Posts Tagged ‘law enforcement’

New Natural Resources Police technology for better enforcement, efficiency

February 20, 2016

DNR’s Natural Resources Police group is a small, but efficient, law enforcement agency. With more than 3 million acres to patrol, they have to be.

To enhance their ability to oversee agency trust lands and natural areas, the agency has invested in a real-time reporting system that allows officers to complete their reports while remaining in the field (or forest, in this case). The benefit, is twofold.

Officer seated with computer in vehicle

DNR officers’ use of new technology allows them to spend more time in state forest and natural area landscapes. Photo / DNR staff

Because officers are able to complete their reports from their vehicles (as opposed to driving to an office) it means more time spent with eyes and ears in the forest, monitoring activities and able to lend assistance. Their presence in the landscape has a multiplier effect too, as it can help to reduce expensive vandalism and the kind of criminal activity that could require time-consuming investigations and court proceedings later on.

The system also allows officer to instantaneously look up past forest worker or visitor interactions. This makes the situation safer for officers and means that those who make a habit of detrimental behavior can be held accountable sooner, rather than later. (Fair warning… if you’ve previously received a warning our officers will know it. Next time they may not be able to be quite so generous.)

What makes the system, which they’ve been using since September, work, is that its cell service uses boosters and net-motion software to enhance signal strength and save data if a signal is temporarily lost. This is important when you’re monitoring some of Washington’s most remote areas.

Officers say that the new system is working well for them. Now that they’ve been using it for a few months they’ve been able to use its increased reporting capabilities to help track trends, which can guide proactive efforts when warranted.

Yet, one thing the system can’t do, is enable our officers to be everywhere all the time. For that, we need the time-tested help of visitors and volunteers. Report suspicious activity right away to 1-855-883-8368 (always call 911 first for emergencies). Even the latest technology can’t replace how important the eyes and ears of the public are in DNR’s efforts to serve and protect our lands and visitors.

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Join Forest Watch and become a better friend of the forest

February 26, 2013
Forest Watch Volunteers provide information to the public and report any safety concerns. Photo: Greg Mackey, DNR.

Forest Watch Volunteers provide information to the public and report any safety concerns. Photo: Clay Graham, Eastern Washington Adventures.

Did you know that the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has only 36 recreation employees to assist visitors on 2.2 million acres of state trust lands? As dedicated as these staff are to providing an enriching recreation experience, these limited numbers are not able to assist every visitor in the forest.

This is why the Forest Watch Program is critical in providing visitor information and reporting safety concerns.

Join DNR’s Forest Watch Program and become a resource of friendly information for forest visitors while learning new skills.

What do Forest Watch volunteers do?
• Provide information to visitors.
• Monitor and observe trails, sites, and facilities.
• Report safety concerns and suspicious or criminal activities.

“We plan daylight patrols and set up stations at the common entrances into the area. We have tread-lightly information, and other brochures about helping to keep the forest open for the community to enjoy. We also have spill kits available, and encourage people to have one on hand in case they need it.”
Elizabeth Wells, Forest Watch volunteer

What are the goals of Forest Watch?
• Create a responsible presence in the forest.
• Prevent unsafe activities.
• Educate the public on safe and sustainable recreation.

“To me, forest watch means saving the forest for future generations.”
 Ronald Coleman, Forest Watch Volunteer

 Why should I become a Forest Watch Volunteer?
• Improve recreation trails, sites, and facilities.
• Learn new skills and information.
• Meet others with a passion for outdoor recreation.
• Enhance your resume.

“I became a Forest Watch volunteer officially a few years ago. It all began when I would go to the Ahtanum State Forest area with my father fishing and camping. He taught me to take care of the land and respect nature. This was in the mid 1950s and the same concerns are present today with additional issues.”
Ron Rutherford, Forest Watch Volunteer

Want to find out more about becoming a Forest Watch volunteer? Join us at the following training events:

For more information, contact Ken Dean at 360-902-1701 or or check out our webpage.

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Busted marijuana growing operation damaged environment

August 31, 2012
Photo by DNR

A stream feeds irrigation pipe that leads to a marijuana growing operation discovered this week in Kittitas County. Photo: DNR

You are taking a break from a hike or a day of fishing on a warm sunny day to relax by a cool mountain stream and you spot yards and yards of flexible black plastic pipe leading out of the stream and into the woods. A remote cabin with running water is just over the hill, perhaps? Probably not. These improvised — and illegal — irrigation systems are among the signs of a nearby marijuana grow, like the one authorities raided earlier this week in Kittitas County.

The seizure of some 13,500 marijuana plants valued at more than $10 million had many of the classic signs of a well-organized growing operation: irrigation system, terracing of hillsides, land clearing, fertilizers, and other supplies. The operation was discovered a few days earlier on a remote section of DNR-managed lands in Manastash Canyon west of Ellensburg. A team of federal and state personnel removed the plants, supplies and trash early Tuesday (August 28). No suspects were found.

In addition to the potential risk of violence to those happen upon one, a growing operation — large or small — can be destructive to the environment. Growers remove native plants, cut down or trim trees that block sunlight, terrace hillsides, remove native grasses, and apply fertilizers and other chemicals in quantities and concentrations that the land may not tolerate. Those chemicals frequently drain into the watershed and local creeks that landowners might use for their water supply.

irrigation pipe and hoses

Irrigation equipment was among the supplies seized when state and federal law enforcement teams busted a marijuana growing operation on state trust land in Kittitas County. Photo: DNR.

More photos and information:

Ellensburg Daily Record: Authorities seize 13,500 marijuana plants in Manastash Canyon

Yakima Herald-Republic: Kittitas County seizes pot grow worth $10M

KOMO News: Deputies find huge pot grow in Kittitas County

Vandals destroy outhouse at popular Capitol State Forest trailhead

July 30, 2012
Middle Waddell Trailhead - vandalism July 2012

Vandalism at Middle Waddell Trailhead, Capitol State Forest, July 28-29, 2012.

On the weekend of July 28-29, one or more vandals destroyed an outhouse at Middle Waddell Trailhead Parking Area in Capitol State Forest (see photo). Estimates to replace this building — an outhouse — are not yet available but it could run to $8,000 or more. It’s money that DNR would rather spend on maintaining and enhancing its current facilities for visitors to state trust lands, not picking up the pieces after vandals.

Please report suspicious activity that you see in state forests and other lands to 911. In April an alert visitor to Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area, a site managed by DNR, phoned in a tip that helped a Thurston County sheriff’s deputy catch two suspects in the act of breaking into a historic building at the site.

Do you have a comment or suggestion to help reduce the vandalism and theft from state trust lands? Visit us on Facebook.

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DNR adds law enforcement officers; boost for resource protection and public safety

April 10, 2012
Commissioner Peter Goldmark and law enforcement staff

Following a recent commissioning ceremony are (left to right) DNR Supervisor Lenny Young, Officer Doug Price, Law Enforcement Chief Larry Raedel, Officer Scott Essman and Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. Photo: Bob Redling/DNR

With an increased presence in Western Washington, the DNR Law Enforcement Service hopes to boost its enforcement and public education capacities. Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark recently announced the appointments of Scott Essman and Doug Price as the department’s newest commissioned law enforcement officers.

“Officers Essman and Price join the DNR Law Enforcement Service to support our ongoing mission to protect Washington State trust lands and their resources from theft and misuse, and to educate and protect the public using those lands,” Goldmark said.

Essman and Price will monitor Discover Pass use, enforce other vehicle and road use laws and investigate wildfires, vandalism, thefts and other incidents on state trust lands. DNR law enforcement officers are commissioned Peace Officers, certified by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

Essman served with the Washington State Patrol for 25 years. His primary duties focus on DNR-managed lands in Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania, Wahkiakum, and portions of Pacific and Lewis counties in southwestern Washington — more than 450,000 acres.

Price, who recently served as Police Chief of the City of Forks, is a 25-year veteran of the State Patrol. His primary duties focus on DNR-managed lands in Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap and Mason counties — more than 430,000 acres in all. Price fills a new position created to increase DNR’s law enforcement and response capacities on the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas.

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Illegal off-roading accident will cost driver plenty

December 29, 2011
Capitol State Forest accident-Dec 28

No one was injured in this single-vehicle accident in Capitol State Forest but the driver will face fines for illegal off roading. Photo: Larry Raedel/DNR.

This single-vehicle rollover accident yesterday (December 28) in Capitol State Forest could have been a lot worse — the two occupants (a man and a woman) and their dog were able to escape the vehicle without injuries shortly before it burst into flames.

File this incident under “completely preventable.” The driver was illegally four-wheeling in an area not approved for off-road use. To get to this area, the driver used a closed logging road, which meant going around a blockade of tree stumps and an earthen berm in addition to a sign that said it was closed.

Illegal off roading brings an $87 citation under the Washington Administrative Code. There’s the towing fee — $200 or more — that the driver will owe to remove the totaled vehicle from this remote site. And then there’s the cost of the vehicle itself, which burned completely.

No word yet on whether the driver will also owe DNR for damages to natural resources or the cost of the Department of Ecology crew that came out to make sure leaking oil and fuel did not get into a nearby stream.

Find out where to recreate on DNR-managed state trust lands

Read the code of behavior from the Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association

Discover Pass reminder
Don’t forget! You’ll need a Discover Pass if you want to visit Capitol State Forest. Learn more at

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‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ lands in Capitol State Forest? No, just more illegal dumping

December 6, 2011
Hot tub

This hot tub was dumped recently in Capitol State Forest. Photo: DNR.

Did the main prop from the movie “Hot Tub Time Machine” land in Capitol State Forest over the weekend? No, the abandoned hot tub that DNR Law Enforcement officers found yesterday in the popular state  forest outside of Olympia is just more illegal dumping. And it’s not nearly as funny as the 2010 science-fiction comedy film in which four friends are whisked back to the 1980s via a magical hot tub (though a number of film critics didn’t think the film was all that funny).

Illegal dumping is not only ugly (and not funny), it costs DNR around $200,000 a year in clean-up costs each year. No doubt the hot tub will be on the list when we update the Illegal Dumping Sites on Washington State Trust Land map next year. Now, who is going to pay to remove that tub? Probably all of us.

Throughout the year, hundreds of volunteers step up to help DNR clear tons of litter and other trash from our recreation sites on state trust lands. If you are interested in volunteering on DNR-managed lands to help in cleanups, maintain or build trails and other amenities, check out the volunteer opportunities at (Follow the link to the “Volunteer Calendar.”)

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Timber theft and illegal crops on DNR-managed state trust lands in the news

November 21, 2011
maple tree

An especially damaging form of wood theft from state trusts -- private lands, too -- is when thieves slice out the valuable heartwood of a maple tree, leaving the tree to die. Photo: DNR.

Along with the thefts of metal gates and concrete fence railings we’ve reported recently is the larger problem of thieves taking timber and other forest products from state trust lands. King5-TV reported this weekend on people stripping cedar boughs from trees or cutting down valuable trees for firewood. The theft and destruction affect resources meant to provide non-tax-revenue to public schools, state universities and other beneficiaries of state trust land revenue. 

Another problem that DNR law enforcement officers deal with concerns not what people take state trust lands but what they grow on them. The Yakima Herald reported last Friday that two men pleaded guilty in a marijuana growing operation that included 10,450 plants on state trust land near Tampico.

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Thieves hit DNR recreation area and take…. concrete fencing?

October 12, 2011
Capitol Forest theft

Last weekend's theft of concrete fence railings and property damage at the Rock Candy trailhead in Capitol State Forest will cost about $1,500 to repair. Photo: DNR

Theft and vandalism are direct costs to the public when they occur on state trust lands or other public property. In the latest case, DNR is investigating the theft this past weekend of 13 concrete-formed fence rails from the Rock Candy parking lot and trailhead in Capitol State Forest outside of Olympia. A fence post was also damaged. The fence was built to protect power lines and a DNR bulletin board. Estimated cost of replacement including labor and materials is approximately $1,500. It’s not a fortune but consider that it equals 50 annual Discover Passes (not including the $5 transaction fee if purchased online, by phone or from a licensed dealer). 

If you have a tip about this incident, please call the DNR Pacific Cascade Region office in Castle Rock, 360-577-2025, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Please keep an eye out for suspicious activities while you are on state trust and other public lands. Call 911 if you see or suspect that a crime is in progress.

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Metal thieves hit state trust lands

September 30, 2011
stolen gate

Only the gate post is left where this forest road gate was taken by metal thieves. Photo: Jason Bodine/DNR.

As KING 5 TV reported yesterday evening, metal thieves have been stealing entire gates that protect forest roads. It’s a new and unwelcome twist to theft and vandalism problems on public lands. It costs about $4,000 in material and labor to replace each gate — six gates have been stolen but a suspect has been arrested and faces felony theft charges.

The familiar yellow metal gates are closed at times to protect sensitive forestlands and wildlife breeding areas as well as to protect the public from severely damaged roads or active timber operations. Sometimes gates are closed when private landowners do not allow the public to use a road that crosses their lands.

This video clip from KING 5 TV shows what’s been happening.


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