a better view of the area, a short set of stairs to the rooftop of the interpretive center provides a look from above.

Discover Pass logoDiscover Pass required
Don’t forget to grab your Discover Pass before heading out on this prairie
adventure. The Discover Pass is required to park a car at Mima Mounds NAP or anywhere in Capitol State Forest. This $30 annual access pass (or $10 day pass) is your ticket to Washington state great outdoors. All proceeds directly support state-managed outdoor recreation.

Adventure on!
Learn more about Mima Mounds NAP and other DNR adventures on our website at www.dnr.wa.gov/recreation.

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