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Be prepared, not scared of geologic hazards

December 16, 2015
Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens

Volcanoes like Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens (right) are part of what make Washington beautiful, but also pose hazards to the communities below. DNR’s new emergency preparation page has tips on how to prepare and respond to geologic hazards.  Photo: Venice Goetz/DNR.

DNR is the statewide warehouse for information about geologic hazards. Information about the earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and landslides that have sculpted our wild and wonderful state is compiled, interpreted and presented by our Division of Geology and Earth Resources.

On a geologic scale, these hazards are impressive and stunning. On a human scale, however, they can be hazardous to the people who live, build and travel in Washington.

That’s why we have created a new web page full of tips on how to plan and prepare for if and when geologic emergencies strike.

ger_tsunami_evacuation_signHopefully by now many Washington residents know to “Drop, Cover and Hold On” during an earthquake and have practiced this response enough to be ready in case the ground shakes. But where do you go after a volcano erupts? How long should you stay away from an area that has been inundated by a tsunami? How do you get information about an area struck by an earthquake if communication systems are disrupted?

DNR’s new emergency preparedness page contains tips, links and contact information for disaster response agencies, amateur radio operators and community meeting locations so Washingtonians can prepare themselves before our dynamic landscape presents and emergency.

Washington State Geologic Portal

The Washington State Geologic Portal is an online tool to locate geologic features and resources.

Of course, you can refine your own disaster response plan by seeing how a geologic hazard might impact your neighborhood at our Geologic Information Portal. The interactive map can show you earthquakes or landslides that struck near your home or business. You can also see how far inland tsunami waves might flood or if a volcanic lahar could speed through your neighborhood.

We live in a beautiful place. The geologic processes that formed it can be hazardous. By knowing more about how to respond and where and what hazards you and those important to you face, you can be prepared, not scared.

You can learn even more, by visiting the preparedness page of our friends at the Washington Department of Emergency Management.

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Trees get cold too; don’t let winter kill them

December 15, 2015
Properly prune your trees to avoid breaking limbs in the winter. Trees don't need snow on them to become hazardous. PHOTO: Dena Scroggie

Properly prune your trees to avoid breaking limbs in the winter. Trees don’t need snow on them to become hazardous.
PHOTO Dena Scroggie/DNR

Winter weather can mean chilly temperatures, freezing winds, and snow in many parts of Washington. While we can choose to stay inside or bundle up and venture forth, trees don’t have that option; they withstand the elements as best they can. You can help your trees during this challenging part of the year by following a few suggestions offered by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).

  • Put composted organic mulch under your tree in the fall or early winter to help retain water and reduce temperature extremes. A thin layer of mulch will act like a blanket and give the tree’s roots a little extra winter protection.
  • Give your trees a drink. Winter droughts require watering as much as summer droughts. If temperatures permit, an occasional watering during the winter on young trees can be a lifesaver. But be sure to water only when soil and trees are cool but not frozen.
  • Prune your trees. Winter is actually one of the best times to prune because it is easier to see the structure of the trees without their leaves. But limit pruning to deadwood and poorly placed branches in order to save as many living branches as possible. Learn how to prune correctly by taking a pruning class, reading a book, or visiting a website.
  • Prevent mechanical injuries. Branch breakage or splitting can be caused by ice and snow accumulation, or chewing and rubbing by animals. Prevent problems on young trees by shaking heavy snow or ice from branches and wrapping the base of trees in a hard, plastic guard or metal hardware cloth (metal flashing). Wrapping trees with burlap or plastic cloth also can prevent temperature damage. Just remember to remove the wraps and guards in the spring to prevent damage when the tree begins to grow again.

To get the best advice for tree care, contact a local certified arborist. For more information on tree education, visit www.treesaregood.com.

Learn how DNR helps communities manage and care for healthy urban forests.

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The 12 ‘tips’ of Christmas (they can keep you and your family safe all year long)

December 14, 2015
Disaster recovery kits

Disaster recovery kits for individuals, families (even pets), can be invaluable during the first days following a major disaster. Photo: American Red Cross.

Maybe you have heard all the carols and holiday music you care to hear for one year. Or, maybe you are still brimming with yuletide enthusiasm. Regardless, we bring you 12 tips that can keep you and your family safe throughout your lifetime. As you spend time with friends and family this holiday season, consider the possible emergencies that can occur and what you can do to keep everyone you love prepared. Here are a dozen tips for year-round preparedness…

  1. Prepare your trees for winter
    Winter storms can do a number on your trees. Downed and damaged trees could fall on your home, your car, a powerline, or even a person. Follow these tips to keep your trees healthy and better able to resist storm damage this winter.
  2. Identify your hazards
    Identify the potential hazards in your home and learn how to fix them. People are often injured or killed in earthquakes by unsecured objects such as bookshelves. Secure anything heavy enough to hurt you if it falls on you, or fragile enough to be a significant loss if it falls.
  3. Learn about your area’s natural hazards
    Learn about the natural hazards that put your family at risk and what to do if they occur. Teach your kids what to do and practice your emergency action plan.
  4. Develop an Emergency Action Plan
    Make an emergency plan with your family and practice it! Have different plans for different variables. What if your kids are at school or a sports practice? Make sure they know what to do if you can’t be there to help them.     
  5. Build a disaster kit
    Build different disaster kits for the different needs your family will have. Have a comfort kit in your home with supplies that can sustain you through many days without other sources of food or water. Store compact emergency kits in your car. Tailor the kits to your needs, such as special items like diapers for babies.
  6. Keep up with disaster news
    Keep up to date on new developments and articles from Washington’s Emergency Management Division with Washington’s Disaster News. Keep a battery-powered radio (and spare batteries) on hand to monitor developments immediately after a disaster when electrical power may be interrupted. Consider purchasing a weather radio. Staying in the loop helps assure that you, your family and friends are prepared when disaster strikes.
  7. Get trained and know how to help
    The American Red Cross offers courses on emergency response and first aid that could become extremely valuable in the event of an emergency. Know how to recognize the signs of shock or trauma that may not be easily detected without proper training. Learn CPR and you might save a life.
  8. Be prepared for evacuation
    Last summer’s wildfire season left a lot of Washington residents on edge. The scary truth is, a natural disasters may force you to flee your home in a hurry. Remember these “P’s of Preparedness” and make sure your family knows what to do if evacuations are ordered.
  9. Get Firewise
    Learn about the Firewise Communities Program that helps communities get prepared and prevent wildfires from becoming disasters. This program encourages local solutions for wildfire safety by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, firefighters, and others in the effort to protect people and property from wildfire risks.
  10. Know about your region
    Whether you moved to Washington a few months ago or you’ve lived here all your life, it’s a good idea to refresh your knowledge of Washington state’s potential hazards and understand how quickly conditions can change.
  11. Identify your local Emergency Management agency
    Make sure you know what your local emergency management agency is and get familiar with their website and policies. Local emergency managers will have information specific to your region and its risks.
  12. Prepare in a year
    In just one hour a month you could prepare your family for disaster by following the activities laid out in the Washington Emergency Management Division’s Prepare-in-a-Year program.
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Jobs open: Wildland firefighters needed

December 12, 2015
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.

Qualifications

  • 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 careers.wa.gov 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 http://careers.wa.gov/onlineresources.html.

Learn more about DNR’s diverse Wildfire Division here.

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Dec. 18 deadline fast approaching; apply now for your 2016 urban & community forestry grants

December 1, 2015
With a grant from DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, the City of Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood planted trees in celebration of Arbor Day.

With a grant from DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, the City of Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood planted trees in celebration of Arbor Day.

DNRs Urban and Community Forestry Program is pleased to announce our grants for 2016. There are three big changes to the grants this year – we have increased the total amount of dollars that can be requested by applicants, the grant applications are now in fill-able .pdf forms that can be downloaded from our website, and applicants have the option to submit their grant proposals electronically by email.

In previous years, our grants had open narrative where applicants were asked to describe their project within a five-page limit. However, the new fill-able forms are pre-formatted with a series of questions which applicants are required to answer within the spaces provided.

This year’s grants are available in three categories:

  • Community Forestry Assistance (CFA) Grants (download the RFP and Grant Application)
    • Acceptable projects should focus on urban forestry program development or innovative programs that educate staff, the public and decision-makers about the benefits of trees and/or proper tree care and management. Examples include but are not limited to: developing urban forestry management plans, tree ordinances, policy manuals, tree canopy analyses, website development, and curriculum development. Match (in-kind or financial) is required.
  • Tree Inventory Grants (download the RFP and Grant Application)
    • Tree inventories are a critical tool for urban forest management. A public tree inventory will be performed on behalf of successful applicant communities by a qualified consultant through a contractual agreement with DNR. No money changes hands, however, a Memorandum of Understanding between DNR and successful applicants is required. Successful communities must provide a report that describes an expected course of action toward community forest management within one year of receiving the inventory data.
  • Tree Planting Grants (download the RFP and Grant Application)
    • These grants are only available to communities who have earned the Tree City USA Award, as this designation is a minimum measure of cities’ capacity, expertise, and commitment to ensure that trees are properly planted and cared for. A 3-year maintenance plan and planting inspections by an ISA Certified Arborist are required. Match (in-kind or financial) is required.

The Community Forestry Assistance and Tree Inventory Grants are available to tribal governments, educational institutions, 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations and local governments such as cities, towns, and counties in Washington state. The Tree City USA Tree Planting Grants are only available to Washington cities and towns that have earned the Tree City USA Award, or to communities that are actively pursuing the Tree City USA designation and intend to apply for Tree City USA status in December 2015.

Grants are due by 4:00 PM on Friday, December 18, 2015. Please contact the grant coordinator, Linden Lampman at 360-902-1703 or linden.lampman@dnr.wa.gov for any questions about the 2016 applications.

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How are your trees coping with the recent storms?

November 29, 2015
It's always a good idea to inspect your trees for any damage from past storms.

It’s always a good idea to inspect your trees for any damage from past storms.

Trees provide many benefits but, like us, they may sustain injuries, become ill, or just get old and creaky. Trees that are unhealthy or weak are far more likely to be damaged in a storm, but even healthy trees can be hit with storm damage if the weather conditions are severe enough. After any storm, it’s a good idea to walk through your yard and take a peek at your trees to assess their condition.

Here’s a quick three-step process to inspect trees in your yard, but please, always stay away from trees that are hung up or tangled in powerlines.

  • Look UP to the crown. Check for dead or hanging branches, limbs that lack bark, or show no signs of life. Dead or hanging branches may fall at any time, especially during winter winds. Do you see lots of fine twigs that have living buds? If not, that may indicate distress in your tree.
  • Look DOWN to the roots. Visually inspect the root zone and the trunk flare (also called the root collar) just above the roots for damage. Look for peeling, cracking, or loose bark on the roots and lower trunk. If you see mushrooms growing out of the trunk or along the roots, these can be signs that a tree’s roots are decaying. Be alert to mounding or cracked soil that you haven’t noticed before, especially after heavy winds. This can be an indication that roots are broken and are not supporting the tree properly. If you see newly mounded or cracked soil, call a certified arborist as soon as possible to assess the tree for structural root damage.
  • Look ALL AROUND the trunk. Inspect the trunk for wounds, cracks, or splits in the trunk, particularly where branches are attached. This could indicate decay or the potential for branches to fail. Look for decay pockets; if they extend over 1/3 the diameter of the trunk of the tree, that may indicate significant internal decay that compromises the strength of the trunk. Check for a lean greater than 40 percent, which may overbalance the tree if the root system is weak or damaged.

If a quick inspection like this raises questions about tree health or safety, contact a certified arborist to conduct a full inspection. This will give you peace of mind about whether your tree is okay, needs special care, or is approaching the end of its life.

If you’d like to learn more about assessing your trees, check out “How to Recognize and Prevent Tree Hazards” from the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture. The brochure contains explanations about warning signs to look for in trees and also provides great photos that illustrate those signs.

You may contact DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program for more information about caring for your trees properly.

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The dispute over natural vs artificial trees continues

November 28, 2015
Real Christmas trees are a renewable resource. Is your artificial tree? Photo DNR

Real Christmas trees are a renewable resource. Photo/DNR

Every holiday season there are debates about which is the better choice – a real or artificial Christmas tree.

As an agency that leases land to tree farmers, manages the state’s urban forestry program, and employs a good number of foresters, we may be a bit biased. Still, here’s our attempt to keep you informed and dispel some common myths around the topic.

Myth 1: You save forests by using a fake tree. Yes, the U.S. Forest Service issues a small number of permits to cut wild trees, but most of the Christmas and other types of holiday trees you purchase are grown on farms just like any other agricultural crop. Because real Christmas trees are usually grown as a crop – they even call them ‘Christmas tree farms’ – you are buying a harvested product grown for this purpose.

Myth 2: Real trees aggravate allergies. A pine tree allergy is relatively uncommon, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and real trees clean pollutants from the air as they grow.

Myth 3: Fake trees are fireproof.  Artificial trees advertised as “flame retardant” can resist flames for a period time, but when they do burn, they will emit significant heat and toxic smoke containing hydrogen chloride gas and dioxin. Take care no matter which tree you choose.

Myth 4: Real trees are a fire safety hazard. To minimize your risk, keep your tree freshly watered every day, use new lower-heat LED lights if you can, keep open flames away and dispose of the tree before the needles become brittle.

Myth 5: Fake trees are better because you can reuse them. Each year, municipalities reuse millions of real Christmas trees as mulch or wood chips. Natural trees are also 100 percent biodegradable. At some point, a fake tree wears out and ends up in a landfill (they aren’t recyclable or biodegradable).

Myth 6: Real trees cost too much. In Washington, most locally grown trees cost between $20 and $45 while a plastic tree costs from $100 to $300 depending on height and quality. You’ll have to use an artificial tree many years to break even. In any case, buying your tree locally helps support the fiscal health of your community.

Myth 7: Real trees have pesticides and chemicals on them. Tree farmers use chemicals only when needed and follow instructions made by the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Food and Drug Administration. Plastic trees crafted outside of the United States may not have similar oversight. Know that lead dust from artificial trees can be harmful, especially to children.

Myth 8: Real trees are a hassle and a mess. Yes, they do need to be watered each day, but what is a half of a minute between friends? Yes, when you move the tree in and out of the house, you will need to vacuum. Hey, you probably needed to do it anyway. Plus, what says “clean” better than the scent of a fresh tree?

Myth 9: I can cut a tree on state lands. No, it’s illegal to cut trees from state trust lands. These trees need to grow to build future public schools in our state, as well as provide wildlife habitat and clean water and air.

Myth 10: No one cares if my tree is real or fake. Which sounds like more fun – picking out a fragrant, live tree with friends and family or waiting in a checkout line to buy a plastic replica of a tree? And, since most real holiday trees are grown on family-owned tree farms, purchasing a real tree makes an important economic contribution that matters to many rural Washington communities.

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DNR part of effort to improve safety for loggers

November 17, 2015

As the largest landowner in the state (other than the federal government), DNR’s responsibilities go beyond managing Washington’s trust lands for wildlife habitat and sustainable revenue for state trust land beneficiaries: we also are working to improve safety for those who work in the woods. That’s why we are onboard with the Logger Safety Initiative.

Logging is historically one of Washington’s most hazardous industries — one where workers, particularly in non-mechanized logging jobs, suffer serious injuries much more often than in any other major industry. It’s also an industry where employers face accelerating workers’ compensation insurance costs. That’s why DNR, along with the Washington Contract Loggers Association, Washington Forest Protection Association, Department of Labor & Industries, numerous private land owners and private logging companies, formed the Washington State Logger Safety Initiative. The goal of this effort is to promote occupational safety, reduce fatalities, and decrease workplace injuries in the logging industry.

We all use products made of wood, so looking out for the workers who help bring us those products is the right thing to do.

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DNR offices closed for Veterans Day

November 11, 2015
DNR's Northeast Region office in Colville.

DNR’s Northeast Region office in Colville.

DNR offices and work sites are closed today, November 11, for the Veterans Day observance but many of the department’s recreation sites and other lands are open to visitors. Check our interactive map of what’s open and closed today on DNR-managed state trust lands across the state.

Here’s a list of Veterans Day events compiled by the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Batten down the hatches! Winter storms are on the way

November 10, 2015
neglected sailboat

This neglected sailboat broke free from its buoy and ended up beached and destroyed after a winter storm. Photo: DNR

Drenching rain and ferocious winds are forecast for this week. Remember to properly secure vessels so they don’t end up adrift. Double check mooring is secured; remove gas tanks and other chemicals not in use; mark down contact information on the boat, make sure covers are securely fastened.

DNR’s Derelict Vessels program frequently spends the first few days following big storms chasing down boats that broke free from their moorage or sank as rains got into unsecured covers.

Not only is this a problem for boat owners whose craft are now severely damaged, but these storm-damaged vessels also threaten the health of underwater habitat that is vital to so many sensitive species. Boats that break off moorage lines or fill with rainwater can leak oil, gas or other hazardous materials into the waters.

That can lead to stiff fines, in addition to the wrecked boats and recovery costs. The owner of a derelict or abandoned vessel is responsible for reimbursing the authorized public entity for all costs associated with the removal and disposal of that vessel.

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

Our partner agencies, too, are typically busy recovering lost boats after storms. The Washington Department of Ecology mobilizes response teams to clean up spilled chemicals. The U.S. Coast Guard treats every adrift vessel as a search and rescue situation.

 

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