DNR tips its hat to farmers on National Ag Day

March 18, 2015

PotatoesandOrchard_bohnet article

This Friday marks the first day of spring! Though it was a mild one, winter is officially at an end and new life will soon begin blossoming across the state in vivid color. And what better way to celebrate than with National Agriculture Day, sponsored by the Agriculture Council of America? It’s a day to celebrate the vibrant-hued fruits of our labor.

In Washington state, apples, cherries, wheat, and other agricultural products bring in millions of dollars each year. Contributing to the bounty are DNR-managed agriculture and grazing land trusts.

Apple Bin5In 1889, Congress delegated trust lands to Washington, many of them intended to support the state’s public educational institutions. Today, about 85 percent of the revenue from state trust lands in agriculture and grazing leases helps fund the construction of schools statewide. DNR works with the farmers and ranchers who lease trust lands to assure that the lands remain ecologically sustainable and productive, while protecting public resources such as clean water, fish, and wildlife.

DNR manages more than one million acres of trust lands that are leased or permitted for agriculture and grazing lands. They include:

  • 500,000 acres – Grazing leases
  • 322,000 acres – Grazing on forested lands (range permits)
  • 110,000 acres – Dryland grain crops
  • 32,000 acres – Irrigated row crops
  • 14,000 acres – Orchards and vineyards

In 2014, agriculture leasing and grazing lands managed by DNR produced roughly $23.5 million in revenue with a significant portion of that revenue used in support of public school construction. The revenue generated from agriculture and grazing lands in 2014 saw a 9.7 percent increase from 2013. The revenue production was divided as follows:

  • $6.4 million – Dryland grain crops
  • $16.1 million – Irrigated row crops
  • $904,858 – Grazing and other production

To learn more about agriculture on DNR-managed lands including information on leases and permits, visit DNR’s Leasing for Agriculture page.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter Join in the DNR Forum

Get prepared NOW for wildfire!

March 17, 2015

DNR is the state of Washington’s largest on-call fire department. With fire season quickly approaching, there is no better time to take action and implement “firewise” strategies around your home. For the past few weeks, we’ve been posting video blogs in which Cisco Morris, book author and popular television and radio gardening show host, shares tips with homeowners and community members on fire prevention. In case you missed our Cisco Morris video series on fire prevention, here’s a recap:

Fire Resistant Homes

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.

Fighting Fire with Flowers

You can reduce the risk of wildfire by choosing fire resistant plants and knowing where to place them in your garden. The good news is that you’re not limited to just a few plants. There is a plethora of fire resistant plants available.

Communities Taking Action

More people than ever live in the wildland-urban interface, the transition zone between developed areas and wildlands–a zone where destructive wildfires can and do occur. Cisco Morris shows you how to make your community more resistant to wildfire.

Stay safe this summer. You can’t stop a fire from emerging naturally, but you can take precautions to protect your home, land, and loved ones from the risks of wildfire.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter Join in the DNR Forum

Beetle invasions put forests at risk of wildfire

March 16, 2015

A healthy forest is a top priority in preventing wildfire, and insects are one of the things that can threaten the health of a tree. Bark beetles, such as the mountain pine beetle, feed on the inner bark of many types of pine trees, which can cause the trees to die. Although the beetles normally play an important role by attacking older or weakened trees to allow more room for younger trees to grow, the combination of warmer winters, densely packed forest stands and poor forest health conditions, such as seen across eastern Washington, puts entire forests at greater risk of destructive wildfire.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter Join in the DNR Forum

Take your new “quad” map out for a hike

March 15, 2015
View of Mount Baker from the Lyman Radio Site on DNR-managed trust land northeast of Sedro-Woolley. Photo: Tom Mahon/DNR.

View of Mount Baker from the Lyman Radio Site on DNR-managed trust land northeast of Sedro-Woolley. Photo: Tom Mahon/DNR.

Interested in outdoor recreation? Want to find new places to go (or just figure out where you’ve been)? DNR Public Lands Quadrangle maps are a great asset to anyone who wants to explore Washington state’s great outdoors.

“Quad” maps are full-color printed maps that show important details (including boundaries) about parcels of public land down to 10 acres in size. The maps also show highways, roads, trails, water features, recreation sites, and other key features. Each of these 1:100,000 scale maps covers an area of about 1,600 square miles, with one inch being the equivalent of approximately 1.6 miles.

In addition to recreation enthusiasts, the series of 50 maps published by DNR are popular with hunters, backcountry hikers, and emergency responders. DNR Public Lands Quadrangle Maps are a great to locate lands managed by DNR, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), State Parks and Recreation Commission, and other public agencies.

The three most recently updated maps illustrate the areas around Chewelah, Mount Baker, and Mount Adams.

Maps can be purchased online or in person from the Washington State Department of Printing between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter Join in the DNR Forum

Learn about the health of Washington’s forests near you

March 14, 2015
Forest Health Highlights is a report on insect and disease activity in Washington's forests.

Forest Health Highlights is a report on insect and disease activity in Washington’s forests.

Each year, all forested acres in Washington are surveyed from the air to track recent tree damage. That’s 22.4 million acres of forestland, which you can see in this three-minute video taken from 2011.

These aerial surveys are used to report the location and intensity of damage by forest insects, diseases, and other disturbances. See the results for yourself in our latest Forest Health Highlights report.

If you own forestland, use this report to understand which insects or diseases are active near your property and find out how to get maps and data covering your area.

Even if you don’t own forestland, the report helps you understand the quality and condition of forests near you. It’s so valuable in fact, that DNR and the U.S. Forest Service have conducted a forest health survey of Washington’s forests every year since 1947.

Learn more about DNR’s Forest Health Program, and check out the many resources the U.S. Forest Service has available on Western Forest Insects and Diseases.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter

Wildfire risk? Nip it in the fire-resistant bud!

March 13, 2015

3-13-2015 10-38-33 AM

More people than ever are building their homes in the wildland-urban interface, a transition zone where urban structures and wildland coexist. These urban structures are not always in harmony with their wild neighbors, and the closer houses are built to the forest, the less defensible space there is available to defend against the risk of wildfire.  Therefore, homeowners living in these areas must take extra precautions to protect their homes, lives, and property against potential wildfire.

One way to do this is to layer the landscape around your property with fire-resistant plants. These plants can function both as a defensible barrier and as an aesthetically pleasing addition to any garden or land. Fire-resistant plants are plants that are not easily ignited by a flame, and whose foliage and stems resist significantly “fueling the fire.” Other factors that contribute to a plant’s ability to resist wildfire are moisture content, age, total volume, dead material, and chemical content. If a plant is considered fire-resistant, that does not mean it is fireproof. A fire will burn these plants if they are not healthy, pruned, and properly watered.

Fire-resistant plant characteristics

  • Leaves with high moisture content
  • Little dead wood or dry material accumulated within the plant
  • Near odorless water-like sap
  • Low sap or resin materials

Highly flammable plant characteristics

  • The plant contains fine, dry, or dead material such as twigs, needles, and leaves
  • Volatile waxes, terpenes, or oils contained in leaves, twigs, and stems
  • Leaves have a strong aromatic odor when crushed
  • Thick, resinous sap with a strong odor
  • Loose or thin, papery bark

Many native and ornamental plants also have highly flammable characteristics, therefore, it is important to avoid landscaping with these plants directly around your home. Fortunately, there are many trees, shrubs, flowers, and other fire-resistant plants to choose from that will add color and texture variety to any landscape.

For a comprehensive list of fire-resistant plants, including plant adaptability to different hardiness zones, take a look at DNR’s Fire-Resistant Plants for Home Landscapes publication.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter Join in the DNR Forum

Trees for tomorrow: Webster Forest Nursery seedlings

March 13, 2015
Webster Forest Nursery

After getting a six-month head start in the Webster Forest Nursery greenhouse (between February and August), these lovely Douglas-fir seedlings were transplanted into the nursery’s outdoor bareroot nursery where they will grow for the next 1.5 years before being offered for sale to small forest landowners.

DNR staff at the Webster Forest Nursery are busy tending to seedlings and working on other tasks that will help DNR and many small private land owners meet the replanting requirements of the State Forest Practices Act. Located just south of Olympia, the Webster Nursery consists of 270 acres of bareroot ground and greenhouses. Each year, the nursery produces between 8 million and 10 million seedlings of various species from seeds selected for their suitability to the soils, microclimates and other local conditions found across the state.

The greenhouse nursery is currently sowing seed to grow 3.5 million container seedlings and the bareroot nursery is lifting, packing, and shipping seedlings. The bareroot nursery currently has 5.9 million seedlings packed with 3.5 million more seedlings remaining in the fields to lift and pack. Summer and early fall tend to be the optimal times to prepare planting sites, scout for planting crews to hire, purchase seedlings and do other preparations for winter planting.

As this winter nears its end, the year’s supply of seedlings is sold out. However, next year’s seedlings will be ready for purchase during fall or early winter of the 2015/2016 season.

Sales of next year’s seedlings begin September 1, 2015. In the meantime, you can learn more by:

After September 1, 2015, place your order by calling 360-902-1234 or toll-free 1-877-890-2626.

Please note: Seedlings must be ordered in bundles of 100. The species and stock produced at the nursery are for large trees and not suitable for most urban sites. When ordering seedlings, it is important to know which species and stock type to plant and we recommend that you seek out a qualified forester to get specific recommendations for your planting site.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter Join in the DNR Forum

Diversify your yard with a different type of tree

March 12, 2015
The Japanese pagodatree isn't fussy about soil or water.

The Japanese pagodatree isn’t fussy about soil or water.

Looking for a tough, unusual tree to diversify your yard or woodland? One with character and multi-season interest? Give the Japanese pagodatree, sometimes called the Chinese scholar-tree, a look. Japanese pagodatree has been extensively planted near temples and shrines in eastern Asia for centuries. It is native to China and Korea, but—oddly enough, considering both its common and botanic names—not Japan. The tree was introduced to the western nursery trade in 1747.

Those of us who know the tree as Sophora japonica should be aware that botanists have recently renamed the tree Styphnolobium japonicum to differentiate it from trees of the genus Sophora. The roots of Sophora species form associations with soil bacteria to fix nitrogen like most members of the Fabaceae family. Recent scientific studies, however, show that Japanese pagodatree is one of the few trees in the extensive Fabaceae family that does not fix nitrogen in the soil. Who knew?

The Japanese pagodatree produces large, very showy panicles of creamy white pea-like flowers over several weeks in mid to late summer, a time when most other flowering trees are done with their show. Dark green compound leaves provide dappled shade through summer, becoming yellow in fall. Bark develops a rugged look similar to oak as the tree matures, offering winter interest. Bean-like pods are 3 to 8 inches long, and are retained on the tree through winter, an additional seasonal texture. The roots tend to be fibrous and deep, unlikely to affect nearby hardscape. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons remain vital four years after deadly Japan earthquake, tsunami

March 11, 2015

On March 11 four 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. 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.

The Geology Division is now focusing similar efforts on the San Juan Islands

DNR has charted evacuation routes for those in communities that might be impacted by tsunamis on our interactive geologic map. The Division also documents tsunami-related news in our bi-monthly newsletter, TsuInfo.

To see how a tsunami may impact you and your community, take our tsunami awareness quiz.

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

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter

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

March 10, 2015

Charley Burns, a Wildfire Unit Forester for DNR, demonstrates an emergency fire shelter. DNR’s grant funding helps eligible rural fire districts buy new fire and safety equipment like these wildfire shelters. PHOTO DNR


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 that is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

DNR administers the 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 24, 2015.

Eligible districts apply online using the Phase I Order Form, and submit the order per directions on the form. This grant funding helps eligible rural fire districts across Washington State buy new fire and safety equipment.

The application period opens today, March 10, 2015, and closes April 24, 2015. Interested districts can find more information on DNR’s Fire District Assistance Program webpage.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter Join in the DNR Forum


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 248 other followers