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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Hit the trail for views of fall color

September 22, 2015

Washington is bursting into fall color and one of the best ways to enjoy it is to hit the trail. Below are seven top spots to do just that according to our Washington State Department of Natural Resources recreation managers located throughout this great state.

Fall colors on Buck Creek Trail

The Buck Creek Trail system near White Salmon, WA has some amazing fall colors this year. Photo/ DNR.

Highpoint and West Tiger Mountain Trailhead
Don’t miss the maple trees along Bus and Nook trails and at the beginning of West Tiger No. 3.

West Tiger Mountain Natural Resources Conservation Area, just outside of Issaquah, is open to hikers and leashed dogs.

Rattlesnake Mountain Trailhead
Take the Rattlesnake Trail, as opposed to the much busier Rattlesnake Ridge trail, for maple trees at the beginning of hike followed by views of Rattlesnake Lake, Grand Prospect, and East Peak.

The trail is just outside of Snoqualmie and open to hikers and leashed dogs.

Whites Ridge Trailhead
South of Yakima, this ridgeline trail in the Ahtanum State Forest provides views of Mount Adams and the Yakima Valley.

The trail also takes you along creeks and through forested areas. It’s open to hikers, horses, and leashed dogs. Read the rest of this entry »

Communities can now apply for Tree City status; what are you waiting for?

September 21, 2015
Tree City USA!

Apply now to be a Tree City USA! You don’t want to miss out on the fall color. Photo Janet Pearce/DNR

Is your city or town a Tree City? Tree City USA communities bring recognized benefits to their citizens because trees and forests, when well cared for, help boost community health, safety, and character.

Tree City USA helps cities and towns build a foundation for effective, well-organized tree care programs. Cities and towns that pursue the designation recognize that good stewardship of natural resources is a reliable investment in the future of their community. In addition to the many benefits that trees provide, communities earning the Tree City USA award may also position themselves to receive financial support from DNR for projects that enhance community livability.

Communities can achieve Tree City USA status by meeting four core standards: dedicating a citizen tree board or city staff to address tree-related issues; having a community tree ordinance, tracking tree-related expenditures and activities; and by celebrating Arbor Day.

Approximately 30 percent of Washington residents live in a Tree City USA and currently, there are 84 designated Tree City USA communities in Washington state. See if your city is one of them.

Tree City USA is an inclusive program. Any incorporated city or town can participate, regardless of size, location, climate, or economic factors. Find out how your city can become a Tree City USA. Be sure to plan ahead, because the deadline for applying is December 15.

If you have questions or need help to promote the program in your community, contact DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.

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Urban Forestry Restoration Project – now taking applications until September 30

September 20, 2015
Puget SoundCorps crews can make your city look like this in the fall. Photo: Janet Pearce/DNR

Puget SoundCorps crews can make your city look like this in the fall. Photo: Janet Pearce/DNR

Great news! The Urban Forestry Restoration Project (UFRP) has been extended for the 2015-2016 project year (October 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016) and applications are now being accepted.

Each successful applicant receives approximately four weeks of Puget SoundCorps crew time to assist with urban forestry tasks that enhance the health and function of urban trees and forests.

Healthy urban trees and forests help to manage stormwater, reduce soil erosion, clean the air we breathe and the water we drink, and provide a broad range of additional ecological, economic and public health benefits.

Proposed projects must lie within the Puget Sound Basin, on publicly-owned property, and may not displace workers already in place or contracted. Criteria for selection include:

  • Local commitment to urban forestry;
  • Water quality impacts and community benefits;
  • Project planning and coordination; and
  • Public support and citizen stewardship involvement.

Application forms can be downloaded from the UFRP website. For questions or more information, please contact the UFRP Project Manager, Micki McNaughton, at (360) 902-1637 or

Application deadline is 4:00 pm on Wednesday, September 30, 2015.

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Corps crews join wildfire effort statewide

September 19, 2015
Washington Conservation Corps wildfire efforts

A Washington Conservation Corps takes part in a mop-up procedure on a fire near Dear Creek. Photo courtesy Department of Ecology.

From forest restoration to fighting forest fires, Washington Conservation Corps crews play important roles in the protection of Washington’s landscapes.

Each year DNR works in partnership with Department of Ecology, AmeriCorps, and many other organizations to put Washington’s young people to work doing valuable conservation work and trail building through the Washington Conservation Corps and Puget Sound Corps.

This past week Corps crews were wrapping up their deployments assisting the wildfire fighting efforts in Eastern Washington.

Supporting the effort 
Starting in mid-June, about 20 crew members assisted DNR as a hand crew on fire dispatches around the state. Crew members were involved in mopping up and digging fire line.

In addition to hand crews, more than 80 crew members worked at 15 fire camps around the state to assist with camp operations like distributing food and maintaining the camp. Visit the Department of Ecology’s blog for more information.

Corps history 
The Corps, founded in 1983, is a multi-agency effort that invests in future generations by building their professional skills  and stewardship for the state’s natural landscapeshigh-quality recreation opportunities, and the Puget Sound.

Apply today
The Corps is hiring right now. For more info and to apply, visit Positions start October 5, 2015.

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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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Share your thoughts on DNR’s draft trails policy before Sept. 28

September 18, 2015

Love to hike, horseback ride, mountain bike, and off-road vehicle ride on DNR’s 1,100 miles of trails around Washington state?

Share your input about DNR’s new draft Recreational Trails Policy, which will guide DNR in trail management and development in collaboration with volunteers and interested stakeholders. For more information about the policy project, watch our narrated slideshow, below.

Provide your comments by Sept. 28

Policy background
Prompted by the legislature in March 2014, DNR developed the draft policy with support from the public and Washington’s outdoor recreation community.

DNR held public meetings across Washington in 2014 and formed a 17-member stakeholder committee to identify issues and develop policy recommendations. For previous meeting summaries and public comments, visit our Trails Policy Web page

DNR anticipates adopting the policy by Oct. 31, 2015.

For more information about recreation planning on DNR-managed lands, visit our website. To stay in-the-know about DNR’s recreation program, subscribe to our free monthly recreation e-newsletter. For September’s issue, click here.

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Hunting awareness: what’s open and how to stay fire-safe this season

September 17, 2015
Muzzleloader hunter prepares for a day's outing.

Tom Prior sets out for a day of elk hunting on DNR-managed lands. Photo: Herb Gerhardt/DNR Volunteer.

It’s hunting season and many outdoor enthusiasts across the state are packing up their rigs for an adventure on lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). With nearly a million acres of land burned, Washington has had its worst wildfire season ever. And it’s still not over in eastern Washington.

Before you head out, get the lowdown on what is open or closed and how to be fire safe this season. Be sure to check with the appropriate landowner for any restrictions before recreating on public or private land. If you’re wondering what public lands you can visit this time of year, check out the pages listed under DNR-managed lands to see if any restrictions exist.

Important: Burn ban in effect east of the Cascade Mountains

Due to the dry conditions that persist, DNR still has a burn ban throughout eastern Washington.

DNR is asking hunters to be cautious and follow the following fire restrictions when on DNR-protected lands.

According to the Northwest Coordination Center, Washington state has had 1,462 reported wildfires. Out of those, only 451 were caused by lightning. This leaves 1,011 wildfires that were human-caused and could have been prevented.

For information on hunting, visit Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Also, don’t forget your Discover Pass – your vehicle access pass to millions of acres of state managed recreation sites.

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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:


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