Hard rain can trigger landslides. What’s your community’s risk?

October 31, 2015
Hard rain through the end of this week has   the threat of landslides in PUget Sound.

Hard rain through the end of this week has the threat of landslides in Puget Sound.

Heavy rains often cause localized flooding and higher river levels, but prolonged, intense rain like that sweeping western Washington this weekend increases the chances of shallow landslides.

In any given year, Washington can see hundreds, if not thousands of landslides.

Rainwater can infiltrate the ground, causing western Washington’s porous, sandier topsoil to weaken and slide off a base of firmer, impermeable clay. The steepness of eastern Washington slopes are also vulnerable to landslides. (Timothy Walsh, DNR Chief Hazards Geologist, explains in this video.)

In an effort to give communities a rating of how rainfall may increase the threat of landslides, Washington State Department of Natural Resources has teamed up with the National Weather Service to provide a map showing the risk of shallow landslides.

Updated every morning, the Shallow Landslide Hazard Map uses rainfall data from the previous 48 hours along with the Weather Service’s forecast rainfall for the next 24 hours to determine how high the hazard might be.

The map does not predict landslides at any particular time or location, but is intended to raise awareness of shallow landslide hazards caused by periods of prolonged rainfall. Landslides may occur in counties that have a low hazard rating and may not occur in all or any areas at high hazard

It is still in beta mode, so timely delivery of data is not guaranteed.

Warning signs of an impending landslide

If you live on or near a steep slope, here are some warning signs of potential slope instability:

  • Cracks forming in your yard, driveway, sidewalk, foundation or in other structures.
  • Trees on slopes, especially evergreens, start tilting.
  • Doors and windows suddenly become more difficult to open or close.
  • Water begins seeping from hillsides, even during dry weather.

If you see any of these early signs of a potential landslide, immediately contact your city or county.

Useful links

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Cougars on state trust lands

October 29, 2015
cougar kittens

If you see this in the woods: don’t touch and don’t hang around! Although alone at the time, these four cougar kittens were not orphans, and quite likely mom was very close by. Photo: DNR.

Felines live all around us in Washington state’s wild areas, including state trust lands managed by DNR. We’re talking about bobcats, lynx and cougars–the largest North American feline.

Also known as mountain lions or pumas, the exceptionally powerful legs of Puma concolor enable it to leap 30 feet from a standstill, or jump 15 feet straight up a cliff wall. The cougar’s strength and powerful jaws allow it to take down and drag prey larger than it is, according to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Living with Wildlife webpage on cougars. While it is estimated that there are fewer than 3,000 cougars in Washington state, these large predators can be found in pretty much any rural or semi rural area where cover and large prey — including deer — are in abundance.

Adult males average approximately 140 pounds but can be as large as weigh 180 pounds, measure 7 to 8 feet long from nose to tip of tail and stand about 30 inches tall at the shoulder. Adult female cougars average about 25 percent smaller than males.

Sometimes, people hiking through thickly wooded or brushy areas come across cougar kittens, such as those seen in the photo with this article, and assume that they are orphans because the mother is not around. Don’t be fooled. Cougar kittens stay with their mothers for 12 to 19 months after their birth. While she hunts, the mother will leave the kittens in a ‘daybed’ which can be a cave but in less-mountainous areas can be a thickly forested area, a thicket or under large roots or fallen trees. And if you are hanging around when she returns…. well, re-read the paragraph about their strong jaws and leaping abilities. The fact is that while stronger than humans, cougar-human encounters almost never turn out well for the cougar. If you spot a cougar and have concerns, contact your local state wildlife office or, if it’s an immediate emergency, call 911 or any local law enforcement office. And never, ever touch one of those cute cougar kittens.

Cougars are among the many species of animals that live on the more than 2 million acres of DNR-managed forested trust land which, in western Washington, is managed under a comprehensive habitat conservation plan.

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Explore DNR-managed lands from green dot roads

October 28, 2015

Enjoy forest drives, wildlife viewing, camping, or hunting? DNR has just the place for you – a network of green dot roads in southeastern Washington.

DNR manages a green dot road system in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and private landowners to provide opportunities for dispersed recreation, or recreating outside of our designated trails, campgrounds, and picnic areas.

Whites Ridge Rd in Ahtanum S.F.

Off-road-vehicle riders from the All Wheelers Off Road Club follow Whites Ridge Road in the Ahtanum State Forest. Photo: Clay Graham

View our green dot road maps for: 

The Green Dot Road Management System was established in the early 1980s as a means to provide connections across a landscape of checkerboard ownership made up of DNR land and WDFW land. You can locate green dot roads by using the maps above, and looking for reader boards and route markers with green dots when you’re out exploring.

Check out our forest road survival tips before you go hunting. For hunting information, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website. Remember to bring a Discover Pass, your gateway to exploring Washington’s great outdoors.

County burn bans may still be in effect in various locations throughout Washington.  Check with your community fire district for local information. Before having a campfire, check to see if there are any fire restrictions for your area.

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Creek, pond and mountain ‘notch’ to get new names

October 26, 2015

A proposal by McCleary School students to call this previously unnamed pond ‘Wildcat Pond’ for their school mascot will go before the state Board of Natural Resources soon for final consideration. Photo: DNR.

Students at McCleary School got something to cheer about on Friday (October 23). The Washington State Committee on Geographic Names advanced their request to designate a previously unnamed pond near the school as Wildcat Pond in honor of the elementary school’s mascot. That proposal, which passed muster with the McCleary City Council in 2014, now heads to the Board of Natural Resources for a final confirmation. If approved, it will become the official name listed on state maps and documents. The proposal’s next, and final, stop, would be the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

The committee, also gave its blessing on Friday to two other requests from the public: Designate an unnamed waterway in Jefferson County as Cooper Creek to honor early homesteaders in the area, and name a notch, or pass, on the southern flank of Mount Rainier for Capt. George Vancouver of the British Royal Navy. While Vancouver likely never set foot in that area, he did describe it in his journal during a voyage to this area in 1792.

The all-volunteer committee of experts and interested parties was created by the state legislature to weed through proposals from the public to name geographic features. This article in the Tacoma News Tribune describes the process in detail. The most current proposals — all submitted by Washington residents — are on the DNR website.

The formal geographic naming process we use today was created in 1890 by presidential order because surveyors, map makers, and scientists needed uniform, non-conflicting geographic nomenclature. In this age of geographic information systems and the Internet, standard geographic names are more important than ever.

Protecting you and DNR state lands: Washington’s Natural Resources Police

October 25, 2015

DNR police officers stationed throughout Washington patrol more than 5 million acres of DNR-managed lands. They lend assistance, deter criminal behavior, and ensure compliance with rules and laws.


Don’t be too surprised if officers approach by truck, off-road motorcycle, quad, motorboat or snowmobile.

While officers often focus on education, citations are sometimes required as they also respond to theft, assault, reckless endangerment, fish and wildlife violations, plus collisions and infractions involving vehicles and/or off-road vehicles. Officers normally patrol in marked 4×4 pickup trucks, yet don’t be too surprised if you see them approach by off-road motorcycle, quad, snowmobile, or motorboat.

Our officers are experienced detectives with comprehensive training. DNR police officers meet or exceed all training standards set by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. Most of our officers have had 10 or more years of field experience with other law enforcement agencies, where they gained training and experience in special weapons, bomb and arson investigations, hazardous materials, and commercial vehicle enforcement.

Group photo of DNR's police force

DNR police officers meet or exceed all training standards set by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

DNR expands on officers’ previous experience with ongoing training in driving all-season, all-terrain vehicles, off-road vehicles and motorboats; using defensive tactics; conducting investigations, particularly wildland fire investigations; firearms; and other skills.


DNR’s officers provide public assistance and protection for those visiting DNR-managed lands.

In addition to working frequently with other law enforcement agencies, DNR officers also assist DNR agency investigations and coordinate DNR’s civilian recreation wardens. They train wardens to enforce and educate the public on rules and safety on DNR-managed roads, campgrounds, trails, picnic sites, and forestlands.

It’s the goal of our Natural Resources Police force to provide for justice and public safety. Should you ever need their assistance, don’t hesitate to contact them at the appropriate region office or in the case of an emergency, dial 911.

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Enjoy thru-hiking? Check out DNR’s Pacific Northwest Trail connections

October 23, 2015

Did you know that when you recreate on DNR-managed lands, you also have access to a trail that starts in the jagged Rockies of Glacier National Park and traverses six mountain ranges before ending in the wilderness coast of Olympic National Park?

Samish Bay Overlook

View of Samish Bay from the Samish Overlook. Photo / DNR.

The, 1,200-mile Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) is regarded as one of the most difficult of the United States’ 11 national scenic trails, yet visitors by the thousands flock to it and it’s many points of interest.

About 60 miles of the PNT cross DNR-managed land, including the Blanchard Forest near Bow, Harry Osborne Forest near Sedro-Woolley, and the Loomis State Forest near Loomis. By the beginning of the trail that leads to Oyster Dome, thru-hikers are nearly 900 miles into their journey from Montana when they catch their first glimpse of salt water.

Rigorous yet scenic, REI has called the PNT, “arguably the most breathtaking thru-hike in the country.” The trail passes through three national parks, seven national forests, six Wilderness areas, and countless state lands before reaching the Pacific Ocean shoreline. Hikers may see wolves, bears, elk, caribou, and mountain lions; or visit quaint mountain towns that act as resupply stepping stones across Montana, Idaho, and Washington.

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Wood for good

October 22, 2015
This curio shelf is made from urban waste wood donated by the City of Olympia Photo Janet Pearce/DNR

This curio shelf is made from urban waste wood donated by the city of Olympia. Photo Janet Pearce/DNR

Waste not, want not. Sometimes urban trees need to be removed due to poor health, damage, or development activities. In the past, this urban waste wood was often sent to landfills. In better situations, it’s repurposed for ‘low-end’ uses, such as mulch or firewood. Yet, the Cedar Creek Corrections Center’s sawmill and carpentry shop is taking this resource to an even greater level and turning out high-end reuse products – good news for urban ‘waste’ wood and our communities.

Thanks to special project funding through the USDA Forest Service, and in partnership with Cedar Creek Corrections Center, DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is able to show how to put urban wood to good use. With a portable sawmill, a drying room, and a carpentry shop, Cedar Creek has turned urban waste wood into beautiful bowls, boxes and benches. Some of these beautifully crafted products are returned to wood donors while others are donated to non-for-profit charitable organizations, or schools.

The Urban Wood Utilization Project promotes the use of urban waste wood resources for their highest and best use while developing viable job skills for minimum security prison inmates.

Offenders at Cedar Creek, and other correction centers across the state, play a critical role helping to fight summer wildfires. In the off-season, programs such as the Cedar Creek carpentry program provide additional opportunities for crews to earn modest funds to help support them upon release, and continue developing marketable green-collar experience.

Who donates urban waste wood?

Anyone! Here are a couple of examples:

A few years ago, the city of Olympia created a long-term plan to remove and replace several oak trees from Legion Way. These trees had had their tops cut off, a detrimental practice called topping, and the branches that grew back were weak and likely to break, especially during a storm. The city donated the wood to Cedar Creek’s urban wood project where it was crafted into a park bench and stools for Arbutus Folk School’s ceramics program.

A couple of years ago several black locust trees at 11th Street in Olympia were growing into electric wires after having been topped. When the state’s Department of Enterprise Services had to remove them, they donated the urban waste wood to Cedar Creek. Cedar Creek’s shop used the wood to build a bench and make decorative and functional bowls.

To make an urban waste wood donation, contact DNR at urban_forestry@dnr.wa.gov.

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Share your ideas for new Reiter Foothills Forest trail names

October 20, 2015
Reiter 4X4

Located near Gold Bar, Reiter Foothills Forest has many 4×4, ATV, and single-track riding opportunities. Photo/ DNR.

Have ideas about what to name DNR’s new motorized trails in the Reiter Foothills Forest? Share them before Nov. 15.

To submit suggestions, attend our October Reiter Foothills focus group meeting at 7 to 9 p.m., Oct. 28 in the Snohomish County Admin Building.

Or, email or mail your recommendations to Ben Hale, 919 N Township St, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284.

Reference our 4×4 and ATV maps for your recommendations.

Avoid slang, intentional misspellings, and inappropriate language. For more information, contact our Reiter Foothills Forest recreation manager, Ben Hale.

About Reiter Foothills Forest
Popular among off-road-vehicle riders, Reiter Foothills Forest’s 10,000 acres are located between sub-alpine wilderness and the Skykomish River valley, surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountain peaks. Reiter Foothills Forest trails are open 4 to 7 p.m. on Fridays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. View a map of recreation opportunities at Reiter.


Views of the Reiter Foothills Forest. Photo/ DNR.

Want to get involved? Attend our Reiter Foothills Focus Group meetings to hear firsthand about the progress at Reiter and to provide your input on recreation planning. Meetings are from 7 to 9 p.m. every fourth Wednesday of the month at the address, above.

To stay connected with DNR’s recreation program, subscribe to our free monthly e-newsletter.

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Commissioner Goldmark presents tree care honors to City of Seattle

October 19, 2015
Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray plant an Incense Cedar tree at Seattle’s Arbor Day event on Saturday, October 17.  Photo Linden Lampman/DNR

Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray plant an Incense Cedar tree at Seattle’s Arbor Day event on Saturday, October 17. Photo Linden Lampman/DNR

In celebration of Urban and Community Forestry Month, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark presented Tree City recognition to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray at Seattle’s annual Arbor Day celebration. Seattle hit their 30th Tree City USA anniversary at the Saturday, October 17, 2015 event.

The Tree City USA Program has been greening up cities across the US since 1976. It’s a nationwide movement that provides the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their public trees. The award is given annually to cities that meet Tree City USA standards (have a Tree Board, a tree ordinance for public trees, a community forestry program, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation).

Of the 86 Tree City USA communities in Washington, only Ellensburg and Longview have been in the program longer than Seattle, with 32 and 31 impressive years respectively.

Seattle also received its 19th Tree City Growth Award. The Tree City USA Growth Award is awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation to recognize higher levels of tree care by participating Tree City USA communities. The Growth Award highlights innovative programs and projects as well as an increased commitment of resources for urban forestry. It also highlights new ideas and successes across the country.

Commissioner Goldmark also recognized Seattle City Light for their 2nd year as a Tree Line USA utility. DNR recognizes utility companies as Tree Line USA utilities when they commit to healthy tree care and maintenance, tree worker training programs, and community tree planting.

Trees and utility lines can come into conflict, but with careful planning of where new trees are planted and more attention to proper tree care, there’s no reason they cannot co-exist. The Tree Line Program recognizes best practices in public and private utility arboriculture, demonstrating how trees and utilities can exist side-by-side for the benefit of communities and citizens.

For more information on proper tree care, contact DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.

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Mark your calendars: DNR celebrates Predator Trail with Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance

October 17, 2015

DNR and Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance are celebrating a new 1.8-mile trail in Tiger Mountain State Forest on Oct. 24. Join us to share a pig roast BBQ and celebrate the official opening of Predator Trail, an expert-only technical and challenging descent.

Tiger Mountain

The Predator Trail, 1.8 miles in length, is Tiger Mountain’s newest trail. Photo/ DNR.

Celebration details 
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 24
Tiger Summit Trailhead
Directions: From Issaquah, go east on I-90 to exit 25. Turn right to SR-18. Go 4.5 miles to Tiger Summit. Turn right. Take Westside Road left .3 miles to the site on the right.

About the trail
Named after the tiger, an apex predator at the top of the food chain, the Predator Trail is Tiger Mountain’s newest and most difficult trail.

The new trail addition boosts the east Tiger Mountain State Forest mountain bike trail system to nearly 17 miles in total length.

This one-way descent is full of rock-armored steeps, with some tight turns over fast and undulating terrain packed with obstacles that will keep even highly skilled riders challenged. View a map of the new trail.

Check back with us on our Facebook and Twitter pages for more information about the event. For more information about recreation on Tiger Mountain, visit our website. To start planning your next mountain bike ride, click on trailheads on our new statewide interactive recreation map.

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