Partner Feeds

Hardwoods and Renewable Energy Drive Community Anticipation for Rural Communities Partnership Initiative

WA DNR News - April 18, 2018 - 3:39pm

In Raymond, Wash., a lumber mill owned by the Port of Willapa Harbor sits abandoned. Piles of alder seem stuck in time after being cut and dried, but never quite making it to shipment to become the products they were intended for.

Last month, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz made good on her promise to use the resources of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to support development solutions for rural Washingtonians when she announced this mill’s reopening as one of four initial Rural Communities Partnership Initiative efforts.

DNR is partnering with the state legislature to make a $1.4 million investment to get the mill, which closed in 2017, back up and running – maybe with the use of renewable energy.

“For too many in our rural economies, the status quo isn’t working,” said Commissioner Franz. “People are hurting, but they are resilient. And we are investing in our people.”

Phase 1: A New, Old Mill for Pacific County

DNR, in partnership with the state legislature, is granting $1.4 million for the Port of Willapa Harbor to retrofit and lease an existing mill beginning in 2019. Alder wood is versatile and a wide variety of regional businesses will be able to use the mill’s wood products. Mill retrofits will allow the mill to make use of small diameter alder wood logs, which grows well throughout the region.

“This project will have a positive impact on our community and our state,” said State Senator Dean Takko (D-Longview). “By reopening a hardwood mill, we are creating jobs and a new supply of locally-sourced wood products.”

“By reopening a hardwood mill, we are creating jobs and a new supply of locally-sourced wood products.” ~State Senator Dean Takko

Known as “New Pacific Hardwood,” this venture in Pacific County will generate an estimated 49 new jobs – in an area with the third highest unemployment rate in the state. And, each year, the mill will make spend $9.5 million to purchase logs from a variety of local landowners and generate $98,000 in taxes for public services.

“This is what rural community partnership is about – putting lumber mill workers back to work making products out of sustainably harvested trees,” said Commissioner Franz.

About DNR and Timber Lands

The agency knows a good deal about producing locally sourced timber to meet the growing need for wood products in Washington’s urban communities.

Commissioner Franz and her staff manage 3 million acres of state-owned trust lands. Much of that land is forested and managed for timber harvests, though Commissioner Franz’s management of these lands also ensures ongoing access for recreation, forested watersheds for clean water, important wildlife habitat, and wildfire protections via the state’s largest on-call fire department.

Revenue from the timber that comes from state trust lands helps fund construction of public schools statewide and supports state universities, prisons and other institutions, along with public services in many counties.

DNR timber carries SFI sustainability certification and is only sold to mills here in the United States, primarily within Washington to serve customers like you. The New Pacific Hardwood mill will have to compete for these homegrown DNR logs, just as any other mill would.

Yet, timber isn’t the only natural resources DNR has the ability to leverage. DNR resources could also supply materials for renewable energy.

Phase 2: A Port of Willapa Harbor Energy Innovation District

Center for Sustainable Infrastructure will use these funds to assist the Port to explore renewable energy options via an Energy Innovation District.

 The second part of the project will have DNR working with the Port of Willapa Harbor and Evergreen State College Center for Sustainable Infrastructure to determine the economic feasibility of an energy innovation district.

An energy innovation district would co-locate new and current assets at the Port or Willapa Harbor to allow businesses to share energy and reuse waste streams, which could attract new and existing business to locate here.

“The Port of Willapa Harbor seeks to be a conduit for economic opportunities – whether that means timber or renewable fuel sources,” said Rebecca Chaffee, Manager, Port of Willapa Harbor. “More mill jobs right away is a big deal. And, the potential of an energy innovation district – when we have ready access to wood, agricultural waste and other renewable natural resources and byproducts – is a game-changer.”

“The Port of Willapa Harbor seeks to be a conduit for economic opportunities.” ~Port of Willapa Harbor Manager Rebecca Chaffee

DNR will administer a $100,000 grant to Center for Sustainable Infrastructure for this work. Other communities with ready access to forest and agriculture resources or waste streams will be able to use this work to assess their renewable energy options, as well.

About the Rural Communities Partnership Initiative

As part of Commissioner Franz’s Rural Communities Partnership Initiative, DNR solicited economic development ideas from rural communities across the state, receiving more than 80 proposals.

“Communities know best what they need, but often lack the resources for economic initiatives. If you have a good idea, let me know,” says Franz. “Because my agency is investing in good ideas. And by investing in rural Washingtonians – by supporting community-driven economic development – we are creating lasting and sustainable opportunity.”

“Communities know best what they need, but often lack the resources for economic initiatives… by investing in rural Washingtonians – by supporting community-driven economic development – we are creating lasting and sustainable opportunity.” ~Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz

The mill is just one of the projects initially selected. More are on the horizon and the agency continues to take on new proposals.

“We’re incredibly excited to bring these projects, and more, to fruition to drive positive impacts for communities,” said Josh Wilund, DNR Senior Strategic Advisor.

According to Wilund, proposals should be for sustainable projects that offer long-term solutions, make use of renewable natural resources, maintain biodiversity, support ecological systems or provide communities with multi-generational economic opportunities.

A city council, chamber of commerce, DNR employee, county leadership, tribal government, local organization or businesses may submit projects. There is no minimum requirement, however projects should intersect with DNR’s lands and people, and be geared toward creating hard economic value in local communities.

Click to watch project video on YouTube.


Categories: Partner Feeds

Missing Washington Plant Found in Illinois

WA DNR News - April 14, 2018 - 7:29am
Herbarium specimen from the University of Illinois herbarium

Oregon geranium (Geranium oreganum) is about 2 feet tall and has large bright pink or purple flowers with prominent veins on the petals (these reflect UV light and help guide bumble bees to nectar at the base of the flower, much like runway lights help pilots land an airplane at night).  Despite its size and showiness, this species has only been found once in Washington, and has not been seen again since 1936.  It is a prairie and oak woodland obligate species and is known primarily from the dry interior valley system that runs from southern British Columbia to northern California and includes the Puget Trough of Washington and Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

The last person to see this species in Washington was George Neville Jones, who at the time was a graduate student at the University of Illinois studying the Geranium species of North America.  Jones made an herbarium collection and recorded his observation in a 1943 paper in the botanical journal Rhodora, noting the specimen was deposited at “UI”.  Each major herbarium in North America has a unique two or three-letter code to identify it.  For years, no one could track down Jones’ specimen because “UI” is the code for a small herbarium in Uintah County, Utah.  Some people began to question if Jones actually made his collection in Washington and whether the species ever occurred in the state.

Last year, Washington Natural Heritage Rare Plant Botanist, Walter Fertig became

Geranium oreganum in the field (Image Creative Commons )

interested in the case of the missing Geranium.  Walter tracked down the 1943 monograph and on the first page Jones, was identified as a graduate of the University of Illinois.  Walter recalls, “It then occurred to me that “UI” was not the code for the Uintah County herbarium, but probably stood for the University of Illinois.  I searched some online databases but was unable to find the Jones specimen.”  Undeterred, Walter emailed David Seigler, the collections manager of the University of Illinois herbarium and asked if he could find the specimen.  Seigler wrote back with double good news: not only did he find the errant collection, but he sent a digital photograph of the specimen.  The label clearly indicates it came from “Mill Plain, Clark County, Washington”.  The image also is of sufficient quality that the specimen can be positively identified as Geranium oreganum.

Mystery solved … except no one has relocated Oregon geranium in Washington since Jones’ time!  If you are exploring wet prairie sites in Cowlitz, Clark, or Lewis counties, keep an eye out for a tall, showy, pink-flowered geranium – it might just be the mystery geranium!

Categories: Partner Feeds

Arbor Day and Spring vs. Fall Planting

WA DNR News - April 10, 2018 - 8:18am
It takes all kinds of help to plant trees in celebration of Arbor Day. Photo: Linden Lampman/DNR

“If fall is the best time to plant trees in Washington, why is Arbor Day celebrated in the spring?”

This question comes up often, so let’s break it down.

Arbor Day was founded by Nebraska farmer and statesman, J. Sterling Morton. The very first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska on April, 10, 1872. In 1885, the Nebraska State legislature recognized Arbor Day as an official state holiday to be annually observed on April 22nd, J. Sterling Morton’s birthday.

In 1957 The Washington State Legislature passed a law designating the official Washington State Arbor Day as the second Wednesday in April, which this year is April 11. Today, the national Arbor Day is commonly celebrated on the last Friday in April, which this year is April 27.

So why spring? It is probably because, to an agriculturalist like Mr. Morton, spring is when farmers planted all of their crops. In their view, why should trees be any different?

Spring is the peak season for rainfall to naturally irrigate anything newly planted in states like Nebraska and many others throughout the eastern and central United States. Many of these states also receive periodic rains from summer thunderstorms that help trees get through the hottest months of the year.

It is also believed by some horticultural experts east of the Rockies that certain species of trees, including Oaks, Ginkgos, Dogwoods, Birches, Hornbeams, and Yellowwoods, among others, have lower mortality rates when planted in spring versus fall. Whether that thinking applies to Washington State, I can’t say that I know for sure…

What I do know is that our environmental conditions are a little different here.

East of the Cascades, communities receive anywhere from 8-20 inches per year, primarily between November and January. Pair this with prolonged periods of hot, dry weather in summer and I think you can see why planting trees in fall is preferred.

On the west side, our waterworks turn on in mid-September and don’t quit until early May. Our summers are mild but it rains almost never between June and August. Once again, these conditions point to fall as a better time to plant trees.

So why do most Tree City USA communities in Washington celebrate Arbor Day and plant trees in April? I’m assuming it is mostly tradition, but just because fall is preferred doesn’t mean that spring is off limits.

The most important thing is to properly mulch and water your trees for the first year after planting, and then at least through the summers for the next year or two following. If your tree gets enough water then it can survive and establish itself no matter when, or where you planted it.

Here are some additional links to thoughts on spring versus fall planting:

Iowa State University, Fall Planting of Trees and Shrubs

Oregon State University, Fall is Good Time to Plant or Move and Replant Perennials, Shrubs or Trees

Garden Myths, Best Time To Plant Trees

Originally published in the April Tree Link Newsletter.

Categories: Partner Feeds

Fire district funding available for radio communication equipment and wildfire risk reduction

WA DNR News - April 9, 2018 - 11:42am
Fire district funding available for radio communication equipment.

DNR is now soliciting applications from fire protection service providers to fund projects for radio communication equipment and wildfire risk reduction activities, including education and outreach, technical assistance, fuel mitigation and other residential risk reduction measures.

Fire protection service providers include fire departments, fire districts, emergency management services and regional fire protection service authorities.

We are only accepting projects located in counties east of the crest of the Cascade mountain range that share a common border with Canada and have a population of 100,000 or less are eligible (Ferry, Okanogan, Pend Oreille and Stevens counties).

DNR will prioritize funding to fire protection service providers within these counties that:

  • Serve a disproportionately higher percentage of low-income residents as defined in RCW 84.36.042, and
  • Are located within areas of higher wildfire risk, and
  • Have a shortage of reliable equipment and resources

Learn more about the grant and how to apply at DNR’s Fire District Assistance webpage.

Categories: Partner Feeds

A Forest Classroom Grows Roots in Kalama

WA DNR News - April 3, 2018 - 3:59pm


Click to watch our video on DNR’s partnership with the Forest Management Learning Laboratory.

The plan is just one piece of one of the first four community partnerships announced by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz to leverage resources of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to support development solutions for rural Washingtonians.


The Rural Communities Partnership Initiative

As part of Commissioner Franz’s Rural Communities Partnership Initiative, DNR solicited ideas from rural communities across the state. The agency received more than 80 proposals. The Forest Management Learning Laboratory is one of the initial projects selected and was announced earlier this month.

“Communities know best what they need, but often lack the resources for economic initiatives. If you have a good idea, let me know. Because my agency is investing in good ideas.” Said Commissioner Franz. “By investing in rural Washingtonians – by supporting community-driven economic development – we are creating lasting and sustainable opportunity.”

“By investing in rural Washingtonians – by supporting community-driven economic development – we are creating lasting and sustainable opportunity.” ~ Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz

The Forest Management Learning Laboratory

The Kalama School District is partnering with DNR to connect students with forestry careers by managing a 32-acre forest adjacent to the district’s middle-high School. Additional partners span industry, higher education and state agencies, including: RSG Forest Products, Green River College, the Pacific Education Institute, AWC Center for Quality Communities, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“We’re very excited about the Rural Communities Partnership Initiative, as it will not only bring industry expertise into our program, but it will be one more opportunity for students to see how their learning about science relates to the real world and careers in fields related to natural resources,” said Kalama School District Superintendent Eric Nerison. “The program also helps to leverage the local expertise through partners like RSG Forest Products. We’re looking forward to seeing the learning opportunities and partnerships continue to grow as a result of the program.”

“We’re very excited about the Rural Communities Partnership Initiative … it will be one more opportunity for students to see how their learning about science relates to the real world and careers in fields related to natural resources.” ~ Kalama School District Superintendent Eric Nerison

For example, students – working with DNR staff – will develop a harvest schedule for their adjacent 32-acre forest – a practical application of their knowledge that can lead to a career.

About DNR

It’s a particularly poignant project for the Department. Under the guidance of the Commissioner, DNR manages 3 million acres of state-owned trust lands. Revenue from state trust lands – much of them forested – helps fund construction of public schools statewide and supports state universities along with other public services.

A Natural Resources Career Path

DNR staff will pull from their professional networks to bring additional expertise into the “classroom” too. And, to further connect the 18-20 annual student participants to natural resource education experiences, DNR staff will share with the students information on the Washington Conservation Corps, DNR job shadowing, and DNR college internships.

DNR and other timber interests can have difficulty recruiting for forest management jobs in this area and similar regions. Each year, DNR recruited for 260 temporary and permanent positions in this region alone. State and private forestry professions are a way for future generations to stay and give back to the rural communities where they grew up.

“We want to create natural resource aspirations in these students,” said Commissioner Franz. “Working in the forest – whether building a forest road or laying out a timber sale – is not the kind of work you see glamorized in the media.

“But these professional positions are critical to both a solid rural economy and our agency. We want students to know they don’t have to leave the lands they love to have a fulfilling career.”

“We want to create natural resource aspirations in these students … they don’t have to leave the lands they love to have a fulfilling career.” ~ Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz

A DNR outreach and education survey will further inform agency involvement in the Forest Management Learning Laboratory, which could be replicated in other schools who wish to pursue education experiences around our state’s natural resources.

Commissioner Franz and DNR’s management of state lands ensures ongoing access for recreation, forested watersheds for clean water and wildlife habitat – all important things for local communities. In addition, she and her staff oversee the state’s geologic information, forest health, forest rules, 94 natural areas and wildfire protection via the state’s largest on-call fire department.

An Ongoing Initiative

Commissioner Franz will make additional Rural Communities Partnership Initiative project announcements in the near future says DNR Senior Strategic Advisor Josh Wilund, who is administering the program.

“By investing in rural communities, the Department of Natural Resources is building, expanding, and maximizing relationships,” said Wilund. “We’re incredibly excited to bring this and more projects to fruition, and drive positive impacts for communities.”

The agency is well positioned to do so – literally – as DNR is present within every county across Washington.


Categories: Partner Feeds

Tree lovers unite, honoring Arbor Day April 11

WA DNR News - April 2, 2018 - 11:02am
It takes all kinds of help to plant trees in celebration of Arbor Day. Photo: Linden Lampman/DNR

Arbor Day is a celebration of trees and all the great things they do for us here in the Evergreen State. Washington State Arbor Day is always celebrated on the second Wednesday in April, and this year, April 11 is proclaimed Arbor Day by Governor Jay Inslee.


However, Arbor Day is more than just a celebration of trees. It’s a celebration of responsible natural resource management.


Salmon streams that DNR protects in native forestlands flow out of the foothills, across the landscape and ultimately through one or more of Washington’s cities. Urban areas are where streams, shellfish beds and fragile nearshore habitats are most threatened by stormwater runoff, erosion and sedimentation, toxic pollutants, low oxygen levels and climate fluctuations.


Trees, however, are erosion reducers, pollution mitigators, water purifiers, climate stabilizers and carbon sinks. The practice of forestry in cities offers practical, low-cost, natural resource-based solutions to many environmental problems that affect our daily lives in Washington. Planting a tree in a city is an act of restoration. Caring for urban trees is an act of stewardship. Cultivating an urban forest is natural resource management.


Sixty percent of Washingtonians live in an incorporated municipality, and approximately 90 percent of the state’s population lives in an area identified as “urban” by the 2010 census. There are 91 Tree City USA Communities in Washington and nearly 50 percent of Washington’s population lives in a Tree City USA.


Tree City USA is a national award from the Arbor Day Foundation that recognizes cities and towns for making a commitment to plant, protect and maintain their trees. At DNR we celebrate Arbor Day in partnership with local communities across the state that have earned the Tree City USA® award. Find out if your city is a Tree City USA, as there may be special programs to celebrate trees in your community this month.


If your city isn’t part of the Tree City USA Program, contact your city officials to help them plan Arbor Day celebrations next year. Sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the US Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, Tree City USA® provides technical assistance and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs in thousands of towns and cities.


But you don’t have to live in a Tree City to celebrate Arbor Day. Many cities and towns provide opportunities for the public to help plant trees, pull invasive weeds or clean-up parklands during the spring season. Contact your city officials to find out what they have going on.

Categories: Partner Feeds

Video & Images Instructions

WA DNR News - April 1, 2018 - 12:20pm

Imbed a Video

Here is a quick guide on how to imbed a video anywhere in your blog post.  The WordPress support link for this is at the bottom as well.

1. Find the URL of the video you would like to use

2. Paste that URL where you want the video to appear on the blog post

3. Delink the URL.    This is done by placing the cursor at the end of the hyperlink and pressing backspace.  You will be able to tell if this works if the hyperlink goes from blue/purple text to the plain black of the other text on the page.  This action should not delete any of the letters in the URL.

4.Enter the phrase “youtube=” attached to the front of the URL.

5. Place brackets [ or ] at either end.

6. Hit preview to make sure it works.

7. Now you have a stellar blog post!

Example of finished imbedded link

check this out!

here is the link to the support site

at the bottom are all the sites we can imbed videos from.


Make a clickable image

Images inserted into blog posts can be made “clickable” so people can see the full-size image.

  1. Upload your image as usual to the blog (up to 1200 pixels wide suggested if it’s one you want people to be able to enlarge)
  2. Select one of the default sizes and the alignment for display in the blog as usual


  1. After the image is inserted, go to your blog in edit mode and click on the image to reveal the image editing tool (shown in yellow below)











4. Click on the little pencil image and the “Image Details” screen will pop up (as shown below).  Click the arrow next to “Link To” and select “Media File” (circled)

Your image’s URL (in the WordPress library) should automatically appear in the box.
Then click the blue Update button in the lower right.
NOTE: The “Size” selections menu (just above “Link To”) affect the display within the blog, so just use one of the presets—‘large’ in this particular case

OPTIONAL: add “CLICK image to enlarge”  or something like that to the caption.






















See the “Heading to the water?” blog for an example of the final product.

Categories: Partner Feeds

Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz on Investing in Our Rural Communities

WA DNR News - March 30, 2018 - 2:47pm

Washington is rich in natural resources, and I’m investing in ways to make sure those assets are serving the communities they surround. This month, my team and I announced a $3.5 million funding package for our first crop of projects that will create dozens of new jobs and preserve hundreds more.

Through our Rural Communities Partnership Initiative, we’re securing funding to re-open an alder mill in Raymond, help oyster growers manage burrowing shrimp in Pacific County, build a facility in Ilwaco to remove and recycle derelict vessels, and train a new generation of natural resource workers in Kalama.

We’re working with several other communities across Washington to launch similar partnerships. Stay tuned and share your ideas for boosting our state’s rural communities at See more in our video to the right.


Categories: Partner Feeds

Geologists working to step up tsunami mapping

WA DNR News - March 28, 2018 - 9:47am

Washington faces the second highest risk from earthquakes, and one of the highest for tsunamis in the nation, yet remains the only west coast state that does not have an inventory of the seismic hazard for critical infrastructure.

Thanks to the state Legislature this year, DNR has more resources to address that gap. We received funding in the supplemental state budget to identify geologic hazards and produce information you and our communities can use to be ready.

DNR received $1.2 million to study the seismic stability of 220 schools and five fire stations, and to work with engineers from the University of Washington and private firms to help provide plans to make those critical buildings more stable during seismic events.

We also received an appropriation for $367,000 to hire more geologists to study and map tsunami hazards along the Washington coast, which is currently only about half-mapped.

All this will help communities be more resilient for the next tsunami, whether that’s from a Cascadia subduction event or less famous faults.

DNR holds scenarios developed to show how seismic forces could impact all of Washington’s communities, from Aberdeen to Zillah.

Our geologists just published new maps to show the tsunami risks to southwest Washington from a 2,500-year Cascadia subduction zone earthquake so people along the coast can identify evacuation routes before the quake and tsunami hits.

The first tip is to be ready. Have plans for what to do when earthquakes or tsunamis happen.

In addition to developing plans to prepare for natural disasters like our friends at Washington Emergency Management advise, you can know more about what these geologic hazards likely mean for your neighborhood, thanks to the hard work of our geologists.

You can view scenarios for the different seismic hazards Washington faces on our seismic hazard catalog.

You can find out more about the risks Washington’s active geology present to you and your loved ones with the scenario catalog or by the hundreds of reports on Washington geology filed in the Washington Geology Library. Those reports can also be accessed online through our new publications catalog.

Yuo can learn more by talking with our geologists and our colleagues at EMD, the National Weather Service, the University of Washington and local emergency management officials at our Tsunami Roadshow April 10-13.

Public presentations will be:

  • 1 p.m., Tuesday, April 10 at Raymond Timberland Library,507 Duryea St. in Raymond
  • 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 10, Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum 115 Lake Street SE, in Ilwaco.
  • 12 p.m., Wednesday, April 11 at the Ocosta Junior-Senior High School Library, 2580 Montesano St, Westport;
  • 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 11 at the Ocean Shores Convention Center, 120 W. Chance a La Mer NW, Ocean Shores.
  • 11 a.m., Friday, April 13 at the J-47 Pirate Union Building (PUB) on Peninsula College, 1502 E Lauridsen Blvd, Port Angeles
  • 6:30 p.m., Friday, April 13 at Chimacum High School auditorium, 91 West Valley Rd., Chimacum.



Categories: Partner Feeds

Lessons from the 1964 Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami

WA DNR News - March 27, 2018 - 3:34pm

Fifty-four years ago today, at 5:36 pm, a powerful magnitude 9.2 earthquake shook the coast of Alaska southeast of Anchorage. It was one of the two strongest earthquakes ever recorded anywhere. The shaking lasted almost 4.5 minutes! The quake killed many people in Alaska, but what may be surprising is that 16 people died in Oregon and California, more than 1,300 miles away. How did this happen?


Fifty-four years ago today, at 5:36 pm, a powerful magnitude 9.2 earthquake shook the coast of Alaska southeast of Anchorage. It was one of the two strongest earthquakes ever recorded anywhere. The shaking lasted almost 4.5 minutes! The quake killed many people in Alaska, but what may be surprising is that 16 people died in Oregon and California, more than 1,300 miles away. How did this happen?

The Alaska earthquake unleashed a massive tsunami that rushed across the Pacific, reaching the Washington coast in fewer than four hours. The waves reached heights of up to twelve feet in Seaview. People on the beach were unprepared for the tsunami. In those days we did not yet have a good tsunami warning system for alerting people living on the coast of imminent danger.

Washington is gearing up for ‘the big one’, a great Cascadia subduction zone earthquake predicted to strike right off…

View original post 281 more words

Categories: Partner Feeds

Natural features that define our state

WA DNR News - March 20, 2018 - 7:25am
DNR and partners do many types of research in state natural areas, such as in Table Mountain NRCA, which includes complex habitat for native plants including tiger lily and coltsfoot, here shown with a tiger swallowtail butterfly.

How would you go about inventorying the species and ecosystems in Washington state? Or determining conservation priorities?

At the DNR Natural Heritage Program, working with our citizen advisors on the Washington State Natural Heritage Advisory Council, we’ve been documenting the location of rare species and high quality ecosystems since 1977. Educators, local governments, state and federal agencies, and many others rely on this information for their work.

The just-released 2018 State of Washington Natural Heritage Plan offers an opportunity to reflect on the natural features that define our state. Flipping through the short 30-page plan, you’ll begin to see Washington through the eyes of the many species with which we share the state, and learn about the framework created by the Washington State Legislature

The 2018 Natural Heritage Plan

to achieve conservation, both successfully and efficiently.

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz released the plan with encouragement for everyone:

We invite you to help us build on this conservation legacy. We seek partnerships with agencies and land trusts to fill the gaps that exist in knowledge and conservation action. We encourage school districts and individual teachers who are interested in providing outdoor learning experiences to contact us.

Get outside this spring, and share our rich natural heritage with future generations of Washingtonians!

Categories: Partner Feeds

On the Move: How Mobile Technology is Changing the Way DNR Collects Spatial Data

WA DNR News - March 18, 2018 - 10:15am

When the iPhone came out in 2007, we had never seen the like: a smart phone with a large, relatively simple LCD screen you could operate by touch that would bring web pages to life in vivid color right there in your hand. Suddenly, smart phones were cool. Mainstream. We had to have one. Ten years later, most of us do.

Who could have guessed that devices tailor-made to deliver soup recipes, memes, and polarizing opinions in 140 characters or fewer would become the future of spatial data collection at a large land management agency such as DNR?

And yet, here we are.

Change is coming

Managing more than two million acres of public lands for everything from timber harvest to wheat farm leases technically does not require reams of spatial data. But it definitely helps.

Spatial data indicates where something is in relation to something else. Fed into a geographic information system (GIS), spatial data helps DNR locate, track, analyze, map, and ultimately manage the lands and resources in our care.

Figure 1. Trimble data collector.

Currently, DNR field staff collect spatial data using global position system (GPS) receivers and data collectors, which are hand-held devices for entering data. The most common brand used at DNR is Trimble (Figure 1). Foresters use these devices to map streams or timber sale boundaries. Biologists use them to survey nest trees. Geologists use them to map potentially unstable areas. If their jobs are mostly reconnaissance, field staff may opt for a Garmin GPS, which is more limited in terms of data collection.

Trimble and Garmin collection devices have been solid workhorses at DNR for nearly a dozen years. But there are issues. First, Trimble data collectors run on a Windows Mobile operating system that has not been supported since 2008. Second, ESRI’s ArcPad, the software used to collect data on the Trimble devices, also is headed to extinction. (ESRI is the supplier of widely used mapping and geographic software.)

DNR will continue to use and support Trimble and Garmin collection devices as long as feasible, but when they fail, they will not be replaced. Why would they? Aside from the software issues, it is time for DNR’s technology to evolve. Tasks done on Trimble and Garmin collection devices now can be done on the ubiquitous smart phone or its larger cousin, the smart tablet. That is where ESRI is headed. That is where most everything is headed. Why? Because so many of us are using these small, portable devices, and because today’s smart phones and smart tablets can be as powerful as a desktop computer.

“New code is mostly being developed for smart devices. They are considered the most current tech platform,” says George Jenkins, an IT specialist in DNR’s South Puget Sound (SPS) Region headquartered in Enumclaw. “Private industry is already on board with using smart devices,” he added.

Avenza Maps and ESRI Collector

How can smart devices replace DNR’s Trimble and Garmin collection devices? One way is through Avenza Maps, which is software designed to read a georeferenced PDF map. “Georeferenced” means the PDF has location coordinates that relate the map to a location in physical space.

Figure 2. Avenza Maps on a smart phone. The blue dot indicates where you are. Shown here is a georeferenced briefing map for the Chelan Complex fire.

One useful feature of Avenza Maps is its ability to show users where they are in relation to the map. Because the smart device is pulling in a GPS signal or triangulating location from cell towers, users will see a blue dot on the screen for their current location (Figure 2). That dot should move when they do. “No matter where you go, there you are” takes on new meaning with these maps.

These maps work whether users have cellular coverage or not because maps can be cached to their smart devices before they leave cellular coverage. Maps are available in the Avenza Maps online store, or users can make their own using GIS.

Avenza Maps also can be used to collect data. For example, a DNR biologist can set a point on the map for a marbled murrelet platform tree, enter descriptive information, and even take a photo linked to that point. The biologist can record the route he or she took to reach that tree. And the points, lines, and polygons collected with Avenza Maps can be saved as shape files and brought into a GIS program like ESRI’s ArcGIS.

One enthusiastic user of Avenza Maps is Alan Mainwaring, a biologist with DNR’s South Puget Sound Region. Alan was an early adopter of mobile technology; his first smart phone was a Blackberry, with its tiny screen and rows of little buttons. The modern smart phone “is like having a file cabinet full of information that is always with you,” he said.

For field work, Alan points out that with a georeferenced PDF “you can easily find your way to places you have never been.” Such maps proved highly useful at the Chelan Complex fire in 2015 (Figure 2). He also notes that a georeferenced PDF can make it easier for users to direct someone to their location in the event of an emergency.

Avenza Maps is a good choice for many of DNR’s programs. It is inexpensive, easy to use, and has data collection capabilities sufficient for many tasks. Its appeal is reflected in its use: DNR IT specialist Jeffrey Holden estimates that at least 500 DNR staff are using it already. However, DNR also needs a way to collect more complex information, particularly on projects that involve multiple team members. For that, DNR selected ESRI’s Collector, or Collector for short.

Collector is an example of “mobile GIS,” which means (as it sounds) taking GIS out of the office and into the field. Collector enables users in the field to view and collect spatial data on a smart phone or tablet and upload (sync) that data directly into a geodatabase, which is a database capable of holding spatial data.

Similar to Avenza, Collector can be used without cellular coverage. Everything needed can be saved to a smart device before users leaves for the field, and the data collected can be synced when they return to coverage.

Because Collector is designed for those with little or no GIS experience, it is simple to use. Assuming they have Collector installed, users can log onto ArcGIS online (ESRI’s cloud server) and download a “web map” to their devices (Figure 3). (Downloading is not necessary if users will be working in an area with coverage; they can simply open the map from the Collector application and start using it.)

Figure 3. Web maps available on ArcGIS Online (Tablet shown). Figure 4. A web map with a base map and data layers. The user clicked on the red polygon to bring up its attributes.

Designed to view and collect data, the web map likely will contain a base map for reference, a number of map layers, and tables with related, non-spatial information (“attribute tables”) (Figure 4). If the web map was designed for information and navigation only, most of those layers and attribute tables likely will be locked to prevent editing. If the web map was designed for collecting specific types of data, it may contain a number of empty map layers for collecting new points, lines, or polygons.

To begin collecting data, users tap on the new feature tab (Figure 5) and then select the layer for the type of point, line, or polygon they wish to collect.

Figure 5. Layers for collecting a new feature.

If the new feature is a point, Collector can add a point to the map right where they are standing. Or they can tap the map where they wish the point to be. If the new feature is a line or polygon, they can draw it on the map or ask Collector to drop points on the map at intervals as they walk. They also can enter non-spatial information into the attribute table (Figure 6) and even take a photo and attach it to the table.

Collector also can be configured to open a custom-built form in an ESRI application called “Survey 123.” (Users must have Survey 123 loaded on their smart device for this to work). Survey 123 can be used to enter information that is too complex for the simple attribute tables in Collector (Figure 7).

Figure 6. Simple table for entering non-spatial data.

Once collected, spatial and non-spatial data can be synced to the geodatabase with one tap of a button. If users do not have cell coverage where they are, the data will be stored on their device to sync later, as mentioned previously.

Once the data is synced, anyone with access to the geodatabase can view it. The advantages of that are many. Say a project involves multiple people fanning out into different areas to collect data. Periodically, those people could return to an area with coverage and upload what they collected. The project manager can review it on the spot and provide feedback. That might save a trip back out to the field later to correct something. Someone in the office working on the database who notices a problem or needs to make an update can do so, and if they have cellular coverage, the people in the field will have those updates before they climb back in the truck.

Figure 7: Form created with Survey 123

The alternative is for DNR staff to continue using Trimble collection devices as they do now: finish collecting, drive back to the office, transfer the data from the device to the network, and then post-process the data. That takes time. How much time? Well, consider the Pacific Cascades Region, headquartered in Castle Rock. Region foresters “put up anywhere from 40 to 60 timber sales per year, and work on three years’ worth of timber sales at once,” says Shawn. Time spent on repetitive layout tasks can add up. With Collector, field staff possibly can spend more time doing what they typically want to do: work in the woods, not in the office.

What about the position accuracy of smart devices? Currently, the GPS in smart devices typically ranks toward the bottom of the scale in terms of accuracy.

No problem, explains Shawn. Smart devices can be linked with small, wireless Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receivers (Figure 8) to boost position accuracy. Just like GPS, GNSS receivers pull signals from satellites to determine a position on the globe. But whereas a GPS device pulls in signals from a US-controlled satellite constellation, a GNSS device receives signals from multiple satellite constellations controlled by multiple countries. A GNSS receiver is more accurate than a GPS receiver because it has access to more satellites.

Figure 8. GNSS receiver. Photo courtesy of Compass Tools, Inc.

Also, smart device technology is improving all the time. As George points out, in 2018 or 2019 GNSS receivers may be integrated into smart devices via a new computer chip. That chip could give smart devices accuracy down to the centimeter. This type of accuracy is where the smart device industry is headed, thanks to consumer demand.

Next Steps

The transition to smart devices at DNR has begun, but it will take time. DNR IT specialists are developing and documenting workflows for using the new equipment and software, producing georeferenced maps for Avenza and base maps for Collector, and developing instructions and other information. In the meantime, DNR staff will continue to use older devices (Figure 9).

Figure 9. Jeffrey Holden and all of the devices currently in use at DNR.

So how does the future look? It might involve viewing and picking up projects from fellow employees using a shared geodatabase updated through Collector. It might require fewer trips from the field to the office. It might even involve topping a truck with an antenna and cell phone booster, a small device that can make it easier to pick up a cellular signal in a remote area.

Regardless, it is clear that the future is here. And it involves a smart device.


by Cathy Chauvin, DNR Forest Resources Division

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Fire Districts: grants open March 9 for Volunteer Fire Assistance Phase 1

WA DNR News - March 2, 2018 - 12:33pm
Fire shelters aren’t cheap. DNR’s Fire District Assistance grant helps fire districts to defend Washington against wildfire. Photo DNR

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 9, 2018. 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 27, 2018 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.

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Nisqually quake lessons live on 17 years later

WA DNR News - February 28, 2018 - 9:34am
Earthquake centered under Anderson Island touched off increased attention in earthquake science and emergency preparedness.

It’s been a 17 years since Washington felt its last damaging earthquake.

At 10:54 a.m. on Feb. 28, 2001 a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck near Anderson Island. Known as the Nisqually Earthquake, the temblor shook the Pacific Northwest, with shaking being felt around Puget Sound, in Vancouver, B.C., Portland, Ore., and as far east as Montana. The Nisqually earthquake produced some $2 billion in damages and injured about 400 people.

Damage could have been much worse, according to reports prepared by the Washington Geological Survey. This quake stemmed from the Benioff zone, meaning it came from deep underground (more than 32 miles underground.) The depth of the epicenter meant much of its force was buffered by layers of earth.

But on the plus side, the Nisqually quake was responsible for a new set of preparedness measures and research into Washington’s tectonics.

Boosted efforts to map, research faults

In the last 15 years, the number of seismic monitors has more than tripled across the northwest ; GPS units have been deployed for faster earthquake detection; mapping efforts have been boosted by the use of LiDAR, which has led to the detection of new faults in the Puget Sound area.

This map shows areas of seismic risk from high (red) to low (grayish-green) and is from a 2007 report on the seismic design categories in Washington.

DNR has used much of that research to produce the Washington State Seismic Scenario Portal, which shows estimates of damage from future quakes of differing magnitude on our state’s many faults. We’ve also worked to document damages from Washington’s historic temblors.

DNR worked with the Washington Emergency Management Division and federal agencies to publish estimates of the potential losses from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake on the Nisqually fault zone. The fault runs beneath Pierce and Thurston counties but 15 other counties would feel this impact, including King County, which would suffer significant damage along with Pierce and Thurston counties.

Working to further knowledge

DNR is working to secure funding from the legislature to identify and map more faults and tsunami  risks so communities will have the information they need to mitigate potential damages in advance.

Falling debris like these bricks that fell off the Washington Federal Bank in Olympia during the 2001 Nisqually earthquake are one of the top causes of injuries during an earthquake. Photo by Steve Bloom, The Olympian.

DNR hazards seismologists have also worked on projects to determine how earthquake waves move through soils around schools so they can be strengthened to better withstand future quakes.

When an earthquake happens, there will not be time to Google what you are supposed to do (Drop! Cover! Hold On!). After the earthquake, the internet might not work at all.

For now, you can turn to DNR’s Emergency Preparedness page to find out what you can do in advance of the next big one.


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The need to improve our earthquake and tsunami response

WA DNR News - February 10, 2018 - 4:00pm

Washington faces the second highest risk from earthquakes, and one of
our nation’s highest risks for tsunamis, yet we remain the only west coast
state that does not have a seismic hazard inventory for critical infrastructure.

That’s not all: many communities along our coast have either outdated tsunami
inundation maps — or no maps at all.

Buildings in most school districts (72%) in Washington state have high to very high risk exposure to seismic events, such as earthquakes. Source: DNR

The stakes are huge. A Cascadia subduction zone earthquake and tsunami would cause more than $50 billion in damages and more than 10,000 deaths in Washington
state – and those are 2010 estimates.

That’s why I’ve asked the Legislature to provide DNR with $543,200 for FY2019 and an ongoing appropriation of $493,200 to hire two geologists and one IT technician to identify and map earthquake and tsunami hazards.

With this additional staff on board DNR will be able to produce:

  • Tsunami and earthquake hazard maps;
  • An inventory of the geologic risks to critical infrastructure like
    ports, schools and hospitals; (this will take 10 years of only one staff member is added and will not happen if no funding is appropriated);
  • Critical information for emergency responders to build quick
    response plans;
  • Reliable data for city and county planners to use in zoning
  • Tsunami evacuation maps for all coastal communities; and
  • Public education tools for geologic hazards.

We don’t know when the next Cascadia subduction zone earthquake and tsunami will occur but one thing is certain: it will happen again. For a modest investment now, we can help the people of Washington become far better prepared for the next major disaster.

by Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands, @CommissionerHilaryFranz

Click here to get email updates from Hilary Franz and DNR.

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Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz on Safeguarding the Public from Landslide Risk

WA DNR News - February 9, 2018 - 10:38am

Washington faces one of the highest landslide risks in the nation. In 2017, we had 155 reported landslides, most of which passed without notice or concern. But this year we only have to look at Rattlesnake Ridge to see the danger that landslides pose to people and property. I’m calling on Governor Inslee and the state Legislature to fund critical services and provide the tools we need to minimize the risks landslides pose to public safety. Namely:

I’m asking for $460,000 for engineers to help ensure that logging roads are built safely and won’t trigger unstable slopes. We’ve seen a 10-fold increase in road applications around potentially unstable slopes over the last 6 years. My agency, The Department of Natural Resources, seeks more engineers to properly review each application and ensure public safety.

I’m asking for $1.6 million to study the SR 530 corridor, allowing us to determine the cause of the Oso landslide. More than 3 years after the slide, the cause of the Oso landslide remains unknown. This funding will put geologists on the ground, where they will map and drill into the earth to further analyze this 50-square mile corridor. By studying the SR 530 corridor, we will gain insights into how Oso and other glacial deep-seated landslides occur, improving our ability to anticipate landslides throughout the state. Counties with similar geology include King, Pierce, Thurston, Okanogan, Douglas, Chelan, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Clallam, Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, Mason, Kitsap, Island, Jefferson and San Juan.

I put forth these funding requests in the Washington State Department of Natural Resource’s original October supplemental budget request to the legislature. Today, we know from a recent Climate Risk Assessment that more frequent periods of heavy rainfall during Washington’s rainy seasons will lead to an increasing amount of landslides. Please know that I continue to work on this with Governor Inslee and the state Legislature.

by Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands


Find out what’s happening with the Washington Geological Survey, forest practices rules and more with email updates from Hilary Franz and DNR.

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Umatilla National Forest prepares for prescribed burning (2018 Umatilla NF Prescribed Burning Prescribed Fire)

Inciweb Articles OR - February 7, 2018 - 12:57pm
North Fork John Day Ranger District to implement prescribed burn this week PENDLETON, Ore. – The Umatilla National Forest is preparing to implement early season prescribed burning activities as soon as Thursday across portions of the Forest. Fire management officials on the North Fork John Day Ranger District will begin implementing a prescribed burn plan on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, three miles south of Dale along the west side of Highway 395. The District’s upcoming prescribed burn operations consist of approximately 200 acres of grass within a 600 acre burn unit. The objective of the burn is to reduce the spread of invasive grasses, such as Ventenata and Medusahead, by burning the first germination of grass following the recent snow melt. Implementing these burn operations will help encourage the growth of native vegetation. Smoke from the burn operations will be visible along the highway, but the activities are not anticipated to produce significant or long-lasting smoke....

Getting an early jump on fire season

WA DNR News - February 3, 2018 - 3:00pm

Last week I got the opportunity to speak to 150 fire commissioners and fire chiefs, the brave men and women who make up our local fire districts. Our partnership is a critical part of DNR’s wildfire response; together we’re able to protect people, communities and resources from wildfire. We’ll be coming together again this spring, when we’ll lead an inter-agency training for nearly 1,000 firefighters.

Time together before we face the challenges of wildfire season is critical. I shared with them my vision for managing vegetation and fuels, protecting communities, reducing human caused wildfires and safely and effectively responding to wildfires.

As we now work together with our local state and federal partners to develop my 20-Year Forest Health Strategic Plan for Eastern Washington, I emphasized how the change we’re seeking in the health of our forests won’t happen immediately. We need to continue to do all we can to protect people, communities and our natural resources from the threat of wildfire. Part of that will come with additional funding, which is why I’m requesting $1.7 million from the legislature this year to train more firefighters, increase fire response and readiness in Western Washington, and improve systems for wildfire data, finance, forest health and firefighting resources.

I want to thank the fire personnel who joined me this week and to all who continue to persevere in making our communities and resources more resilient.

by Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands, @CommissionerHilaryFranz

Find out what’s happening with wildfire protection, forestry rules and what’s happening on the 5.6 million acres of state trust lands with email updates from Hilary Franz and DNR.


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More Ponderosa Pines Killed by Western Pine Beetle

WA DNR News - January 28, 2018 - 9:01am

The western pine beetle is a native bark beetle found in eastern Washington that can kill ponderosa pine, its only host in the state. In typical years, they hang around in low populations attacking weakened, diseased or older ponderosa pines. They are frequently found in trees weakened by root diseases, such as armillaria. When trees experience severe drought stress, as they did in 2015, the western pine beetle can more easily overcome the resin flow defenses of water-stressed trees.

High numbers of stressed trees produce more beetle offspring and can lead to large outbreak populations. Aerial surveys in Washington recorded 12,900 acres with western pine beetle-caused mortality in 2016, more than double the amount in 2015, and the highest level since 2008. Typically, there is a year-long delay between beetle attack and visible crown symptoms. Drought damage can also have lasting effects on tree vigor and western pine beetle populations may continue to build, so mortality is likely to increase. The most recent large outbreak in Washington was 2003-2004, with over 120,000 acres affected each year.

The pattern left on the landscape is patchy groups of orange or red ponderosa pines. This “group kill” is a result of pheromones used by the beetles to coordinate mass-attacks and concentrate beetles from the surrounding area.

Female western pine beetles that make it past bark and resin will lay eggs in the sugary phloem layer of the inner bark in the main bole of the tree. Hundreds of their larval offspring mine in the phloem, disrupting the vital flow of sugars and girdle the tree.

PHOTO 1: Western pine beetles can introduce bluestain fungi that grow into the sapwood, eventually causing tree death. Photo: US Forest Service.

Western pine beetle also introduces bluestain fungi (See Photo 1) that grow into the sapwood and interrupt flow of water in the xylem layer, hastening tree death. In addition to copious resin flow that might fend off bark beetle attacks, healthy trees are induced by attacks to actively produce high levels of terpenes which can be toxic to bark beetle larvae. This response is reduced in weakened or stressed trees, resulting in higher beetle reproductive success and a larger “brood.” To make matters worse for the trees, western pine beetle can produce up to two overlapping generations per year in Washington.

There are three other species of bark beetles that may aggressively attack and damage ponderosa pine. Mountain pine beetle occupy the same niche as western pine beetle in the main bole, but mountain pine beetle outbreaks in ponderosa pine are more likely to occur in higher elevation areas near lodgepole pine, its preferred host. The red turpentine beetle prefers to attack the lower eight feet of the main bole and ips pine engravers can attack smaller diameter tops and branches. It is possible to find all three species in the same tree. These double- or triple-whammies will certainly decrease chances of tree survival.

PHOTO 2: Western pine beetle egg galleries. Photo: William M. Ciesla,

Successful western pine beetle attacks are easy to identify and differentiate from the other bark beetle species. Since western pine beetle is the only one that pupates in the outer bark, their larvae, pupae, and newly developed adults are easily accessible for predators, such as woodpeckers. Look for patches of bright orange bark where woodpeckers have flaked off the darker outer bark, a tell-tale sign of western pine beetle activity. Popcorn-sized pitch tubes may be visible on the bark surface, but these are less common than with mountain pine beetle. The surest way to confirm western pine beetle is to remove a patch of bark and look for the winding, serpentine egg galleries in the layer between bark and sapwood that do not change in width (Photo 2). When new brood adults emerge from the tree, they leave behind perfectly round exit holes a few millimeters across.

What Can Landowner Owners Do?

Orange crowns will certainly get the attention of landowners who will want to take action to manage the problem. Keep in mind that the crown often dries out the season after beetles killed it, so they may have already moved on. If exit holes are present and numerous, nothing will be gained (in terms of managing beetle numbers) by tree removal. Trees with green crowns that have woodpecker activity or pitch tubes with no exit holes may still contain beetles. Removal of these “green attacked” trees may help reduce beetle populations. During an outbreak, this approach is likely a losing battle since beetles can fly in from nearby areas. The best management practice for bark beetles is to control competing vegetation and increase vigor and resilience of the healthiest trees in a stand.

Direct control methods such as pesticides can be effective in preventing attacks to high value trees but will do nothing to save a tree that’s already infested. There is a commercially available pheromone called verbenone that is marketed as a pine bark beetle repellant. Verbenone can be effective with mountain pine beetle in some situations, but for western pine beetle and ips pine engravers, the current formulation hasn’t worked well in field testing.

Ponderosa pine mortality from western pine beetle may be high in some areas, but keep in mind that due to the patchy attack pattern, landscape level effects will be lower than with mountain pine beetle. Eventually outbreaks will collapse as drought conditions improve and beetles have fewer weak trees to support high populations. In addition, more beetles start dying as they try to survive in healthier hosts.

If you would like assistance with bark beetle identification or ideas for their management, please contact the Washington Department of Natural Resources Forest Health Program at 360-902-1300 or

This article originally appeared in Small Forest Landowner News, published by DNR. Sign up for a free subscription and see other free DNR e-newsletters.

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More work to do on 318th Anniversary of Cascadia quake

WA DNR News - January 26, 2018 - 9:26am

It was 318 years ago today when the earth last served Northwesterners a catastrophic reminder that it is always in motion.

On Jan. 26, 1700, the Cascadia subduction zone produced a Magnitude 9 megathrust earthquake that ripped a 1,000 km tear just off the North American coast, shaking and flooding land from British Columbia to California.

Oral traditions from the Quileute and Hoh tribes described the night the Thunderbird and Whale fought, shaking mountains, uprooting trees and covering the land with ocean water.

DNR Geologist Tim Walsh explains to a National Geographic documentary crew how these red cedars were killed by a flood of seawater more than 300 years ago after the Cascadia Subduction Zone magnitude 9 earthquake of 1700.

Geologists say the event was the result of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate pushing under the larger North American plate. The violent subduction resulted in the quake that dropped the coast as much as 6 feet and produced a tsunami that reached almost 1,000 feet inland.

But it was the Cascadia quake’s impacts some 4,700 miles across the Pacific Ocean that allowed scientists to properly date and time the geologic event to around 9 p.m. Jan. 26, 1700.

Records in Japan told of the Orphan Tsunami of 1700. That documented tsunami, combined with analysis of red cedar trunks by scientists like Brian Atwater of the United States Geologic Survey revealed land subsidence and seawater inundation that submerged coastal forests.

What about the next one?

So that’s how we know the damage produced by the last Cascadia quake. But what about the next one? The geologic record shows the Cascadia subduction zone produces megathrust quakes every 300 to 600 years, after all.

The first tip is to be ready. Have plans for what to do when earthquakes or tsunamis happen.

In addition to developing plans to prepare for natural disasters like our friends at Washington Emergency Management advise, you can know more about what these geologic hazards likely mean for your neighborhood, thanks to the hard work of our geologists.

Levels of probable earthquake damage in Washington and Oregon are shown in red, orange and yellow. Image: USGS.

DNR holds scenarios developed to show how seismic forces could impact all of Washington’s communities, from Aberdeen to Zillah. One of those scenarios shows the toll another Magnitude 9 Cascadia quake could inflict.

Shades of red indicate the number of buildings that could be damaged in the Grays Harbor area from another M9 Cascadia subduction zone earthquake.

You can view that scenario, and 19 others on our seismic hazard catalog.

More work to do

And although a lot of work has been done to identify and locate areas that could be impacted by earthquakes and tsunamis, there’s a lot more to do.

Washington faces the second highest risk from earthquakes, and one of the highest for tsunamis in the nation, yet remains the only west coast state that does not have an inventory of the seismic hazard for critical infrastructure. In addition, many communities along the coast have either outdated tsunami inundation maps – or no maps at all.

That’s why DNR is asking the legislature this year for a funding package that will allow us to produce a robust set of tsunami inundation maps; inventory critical infrastructure; provide maps and data for emergency responders, city planners and our fellow geologists; and – most importantly – identify, map and mark evacuation routes in communities that might impacted by the next tsunami, whether that’s from a Cascadia subduction event or more remote earthquakes like this week’s M7.9 strike slip quake at the convergence of the Pacific and North American plates southeast of Alaska’s Kodiak Island.

You can find out more about the risks Washington’s active geology present to you and your loved ones with the scenario catalog or by the hundreds of reports on Washington geology filed in the Washington Geology Library. Those reports can also be accessed online through our new publications catalog.

For more tips on how to be best prepared for the next disaster, check with Washington’s Emergency Management Division.

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