Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’

Blossoming fruit trees good for bees, farmers and schools

March 15, 2016
bee visits cherry tree

A bee drops in to sample a cherry tree blossom in an orchard on leased state trust land in Franklin County. Photo: Chad Unland/DNR.

Today is National Agriculture Day. Although spring doesn’t officially begin until later this week (9:30 p.m., March 19, 2016, to be precise), trees are budding and bees are buzzing all around the state. And that’s good news for public schools across Washington state. Why? Because the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) leases several thousand acres of orchard land in eastern Washington for revenue to support public school construction.

In Fiscal Year 2015 (which ended June 30, 2015) DNR orchard and vineyard leases generated $8.2 million. So excuse us if we choose to celebrate Agriculture Day every day because the combined lease and fee revenue from more than 1 million acres of DNR-managed agricultural and grazing trust lands is contributing millions of dollars each year — $21 million in 2015 — to build state universities and public schools statewide.

DNR also leases out dryland for crops like wheat and potatoes, as well as irrigated crop land, vineyards, orchards and grazing lands across the state. Public lease auctions are held throughout the year. See what’s for lease in our Lease Opportunity Viewer.

Learn more about how DNR manages state trust lands to produce revenue that helps support county services and build public schools, state universities and other institutions in the newly published 2015 DNR Annual Report.

Wheat builds schools, too

March 10, 2016
spring wheat

Winter wheat is planted in the fall, goes dormant during the winter, and emerges from dormancy the following spring. Photo: DNR.

There’s more than trees growing on the 3.1 million acres of state-owned uplands managed by DNR. About 1.2 million acres are leased to farmers, ranchers, orchardists — even wine producers — whose lease payments to DNR are a steady source of non-tax revenue for public school construction, state universities and other beneficiaries of state trust lands.

What’s coming up now across large areas of eastern Washington state is wheat — winter wheat to be exact — and lots of it. In fact, Washington is among the nation’s top three wheat producing states along with Kansas and Oklahoma. As a recent article by the Washington Grain Commission explains, DNR-managed lands are a big part of that production. We currently lease 187,000 acres (through 639 leases) to wheat farmers, much of it in Whitman, Adams, Douglas and Lincoln counties. Dryland leases generated $4 million last year, part of the $21 million that DNR-managed agricultural and grazing lands contributed to the $161.9 million the department distributed last year to the various trust land beneficiaries.

Leases of all types of DNR-managed agricultural lands can be viewed in the department’s Lease Opportunity Viewer.

View the 2015 DNR Annual Report.

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.

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Is it cherry season yet?

February 16, 2015

No, these little green things aren’t grapes. They are actually maturing Chelan cherries, a dark-sweet cherry variety that will eventually turn dark red once they are fully ripe.

February brings with it a certain aroma. A sweet, pink-tinged scent that glides through the streets, floating    around heads and pulling back, a tickle at the edge of our nostrils. This strange and exhilarating phenomenon is the phantom manifestation of the promise for cherries. That’s right, February is National Cherry Month! Despite Valentine’s Day stealing the weekend spotlight, pink and red foiled chocolate hearts have some competition for favored treat this season against the sweet, succulent, slowly ripening Washington cherries.

Many farmers grow and harvest cherry orchards on DNR–managed lands throughout the state. Currently, DNR has 17 leases with cherry orchards in various counties throughout Washington spanning across 1,014 acres of state trust lands. These orchards produce about 7,228 tons of harvested cherries each year.

Even though National Cherry Month is celebrated in February, cherries aren’t actually harvested on state trust land orchards until June or July. Farmers harvest two types of cherries in summer: tart or sour cherries, and sweet cherries. Washington state is one of the largest producers of sweet cherries in the nation.

Washington sweet cherry varieties
Dark-sweet cherries – These cherries are usually dark red, mahogany, or near black in color outside, and purple or deep red inside. These round or heart shaped berries are firm and slightly crunchy, releasing plenty of juice when bitten into or crushed. Dark-sweet cherries can be eaten fresh, frozen, baked in desserts, or mixed in salads. Popular varieties are: Brooks, Chelan, Garnet, Sequoia, Bing, Lapins, Skeena, Sweetheart, and Staccato cherries

Rainier cherries – The colorful kid sister of dark-sweet cherries, Rainier cherries are a vibrant yellow-orange color with hints of red blush and occasional light brown “sugar spots” on the skin. These cherries are larger than dark-sweet cherries and have a near translucent interior. Rainier cherries are best when eaten fresh or used as garnish for salads and drinks.

Royal Anne cherries – Similar to Rainier cherries, Royal Anne, or Queen Anne cherries are bright yellow and red in appearance. With a light and honeyed flavor, they can be eaten fresh much like Rainier cherries. Royal Anne cherries, however, are widely known for their use in making maraschino cherries. They are also great for canning and baking desserts.

There is no question that cherry orchards on state trust lands produce some of the most delectable cherries in the country, and these cherries generate approximately $435,845 in revenue and $96,583 in cash rents. Learn more about farming state trust lands. Sign up for DNR’s The Dirt e-newsletter here.

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DNR weekend reading: Scientists urge fire detection by satellite, and other news

October 26, 2013
Bald Hill Natural Area Preserve

To prevent damage to land and streams, a helicopter was used to remove trees from the Bald Hill Natural Area Preserve. The restoration of sensitive grassland balds and Garry oak trees at the 314-acre site is funded by a grant award. Photo: Birdie Davenport/DNR.

Here are links to articles about recent research, discoveries and other news about forests, climate, energy and other science topics gathered by DNR for your weekend reading:

University of California, Berkeley: Time Is Ripe for Fire Detection Satellite, Say Scientists
As firefighters emerge from another record wildfire season in the Western United States, scientists say it’s time to give them a 21st century tool: a fire-spotting satellite.

University of Washington: Global Ocean Currents Explain Why Northern Hemisphere Is the Soggier One
For years, scientists figured that a quirk of the Earth’s geometry is the reason that most tropical rain falls in the Northern Hemisphere; however, a new University of Washington study shows that the pattern arises from ocean currents originating from the poles, thousands of miles away.

University of Illinois/Urbana: Team uses forest waste to develop cheaper, greener supercapacitors
Researchers report that wood-biochar supercapacitors can produce as much power as today’s activated-carbon supercapacitors at a fraction of the cost — and with environmentally friendly byproducts.

American Society for Horticultural Science: Flame Cultivation Promising as Weed Control Method for Cranberry
In the search for alternatives to the use of herbicides to control weeds in cranberry bogs, researchers are looking at flame cultivation as a potential nonchemical weed control option.

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DNR weekend reading: Evidence that Clean Air Act is helping forests, and other science news

September 8, 2013
wildflowers at Mount St. Helens, 2004

In 2004, years after the eruption of Mount St. Helens, the Pumice Plain located north of the volcano’s crater is covered in wildflowers. Photo: P. Frenzen/USDA Forest Service.

Here are links to articles about recent research, discoveries and other news about forests, climate, energy and other science topics:

Kansas State University: Evidence that Clean Air Act has helped forests
By studying more than 100 years of eastern red cedar tree rings, scientists found that the trees have improved in growth and physiology in the decades since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, indicating that the Act has helped forest systems recover from decades of sulfur pollution and acid rain.

National Institute of Standards and Technology: Knowing Exposure Risks Important to Saving Structures from Wildfires
A study of one of California’s most devastating wildland fires — the 2007 Witch Creek/Guejito fire — strongly suggests that measures for reducing structural damage and property loss from wildland fires are most effective when based on accurate assessments of exposure risks both for individual structures and the community as a whole.

Montana State University: MSU research highlights bears’ use of Banff highway crossings
Genetic testing has revealed that many bears in Canada’s Banff National Park routinely use the bridges and underpasses installed for them along the Trans-Canada Highway, evidence that the ecological corridors provide safe transit to maintain a health ecosystem

K-State Research and Extension News: Wheat Research Indicates Rise in Mean Temperature Would Cut Yields
Using simulations, researchers have found that a 1 degree Celsius increase (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in projected mean temperature would decrease wheat yields by 10.64 bushels per acre or nearly 21 percent. The study is the first to quantify the impacts of climate change, disease and genetic improvement for hundreds of dryland wheat varieties grown in North America.

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DNR weekend reading: Tuning out tech and taking a (long) hike improves creativity

December 29, 2012
Watch where you step

Find the porcupine in this photo taken recently on forested state trust land in Washington state. (Photo: Rick Foster/DNR)

Here are links to reading selections about climate, wildlife, the environment and other science news published recently by science journals, universities, websites, and other sources.

PLOS One: Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings
Time spent in natural settings and away from electronic media can substantially improve creativity. Researchers found that four days of immersion in nature, and a corresponding disconnection from multi-media and technology, increased performance on a creativity, problem-solving task by a full 50 percent.

Scientific American: Which U.S. City Is the Greenest ?–It Depends on Whom You Ask
Every year dozens of publications and websites release their assessments of which cities have the most environmentally conscious citizenry, the highest percentage of recycling or the lowest carbon footprint per capita. Some of the leading choices may be a surprise.

Science Daily: Even in Same Vineyard, Different Microbes May Create Variations in Wine Grapes
Differences in the microbes present on grapes — even in different parts of the same vineyard — may contribute to flavor fluctuations in samples of grapes from different tanks from the same harvest.


Close up of a porcupine peaking out from under a log. Photo: Rick Foster/DNR

Scientific American: Robot Glider Detects Rogue Waves and Other Ocean Anomalies Missed by Satellites
The wave-powered unmanned sub Papa Mau not only set a record while crossing the Pacific Ocean autonomously, it also studied rogue waves, micro currents, and other marine phenomena invisible to eyes in the sky.

Geomar: When the ice melts, the Earth spews fire
It has long been known that volcanic activity can cause short-term variations in climate. Now, researchers at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (Germany), together with colleagues from Harvard University have found evidence that the reverse process also occurs: Climate affects volcanic activity.

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DNR weekend reading: Wildfire map, pine beetles add to B.C. warming, and higher CO2 downgrading wheat quality

December 15, 2012
Coyote Rocks, Spokane River

The Coyote Rocks section of the Spokane River in October 2012 — a state-owned aquatic land managed by DNR. Photo: Carol Piening/DNR

Here are links to several reading selections about climate, wildlife, the environment and other current science issues published recently by universities, science journals and other sources.

NASA: Visualization Captures Record Year for Wildfires in the U.S.
This year has been an unusually severe one for wildfires in the U.S., with more than 9.1 million acres of land burned through the end of November. The total affected area, which is depicted in a new NASA map, is already the third-largest since records were first kept in 1960. Pine beetle attacks are warming Canada — study
In a study published in Nature Geoscience, scientists at the University of Toronto and the University of California, Berkeley, report that the mountain pine beetle scourge in British Columbia raised surface summer-time temperatures in affected areas by 1 degree Celsius on average. The summer temperature increase was several degrees higher in the worst-hit areas where provincial forests were wiped out.

AlphaGalileo Foundation: Poorer quality wheat when carbon dioxide levels in the air rise
Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have a negative impact on the protein content of wheat grain and thus its nutritional quality, conclude researchers who examined the results of field experiments with 17 varieties of wheat on four continents.

Science Daily: If You Cut Down a Tree in the Forest, Can Wildlife Hear It?
A new tool developed by the Wildlife Conservation Society and its partners can model how noise related to roads, recreational trails and other human activities travels through landscapes and affects species and ecosystems.

Green (New York Times): An Online Tool for Calculating Flood Risk
An umbrella organization for insurers allows you to calculate the flood risks your home faces and what the ultimate costs might be, depending on the severity of the event.

Institute of Zoology: Disaster map predicts bleak future for mammals
Mammals could be at a greater risk of extinction due to predicted increases in extreme weather conditions, states a paper published by the Zoological Society of London. Scientists mapped out land mammal populations, and overlapped this with information of where droughts and cyclones are most likely to occur to identify species at high risk of exposure to extreme weather.

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DNR weekend reading: The science of super-storm Sandy and what climate change means for coffee drinkers

November 10, 2012
Elk on DNR wind lease

These elk on a DNR wind lease on state trust lands near Vantage, Wash., are some of the estimated 1,000 elk that winter in the area each year. Photo: Mike Williams/DNR.

Here are links to recent articles of interest about the environment, climate change and other science topics for your DNR weekend reading:

Dot Earth (New York Times): How Natural Gas Kept Some Spots Bright and Warm as Sandy Blasted New York City
As New York City and other communities buffeted, flooded or darkened by the remains of Hurricane Sandy consider steps beyond the immediate recovery, officials, business owners and residents would be wise to spend time examining places where the power did not fail because of a parallel power network: natural gas lines.

Scientific American: The Science behind Superstorm Sandy’s Crippling Storm Surge
Would the East Coast’s best defense against future storms like Sandy be to accept the inevitability of flooding and prepare infrastructure to withstand it, as is common in other regions more historically prone to storm surge flooding? Or are there other options?

National Geographic Daily News: The Last Drop? Climate Change May Raise Coffee Prices, Lower Quality
A new study warns that, thanks to climate change, the most consumed coffee species, Arabica, could be extinct in the wild by 2080. While the stuff in our cups is brewed from their domesticated descendants, wild losses leave cultivated crops genetically vulnerable to a host of enemies, which could ultimately lead to lower quality and higher prices for coffee consumers.

Science Daily: Nanosilver from Clothing Can Pose Major Environmental Problems
Silver nanoparticles can have a severe environmental impact if their utilization in clothing continues to increase, especially when waste water treatment sludge containing the nanoparticles is subsequently used as fertilizer on agricultural land.


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Now’s your chance—Auctions for 6 Irrigated Leases on the Sunny Side of the State

October 26, 2012

Check out the possibilities: grains,  mint, alfalfa, orchard, vineyard, and more

Public lease auctions in November 15, 16 and 28 for state trust lands on the sunny side

3 photos of agricultural leases: wheat, fruit trees, vineyards.

DNR leases trust lands for irrigated and dryland agriculture, mostly in Eastern Washington. Photos: DNR

Washington DNR is offering at public auction several large parcels of state trust lands to lease for irrigated farming in the sunny rich farmland of Eastern Washington. Not only will you create the life you love, you’ll also earn money for the state’s public schools.

Below you can glimpse the general description of each lease. You’ll see all the auction details on our agricultural leasing webpage. If you have questions, contact DNR’s specific lease managers mentioned on the webpage.

November 15, 2012 Lease Auctions

12-088784 Sand Hollow
Grant County
Minimum of 150 acres up to 233.7 acres Orchard or Vineyard, as proposed by bidder, 24-year one month term.

12-A74381 George
Grant County
280 acres Irrigated Agriculture, 10-year term.
Authorized Crops: Alfalfa, timothy, cereal grains, corn, mint, beans, peas & seed crops

12-A74300 Mattawa
Grant County
Bidder to propose one of two options:
Option 1 – 125 acres of irrigated agricultural crops, 10-year term.
Option 2 – a minimum of 135 acres up to 154.1 acres of orchard or vineyard
and option for bidders to propose irrigated agriculture as an interim use, with a 25-year lease term.

November 16, 2012 Lease Auctions

12-A73504 Clark Road
Franklin County
463.4 acres Irrigated Agriculture, 9-year term.

12-088961 Horrigan Road
Benton County
125.5 acres Irrigated Agriculture, 9-year term.

November 28, 2012 Lease Auction

12-B69125 Perry Road
Spokane County
200 acres Irrigated Agriculture, 10-year term.

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