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What You Need to Know Before Camping This Summer

WA DNR News - June 1, 2020 - 8:40am

The weather’s getting warmer, and that means it’s finally camping season. Many Washingtonians have waited months to get back outdoors, and they’re more eager than ever for recreation after being cooped up by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) we are excited to welcome you back onto public lands and hope you will do your part to keep our lands, our communities safe while outdoors. Restrictions on camping are beginning to loosen, but as people start to venture back into campgrounds, it’s essential that campers do their part to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe. Read on for guidance on responsible camping in Washington state.

When is camping reopening?

On May 29, the DNR, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commisison (Parks), and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced that camping in 22 counties would begin to to reopen on Monday, June 1 for 22 counties in Washington state.

What do I need to know before I go camping?

The most important thing to do is stay as close to home as possible. If your county is still in Phase 1, please only visit day use facilities in your area. If your county is in Phase 2, you are allowed to go overnight camping (in campgrounds and in dispersed camping areas) within other Phase 2 counties.

If you are in Phase 1, don’t gather with anyone outside your immediate household. If you are in Phase 2, don’t camp in groups larger than 5 people, unless you’re all within the same household. Learn more about Washington’s coronavirus phases here.

Not all counties that are in Phase 2 are opening up for camping. It is best to check with the land manager where you would like to camp to make sure that the camping area is open. Check the status of campsites for DNR-managed land here. Be sure to make a reservation on land managed by Parks and check the list of wildlife areas with established campsites available on WDFW-managed land. 

As always, make sure you and your whole family continue to follow the Recreate Responsibly Guidelines. Those guidelines are: know before you go, practice physical distancing, stay close to home, plan ahead, play it safe, and leave no trace.

Keep our firefighters home

Never forget to put your campfire completely out before leaving it unattended. Remember, campfires are only allowed in dedicated fire rings and are not allowed while dispersed camping. Dispersed camping is when you just find a spot to set up your tent while not being in a designated campsite. More resources on how to have a safe campfire can be found here.

Those are the basics, but let’s break it down even more:

Before you go:

  • Know what is open and make sure to have a Plan B. Most DNR campgrounds are first-come, first-served so they may be full when you arrive.
  • Take everything you need with you (toilet paper, soap, water, hand sanitizer, and face coverings). DNR campsites a primitive and most don’t have running water.
  • Don’t forget to bring your Discover Pass.
  • Be sure pack to all your food and supplies, as businesses may still be closed in the town where you are camping.
  • And, again, stay as close to home as possible.

When you get there:

  • Practice physical distancing, especially with other campers.
  • Make sure to put your campfire out. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.
  • Try to avoid cash transactions and bring your own firewood, keeping in mind not to travel too far with firewood (that can spread tree pests — learn more here).

Photo by Adrian on Unsplash.com

More resources can be found at recreateresponsibly.org. If you are out recreating responsibly, make sure to snap a pic, share it with us on social media (use #RecreateResponsibly or #DiscoverDNR), and add a #RecreateResponsibly sticker if creating an Instagram story.

Camping is a great way to get the reprieve that so many people need right now. We at DNR are excited to welcome you back onto our public lands, but we all need to do our part. Recreating responsibly makes it more likely that we can continue to camp all summer long in a secure and sustainable way.

Now, let’s get outside while also staying safe.

Categories: Partner Feeds

DNR, Puget Sound Corps Team Up with Tulalip Tribes to Remove Harmful Invasive Species

WA DNR News - May 6, 2020 - 11:23am

By Natasha Coumou, assistant restoration ecologist with the Tulalip Tribes

Invasive plants can increase wildfire risk in urban areas and pose a threat to fish and wildlife habitat, including salmon streams and forests.

That’s why the Tulalip Tribes’ Natural Resources Department, a Puget Sound Corps crew, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) joined forces earlier this year to remove scotch broom, poison hemlock, invasive blackberry, and reed canary grass in parts of Snohomish County – including on the Tulalip Reservation. In February and early March, crews reduced and removed these invasive species on approximately 5 acres of land and a 1-mile stretch of urban trail. 

DNR funded the Puget Sound Corps’ work on this Tulalip-led project. The Puget Sound Corps is a multi-agency effort and part of the broader Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) program overseen by the state’s Department of Ecology. The WCC – an AmeriCorps program – creates future leaders through community involvement and mentorship and has more than 350 members and experienced staff statewide who restore critical habitat, build trails and respond to local and national disasters.

Here is what this one crew was able to accomplish for the Tulalip Tribes in parts of Snohomish County:

Scotch broom removal

Scotch broom is prevalent in Snohomish County and a potential fire hazard that can increase the intensity of grassland and forest fires. On the Tulalip Reservation, scotch broom has dispersed throughout urban forests, trails and public areas. 

Seeds of the scotch broom plant can remain viable for several decades. The Puget Sound Corps crew temporarily increased the tribes’ capacity to deal with scotch broom in areas that have a great potential to further disperse its seeds and exponentially increase its presence elsewhere.

One of these areas is the forestry wood yard, where the Tulalip’s natural resources staff temporarily store firewood that it redistributes throughout the community. Scotch broom there creates a continuous ground fuel by establishing itself between woodpiles, and its seeds are easily transported to other areas of the reservation. There, the crew cleared about a 1-acre area by mechanical removal.

Another area where scotch broom has invaded is the Qwuloolt Estuary in the city of Marysville, which is adjacent to a residential area. Besides the increased fire risk, the water can carry scotch broom seeds to other areas in the Snohomish River Estuary. The acre of scotch broom removal also freed up habitat for native trees and plants that support healthy salmon populations known to inhabit the Qwuloolt, including Chinook salmon, the primary food source for Puget Sound southern resident orcas.

Members of the Puget Sound Corps crew with some invasive scotch broom they removed during a project to support forest health in Snohomish County. (Tulalip Tribes photo)

Poison hemlock removal

Poison hemlock is a non-native invasive plant that can be fatal if ingested by humans and many animals, and it is prevalent in disturbed areas, such as trails throughout the region that are frequently visited by the public. One of the most frequented public trails by the Tulalip’s health clinic has been overrun by this plant and pose an immediate danger to families using the trail.

The Puget Sound Corps crew cleared extensive patches adjacent to the trail to reduce poison hemlock density, and to decrease the immediate risk to the public of encountering this plant. During their time, the crew manually removed, filled and disposed of more than 30 large (about 100-gallon) trash bags of poison hemlock, reducing fire hazard and the risk of public exposure to this toxic plant.

Reed canary grass management

The crew also removed reed canary grass from a restoration site that was established on the Qwuloolt Estuary. In an effort to restore a resilient landscape, the Tulalip Tribes planted native evergreen trees (shore pine and sitka spruce) to outcompete the invasive grass, which had taken over a contiguous swath of land.

The grass posed an increased fire risk by creating uninterrupted horizontal fuel in an area adjacent to residential housing. To reduce its prevalence and help the establishment of a hardy, fire resilient urban landscape, the crew mowed about 3 acres of reed canary grass. 

Puget Sound Corps crew mow Reed Canary grass to aid Shore Pine and Sitka Spruce Establishment. (Tulalip Tribes photo)

Additional projects

During their time with the Tulalip Tribes, the Puget Sound Crew members removed non-native blackberry and scotch broom from a forested buffer on the banks of the Skykomish River in Monroe. The Tulalip Tribes are in the process of acquiring this area from the PCC Farmland Trust to put it in perpetual conservation.

A riparian forested buffer adjacent to the river was established decades ago to enhance habitat and water quality for salmon and other species, and the mature forest is a testament to the project’s success. Where younger maturing forests exist, however, woody invasive species like blackberry and scotch broom are competing with beneficial native vegetation. 

To maintain a healthy forest, invasive species management is paramount. The crew cleared an acre of the buffer of blackberry and scotch broom, allowing for a more resilient landscape. While working on this project, members also cleared a trail that was overgrown with vegetation to provide access to a future restoration area.

The collaboration between DNR, the Puget Sound Corps and the tribes significantly expanded the capacity of the Tulalip’s Natural Resources Department to remove invasive species on and off the reservation, benefiting communities, the watershed and urban forests.

Categories: Partner Feeds

We’re Reopening State Lands: Here’s What You Should Know

WA DNR News - May 5, 2020 - 11:59am

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reopening state-managed public lands on May 5th, 2020. After following Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and being cooped up for a month, we are all eager to get back onto the trails. While this is exciting news, it’s important to know what to expect and how to keep everyone safe as lands open back up.

Beginning on May 5th, state parks, wildlife areas, and DNR recreation sites will reopen for day-use only. This is with the expectation that visitors follow appropriate physical distancing standards. Since DNR manages over 160 recreation sites across 3.3 million acres of state trust lands, it may take several days for staff to access all sites and unlock gates.

State-managed boat launches, marinas, and recreational fishing in Puget Sound and Columbia River will also reopen for day-use services only. All overnight accommodations, including all camping, will remain closed until further notice.

During this slow process back into normalcy, some recreation locations may have limited restroom services. It’s best to be self-sufficient by bringing your own supply of water, soap, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and masks with you. Don’t forget to pack your Discover Pass either!

A Discover Pass is always required to park your vehicle at recreation lands, State Parks, and water-access sites managed by DNR and The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Washington State Parks has named the 100 parks that will reopen and the few that will stay closed come May 5th.

We are asking people to continue to adhere to safety precautions and practice physical distancing as lands begin to reopen. If we notice issues of crowding, location-based closures may happen. There may also be closures for health-related issues so it best to check our website before headed out on your adventure.

Governor Inslee stated in the April 27th press conference that “if we see a sharp uptake in the number of people who are getting sick or are not following appropriate steps, then we won’t hesitate to scale this back again.”

As reopening approaches, we should all consider the steps we need to take to protect ourselves and those around us. If the outdoors is calling to you, be sure to be a responsible recreationist. To do this we ask that you plan ahead, come prepared, and practice good hygiene. For more details on responsible recreation, download our #RecreateResponsibly Tip Sheet.

“Because of our shared sacrifice and the heroic work of our first responders, doctors, and nurses, we are able to reopen public lands. Reconnecting people with nature is the first step of a long journey back to normalcy.” – Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz

We look forward to welcoming all our recreationalists back to our lands. With your help and responsible actions we can keep our recreation sites open for years to come.

Additional Resources:

  • You can find the latest information about DNR recreation openings here.
  • Have questions about fishing and hunting? Check WDFW’s information here.
  • Have more questions? Download our frequently asked questions.
  • Get the latest information on how the coronavirus is affecting Washington State by visiting the Washington State Coronavirus Response (COVID-19) page.
Categories: Partner Feeds

Pay Attention to Our Explosive Neighbors During Volcano Month

WA DNR News - May 1, 2020 - 9:35am

May is Washington’s Volcano Preparedness Month, and DNR has all you need to know about how the stunning mammoths dominating much of our skyline handle the geothermal pressure bubbling below.

It will be 40 years since the deadly explosion of Mount St. Helens on May 18. The eruption produced a blast that, traveling at the speed of sound, mowed down thousands of acres of forest and showered hot ash and gases across the landscape. Fifty-seven people died, including two people who were watching the eruption some 25 miles away from the mountain.

We’re here to help you be prepared for when the next volcano blows. T

Washington is home to five major composite volcanoes or stratovolcanoes (from north to south): Mount Baker,Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams. These volcanoes and Mount Hood to the south in Oregon are part of the Cascade Range, a volcanic arc that stretches from southwestern British Columbia to northern California. If you want to check them out, take along DNR’s five-day field trip guide of the Cascade volcanoes.

Aside from the prominent peaks of our five Cascade volcanoes, Washington also has hundreds of volcanic vents scattered across the state. You can see where they are on the Washington Geological Survey’s Geologic Information Portal.

Volcanoes are also the most visual result of plate tectonics, and are one of the few places on Earth where molten rock can reach the surface.

During the past 12,000 years, these volcanoes have produced more than 200 eruptions that have generated tephra (ejected material), lava flows, and lahars (volcanic debris flows) and debris avalanches.

The primary focus of the Washington Geologic Survey is to increase public understanding of geologic hazards and help communities have the best tools to assemble disaster response plans.

Analyzing and mapping possible lahar paths is one of the primary ways we do that.

DNR Geologists have studied lahars as a part of ongoing efforts to map the geology of Washington state. These publications can be searched on the Washington Geology Library catalog.

DNR also has a centralized web catalog of tips and resources to make sure you and your loved ones are prepared for geologic hazards.

Keep your Ear to the Ground all month for information on the volcanic forces that make Washington what it is.

Follow DNR on:
Categories: Partner Feeds

How to Create Home Evacuation Maps with Your Kids

WA DNR News - April 23, 2020 - 1:15pm

For maybe the first time in history, most of us are at home with an abundance of time on our hands. This is a great opportunity to prepare your family for wildfire season by creating a defensible space around your home and practicing emergency procedures.

You and your family can practice wildfire preparedness together by creating your own home evacuation plan. Have your child draw the evacuation map with your help. They should outline your house and point out the family meeting place – the spot where your family will meet should you have to evacuate. All of the materials needed and basic instructions are detailed below.   

Items you’ll need:

  • Piece of paper
  • Pencil, pen, and 2-3 colored pencils/markers

Basic Instructions for how to draw your evacuation map:

  1. Draw your house from an aerial perspective, include the driveway and the nearest street.
  2. Draw the rooms in the house and label them (ie bedroom, dining room, kitchen, etc.)
  3. Label where the windows and doors are and where the family meeting spot is (mailbox, neighbor’s driveway, street sign)
  4. Using one of the colored utensils, draw a route from the bedroom to the nearest exit and to the meeting place – label that route 1
  5. Using the other colored utensil, draw a second route from the bedroom to another exit and to the meeting place – label that route 2

Examples Below

Having an evacuation plan is one of the most important things you can do with your child to prepare for any emergency. Remember to know your exits, develop a route, and mark your meeting spot. It’s also a good idea to practice your route and know how long it will take you to get outside.

For an adorable example of evacuation maps and proof that we are never too young to learn about fire safety, watch this video.

Categories: Partner Feeds

May is #WildfireAwarenessMonth

WA DNR News - April 20, 2020 - 9:42am

Washington state has the highest number of homes in the wildland-urban interface in the country. Yes, even more than California.

An increasingly high number of Washingtonians live next to or in one of our state’s forests, grasslands, or shrub steppe. Being wildfire aware is a key step to preventing accidental ignitions, as well as preparing our homes, properties, and communities to be as resilient against wildfire as possible.

Fire is—and always has been—an integral part of our state’s landscape. In order for our communities to continue to thrive into the 21st century, we need to continue to evolve and adapt to the changing conditions of the places we call home.

That’s why Washington has, once again, declared May as Wildfire Awareness Month. We join many states throughout the country in working together to better prepare and prevent the wildfires across our country.

Not sure how to get started? Try some of these tips:

  • Prepare around your home. When developing your home landscaping, try planting fire-resistant plants to help reduce your risk from wildfire.
  • Use Firewise Communities/USA® tips to help keep your landscape clean and green.
  • Unite with your neighbors – start a Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition site.
  • Know the outdoor burning rules. DNR regulates outdoor burning on all forestlands where we provide wildfire protection. Don’t burn outdoors until you know the rules.
  • Have a plan when it’s time to leave – Ready, Set, Go!
Categories: Partner Feeds

We are staying inside and you should too

WA DNR News - March 30, 2020 - 4:25pm

We all love to get outside and enjoy the remarkable forests and beaches around us and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages nearly 6 million acres of public lands, including 1,200 miles of trails and over 160 recreation sites. However, during a time when the coronavirus is spreading at a rapid rate, staying home saves lives. That is why DNR decided to close all public access and recreation sites for two weeks. 

What does ‘closed’ mean? 

Since public safety is DNR’s top priority, public access to state lands will be closed for two weeks to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. From March 26th through at least April 8th, DNR managed lands including trailheads, trails, roads, free flight launch sites, campgrounds, water access sites, day-use areas, and dispersed recreation (camping, off-trail hiking, hunting, target shooting, etc.) will be closed. DNR will continue to monitor the situation and will reassess whether the closure will extend past April 8th as we get closer to that date.  

Isn’t being out in the wilderness safe? 

In normal circumstances, outdoor recreation provides numerous health benefits. But, when social distancing is the best way to decrease the spread of the coronavirus, everyone swarming to the same recreation area creates a large risk. People sharing facilities, passing each other on the trails, and staying near each other on campgrounds produce potentially hazardous settings. Although we love bringing people together on our lands, temporarily closing access is an important action in limiting risk and exposure at this time. 

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz stated:

 “This was not an easy decision. We treasure our forests and trails and beaches as places of rejuvenation and refuge from the chaos of daily life. But, I cannot ignore the unfortunate reality of what we saw this weekend: crowded trails, people shoulder to shoulder, and large gatherings. This behavior undercuts the sacrifices that Washingtonians of all means and ability are making in order to adhere to social distancing. And it undercuts the heroic efforts of our doctors, nurses, and first responders who risk their lives each day responding to this unrelenting epidemic.

“This behavior also makes clear that, while we have taken drastic measures, we have not done enough when it comes to closing areas where large crowds gather and communicating the importance of staying at home and avoiding physical contact with others.”

What about all DNR operations? 

DNR offices are closed to the public and most of DNR staff is working from home. However field staff and our wardens are still out patrolling the land and doing essential updates. 

When it comes to commercial activities, essential business functions of DNR will continue during the closure period. Timber harvests are included, as they support the manufacture and distribution of forest products. Our agriculture lands are also essential in supporting our food supply. These workers will be practicing social distancing and doing any non-essential elements via telework.

DNR has closed all DNR-managed lands to the public and firewood permits are not being accepted at this time. The closure is in effect Thursday, March 26 through at least April 8. For region specific questions regarding Firewood Permits, please contact the appropriate region office.

What can I do? 

Please continue to avoid the crowds and spend most of your days indoors. We should take this time to appreciate the essential workers who cannot stay home. We should follow the direction of scientists, doctors, and Governor Inslee’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order

“If we all do our part, these temporary disruptions will save countless lives.” – Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz.

Additional Resources:

You can find the news release about the closure here.

Have more questions? Download our frequently asked questions document here.

Get the latest information on how the coronavirus is affecting Washington State by visiting the Washington State Coronavirus Response (COVID-19) page.

Categories: Partner Feeds

SCOFMP Temporarily Postpone Rx Fire Activities (Spring Rx Fire in South Central Oregon Prescribed Fire)

Inciweb Articles OR - March 25, 2020 - 10:00am
The Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Fremont-Winema National Forest, Crater Lake National Park, and Bureau of Land Management Lakeview District announced today that all new ignitions for prescribed fire have been postponed until further notice.   Potential smoke impacts to the public are considered in all prescribed fire and wildfire management. As always, we will work in coordination with local and state health organizations and make any necessary changes should the need arise. This decision to temporarily postpone prescribed fire activities will prevent any effects from smoke that might further worsen conditions for those who are at risk in our communities while reducing exposure for employees who might not otherwise need to travel and creating social distancing for resources working on the fire.

Jump Hand Piles Prescribed Fire (Spring Rx Fire in South Central Oregon Prescribed Fire)

Inciweb Articles OR - March 16, 2020 - 1:58pm
The Bly Ranger District, USFS, plans to conduct a prescribed fire operation starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020, through Friday, March 20, 2020, to burn hand piles resulting from a fuel reduction and hazardous tree removal project. The prescribed fire activities will focus on burning approximately 79 acres of hand piles in the Horseglade Meadow, Camp 6, area. Hand piles are a result of using chainsaws to thin the forest. Much of the smaller cut material is piled for burning. Piles must be burned before the project is complete. Public and firefighter safety is always the number one priority in burning operations. Wind helps disperse smoke created during pile burning operations and snow helps keep the piles contained. Seeing flames and smoke, even after dark, is part of normal operations. This is one way that we can help reduce the buildup of fuel on the landscape under the safest conditions. Conditions are evaluated each day to determine if ignition will take place. Precipitation, wind,...

West Spodue Mountain Prescribed Fire (Spring Rx Fire in South Central Oregon Prescribed Fire)

Inciweb Articles OR - March 12, 2020 - 1:17pm
The Bly Ranger District, USFS, plans to conduct a prescribed fire operation starting Friday, March 13, 2020, inside the West Spodue Project Area.  The prescribed fire activities will focus on burning approximately 120 acres in Elde Flat Meadow. Fire managers plan to take advantage of tree line snowpack to focus on burning grasses within the meadow. Smoke will be visible from the community of Beatty and roadways and recreation areas in the general vicinity of this project. No road or trail closures are planned as part of the prescribed fire. However, during operations, fire personnel and vehicles will be visible to the public. Motorists are reminded to slow down and drive with heightened awareness when passing through active project areas. The Fremont-Winema National Forest is part of a fire-dependent ecosystem. Fire on the landscape is critical to overall ecosystem functioning and the sustainability of local communities, watersheds, and wildlife habitat.

Prescribed Fire Season starting in South Central Oregon (Spring Rx Fire in South Central Oregon Prescribed Fire)

Inciweb Articles OR - March 11, 2020 - 2:20pm
Prescribed fire season has arrived in South Central Oregon, and fire managers on the Fremont-Winema National Forest, Lakeview District Bureau of Land Management, and Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex will be applying prescribed fire to the landscape. Prescribed fire is used by fire managers to improve forest health and wildlife habitat, and to reduce hazardous fuels to minimize the threat of high-intensity, severe wildfires in our area. Applying prescribed fire is a part of our continued commitment to protecting communities and natural resources from wildfires. Warmer temperatures, reduced snowpack, adequate humidity, and favorable winds are improving the conditions needed for firefighters to start applying fire to planned units. Area residents and visitors may notice smoke or fire on public lands in various areas during the next few months. Each prescribed fire can appear different visually depending on the forest type, fuel load, prescribed fire objectives, and...

Fire Districts: Grants Open March 2 for Volunteer Fire Assistance Phase 1

WA DNR News - February 26, 2020 - 10:30am

Several factors affect the impact of wildfire in Washington, including the capacity of rural fire districts to respond to wildfires.

That’s where DNR’s Fire District Assistance Program can help. We administer grants to help local fire districts and departments obtain more resources.

The Phase I grant program allows eligible districts to order personal protective equipment and other fire equipment at 50 percent cost through the DNR fire cache starting March 2, 2020. USDA Forest Service Volunteer Fire Assistance grant funding covers the remaining 50 percent cost. Districts apply online using the Phase I Order, an online shopping cart that allows districts to submit orders directly to DNR. This grant funding helps eligible rural fire districts across Washington state buy new fire and safety equipment.

Districts and departments can place orders through the online shopping cart until April 30, 2020 or until grant funding is expended, whichever occurs first.

Interested? Learn more at the DNR Fire District Assistance webpage for eligibility requirements and ordering process.

Categories: Partner Feeds

Over 65,000 Volunteer Hours in 2019 on DNR Land

WA DNR News - February 24, 2020 - 4:47pm

In 2019, the Recreation Program at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was hard at work completing numerous projects to improve your recreation experience.

In all, more than 65,000 volunteer hours were spent last year on updates and new construction on DNR recreation sites. Volunteers help enhance the DNR recreational experience and keep people safe, informed and protect habitat from erosion and overuse.

With our amazing recreation staff, volunteers and Washington Conservation Corp (WCC) crews, DNR is able to continue to provide free camping, well-manicured trails and habitat restoration for the price of a Discover Pass.

Every year, the Recreation Program at DNR puts together a list of all the incredible work that has been done. Below is a highlight of a few of the projects completed in 2019. It is important to remember that routine updates and maintenance to the existing infrastructure is ongoing all year long and are extremely important parts of keeping up DNR’s recreation sites.

Volunteering on public lands and trails is part of ensuring they are in working order and accessible for all residents. If you would like to volunteer to protect our trust lands,

The following projects are organized by region and by county so if you would like to learn more about the DNR regions go here. Learn more about the Habitat Conservation Plan here. 

NORTHWEST REGION

In 2019 the Northwest Region logged 10,971.5 hours of volunteer work.

San Juan County

At the Point Doughty Natural Area Preserve two sets of pre-fabricated stairs were acquired for installation as part of grant-funded renovation work at the accessible by water only campground in the Natural Area Preserve on Orcas Island. One set of stairs was installed in 2019 and the second set will be installed in 2020. A new kiosk was also set up and new wayfinding signs along the trails to keep you going in the right direction.

Skagit County

In Walker Valley a variety of projects were completed that contribute to a more environmentally sustainable trail system. Most of the trail maintenance protects resources from erosion and from sediment runoff into streams. Two bridge replacement projects were complete on Tooler Trail. At the Peter Burns Trailhead crews cleaned up the trailhead, resulting in nine dump runs, totaling over 1000 pounds of trash.

DNR was also able to utilize 175 Puget SoundCorp crew days and sponsored 12 volunteer events, with activities ranging from picking up trash, installing and repairing signage, planting trees, trail maintenance and restoring areas damaged by off-road vehicles (ORVs). These events logged over 2000 volunteer hours.

Snohomish County

At the Reiter Foothills Forest one-half mile of new all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trail was completed along with the excavation and hardening of 1.2 miles of 4X4 wheeled trails. Trail signage was installed along all 25 miles of ORV trails and three miles of non- motorized trail.

In the Morning Star Natural Resources Conservation Area, trail improvement work was conducted on the first two miles of the Boulder-Greider mainline trail to improve user experience and protect water quality. A sustainable backcountry toilet was installed at Gothic Basin. This is the first toilet to be installed in this landscape, which has become very popular in recent years. The toilet installation coincides with design work underway to designate trails and camping areas.

The design was completed and three bridges were acquired for installation on the Cutthroat Lakes trail system. These bridges will provide for public safety on trails, improve user experience, and protect water quality. At Boulder Creek permitting for installation of a new bridge across the creek was completed the bridge acquired. The Installation of this bridge will facilitate the re-opening of a trail that had been closed for several years due to the old bridge being condemned. Also, trail tread on 300 feet of challenging trail on the Walt Bailey/Cutthroat Lakes trail system was improved and defined.

Skagit County

DNR worked with the Town of Darrington and the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance to complete construction of 10.5 miles of trail within the upper elevation of the North Mountain Bike System area of the planned non-motorized trail system. These biking trails officially opened in October 2019. Learn more about the opening event here.

In the Walker Valley Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Area two bridges were replaced and one fish passage culvert was installed. Fish passage culverts help to restore salmon and other fish’s natural habitat while maintaining trails in the recreation areas. An additional 70 feet of new ditch was constructed to help keep water off of trails and roadways.

OLYMPIC REGION

In 2019 the Olympic Region logged just over 4,000 hours of volunteer work.

Clallam and Jefferson Counties

Along the Colville Trails, volunteers built two miles of mountain bike trails, and a pump track, intended to progress mountain bike skills for younger and less advanced riders. Altogether, 620 volunteer hours were spent on this project alone.  At the Lyre River Campground, new water lines were installed for four potable water spigots and metered electrical service to the camp host site. A one-mile trail to connect the campground to the adjacent North Olympic Land Trust property was also created.

Five interpretive signs and a new retaining wall were installed near the picnic area of Reade Hill Trail. The interpretative signs help to tell the DNR story and how public trust lands are important to our health, our environment, and our economy. At Striped Peak work has started on building a new ridge trail with the Washington Trail Association volunteers and WCC crews.

At Sadie Creek volunteers installed spall rock, silt fence and sterile straw to reduce sediment distribution to the stream adjacent to a bog. In the Foothills ORV and Sadie Multi-Use Trails area, there was work done with WCC crews, adapt-a trail volunteer groups and the DNR‘s maintenance and operations crew to complete a variety of maintenance projects that provide a safer experience for the user while promoting environmental stewardship such as, 585 feet of hardened trail, mounted signs, new barriers and the installation of a new culvert.

PACIFIC CASCADE REGION

Clark County

ThePick Up the Burn” event was hosted in the Yacolt Burn State Forest and volunteers removed 30 tires and 20 cubic yards of garbage from the forest. Other volunteer work parties in the forest were attended by the Washington Trails Association, Back Country Horsemen of Washington, Washington Trail Riders Association, Evergreen Mountain Bike Association SW and Chinook Trails Association, Pistons Wild and Jones Creek Trail Riders Association, Boy Scouts of America 475 Brush Prairie and the Washington and Chinook Trails Association.

Crews completed construction on approximately five miles of new non-motorized, multi-user trail along the Tarbell Trail system (the Silver Shadow Trail and the Sixth Sense Trail) and another volunteer work party by Trash No Lands installed two new fiberglass bridges over Coyote Creek (one 55 feet and the other 80 feet). Two new horse trailer campsites and new non-horse campsites were also created along with the installation of a high line for hitching horses, new fire pits and picnic tables.

Skamania County

In the Yacolt Burn State Forest numerous campsites were upgraded with new picnic tables and fire pits. There were also two new tent sites added and the trails were improved for ADA access.

Lewis County

At the Winston Creek Campground, new signs were installed and campsites were upgraded with new picnic tables and fire rings.  Mitchell Peak added new trailheads at North Fork Siouxon Trail and Sugar Loaf areas. At Merill Lake a new entrance sign was installed, a mile of trail was improved and numerous campsites were upgraded with new gravel. Volunteer work parties were held by the Clark Skamania Flyfishers.

Pacific County

In Pacific County, DNR reopened the Butte Creek Day Use area after a 12-year closure and installed a new gate for power line access, installed five new picnic tables, reopened approximately 0.85 miles of non-motorized hiker only trail. Installed two new bridges (20 and 25 feet), a new entrance sign and kiosk.

Two car-camping areas were added and improved the parking area through grading at Radar Ridge Block. The Salmon Creek Block upgraded a road with new gravel, repaired the damage of campsites and had volunteer work parties by Friends of Tunnerville and Backcountry Horsemen Willapa Hills.

SOUTH PUGET SOUND REGION

In 2019 the South Puget Sound Region logged over 30,311 hours of volunteer work.

Thurston and Grays Harbor Counties

Capitol Forest has over 20,000 volunteer hours each year. In the 14th Annual Great Gravel Pack-In event was held.  Over 70 volunteers from equestrian, mountain bike, off-road vehicle and trail running organizations spread over 15 tons of rock via horseback and ATVs used to harden both motorized and non-motorized trails. Well placed rock on trails greatly reduces the chances of fine sediment delivery to streams and generally it makes the trails more enjoyable.

The following are projects within the Capitol Forest:

  • At the McLane Creek Nature Trail 120 feet of decomposing treated boardwalk was replaced with long-lasting fiberglass stringers and decks. Another 120 feet of structurally insufficient pressure treated wood bridges was replaced with fiberglass structures and water sealed fir planking. Two miles of trail were reconstructed by out sloping and improving drainage structures.
  • Along the Wedekind Trail volunteers installed 100 feet of geo synthetics and rock to eliminate a muddy section and to encourage riders to stay in the center of trail. DNR supplied rock and an ATV. DNR and volunteers performed drainage maintenance and brushing on approximately 40 miles of trail. Volunteers provided people, equipment and tools to perform this task.
  • Volunteers built two miles of new trail near Fall Creek Campground along Level Up Trail. This trail will increase safety by providing a trail, instead of users needing to ride up on the C-6000 road to get to the top of Little Larch Trail.
  • At the Fall Creek Trailhead work began on the approximately one and a half acre expansion of trailhead. The expansion will better accommodate equestrian enthusiasts. Other improvements include a day use shelter (sponsored by the Friends of Capitol Forest) and an unloading ramp for disabled equestrians.

Pierce County

Garbage removal in the Elbe Hills State Forest by recreation staff and volunteers removed 7,500 pounds, or 3.75 tons, of garbage. DNR received a total of 4,947.5 hours of donated volunteer labor. At the Sahara Creek Campground and Nicholson Horse Trails recreation staff conducted routine maintenance on seven bridges and 40 miles of non-motorized trail. This included brushing, tread and drainage maintenance, and signage. Approximately 50 feet of a puncheon that runs over wet forest floor was replaced.

King County

In the Tiger Mountain State Forest construction began on one-half-mile length trail connection between Iverson Railroad Grade Trail and the Tiger Mountain Trail, primarily for hikers. In addition, one mile of the South Tiger Traverse Trail was relocated to a more sustainable location for equestrian use, while trail crews began one-half-mile length directional travel optional route on the NW Timber Trail, to reduce trail congestion.

Recreation and Natural Areas programs, in partnership with the Washington Trails Association, completed a half a mile of re-route of the popular Tiger Mountain Trail.  A segment of the trail was relocated to a more sustainable location, improving the user experience for hikers.

At the Mount Si Natural Resource Conservation Area DNR’s Recreation and Natural Areas programs, in partnership with the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, coordinated to complete construction on a new 1.7-mile of Oxbow Loop hiking trail, including completion of an 80-foot trail bridge, installation of a self-contained outhouse, and a trailhead parking area. The Oxbow Loop Trail officially opened May 2019.

In the Raging River State Forest the Recreation Program began construction on six and a half (out of ten) additional trail system miles, with funding secured for Phase 2 trail system development to open in the summer of 2020.

SOUTHEAST REGION

In 2019 the Southeast Region logged over 5,096 hours of volunteer work.

Yakima County

At the Ahtanum State Forest Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) grant funds were utilized to update infrastructure, including picnic tables, fire rings and kiosks. Whites Ridge Trail maintenance was done by individual volunteers throughout the year. Volunteers picked up litter along the Green Dot Road System, maintained carsonite posts, and picked up litter in dispersed campsites for a total of 777 volunteer hours. Also, a new bridge at Ahtanum Camp was installed to improve fish passage and water flow.

145 volunteer hours were spent by volunteers who picked up litter along the Green Dot Road System and at dispersed campsites at the Wenas Valley-Cascade Camp. Two new toilets at the dispersed Cascade Camp camping area were all installed.

Klickitat County

Several pickup truck loads of garbage from dispersed campsites was collected and disposed of from the Bird Creek and Island Camp. A new toilet was also installed to replace an old one at Buck Creek Trailhead #1.

Kittitas County

The Westberg Trail is part of the Manastash Ridge Trail System was maintained by the Washington Trails Association (WTA). The WTA also re-routed about 1,100 feet of trail for sustainability in May and June and logged 723 hours of volunteer work. The residents at Sky Meadows, near Elk Heights, held spring and fall work parties, where they picked up litter along the Green Dot Roads and cleaned up dispersed campsites, logging 841 hours.

Motorized groups held two work parties in the Naneum Ridge State Forest – one in June and one in July – to clean up the Green Dot Road System and dispersed campsites, logging 185 hours. Master Hunters came out and cleaned up old hunting camps, logging approximately 80 hours of volunteer time.

Approximately seven miles of new trail in the Cookie Cutter Trail System was constructed this year. Most of the trail work was accomplished by local volunteers, contract fire crews and WCC crews.  Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance held weekly work parties in the fall on the Cookie Cutter Trail System. They logged 380 hours on the trail this year.

During the Spring Clean Up approximately 60 volunteers cleaned the three campgrounds, stained picnic tables and put up cattle exclusion fencing in the Teanaway Community Forest Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Lands. During the Fall Clean Up seventeen volunteers came to lay down cattle exclusion fencing, which also helps snowmobilers get around more easily.

NORTHEAST REGION

In 2019 the Northeast Region logged over 5,277 hours of volunteer work.

In the Northwest Region, the campgrounds hosted 4,000 hours of volunteer time at campgrounds. Those campgrounds include the Stevens County (Douglas Falls Grange Park, Starvation Lake Campground, Sherry Creek Campground) and the Spokane County (Dragoon Creek Campground). During the Trust Land Cleanup (Stone Lodge & Boggs Pit) volunteers spend 283 hours cleaning 2 sites on DNR trust land near Spokane and Deer Park

Stevens County

At the Douglas Falls Grange Campground the pump house was removed and water system was created to provide water for campground host and recreationalists. There were also 14 picnic tables were replaced as well as fire pits. Gravel was applied around fire pits to bring up to fire regulation standards.

In the Sheep Creek Campground fire rings were replaced and gravel was applied around fire pits to bring up to fire regulation standards. Also, the old hand water pumps were replaced with a new simple pump. At the Starvation Lake Campground fire pits were brought up to fire regulation standards by applying more gravel around the pits.

Upgrades to the Flodelle Creek Campground included adding rock to the campground road and campsite parking pads as well as, more gravel around the fire pits and a fence around the front and sides of the campground to keep livestock out. Also, old water pumps were replaced with newer one. New pumps and gravel was also added to the Rocky Lake Campground.

Pend Oreille County

In Pend Oreille County, the Skookum Creek Campground received new fire rings that replaced the old one, applied gravel around fire rings and to the parking pads and road.

Chelan County

Washington Ecology Conservation Crews from Wenatchee successfully relocated a 2800 feet section of trail in the Loomis Natural Resource Conservation Area in 2019. A portion of trail through large meadow area was relocated for riparian protection and all season use by recreationist

Okanogan County

West Zone fire staff from Omak area working to set footings for the picnic shelter in September. The old Rock Creek shelter was destroyed by fire during the Okanogan Complex Fires of 2015. The Shelter installation is planned for 2020.

___

The Recreation Program is looking forward to all the great projects that will be developed in 2020. Volunteer for a work party and we’ll see you on the trail!

Categories: Partner Feeds

Winter Recreation Safety Tips

WA DNR News - December 16, 2019 - 4:14pm

Snowflakes are falling.  You’ve switched out tennis shoes for ski boots. Your hot chocolate consumption has shot up at an alarming rate. Wintertime is in full swing.  The coldest months of the year offer some sensational recreating opportunities; many Washingtonians will head out to ski, snowshoe, and hike in the frigid temps. But icy, snowy, subfreezing conditions can present serious risks to even the most experienced recreationists.

Aside from bringing along the “10 essentials” we’ve put together a list of additional considerations to keep in mind before heading out on your next snowy excursion.

Don’t recreate alone. You might fancy yourself a lone wolf, but with a heightened risk of injury due to cold temperatures and finicky weather conditions, you’re better off adventuring with a buddy. At the very least, make sure you let someone know your location, plan, and estimated time of return before heading out.

Opt for wool. Wool is a natural, breathable, moisture-wicking fabric. It simultaneously absorbs and repels water, wicking sweat from your skin and resisting moisture from the external, like rain or snow. That means it keeps you nice and warm and – most importantly – dry. Basically, it’s a magical material for cold weather.

Invest in foot traction devices. Snow and ice-covered trails present a serious danger of slipping and falling. Adding crampons or ice cleats to your standard winter recreation outfit can reduce the risk of injuries on days when the trails are unexpectedly precarious.

Take short breaks. Your body begins to drop in temperature when you stop moving. Rather than taking a long lunch or water break that would keep you stationary in the cold for an extended amount of time, take short, frequent breaks to keep your body moving.

Dress in layers. Bringing along multiple of clothing that you can remove and add will keep you warm and reduce overheating. You should always wear three distinct layers: a base layer for moisture-wicking and insulation, a mid-layer for added warmth, and an outer layer for wind and moisture protection.

Eat up. Forget your diet; winter recreation is the perfect excuse to eat all the caloric foods. Trudging through snow burns calories quickly, so don’t underestimate the amount of food you should bring. Snack throughout the day and eat portable, high-calorie meals to keep your body warm and your energy levels high.

Study avalanche “red flags.” The majority of avalanche victims unintentionally trigger the slide themselves due to traveling near unstable snow slopes. Stay alert when traveling in avalanche country – a rapid temperature increase, heavy precipitation, cracking or collapsing snow can be precursors to a slide.  Check https://www.nwac.us/ before heading into the backcountry.

Know the signs of hypothermia. Involuntary shivering, a loss of motor skills, and a change in mood or confusion are the first signs that something is wrong. If you’re getting cold, put on more dry clothing and eat some high-carb foods. Don’t hesitate to turn back to shelter.

Don’t forget to hydrate. You probably won’t be craving water like you would on a hot summer day, but it’s important to keep your body hydrated throughout your adventure. Your metabolism is like a furnace for your body—keep it fueled with plenty of water and food and it will produce warmth.

Recognize your limits. If you don’t have experience with winter recreation, take it easy. Stick to populated areas that you’re familiar with. Take trips with more experienced winter recreationists to learn, but always be clear about your comfort level and skill set.

 

 

Categories: Partner Feeds

Discovering an ecological anomaly: Crowberry Bog

WA DNR News - December 5, 2019 - 10:01am

Joe Rocchio is a senior vegetation ecologist at the Department of Natural Resources.

It was a quiet August morning on the western Olympic peninsula. I was gearing up for another day of surveying for rare and high quality wetlands. In front of me was today’s mission—a 40-acre wetland.

The previous few days were challenging, consisting of difficult romps through dense, coastal swamp forests and I was not in the mood to repeat those adventures. As I stood on the edge of the wetland, finishing off my coffee and hoping the caffeine surge would get me over this lethargy, I looked toward the middle of the wetland and saw what looked like a thicket of tall shrubs. That meant another brutal day of bushwhacking. Ugh.

After a few minutes of hesitation, I took one last sip of coffee and jumped in. The first 20 meters were as expected—very mucky soils and slow going. At least there was no deep water and so far, the shrub density wasn’t too bad. The next 50 meters proved to be a bit drier but the shrubs were getting denser. And, those shrubs toward the middle were now looking like they would be over my head. Not looking forward to that.

After a few more minutes of plowing toward those tall shrubs, I came to an abrupt change in the vegetation. Waist-high shrubs all of a sudden dropped below my knees—same species, just dwarf versions of them. How could those tall shrubs I feared be so short? Their density also changed dramatically. They went from occupying all available space to being scattered. In between the dwarf shrubs was this continuous, fluffy, pillow-y, carpet of peat moss radiating beautiful shades of deep red, rusty orange, and lime green colors. These changes were not gradual—the transition was abrupt and clear.

This dwarf vegetation extended in front of me across a large, flat area. Trees changed too. In the area of dense shrubs, the scattered trees grew to 10-15 meters tall. But where the dwarf shrubs occurred the trees were short and looked like bonsai. The water levels had changed as well. The ground surface underneath the dense shrubs was moist but not wet.  However, when the dwarf shrubs appeared, I noticed that the water level was at the soil surface–the ground was saturated and squishy.

Joe Rocchio shows a piece of peat moss, the organic material that makes up the majority of Crowberry Bog

As I looked back toward where I started, wondering what was going on, it hit me—no, floored me—I had just walked uphill. The area covered by scattered dwarf shrubs where I was now standing was higher than where I started. Okay, but why is the high point wetter than the slope leading up to it? Gravity doesn’t work this way. Water is supposed to move downhill, not uphill. Wetlands are supposed to occur where water collects in low points on the landscapes, not in places where water flows to the top of a hill. Where the heck was I?

Having spent a lot of time reading about the peatlands that occur in the high latitudes of Canada and Europe, and dreaming that one day I might be able to visit those boggy paradises, I started to piece together what I had just stumbled upon. It seemed I had just stepped into a raised bog—something that had never before been documented in the western United States. I felt like Indiana Jones finding the Ark of the Covenant.

I was by myself that day and didn’t have anybody to share this discovery with so I walked around the bog exuberantly talking to myself, “Dang, this is a raised bog. Right? Yes, it’s raised.”

Although I was blind to all the signs when I first walked into the bog, it was so obvious to me now.

“Look at how the edges slope DOWN toward the forest. The top of this bog is clearly above the edge. But, wait, raised bogs are not supposed to occur here. Well, here it is. True that. Wow, I just found a raised bog!”

I engaged Dr. David Cooper at Colorado State University to help design a research project that would provide the necessary information to determine whether Crowberry Bog was indeed a true, raised bog.  We installed 15 well nests across the site. At each nest are three to four groundwater wells that allow us to measure the water table, direction of water movement, and water chemistry.

A DNR ecologist surveys one of the 15 “well nests” at Crowberry bog, tools used to measure the water table, direction of water movement, and water chemistry of the area.

If Crowberry Bog was a true, raised bog, it would have the following characteristics:  (1) The water table would be tightly associated with precipitation events; (2) the direction of water movement would be downward and lateral, at least in the winters months (if water movement was upward, that would indicate groundwater inputs); (3) the pH and calcium concentrations would be very low and less than found in local precipitation; and (4) vegetation patterns would show distinct zonation associated with these measures.

After a few years of data collection, it was apparent that Crowberry Bog indeed possessed all of these characteristics!  And, it is old. During our research, I found a scientific paper from 1974 that described a peat core collected from Crowberry Bog that showed the peat was about 5 m deep and started to accumulate nearly 16,000 years ago! Ancient and rare.

It has been eight years since that August morning and five years since I proposed that the site be designated a state Natural Area Preserve. Recently, the Board of Natural Resources voted to protect Crowberry Bog by transferring these lands into the Washington State Natural Areas program. The site is now permanently set aside for research, education, and, best of all, to conserve an incredibly beautiful and special place. I hope to help protect many other examples of Washington’s ecological treasures over the course of my career but if this happens to be the only place I’ve been successful, I will be content.

Categories: Partner Feeds

Get the inside scoop on becoming a wildland firefighter

WA DNR News - November 19, 2019 - 3:28pm

You may be intrigued by the prospect of becoming a wildland firefighter but not quite sure what else you need to know to get started. To help you get oriented, we’ve come up with some answers to questions you might have.

Q: What are the physical requirements for the job?

A: Every U.S. firefighting agency or bureau, including DNR, requires the completion of a Work Capacity Test (WCT), aka the “pack test.” It’s called the pack test because it requires an applicant to hike 3 miles on level ground with a 45-pound pack. This is to measure aerobic capacity, muscular strength and muscular endurance, which are important to ensure the safety of yourself and coworkers. Every fire fighter is expected to perform arduous work and must complete the hike within 45 minutes using a fast walking gait – no running. If you don’t meet the test requirements initially you have two weeks to take it again and pass.

Q: How should I prepare for the pack test?

A: If you don’t think you are in shape for the test, adopt a training routine at least 4-6 weeks before you take it. You could also contact the agency you’re applying with or local fire programs to see if there are group training programs for a pack test in your area. Remember to allow your body to rest a day or two before the test.

Q: How well does firefighting pay?

A: Pay for a firefighter starts on par with other summer jobs but quickly outpaces them when a busy fire season creates the need for firefighters to work overtime. At the same time, firefighters often won’t need to buy food or pay for lodging because you pitch a tent at the fire camp, where meals are provided, while working on a fireline.

Washington also ranks high in terms of average income for firefighters across the United States.

Source: https://www.recruiter.com/salaries/forest-firefighters-salary/?id=forest-firefighters&statewages=Washington

Q: What is the lodging situation?

A: Between incidents, DNR firefighters work a regular shift or of a work center and can return home every evening. You’re chances of being hired increase if you’re willing to be based out of the state’s more remote regions. Therefore, firefighters further from home may use a trailer or simply pitch a tent between incidents.

While attending a training academy or assigned to a fire incident, you live in a “camp setting” which entails morning briefings, tents, showers and meals. The camps include first aid and supply stations for every day necessities, charging outlets (usually),  lost and found, mail delivery and, of course, coffee and hydrating beverages.

Q: What will DNR provide on a fireline?

A: When you report to work, you’ll be issued gear that you will maintain throughout the season. This equipment includes flame-resistant Nomex shirts and pants, a hard-hat, leather gloves, safety glasses and an emergency fire shelter. To protect your feet, you must be able to buy lace-up boots with Vibram soles and constructed entirely of heavy leather (no metal) that extends a minimum of 8 inches above the heel cup (from the inside of the boot). DNR will reimburse up to $350 (with original receipt) for the cost of pre-approved boots.

Q: What about safety and training?

A: Fire is dangerous and safety is always our top priority. Quality training is a key part of remaining safe on any job, including wildland fire fighting. Basic training includes classroom learning and hands-on practice. Before working with a crew, you get training on:

  • Driving engines
  • Operating a chainsaw
  • Maintaining your situational awareness
  • Operating within the incident command system
  • Wildland fire behavior
  • Using equipment
  • How to respond in an emergency

Once working with a crew you continue to learn from more experienced members of your team every day. At the same time, every firefighter is empowered to assess situations and make decisions based on maintaining their own personal safety.

An important part of DNR’s firefighter training are annual training academies. See this video for a more detailed look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3-R2jChkQw 

Q: How will working as a firefighter help me grow?

A: The work is hard but rewarding, and the tenacity you develop working as a firefighter will serve you no matter where you go or what you decide to do. Fighting wildfires is the kind of work that inspires a sense of pride and accomplishment and leads to more confidence in yourself and your capabilities. It can also be a stepping stone to a career.  You will develop a network of agency firefighters that may be interested in recruiting you if you do a good job.

Firefighters who wish to pursue a career can acquire additional training and education on subjects like advanced techniques in fire and fuel management, land management, public affairs, forest health or rangeland ecology. Other fire training can include learning about prescribed burns, incident command, fire investigations, tactical decision-making or dispatch. Firefighters can even move into specialty programs like aviation fire training that can lead to becoming a “smoke-jumper,” a nickname for firefighters who parachute into remote locations.

 

Categories: Partner Feeds

Apply Now: DNR Posts Seasonal Wildfire Jobs and 30 New Full-Time Positions

WA DNR News - November 19, 2019 - 2:43pm

Would you make a good firefighter? Do you know someone who would? The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is looking for courageous, motivated men and women to join us in our efforts of protecting 13 million acres of Washington lands from wildfire this upcoming summer.

What’s new this year?

DNR has 30 new full-time positions for qualified wildland firefighter leaders interested in forest restoration and wildfire preparedness and prevention work in the off-season, along with fighting wildfire in the summer. When it isn’t wildfire season, duties will include the application of prescribed fire (a controlled burn conducted to restore forests) and wildfire risk assessments for communities and people’s homes. Positions are available at DNR regions across the state and pay up to $53,904 a year.

Applications are due Dec. 1.

Qualifications

For these permanent Wildland Fire and Forest Health Specialist positions, DNR is seeking job candidates who have:

  • Fully qualified to be a single resource boss, such as a heavy equipment boss, firing boss, crew boss, helicopter crew boss, felling boss or engine boss
  • Experience supervising or leading wildland firefighting personnel
  • Knowledge of burn permit and fire regulations, smoke management, fire prevention programs, fire investigation and fire suppression
  • Can meet the arduous level physical fitness standard: walking 3 miles in 45 minutes while carrying a 45 pound pack
  • The ability to work with the public, sometimes under stressful situations
  • A high school diploma or equivalent
  • A valid driver’s license, 3 years driving experience, and a driving record free of serious traffic violations

No experience required: seasonal positions

The work of seasonal wildland firefighters is strenuous, yet rewarding. DNR provides the training, safety clothing and protective gear. You must bring enthusiasm and the ability to perform strenuous outdoor work safely and productively. You must also be willing to accept direction and act responsibly.

Though important, seasonal firefighting jobs are temporary. You can generally expect to work three to four months beginning mid-June and ending in mid-September. However, the experience and training that you take with you can form the foundation for a successful lifelong career in forestry and other natural resource professions.

Qualifications

  • 18 years old when hired (typically mid-June)
  • Have a high school diploma or GEDwhen hired (typically mid-June)
  • Have a valid driver’s license2 years of driving experience and an acceptable driving record with no serious traffic violations. We cannot accept the following:
    • License suspension/revocation due to reckless driving, hit and run, leaving an accident scene, failure to appear, DUI or other vehicle-related felony
    • More than 3 moving violations in the past 12 months
    • More than 4 moving violations in the past 24 months
  • Able to operate a manual transmission
  • Able to buy regulation boots for $250 – $350 (reimbursed up to $350 with a receipt after purchase) 

To apply

When you apply for a seasonal 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.

The application that you fill out on careers.wa.gov will ask questions on basic information, education, past work history, references and include a simple questionnaire.

Be sure to identify the specific regions you are willing to work out of and apply for all that are appropriate for you: Northeast, Northwest, Olympic, South Puget Sound, Pacific Cascade, and/or Southeast. The more flexible you are, the more likely you are to be successful. For tips on preparing for an interview, check out http://careers.wa.gov/onlineresources.html.

To apply for one of the permanent positions, visit careers.wa.gov and search for the term “Wildland Fire and Forest Health Specialist.”

Learn more about DNR’s Wildfire Division here.

 

Categories: Partner Feeds

Vandalism On State Lands Reduces Recreation Funding

WA DNR News - November 18, 2019 - 11:25am

Washington state forests are home to gorgeous views, a multitude of recreating opportunities, and, unfortunately, a major vandalism issue. From torn down fences to an abandoned, Costco-sized pallet of sour cream, Larry Raedel, chief law enforcement officer of DNR police, sees vandalism in all shapes and forms on state land.

“It’s a little disheartening when you roll into a really nice, well-developed recreation site and you see that our fence posts have been damaged, our corrals are damaged, our signs are shot up, there’s litter left behind,” Raedel said.

Vandalism has always been an issue, but on some DNR trust lands, it’s become more prevalent due to an influx of patrons. DNR spent over $114,000 on trust land cleanup over the last two years, which doesn’t include money spent on vandalism cleanup at designated DNR recreation sites.

 

One of the most common forms of vandalism on state lands is trash dumping. People abandon bags of garbage, old mattresses, broken toilets, even hazardous waste. Not only is this an eyesore for those who want to use the sites, but it poses an environmental threat. In 2018, DNR removed five large abandoned barrels full of a water and oil mixture in Capitol State Forest, a biohazard incident that cost nearly $3,000 to deal with.

DNR staff also get regular calls about abandoned vehicles, some that have been set on fire or damaged beyond value. Capitol Forest Recreation Manager Philip Wolff said some parts of the year, they’ll come across one abandoned car a week. These major cleanups are a huge time and resource suck for DNR employees, Wolff said, energy that should be going toward improving public land.

An abandoned, burned vehicle left behind in Capitol State Forest.

Raedel hears the same response from caught offenders who abandon their trash over and over again: “I thought I could dump out here.” No matter how many times he hears this defense, it always surprises him.

“This is the forest, this is where we come and recreate and enjoy everything that nature has to give us. It just blows us away when we hear those kinds of comments,” he said.

Another type of prevalent vandalism on state lands is damage from irresponsible target shooting. Not only do some shooters leave behind shells and illegal target debris, but many informational signs have been destroyed by bullet holes. The damage to signs is more than a vandalism issue; in some areas, it impedes others’ ability to learn of important messages that may include the basic rules of target shooting, timber harvest information, or trail closure notices.

A vandalized sign on DNR land. Signs destroyed by illegal shooting is one of the most common forms of vandalism on state land.

Vandalism to toilet facilities is also common and costly. Outhouses are regularly covered with graffiti, with damage done to the inside that makes them unusable; this costs around $800 to repair. DNR outhouses have also been blown up with explosives.

Public use impacts

Leah Dobey, DNR’s statewide recreation manager, said vandalism is more than a minor issue. If there are repeated offenses in a specific area, it could eventually lead to public access restrictions.

“People aren’t necessarily thinking about the impacts their actions have on state trust lands and other recreationalists, and there is an impact,” Dobey said. “Anytime our staff are spending their time and our financial resources cleaning up [vandalism], that’s time and funding going towards clean up instead of maintaining and improving our recreation facilities.”

DNR employees work to clear a pile of abandoned trash left on state trust land.

DNR recreation would much rather use their efforts to beautify their sites, Dobey said. Funding that goes toward clean up on recreation sites would usually be used for tasks like trail maintenance, pumping trail toilets, or removing downed hazard trees.

“Restricting public access is not something we want to do,” Dobey said. “But if citizens continually abuse the land and we aren’t able to keep it appropriately cared for, unfortunately that has [resulted in gate closures].”

Raedel leads a 12-officer team, responsible for covering over 160 DNR-managed recreation sites. Although they receive assistance from DNR partners like the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington State Patrol, they can’t be everywhere at once. Fortunately, they get help from other policing resources, like trail cameras and helpful citizens.

Increased visitation of public lands can result in a vandalism uptick, but it also provides more opportunity for community accountability. Besides following the rules of “pack in, pack out,” the public can make a difference by supporting the phrase, “If you see something, say something,” Raedel said.

As long as they’re not putting themselves in harm’s way, Raedel encouraged recreationalists to grab a photograph or to write down a description of vandals if they felt comfortable, that way the force can follow up. Members of the public can call 1-855-883-8368 if they see suspicious activity. He hopes additional eyes on the ground can lead to healthier, well-maintained state lands.

Dobey echoed this sentiment, saying that in addition to taking care of their own items on state lands, she hopes recreationalists will help keep their peers accountable.

“I think there is value in self-policing,” Dobey said. “If we get more people who care for the land and think about themselves as stewards for our trust lands, we can all help be part of the solution.”

Categories: Partner Feeds

Prevention Pays Off: Homeowner’s House, Trees Remain Intact in Williams Flats Fire

WA DNR News - November 18, 2019 - 8:48am

Long, destructive wildfire seasons can wreak havoc on unprotected homes. But contrary to what you may think, your house has a good chance of remaining intact in a wildfire if you follow the necessary precautions. The work of one Ferry County property owner helped firefighters save his home during the 2019 Williams Flats Fire, and saved many of the mature trees on his property, too.

In 2014, the landowner contacted the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Landowner Assistance (LOA) Program about precautionary steps he could take to increase his home’s wildfire resilience. LOA forester Michelle Ensminger, of DNR’s Northeast Regional Office, visited the 135-acre forested property to talk about the landowner’s goals for home protection.

Ensminger first walked around the home, providing suggestions to reduce the risk of ignition by ember showers. The majority of his property was populated by ponderosa pine and Douglas fir trees that ranged from saplings to mature trees.

After the initial inspection, Ensminger gave him two main recommendations. First, to remove enough of the small trees so that the trees in the forest are spaced about 16 feet apart; doing so would reduce the risk of fire jumping from the branches of one tree to another. Second, she recommended removing lower branches and brush to reduce ladder fuels – meaning the chances of a ground fire climbing into tree tops would lessen.

The property owner’s land before tree thinning projects were completed. The property owner’s land after tree thinning projects were completed.

With the help of the LOA Cost-Share Program, which pays part of the cost of thinning, pruning and clean-up, the landowner acted on the recommendations. The landowner completed thinning projects in 2014 and 2017 which covered 71.5 acres in total – more than half of his property.

The completion of these projects directly contributed to the preservation of his home during the Williams Flats Fire, officials say.

When the landowner’s property was evaluated, the work he had conducted was obvious. Ponderosa pine trees were spaced out and limbed up, and the amount of fuel on the ground had been reduced.

Solomon’s team came up with a plan to dig fire line around the home, tying in with the areas where the homeowner had done the work.

When the main fire was a couple hundred yards from the house, the crews started burning out the fuels in the treated area. The flame lengths were light at 2 to 3 feet, with no trees torching. In stark comparison, the untreated forest had flame lengths of 6 to 8 feet high with single trees and groups of trees torching, which helped spread embers.

Ground crews handled the fire within the treated area, and after it burned around the structure, it eventually moved back into untreated areas where it grew in intensity. This treatment, made by the landowner with assistance from the DNR, helped provide a safe area for firefighters to engage the Williams Flat Fire.

“Being proactive and doing fuels reduction treatment on their property allows us to be effective with the resources we had available,” Kurt Solomon, protection specialist for Incident Management Team 8, said.

LOA uses state capital funds and federal grants to offer financial assistance to landowners to thin forests, reduce the intensity of wildfires, and increase forest health.

The program is available for forestland owners in central and eastern Washington who have up to 5,000 acres of forest and want to make their forests healthier and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.

For further assistance for those who live in Ferry, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane or Stevens counties, call the Northeast Region office at (509) 684-7474. For residents of central and eastern Washington, call the Southeast Region office at (509) 925-8510. Ask to speak to a landowner assistance forester.

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10 Hikes to Try on National Take a Hike Day

WA DNR News - November 15, 2019 - 8:00am

Grab your daypack and your hiking boots — today is National Take a Hike Day! The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages 1,200 miles of trail, home to some of the most popular hikes in Washington. In honor of this recreation-dedicated holiday, we’ve compiled a list of 10 trails that should go on your hiking bucket-list. Check it out!

Striped Peak Trail
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Moderate

Hikers traverse through old growth Douglas-fir trees and coastal scenery on this well-traveled trail which concludes with a spectacular view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island. There’s an option to expand your hike to explore an isolated rocky cove, the perfect place to view tide pools and watch waves crash on the beach.

Chelan Butte Trail
Distance: 7.5 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Bring along your camera on this sandy day hike. At the top of this steep trek, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of Lake Chelan and the Columbia River. This is a popular spot for paragliders, so keep an eye out once you’ve reached the summit.

Cutthroat Lakes via Walt Bailey Trail
Distance: 6 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Difficult

Discover several picturesque little lakes at the end of this difficult, but rewarding, backcountry trail. Scenic meadows and peek-a-boo views of ridgeline provide plenty of visual interest as hikers climb switchbacks galore. Be careful climbing this trail during late fall, as hazardous ice and snow can create issues for even the most experience hikers.

Whites Ridge Trail
Distance: 11 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Moderate

Take in gorgeous views of Mount Adams and the Yakima valley while you trek this 10-mile loop. This trail is great for year-round use, especially in the fall when the foliage lights up with brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds. Hike the full distance, or shorten your trip by cutting back through logging roads.

Dishman Hills Natural Area Loop
Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip, with additional trails to explore
Difficulty: Easy

Nestled in the hills near Spokane, this 1.5-mile loop is the perfect place to get away from the city for a breath of fresh air. With several additional trails connected to the main loop, hikers can easily customize their adventure. Keep an eye out for cottontail rabbit, porcupines, and whitetail deer, all which frequent the area.

Disappointment Trail
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Moderate

Hugged close to the Canadian border, this Loomis State Forest hike has a deceiving name. The trail guides recreationalists through towering evergreen trees and up an open ridge. Pack a lunch and chow down while you take in the views of Disappointment Peak and Snowshoe Mountain.

Tarbell Trail Loop
Distance: 22 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Sections of this trail are more than a century old, but it’s still a beloved recreation spot for many. This 22-mile loop is very customizable and offers several natural attractions, like a clear view of Mount Hood and a waterfall.

Manastash Ridge
Distance: 4.0 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Moderate

Hikers are surrounded by stunning views for the majority of this journey, including a sweeping panorama of the Kittitas Valley with the Stuart Range peeking up in the distance. As the name suggests, the trail follows a ridgeline, often shared with horseback riders and mountain bikers.

Mount Teneriffe
Distance: 13 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Located in close proximity to the popular Mount Si trail system, Teneriffe is a less-frequented trail that offers equally beautiful panoramic views. Hikers take a gentle climb through meadows and forested areas before a rocky scramble to reach the summit. There’s an added option to extend the hike with a detour to Teneriffe Falls, a tall, narrow waterfall with a 22-switchback climb.

Douglass Falls Grange Park Nature Loop
Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Easy

Get your blood pumping with this quick and easy nature loop in eastern Washington. The loop climbs through deep green conifer forests near a creek, leading up to a 60-foot waterfall. Short and sweet, this is a great trail for families.

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