Homeowners: Time to prepare for fire season

March 4, 2015
In the heart of the Carlton Complex Fire, Ann and Louis Stanton's property survived primarily due to thinning treatment of their forest. PHOTO DNR

In the heart of the Carlton Complex Fire, Ann and Louis Stanton’s property survived primarily due to thinning treatment of their forest. PHOTO DNR

As we head into the dry season, it’s time to reduce the amount of flammable vegetation near your home and make sure your trees are healthy. You can learn the best ways to reduce wildfire impact, protect homes and forests, and allow firefighters to work safely by contacting one of DNR’s Landowner Assistance Foresters. They can help you assess your forest, determine which management practices can reduce the risk of damage from insects and wildfire, and possibly enroll in a cost-share program.

Need more inspiration? Here are some real-life examples of how fuel reduction treatments have made all the difference:

Ann and Louis Stanton’s property was in the heart of the 2014 Carlton Complex fire in Okanogan County. Their property survived largely unscathed, in part, because they participated in DNR’s fuel reduction treatment project. The fire stayed on the ground because trees were thinned and pruned. There was very little scorching of their Ponderosa pines. Approximately 95 percent of the trees are anticipated to survive.

A second testimonial comes from Dan Noble. His property was involved in the Pine Bluffs fire near Kettle Falls in July 2014. His property was only partially burned because the fire slowed in the treated area. The fire crews were able to stop the fire in the treated area before it could reach the structures. As a result, five out of five homes in the area were saved, and the fire was kept small at 1.2 acres. About 90 percent of the trees in the treated area will survive.

This year, DNR is asking the Washington State Legislature for $20 million to reduce forest hazards in areas of our state threatened by forest insects, disease or wildfire.

This project will accomplish forest health restoration and fuel reduction treatments on federal, state and private forestland; establish new Firewise communities and reduce hazards around homes; accomplish community protection work by providing opportunities for veterans and build capacity for natural resource protection careers; and accomplish reforestation in areas damaged by wildfire and other disasters.

While fuel-reduction efforts are no guarantee, evidence shows they make a difference in the fight to protect homes and landscapes from wildfire.

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Fire Resistant Homes

March 3, 2015

 

Don’t let your home become a fire hazard. There are many ways to protect your home from the risk of wildfire. Check out these construction and landscape techniques to make your house more fire-resistant.

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‘WebXtender’ puts Washington state land survey records, maps online

March 1, 2015

WebXtender, a research tool offered by the Public Land Survey Office, provides online access to an extensive database of land survey records and maps from every county in Washington state. Many of the 542,000 surveys and documents in the database were previously recorded only at county offices or hosted in private collections.

WebXtender users include land surveyors, engineering firms, utility companies and federal, state, county, and city agencies who pay a quarterly or yearly rate for unlimited online access to surveys and maps. The office, a state service that DNR provides, is completely supported by user fees and sales of documents and maps.

For technical support or help with set-up, take a look at the WebXtender online manual. If you cannot find what you are looking for, contact the Public Land Survey Office to see if there is a hard copy of the document or survey that has not yet been scanned into WebXtender.

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Anniversary of Nisqually quake reminds us of importance of preparation

February 28, 2015
Nisqually earthquake debris in Olympia

The 2001 Nisqually Earthquake caused a building debris to fall into the street of downtown Olympia. Make sure you’re prepared for a natural disaster. Photo: Joe Dragovich/DNR.

Fourteen years ago today, an earthquake from deep under Anderson Island shook much of western Washington at 10:54 a.m.

Measuring a magnitude of 6.8, the Nisqually quake stemmed from the Benioff zone, meaning it came from deep underground (more than 32 miles underground.) The epicenter, next to the Nisqually River delta, was the same location as a magnitude 7.1 earthquake that struck April 29, 1945.

While the depth of the epicenter meant much of its force was buffered by layers of earth, the 2001 quake still injured 400 people and caused roughly $2 billion in damages.

Led to preparedness

On a brighter side, the Nisqaully quake touched off a wave of increased attention in earthquake science and emergency preparedness.

In the last 14 years, the number of seismic monitors has more than tripled across the northwest ; GPS units have been deployed for faster earthquake detection; mapping efforts have been boosted by the use of LiDAR, which has led to the detection of new faults in the Puget Sound area.

Resources

DNR worked with the Washington Emergency Managment Division and federal agencies to publish estimates of the potential losses from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake on the Nisqually fault zone. The fault runs beneath Pierce and Thurston counties but 15 other counties would feel this impact, including King County, which would suffer significant damage along with Pierce and Thurston counties.

Download the report, “Modeling a Magnitude 7.2 Earthquake on the Nisqually Fault Zone near Olympia.” We hope you’ll come away with a strong resolve to be prepared for a disaster after reading the report.

Since the Federal Emergency Management ranks Washington state behind only California for risk of economic losses from earthquakes, it’s important to make those extra efforts to be prepared.

When an earthquake happens, there will not be time to Google what you are supposed to do (Drop! Cover! Hold On!). After the earthquake, the internet might not work at all.

The Washington Emergency Managment Division has a number of excellent resources available, including preparedness brochures and what to pack in a 72-hour kit. You can also work with your neighbors to draw up plans to make your community for disaster-ready.

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Washington Geological Survey celebrates 125th birthday

February 25, 2015
Geologists have been chipping away at the mountain of geologic history that has formed Washington for the past 125 years. DNR photo

Geologists have been chipping away at the mountain of geologic history that has formed Washington for the past 125 years. DNR photo

Since Feb. 25, 1890, geologists have been documenting what makes Washington. And, though it’s not even a blip on the geologic clock, Washington has found out quite a bit about its foundation in the subsequent 125 years.

Observations those geologists have gleaned from walking over rocks, crawling through mines and reading map after map after map have given us insights into the age-old forces that made our state the geologic marvel it is.

George Bethune was appointed Washington’s first geologist. His initial annual report “The Mines and Minerals of Washington” provided Governor Charles E. Laughton and the legislature an assessment of the state’s mining industry and mineral deposits. Read the rest of this entry »

Local fire districts, start your engines

February 24, 2015
Kittitas Valley Fire & Rescue turned this freightliner into a tender. Photo DNR

Kittitas Valley Fire & Rescue received this excess military freightliner as is to convert into a tender. Photo DNR

Often as the first responders to wildfires, local fire districts and departments need to be ready to battle fires with good equipment that helps protect property and lives in rural areas.

There’s a program to help with that!

DNR’s Fire District Assistance Program is the conduit for fire districts and departments to participate in the USFS Firefighter Property and Volunteer Fire Assistance programs. These programs reduce costs for taxpayers and improve local and state agencies’ response to wildfires. Local fire districts and departments are able to obtain used excess military equipment and help to pay for its conversion to wildland fire use. Eligible fire districts can apply to DNR for assistance from these programs.

Kittitas Valley Fire & Rescue converted a freightliner into a tender for wildland fire use. Photo DNR

Kittitas Valley Fire & Rescue converted a freightliner into a tender for wildland fire use. Photo DNR

Through the Firefighter Property Program in 2014, DNR obtained 18 vehicles for Washington’s fire districts and departments to help them get ready for firefighting. These vehicles have been converted to engines and tenders for wildland fire use and at a substantial cost savings. After receiving the vehicle as is, the fire districts are required to convert the vehicles and place them into service within one year.

To help fire districts, the Volunteer Fire Assistance grants provide a 50 percent match for retrofitting firefighter property and other equipment, acquisition of personal protective and general fire equipment, fire prevention, and fire training. These grants are offered twice a year and are open to all Washington fire districts and departments who currently provide wildland fire response to private, state, or federal ownerships; serve communities less than 10,000 residents; and have a current agreement in place with DNR.

DNR’s Fire District Assistance Program can help newly formed fire districts, districts annexing unprotected lands, or districts unexpectedly losing equipment. Most vehicles acquired under this program can be converted in less than six months and for much less than it would cost to buy a new fire engine.

Interested? Learn more at the DNR Fire District Assistance web page.

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You can’t top a healthy tree

February 23, 2015

 

The practice of topping trees creates large wounds that are susceptible to disease and decay. Remember to always prune responsibly.

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DNR jobs open: wildland firefighter

February 22, 2015

FirefightersDo you want to do something meaningful and rewarding this summer? Do you enjoy physical, sometimes strenuous, labor? DNR is looking for dedicated individuals to help protect Washington’s natural resources from wildfire. Seasonal, temporary firefighting jobs are open statewide for the 2015 fire season. Visit the DNR jobs page to apply.

This is an entry-level position, and previous natural resource and firefighting experience is not required. Training is provided upon hire. The position lasts three to four months, usually from mid-June to mid-September.

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.

Before you apply

  • Must be 18 years old when hired (usually mid-June)
  • Must have a high school diploma or GED when hired (usually mid-June)
  • Must have a valid driver’s license & 2 years of driving experience
  • Acceptable driving record with no serious traffic violations:
    • License suspension/revocation due to reckless driving, hit and run, leaving an accident scene, failure to appear, DUI, other vehicle-related felony
    • More than 3 moving violations in the past 12 months
    • More than 4 moving violations in the past 24 months
  • Must be able to operate a manual transmission in a fire truck
  • Must be able to buy regulation boots for $250 – $270
    • Boots will be reimbursed up to $270 with receipt after purchase

To ApplyRegions Map

  • Create an account on careers.wa.gov
  • Identify the region you want to work in and apply for that specific region: Northeast, Northwest, Olympic, South Puget Sound, Pacific Cascade, Southeast
  • The application consists of basic information, education, past work history, references, and a simple questionnaire at the end

For tips on preparing for an interview, check out http://careers.wa.gov/onlineresources.html

The experience and training gained as a wildland firefighter can form the foundation for a successful career in forestry and other natural resource professions.

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Get out and enjoy DNR-managed land this weekend

February 20, 2015
Lummi Island NRCA by Jason Goldstein/DNR

Lummi Island NRCA by Jason Goldstein/DNR

 

Mild winter weather and the sunshine over Presidents Day weekend is making February feel like the beginning of spring. With more than 2.2 million acres of state trust land open for recreation and public access opportunities, the possibilities are endless. The Lummi Island Natural Resource Conservation Area (NRCA), pictured above, is a 661-acre conservation area in northern Puget Sound. It includes forested shorelines with steep, rocky headlands, a forest dominated by old growth Douglas-fir, and a small marine park available for boaters. To find information on this and other sites, including any temporary closures, visit our recreation page.

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Communication site leases support schools and counties

February 19, 2015
Grass Mountain communication site

A privately contracted technician repairs microwave dishes on a DNR-leased communication tower on 4,382-foot-high Grass Mountain in King County. PHOTO: Steve Diamond/NW Tower Eng Inc.

Communication site leases were a small-but-visible contributor to the $265 million in leasing and product sales revenues that DNR produced from state trust and aquatic lands last year. Our Communication Site program generated more than $4.28 million from some 100 wireless telecommunication sites in fiscal year 2014. State trust lands provide many ideal locations for communications towers—hilltops and mountaintops throughout many parts of Washington state–that private firms and other agencies lease to carry their radio, television, microwave, cellular and other wireless signals to urban and rural communities. State trust land beneficiaries receiving communication site revenues last year included K-12 public school construction ($1.9 million) and public services in several counties ($1.4 million).

See a list of DNR-managed communication sites by county.

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