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We aren’t out of the woods yet

WA DNR News - March 26, 2021 - 2:47pm

As the weather warms up, people will head to the mountains in search of outdoor adventures and are surprised that there is still plenty of winter weather up there. In some areas, depending on elevation and other factors, snow can last until July. 

Before you leave home, check the trail conditions of the area you want to visit. Depending on how far you are traveling, the weather could be completely different. Weather can change quickly in the spring, leaving travelers stranded or in wet, cold weather they are not prepared for— an excellent place to check trail information trip reports on Washington Trails Association’s website, wta.org.

“Spring is a dynamic time of year, so a little extra preparation can go a long way. A key part of kicking off the hiking season is brushing up on your safety skills and double-checking you have all the gear you need in your pack, says Washington Trails Association. “A little extra planning and caution ensures a good start to your adventures.”

These photos were taken between May and June of 2019.

In whiteout or harsh winter conditions or on snow-covered trails, it can be extremely difficult to navigate. Overnight freezing can leave rocks slick and snowy trails hard-packed and icy. On a steep slope, snow transforms an easy summer trail into difficult, risky travel. It is safer to stay put and wait for better weather than to continue and risk becoming lost. 

If you need help, call 9-1-1. King County Search and Rescue has tips on wilderness safety and if something goes wrong and what to do if injured or lost.

“As we transition into spring, it’s important to keep avalanche safety front and center before stepping out into the backcountry,” Dennis D’ Amico at the Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC) says. “Avalanche involvements including fatalities can and have occurred every spring. As the days become longer, NWAC will be, producing daily forecasts through April 18. Continue to check the avalanche forecast as you plan your day outside, just as you would in winter.”

These photos show some of the dangers of avalanches. The first one is a cornice that could quickly turn into an avalanche, and the other two show the aftermath of an avalanche over a trail. Photos taken by Meryl Lassen at Hurricane Ridge and Mt. Ellinor, 2021.

It is essential to know your experience level and your ability to survive should the weather change in an alpine environment. Now is not the time to exceed your abilities. Search and rescue resources are stretched, and rescue events can lead to unnecessary exposure of the COVID-19 virus for first responders and recreationists. 

Here are more tips on staying safe during this shoulder season: 

Plan ahead

  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be home. Travel with a buddy when possible. 
  • Always carry survival gear with you, including the 10 Essentials, extra clothing, and food if you have to spend the night outside.
  • You may need a reliable map and compass skills to traverse snow-covered trails, which can be challenging to follow, particularly in backcountry areas.
  • While electronic locators and communication can be helpful, they cannot be always be relied upon while in the backcountry.

Play it safe

  • Plan to be self-sufficient when traveling in the backcountry as the park does not mark hazards, stabilize avalanche slopes, or designate safe routes. You are responsible for your safety.
  • Have proper footwear with good traction, micro-spikes, extra clothing, water, and a headlamp.
  • Snow hides hazards like streams that hide under the snow. Use your poles to poke snow if you hear water.
  • Stay on marked trails, even if it means walking on snow or mud.
  • Choose to turn around instead of crossing steep, snow–covered slopes. A fall could be disastrous.
  • Avoid stepping onto snow cornices as they may collapse under your weight. Assume that snow on the edge of precipices is unstable. Falling into snow moats around trees and adjacent to logs and rocks can cause injury. Avoid getting too close.
  • Weather can change quickly, causing hard navigate conditions, including whiteouts or dangerous stream crossing due to rapid snowmelt.
  • Beware of avalanches. Snow is increasingly unstable this time of year and may slide or collapse.
  • Remember, you are responsible for your own safety!
Categories: Partner Feeds

Ahtanum Gates Open May 1

WA DNR News - March 25, 2021 - 3:10pm

As winter turns to spring in the Ahtanum State Forest, DNR is looking forward to a fun and robust recreation season.

Last season, the COVID-19 pandemic limited the typical recreation opportunities in the Ahtanum. This spring, the forest will be open for those who enjoy everything this special forest has to offer.

During this winter saw very high snowfall in the many parts of the Ahtanum. These conditions could persist through the rest of March and April, and there could be snowdrifts visible into June. 

Region staff is planning to open all seasonal gates starting May 1, and camping will be open as soon as conditions allow. 

Why May 1? The May 1 date was chosen because it matches other seasonal gates in the region. We’ve seen significantly reduced road maintenance costs from keeping traffic off soft roads during the spring melt-off and protecting the roads and the natural resources. 

Starting in spring, DNR staff will begin their annual transition from groomed-trail winter recreation to warm, summer season activities. The Ahtanum provides many excellent warm-weather opportunities, including hiking, motorized recreation and camping. As camping reopens, make sure to check for the latest campground openings before you head out.

Seasonal openings this year include the South Fork road. The South Fork is part of a DNR recreation pilot project allowing expanded seasonal access to this part of the forest. Last year, DNR crews were hard at work making significant improvements to the South Fork road and are looking forward to a robust season. Learn more about that project

“This South Fork pilot project represents an opportunity for DNR, the public and user groups to engage in shared stewardship of this landscape to sustain access, recreation and resources for future generations,” said Todd Welker, Southeast Region Manager for DNR. 

Motorized users should follow all posted regulations and all the rules associated with travel on Green Dot roads. However, after May 1, as the snow continues to melt and conditions begin to improve, users of the forest may still encounter detours or closures in some areas due to concerns for public safety and resource protection. Those decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. 

You may have also seen Rich Mann, our new Education and Enforcement Warden on duty in the Ahtanum. Rich has a long career in natural resource protection. Rich most recently worked with WDFW and is a familiar face to many recreation users in central Washington. He will be working with DNR until June of 2021, when the funding for this position runs out.

His work in the forest will focus on helping users navigate the landscape and recreate safely. Please reach out to Rich when you see him, and don’t hesitate to give input or ask questions. Rich says:

“Throughout my time at DNR and working in the Ahtanum State Forest, I have enjoyed making contacts with our users and learning more about how folks use the forest and the places that our users enjoy the most. I have made almost 1,100 contacts here in the Ahtanum since last fall. I feel like I have been able to help bridge the gap between DNR and the public and look forward to meeting as many users as I can.”  

To continue to bridge those gaps, DNR is also seeking public participation in the recreation program. As an agency, we are ever striving to learn from past mistakes and are continually working towards more collaboration and shared stewardship. That is why the agency will be soliciting input on road management, recreation strategies, resource management and building partnerships for future problem-solving. 

There are plans for a virtual meeting this fall where users will have the opportunity to share input. We plan to find a time outside of the fall hunting season. We will address the conflict between access and maintaining roads during this meeting and brainstorm on how to make green dots work for the next 25 years. Stay tuned for more information and thank you for your continued participation in making the Ahtanum one of the best forests to visit in central Washington. 

Until that meeting, DNR wants to hear from you. If you’d like to leave a comment about the Ahtanum, help us with suggestions or get specific status updates, email AhtanumStateForest@dnr.wa.gov.

It will be a great season in the Ahtanum with so many recreation opportunities. See you in the forest!

Additional Resources

  • If you are unfamiliar with the current Ahtanum Recreation Plan, you can find it here
  • The agency is also planning on welcoming back our volunteer workgroups as pandemic restrictions begin to ease. Volunteers play a critical role in the health and safety of the forest and its users. DNR is excited and grateful to welcome them back safely.
  • Download the latest Green Dot road map here
  • For the latest updates on forest conditions, including recreation and important opening dates, please visit dnr.wa.gov/Ahtanum. 

Categories: Partner Feeds

Can I host my event?

WA DNR News - February 24, 2021 - 2:03pm

DNR recently released the latest version of COVID safety guidelines for volunteers. We’ve put together a summary of that guidance here to answer your questions.

I want to put on a small event.

Great. According to Governor Inslee’s Reopening Plan, small events of up to 12 volunteers are allowed. And, feel free to add staff as needed. For example, this means the total group size could be 15, with 12 volunteers and three event organizers to help with logistics regardless of who came from what household. 

You can dive into the document under the section “Guided ATV, Paddle Sports, Horseback Riding, and other Guided Outdoor Activities.” 

I want to hold a large event (between 12 and 50 participants).

As of Jan. 25, 2021, DNR’s large event guidance allows for up to 50 participants may meet for up to 10 minutes to kick off an event. This is to allow for activities like safety briefings. DNR staff and crew leaders do not count in the participant limit. 

However, after the initial meeting, groups must break up into parties of fewer than 12 people for the remainder of the event, including during lunch or rest breaks. Check out the bulleted list below to make sure that you comply with all the guidelines. 

Tips For Event Organizers

If you are sponsoring an event on DNR-managed land, there may not be DNR staff there. It is up to you, the event organizer, to enforce and comply with the rules laid out in DNR’s volunteer documents. It is up to our event organizers to follow all the proper guidelines.

1. That mask looks great on you

All volunteers, event leaders, and DNR staff must wear masks for the duration of any pre-event announcements and all-volunteer tasks. Masks may be removed by a leader or staff member only while making announcements to the full group and when drinking or eating. 

2. Sharing is not caring

Volunteers should bring their own tools and refrain from sharing unless organizers observe disinfectant protocols. You can find the CDC’s guidance on disinfectants here. Note: Disinfectants based on hydrogen peroxide or alcohol are safer than harsher chemicals. The University of Washington has a handout for safer cleaning and disinfecting that also work well against COVID-19.

3. BYOL – Bring Your Own Lunch

As with the tools, we also need to avoid sharing food. All meals should be brought from the volunteer’s home, eaten outside and not shared between households.

4. Maintain your distance

All participants and leaders must maintain as much distance as possible (at least 6 feet) between themselves and anyone from another household. One helpful tip for maintaining separation is to, use chalk or another kind of marker so that people know where to stand when they arrive. This is particularly useful if your event includes a large safety briefing at the beginning of the event. 

5. Keep it for a month

DNR requires that you retain your sign-in sheets for a minimum of 30 days. Keeping the sheets is a precaution should the information be needed for contact tracing or grant management. 

6. What about the pre-event safety message? 

Go for it. But, keep it short. Large group, pre-event announcements must remain under 10 minutes. Make sure that you pick a location where households can stay six feet apart. 

7. That was fun — time to pack it up. 

Unfortunately, when folks finish, they should head straight home. Don’t host an end-of-event gathering or social time after the conclusion of the activity. Make it clear to your participants that they should not to stand around and talk in large groups. 

8. Pre-event paperwork

Volunteers need to sign and submit the Assumption of Risk Registration Form before the event. Should an individual be working alone, volunteers must complete the form before the work starts. This form needs to be completed and updated to count towards time earned for a Discover Pass. Also, bring along the kids, but make sure you have filled out the minor registration form

Stay safe

Now that you have all the guidelines down, have a great event! But, before you head out, make sure to download the WA Notify to their smartphone. The app can help keep you and your family informed of any possible contacts you may have had with the COVID-19 virus. It’s best to do this before the event, as service may be spotty out on the landscape.

Questions? Email us at recreation@dnr.wa.gov. Learn more about specific guidelines for volunteers by checking out our other blog post: New year, new volunteer guidelines.

Categories: Partner Feeds

New Year, New Volunteer Guidelines

WA DNR News - February 24, 2021 - 9:19am

What do the new guidelines mean for volunteering with DNR? 

Volunteers make the world go round. Well, they at least help keep DNR’s trails and facilities maintained and safe for all kinds of recreationists on our public lands. We know that people are itching to get outside to their favorite trails. With spring right around the corner, we need you to help us get those trails back in shape.

DNR recently released new guidelines for volunteers under the direction set out in Governor Inslee’s Reopening Plan, which can help DNR and our volunteers to stay safe while helping to get our beloved trails back in shape.

“The governor’s office considers outdoor volunteer events (like those done on DNR-managed lands) as falling under the guidelines for ‘guided outdoor activities,”’ said Jon Snyder, outdoor recreation and economic development senior policy advisor to Governor Inslee.

“We know that people are anxious to get outside and help get our beautiful trails back in shape for the spring. These guidelines will help to ensure everyone is safe while assisting our outdoor community.”

The new guidelines change the maximum group size allowed during any event held outside to 12 volunteers and staff as needed. This means the total group size could be 14, with 12 volunteers and two DNR staff to help with logistics regardless of households.

Let’s Stay Safe

In addition to the task-specific safety measures, volunteers must follow these six safety guidelines: 

1. We hope you feel better

Are you feeling sick? We are sorry, stay home and get some rest. No matter what kind of symptoms you have (even if they are not coronavirus related), no one should perform any duties if they feel ill.

2. That mask looks great on you

We mean it, you look so good with your mask on, we want you to wear it the whole time. It’s the trendiest trend in 2021, promise. If N95 masks are available, those are the best. Why? They are the safest and most stylish. A little side note, don’t forget to drink water. Dehydration makes work harder.

3. Double the gear. Double the fun.

You need personal protective equipment (PPE) for outdoor work. So, don’t forget to pack your hard hat, leather gloves and closed-toe shoes. Also, layer for the weather (you know, sun, rain, sleet and partly-cloudy).

In addition to outdoor gear, please bring COVID-specific PPE. This includes facemasks, non-fabric disposable gloves, eye protection, hand sanitizer and a garbage bag. You might not need it but it’s best to be prepared.

4. Stay away!

Maintain a distance of 6 feet at all times from folks who are not in your household. While working out on the trail, post signs nearby to announce your presence. Safely move away from a worksite to allow others to pass. 

5. Clean hands are the best hands

Most DNR-sites that don’t have running water, so you might need to throw in a bar of soap, along with an extra water bottle in your pack — we hear those old hotel bars that you have been stashing for the last decade still work great.

When you can’t find soap and water, make sure to carry hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Clean hands when eating, when touching your face and after using the bathroom (especially after using the bathroom). 

6. Be selfish with your tools

Counterintuitive to what we were taught as children, sharing is not caring during a pandemic. Do your best to limit the tool sharing. Wear gloves while handling tools to reduce opportunities to spread those gross germs. If you end up using DNR tools and equipment, make sure to sanitize and disinfect after. Disinfecting is how we show we care in 2021.

I’m ready. Now what?

To get involved, check out DNR’s volunteer page and look for work parties in your area on our calendar. You can also connect with the recreation managers in your area. Sometimes, DNR partners with other groups for events.

One of those organizations is the Washington Trails Association (WTA). The organization’s field operations senior manager, Moleek Busby, says:

“It is wonderful that people are eager to get outside and help get our beautiful trails back in shape. We want to give as many folks as possible the chance to give back while ensuring everyone is safe. Anyone interested in helping out can sign-up at http://www.wta.org/volunteer. WTA will do our best to ensure we give as many folks as possible the opportunity to join a work party.”

Questions? Email us at recreation@dnr.wa.gov.

Categories: Partner Feeds

KELP FORESTS ARE DISAPPEARING FROM SOUTH PUGET SOUND

WA DNR News - February 18, 2021 - 8:35am

South Puget Sound’s shorelines have lost 2/3 of their bull kelp forests since the 1870s, according to a just-published DNR study of long-term trends in the iconic seaweed that grows along Washington’s saltwater shorelines.

Like coral reefs and rain forests, kelp forests serve as the foundation of ecosystems that support a diverse community of animals, including forage fish, salmon and southern resident killer whales.

Kelp is especially critical to Washington’s waters, where 22 species of kelp make our state a global hotspot for kelp diversity.

The best known species is bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana), which forms a canopy that floats on the water surface and can often be found on Puget Sound beaches.

Yet despite its importance to our ecosystem, there here have been no peer-reviewed scientific studies of long-term trends in kelp in Puget Sound. To fill in this  gap in knowledge, scientists with the Washington Department of Natural Resources teamed up with scientists from Marine Agronomics and the U.S. Geological Survey to look at long-term trends in kelp forests within Puget Sound. They chose South Puget Sound because it is particularly sensitive to both natural conditions and human activities that impact kelp.

This study can be found on PLOS ONE and the below storymap prepared by DNR.

Using historical maps to understand ecological changes

The team of scientists reconstructed bull kelp presence over 145 years from navigation charts, government surveys, ecological studies and other historical documents. They defined a kelp baseline early in the process of non-native settlement, from topographic maps made in the 1870s.

The current extent of bull kelp in South Puget Sound has shrunk to a fraction of its historical extent.

These maps provided scientists with a long-term view of kelp coverage in Puget Sound prior to the region’s industrialization.

Compared to the 1870s maps, bull kelp extent along shorelines decreased 63%. Losses have persisted for decades, across a range of climate conditions.

Connecting losses and persistence to environmental conditions

In recent decades, bull kelp has predominantly grown along shorelines with intense currents and mixing, where temperature and nutrient concentrations did not reach thresholds for impacts to bull kelp performance, and high current speeds likely excluded grazers. The greatest losses of kelp were found in areas with elevated temperature, lower nutrient concentrations, and relatively low current velocities.

Comparing South Puget Sound to other areas

The pattern of long-term losses in South Puget Sound kelp coverage over 145 years contrasts starkly with findings from other areas in Washington state. Previous DNR research found that kelp forests have been stable over the last century along the shorelines of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which have greater wave exposure, proximity to oceanic conditions, and fewer human activities.

Overall, these findings suggest that kelp beds along shorelines in the Salish Sea that are sheltered from waves and currents are more sensitive to water quality, temperature, pollution and climate change. In contrast, shorelines with strong currents and deep-water mixing, such as the Tacoma Narrows in South Puget Sound, appear to provide a refuge for kelp beds from common natural and human stressors within Puget Sound.

DNR is now developing strategies and policies to reduce the agency’s impact on aquatic vegetation coverage. Other agency efforts like increasing renewable energy on state lands and preventing wildfires should also help reverse the declining trend of kelp coverage to provide more suitable habitat for the Salish Sea’s endangered salmon and orca populations.

More information

Find out how DNR is working to study Washington’s nearshore environments to strengthen its management of 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands at www.dnr.wa.gov/programs-and-services/aquatics/aquatic-science.

Categories: Partner Feeds

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

WA DNR News - December 23, 2020 - 9:41am

As we take time to reflect on 2020, there are a number of previously unimaginable ticks for our “What on Earth is Happening?!” bingo card. Between the pandemic, unexplainable monoliths in the desert, murder hornets, catastrophic wildfire, months of quarantine, and a wild election season, this year has really upped the octave when we tell people we’re doing fine, just fine, we’re fine.

But what about the beauty?

It’s easy to get lost in everything that didn’t go as planned, but there are many other unanticipated moments of beautiful success that we can’t forget. Some of these moments are so great that, dare we say, we’re almost grateful to 2020.

Think of those extra hours we were able to spend with our families, roommates, and pets — time that we otherwise took for granted and pushed to the back burner as we rushed through our days. Think about all of the new hobbies — the baking atrocities that gave way to beautiful breads and cakes, the colorful canvases and newly-minted Etsy shops, writing projects with the dust finally blown off, fresh mud on hiking boots as we rushed to our public lands for refuge. Think of all the moments where we found a new appreciation for life’s simple pleasures — a steaming cup of coffee in the quiet of the morning, star-filled skies at night, listening to your favorite track on repeat without shame, and rediscovering our own neighborhoods.

This year tested our patience, our tenacity and, at times, our sanity. But through it all, we found resiliency and continued putting one foot in front of the other.

As we close the book on 2020, we asked DNR staff to reflect on those moments of love and resiliency. Below, you will see stories about all the things that made us smile, laugh and filled our hearts with joy.

This has been a long, complicated, and often trying year. But one thing that has certainly made it a bit easier is that I’m blessed with co-workers I really enjoy. (And also a couple of ill-mannered tabby cats who have gotten far more lap time than they ever thought possible.)

– Kenny Ocker, Forest Practices Communications Manager

Bobby, Kenny’s cat, provides moral support during a day of working from home.

This year has definitely been a challenge.  Working from home started out really rough for me as I missed seeing my co-workers and chatting with them.  It felt rather isolating.  However, I shook that off and made a choice to focus on the positive and do things to bring me joy.  In March, I rescued a dog, but I am pretty sure he rescued me.  He is my constant companion and does not leave my side, he is living his best life and brought so much joy to my life.  My “office” is by my front window so I put bird feeders so that I can watch the birds and consequently, the squirrels, which is fine because they have to eat too.  I then placed a fish tank in my view so that I can gaze over at them.  I then focused on the fact that I no longer have a commute; I have gained so much of my life back that I completely forgot was there.  I see my sons more, I cook more, my laundry is caught up, I just simply have more time in the evenings.  I cannot forget to mention the most exciting thing that happened in 2020.  In May 2020, I married the love of my life.  Hopefully, at some point we can go on a honeymoon, but for now, we count our blessings and try to live life to the fullest enjoying every moment we have and do not dwell on what we don’t. 

— Rebecca Torrence, Executive Assistant, Executive Management Division

By forcing life to slow down, I think 2020 has given me (and many others) permission to be present without thinking about all of the other things I could or “should” be doing. I now pet my cats without thinking about ‘the next thing,’ watch movies with the family on a regular basis because there is no reason not to, and try fancy new recipes even though there is no particular reason to celebrate. I hope this mindset is something that will stick, long after we’re out of quarantine.

— Claire Seaman, 2020 Winter Communications Intern

2020’s silver linings are few and far between. But one thing I’ve been especially thankful for during this year of quarantining is my growing family. In early March, right before everything went sideways, my lovely now-wife and I were married. We’re expecting our first child in January – a bright light of hope for the new year.

– Thomas Kyle-Milward, Wildfire Communications Manager

With entertainment and gyms closed, I turned to our rec lands as an outlet. I bought a Discover Pass on the day recreation re-opened and spent time on the landscape – I even visited places 30 minutes from my home that I had never gone to before.

– Dena Scroggie, Agency Webmaster

I was blessed to sell my home in March and move back in with my very best friend for life. The timing could not have been any better because I signed the paperwork for selling my home on March 17th and was moved in at the same time we were asked to telecommute.

– Janet Pearce, Wildfire Communications Manager

The photo below is the evening of my first official day of teleworking with a one year old and three year old due to COVID-19.  After a very stressful day, we took an evening walk and I reflected on the joy they were experiencing.  My spouse, a stay-at-home-dad, was exhausted and resting at home.  Throughout the day, they could hear me talking on Skype, see me walking through the hallway — all while not spending every moment with them.  Since they were born, I’ve been the parent working outside the home and have made home time sacred time, dedicated to family. Their young minds couldn’t understand what was happening.  Since March, we have been able to redefine what home time, work time, and family time all look like.  Now I get to say good morning to both of them when they wake, we get to have lunch together, when I sneeze in my office they both yell from the playroom, “are you okay mom?!” and after lunch my three year old now routinely says, “I love you mom, go work well!”  This year has been a year of unexpected events, most of all I never expected to have made so many extra new memories and fun routines will my boys.

– Lydia Rumpel, Acting HRMS and Data Reporting Manager, Human Resource Division

After her first day of teleworking, Lydia took her boys out for some fresh air and a walk in the sunshine.

There’s no sugarcoating that this has been a harrowing year. But 2020 also gave me the chance to appreciate and connect with the things that I love the most – my partner, my cat, and our quality time together. I’m going to carry the hope we’ve given each other into 2021 knowing that we’ve come this far, and that we can make it through the other side now that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

– Darwin Forsyth, Deputy Communications Director

Looking back at 2020, my key reflections are that people are extremely adaptable and resilient and staying connected with family and friends is paramount!  We went from working in the office to working from home in an instant and IT rose to the occasion and made it happen.  FaceTime and Messenger have been a godsend in keeping me sane looking at my grandkids’ sweet faces and sharing a special moment with friends!  Oh, and having furry coworkers was helpful too!  May 2021 bring all of you blessings, health, and a bright future!

— Andrea Wagner, Administrative Assistant, Executive Management Division

I always planned my time outdoors around big challenges — picking the steepest terrain, the longest trails, the most Type-2 activities I could find. This year, I learned to slow down and appreciate the beauty a little bit more. I started going on hikes closer to home, ones I had ignored because they seemed too easy or boring, and trading high-speed resort days for snowy backcountry hikes to build my own jumps and practice technique. Little did I know, there’s a whole other world of adventure to be found in those little things. Even as things begin to return to normal, the skills I’ve gained in the strange times have made me a better outdoorswoman. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a monster. Remy and I are always tearing it up in the water, on the trail, and through the snow. But this year has me appreciating the power of subtlety.

— Sarah Dettmer, Social Media Manager

This year was rough. I admire people who can find the positive in bad situations, but I also really appreciated what Washington’s First Lady Trudi Inslee said during the Thanksgiving address: “It’s OK to not feel OK right now.” Seeing people show each other that compassion and understanding during a difficult year, as well as spending time outdoors and seeing friends and family virtually, were bright spots for me in 2020.

— Stevie Mathieu, Forest Health Communications Manager

I’m grateful to all the healthcare workers. They deserve a statue on each city’s plaza. I’m also lucky to have a job.

— Luis Prado, Graphic Design and Visual Communications Manager

I joined an amazing team of Executive Assistants – and leadership – in Executive Management this year shortly before COVID hit our community so hard. They have been an extraordinarily supportive & graceful group of women to navigate this incredibly difficult year with. My heart is full of gratitude for the new relationships that I have forged with them through this journey. As a small reward, I was blessed with one perfect bloom on my Christmas Cactus.

– Dena Howe, Executive Receptionist, Executive Management Division

Dena’s first bloom on her Christmas Cactus — just in time for the holiday season.

This year has been crazy, but I am thankful that we have the technology we do to help keep us connected while we stay safe at home. It’s incredible to think about how much more disconnected we would be if this had happened 15 years ago. I am happy to be home and healthy, even if I can’t always remember what day of the week it is.

— Paige DeChambeau, Recreation Communications Manager

I have always been an extremely busy person, someone who can fill their plate without much effort. This year, I discovered the value of slowing down and being present. It’s never occurred to me how much I was missing when I focused on completing the task instead of what I could learn from the opportunity. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have started to place more emphasis on the “why” and the “how.” It has changed not only how I approach my work, but also how I approach other facets of life.

— Tatum Bartlett, Assistant Social Media Manager

A picture Rachel took while on assignment to the P-515 fire near Warm Springs, OR.

This is a photo I took of the P-515 fire near Warm Springs, OR. To me, this photo is a reminder of everything I learned while responding to wildfires in 2020 and how it has helped me through this year. Flexibility, patience, and finding positive outcomes from negative situations are just a few of the things I took away from this fire season that I’ve been able to apply in my daily life dealing with the pandemic.

— Rachel Noonan, Science Tech II, Washington Geological Survey

Last but not least, this final reflection is proof that joy comes from within us. We all have the ability to choose joy and to spread it so that others may also feel it’s warmth.

When we began working from home in March of 2020, it was quite an adjustment for us all.  We quickly noticed that our co-workers and friends were struggling to stay positive in the same ways we were. We didn’t really know what to do about the general malaise that was settling in. So we did what we do best…we got really ridiculous.

Betsy rocking the “bee” costume to a day of Zoom meetings in hopes of bringing a smile to co-workers faces.

It started out by wearing goofy costumes and hats to work to bring a little levity to meetings. We kept that up for at least a few weeks (okay, maybe more like a few months).

As we approached Easter, my husband (who annually plays the Easter bunny at egg hunts) felt really bad that children wouldn’t be able to see Mr. Bunny this year. So, we rented a convertible and donned the suit to have the bunny wave at kids all throughout Tumwater, Lacey, and Olympia.  We took location requests and had a live tracker posted online for families to track our location. Hundreds of families came out to wave at the bunny as we drove by. We had a lot of fun spreading the joy.

The Easter bunny making his rounds through town waving to families.

Our next adventure was a little closer to home. We decided to put a huge blow-up unicorn on our roof.  Then a “Hope” sign was added to the ensemble. By the end of May our house made it to the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Facebook page. They posted, “Thinking of you today, Thurston County! Stay strong, stay hopeful. Be kind to yourself and your neighbors. This photo was taken in one of our local neighborhoods. We live in a unique place.” Many of our friends recognized our house and shared the post with us. It cracked us up.

The “Hope” sign and inflatable unicorn that landed Betsy and her husband a spot on the Washington State Department of Health Facebook page.

Through the summer, we consciously continued trying to spread the joy for ourselves and those around us. We had a lot of fun out hiking as a family. But, we also set up some socially distanced outdoor movie nights for a few neighbors at a time.

Then came Samhain (Halloween). This is always one of our favorite holidays and we needed to bring our A-game. In order to celebrate and still follow social distancing guidelines, we decided on a fun Ghostbusters theme.  We put a large Stay Puff Marshmallow man on our roof and set up a socially distanced way to give kids candy. We made a mechanical ghost with a doorbell at the street (hand sanitizer included). Kids would ring the bell and we would come to porch dressed as the Ghostbusters (wearing facemasks of course). With the press of a button, our friendly ghost would fly the candy out to the street.  Both kids and adults seemed to have a blast participating.

Now we are at the end of the year and, it’s “go big or go home,” I say. These past few months have seemed the hardest to keep our spirits up. We got a final blow-up to put on the roof, but my husband fractured his ankle trying to take down the marshmallow man. That led to a surgery, a metal plate, and 6 pins in his ankle. He kept telling everyone that he was going to have the doctor engrave the plate with, “I told my wife it was getting too dark to get on the roof.” So needless to say, no blow-up reindeer on the roof this year. Still, we just couldn’t give up on our end of the year ridiculousness. So, I got to work setting up a lighted adventure in my front yard. I started with just the reindeer and a few light up animals. Now I have a flamingo, cow, camel, donkey, chicken, goat, penguin, elephant, cat, hippo, dog carrying presents, a walrus family, a cow wrangling snowperson, a smiling star, a fun flag we designed ourselves, and a flying pig – then I cut myself off. 

After all this, we were still hungering for connection. We don’t have any family in Washington and this year that seemed to take an even bigger toll on us. So, we set up virtual holiday trivia nights with all of our different families and have been connecting over our private Zoom account.  This has been really fun for our family members, but we still felt something was missing. So, this past weekend, we started our most ridiculous idea yet.  We have been doing virtual caroling over Facebook messenger.  We have been making spontaneous video calls to friends we see active online and singing them a carol with karaoke accompaniment in the background. This has been the coolest experience so far. We’ve sang to old grade school friends and distant family members.  We even called the woman who fostered our dog, Valentine, before she was ours. And the response has been a lot of laughter and even a few tears. We hadn’t expected to touch so many people this year. But, in doing so, we have started to heal our own hearts just a little bit. This year we have realized that by giving a smile to others and trying to help them feel just a little better, we have also given ourselves a lot of hope and joy too.

— Betsy Vandrush-Borgacz, DEI and Development Manager, Human Resource Division

Our hope is that this piece brought a smile to your face, warmth to your heart and reminds you of that light at the end of the tunnel. In these final days of 2020, may you relish in life’s little moments and spread kindness to all those you encounter.

Happy Holidays, from our family to yours!

Categories: Partner Feeds

BLM seeks input on tree removal from the Archie Creek Fire Area (Archie Creek Fire Wildfire)

Inciweb Articles OR - December 9, 2020 - 4:14pm
 9 December 2020 News ReleaseOregon/Washington                                                         Contact: Cheyne Rossbach, (541) 579-0648                        Bureau of Land Management seeks input on tree removal from the Archie Creek Fire Area Roseburg, Ore. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Roseburg District is seeking public input on a proposal to implement fire recovery activities within the Archie Creek Fire perimeter, including burned timber salvage harvesting and removing hazard trees along roadways and near BLM-developed facilities. In addition to salvage harvests, the Swiftwater Field Office proposes to conduct hazard tree removal along roads, within and adjacent to recreation sites, and adjacent to other public and private infrastructure. The BLM is committed to supporting local communities and economies impacted by fire. In order to recover the economic value from the timber, before wood...

Take a hike, help the economy. No, really.

WA DNR News - December 8, 2020 - 8:46am

Did you know that your public lands adventures charge more than just your soul? They also charge up our state’s economy in a big way.

Washington state’s outdoor recreation economy is actually one of the most robust industries in the state. In Washington, spending related to recreation supports jobs and our local communities. The Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation report revealed the powerful effect that outdoor recreation has on Washington’s economy, as well as the non-monetary benefits from public lands.

How much money?

The report estimates that outdoor recreation in Washington supports $26.5 billion in annual spending. (This study was conducted in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic affected the economy and state.)

Annually, $18.8 billion – yes, with a B – is spent on outdoor recreation, which includes food, gas, parking and camping passes, and any purchases that you make along the way. Another $7.7 billion is annually spent on recreation gear, equipment, and repair services.

All of the money that is spent during an adventure supports jobs – approximately 264,000 jobs in Washington state. In fact, 1 in 17 jobs of our jobs are tied to spending on recreation activities. This places outdoor recreation on par with Washington’s aerospace industry.

How much do we spend a day?

According to the report, in 2019, $5 billion was spent on hiking, $1.1 billion on horseback riding, $838 million on mountain biking, and $747 million was spent on off road vehicles. On an average day participant spent $8-$75 on mountain biking (this includes: gas, food, parking permits, equipment repair etc.).

Case Study: Ryan, the avid outdoor recreationalist

Ryan spends most of his free time outside. If he had to pick a favorite activity, he would choose mountain biking. Ryan often rides in the Ahtanum State Forest. For his average trip outdoors, he will spend money on bike tune-ups, snacks, and stops to get food at a local restaurant.

Before his trip, Ryan is supporting the local economy. He does this by buying his food at his neighborhood grocery store and tuning up his bike at the local bike shop.

When traveling, Ryan emphasized that he tries his best to spend his money at the smaller mom-and-pop shops, and he estimated that, “Around 90 percent of my outdoor recreation purchases support Washington’s economy.”

Ryan highlighted the importance of shopping locally to find niche pieces of gear that you wouldn’t normally find at your local Walmart or Target.

“Spend a little time and research to find those pieces at a local mom-and-pop shop in your area,” he says. “You’ll be surprised where you can find them.”

Ryan found his favorite hiking socks at a local farming store in Yakima. He considers that a real win-win because not only does he get great gear (without paying for shipping), he is able to support a local business.

What is the effect of my spending?

The direct spending and associated secondary effects, or multiplier effects, are estimated to be $40.3 billion annually. Within the outdoor industry, every $1 directly spent on outdoor recreation equates to $1.52 in supported economic activity.

Secondary effects include spending by businesses on things such as produce and meat, cleaning supplies, and utilities; and spending by employees on groceries, insurance, and rent. Secondary effects are a result of the initial expenditures that are spent on recreating outdoors.

Ryan spends most of his money locally contributes to more than just the local economy. Those actions have wide-reaching effects and are often considered to be secondary effects.

When Ryan buys a part at a local bike shop, that money goes into the pocket of the owner, who then pays their employee. That employee uses the money to purchase food for their family, food that might come from a local farm. Thus, the outdoor economy supports more than just gear and bike shops – it supports farmers, grocers, hotels, and more! 

Why does this matter?

Washington is known as an outdoor recreation destination. This study shows us that the money people spent on recreating outdoors benefits our local economy. It is important to continue to invest and improve on our public lands because they not only support us financially, but they also support us mentally.

Public lands can also benefit society just by being there, a recent University of Washington study found. Spending time outdoors can help reduce anxiety, improve mental health, and strengthen physical health. During these unprecedented times that we are currently living in, many people are choosing to go on more outdoor adventures to help relieve their anxiety and stress.

So when you recreate responsibly outdoors by hiking, camping, or biking, you are helping the economy recover and processing some of the stress we are all feeling. Now it should feel even better to get outdoors.

The Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation report report was written by Earth Economics as part of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ Trust Land Performance Assessment, an ongoing effort DNR is leading to ensure that the lands it manages are best benefiting present and future generations of Washingtonians.

Categories: Partner Feeds

Take it from us: Christmas is better with a Christmas tree.

WA DNR News - December 2, 2020 - 11:25am

We know that for many of you, going out into the woods on a crisp December day to cut your own Christmas tree is a grand tradition. While there are many lovely trees in our state forests, DNR does not allow them to be cut down for Christmas trees.

We don’t mean to be Scrooges, but the trust forests in DNR’s care are intended for sustainably managed habitat, clean water, and revenue to the beneficiaries of state trusts, such as public schools, state universities, and critical county services.

Instead, to generate solid returns for those public services – we generated nearly $240 million from our forestlands last fiscal year – we have to wait until the trees in the forest have reached maturity before auctioning them for harvest.

However, there are plenty of places on federal lands for Washington residents to be able to cut their own Christmas trees, and there are also many tree farms open for residents shopping across the state.

National Forests

Private tree farms

Here’s hoping for a safe harvest, and a happy holiday season, too!

Categories: Partner Feeds

4 Ways to Take a Hike and Help Your Favorite Trail

WA DNR News - December 1, 2020 - 3:46pm

The stormy weather has arrived – and coupled with COVID-19, our trails could use some TLC. Here’s how you can help. 

What does being a trail steward mean? 

If you are a new trail user, or just never heard of trail stewardship, it’s as simple as leaving the trail better than you found it. 

A trail steward is someone that knows what a trail in good shape looks like, someone who cares for trails as they use them. 

Trail stewards are especially important this year. In seasons before the pandemic, DNR would partner with stakeholders and volunteers to have large work parties of people that come and tend to the trails. 

This year, COVID-19 has put a pause on those gatherings and slowed the ability to work with our partners and stay on top of regular maintenance. This means our trails may be in rougher shape than usual. 

Want to help? Inspired by the Recreate Responsibly coalition and Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance information, check out these tips on how you can help make your time on the trail a better then when you found it.

1. Trash? Pack it out.

Every trail user should experience pristine nature. It starts with each of us, and it is important to do your part in keeping our trails and recreation sites free of trash. 

Make sure that if you packed it in, that you pack it out.

Join the Dirty Pocket Club – put trash, even small things like gum wrappers (micro-trash), in zipped pockets or in a trash bag in your backpack to make sure it doesn’t fall out by accident.

Micro-trash affects the environment in a multitude of ways, including posing a risk to wildlife that could ingest it, and polluting the watershed.

Even organic waste, like apple cores, banana peels, and especially dog poop, are not native to Washington forests. This waste needs to be taken all the way home.

Food waste can attract bears and other animals, creating a potentially dangerous situation for animals and hikers alike. 

Forests are delicately balanced ecosystems, and using them as a compost pile just isn’t helpful for the forest’s health. Besides, no one wants to see your apple core on their adventure. 

Courtesy of Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance Advanced: Leave negative trace

Want to take Leave No Trace up a level? Try leaving a negative trace on your next outdoor outing. Leave the trail much better than you found it — bring a bag for trash (try reusing a bread bag or other packaging) and personal protective equipment, such as gloves and hand sanitizer. 

When you see trash, no matter how small, put it in your bag and throw it into a trash bin when you get home.

Always remember to put your own safety first and be careful not to pick up anything potentially harmful, like needles. Instead, try and remember the location so you can report it later. 

2. Something blocking the trail? Move it.  

Sometimes branches or other debris blow down onto the trail. It’s important to keep trails clear for users for whom debris might prove an obstacle, like mountain bikers and people with disabilities.

No one is immune to stumbling over a rogue log. So be courteous and help your fellow adventurers out.

If the debris is small, go ahead and move it off the path. When lifting, make sure to use your legs to lift the weight, and not your back. Never try to do more than you are able, and always consider your own safety first.  

Advanced: Report larger problems

If you came across an issue you couldn’t fix, such as a downed tree blocking the path, a large puddle, or waste you didn’t feel comfortable collecting, please report it so that DNR’s recreation staff can take care of it safely. 

Visit our Recreation Resources page to see which region your trail is in, then call or email that region’s office to report the issue.

If you encounter illegal activity on the trail, please report it to the DNR by emailing forestwatch@dnr.wa.gov. Your feedback and contributions are what help make Washington trails such great places to visit. 

Courtesy of Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance 3. Large puddles in the trail? 

If you come across a large puddle, look to see if it has a blocked drain. This happens when leaves and sticks are washed downstream to create a natural dam. If possible, dislodge the “dam” with a stick or with your foot, allowing the puddle to drain.

Be careful of existing infrastructure and only distribute obvious debris. 

Come prepared. Wear footwear that can handle a puddle, no matter the time of year, in case you come across one on the trail. Advanced: Avoid trail braiding  

When hikers go around established trails (usually because of a puddle or other obstacle) and make the trail wider, this is often called trail braiding.

Why does this matter? Trail braiding dislodges soil and can lead to sediment getting washed into our waters, degrading water quality and fish habitat.

If you are interested in learning more, this pamphlet explains why sediment is harmful to streams. And in this science demo, it shows that there is an increase in runoff when soil is exposed. 

Recreationists should stay on the trails as much as possible, even if that means getting your boots or bike muddy, to keep our waterways clean and all the forest ecosystems functioning properly.  

Capitol Forest Great Gravel Pack-In, 2019 4. Want to learn more about volunteering? 

Do you have a passion for trail maintenance and want to volunteer to help keep our forests ready for all the different kinds of recreation? There may be opportunities to work with our local recreation managers and other groups that are organizing small, local work parties to tackle areas that are in the most need. 

Learn more about different kinds of volunteer events through the Washington Trail Association (WTA), Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Backcountry Horsemen of Washington, Friends of Capitol Forest, Washington Off Highway Vehicle Alliance, and Northwest Motorcycle Association.

You can also volunteer with DNR in a variety of ways. Join a work party or become a Forest Watch volunteer, for instance, and spend time helping out the trails you love most. Learn how at dnr.wa.gov/volunteer.

Advanced: Become a camp host

Love to camp? Live the dream. Apply for a campground host position for the next summer season. Campground hosts provide a positive, helpful, and informative DNR presence in campgrounds and recreation areas. Learn more at dnr.wa.gov/volunteer

Categories: Partner Feeds

Never Too Early to Plan for Late Fall-Early Winter Outdoor Burning

WA DNR News - November 25, 2020 - 12:59pm

With fall weather here, people are thinking of when and how they will burn this year’s silviculture (forestry-related) debris.

In this article, I will focus on outdoor burning under Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) rules. The rules apply to burning silvicultural material (wood, branches, bark, etc., left after thinning, pruning or harvesting forest trees) on lands that are:

  • Under DNR wildfire jurisdiction (see insert below)
  • Outside of a designated Urban Growth Area (UGA).
Ten Tips for Success

Here are some tips to ensure you are successful and safe when burning silviculuture debris this fall and winter after temperatures cool and fire dangers recede.

  1. Know the rules – Visit DNR’s Outdoor Burning web page to see if you need a permit to burn. Not all outdoor fires require a permit. Whether or not you need a permit, be sure to call 1-800-323 BURN or check DNR’s fire danger web page before you burn. DNR monitors local fire dangers and air quality issues through the year and may need to restrict or shut down outdoor burning in some areas, even in winter.
  2. Locate the pile in a good place – Piles should be 10 to 20 feet away from trees, and 50 feet from structures. Larger slash piles may need to be further away. If protecting your trees is a concern, make sure to burn on a calm day. Wind can easily push a fire’s heat sideways and scorch trees more than 20 feet away. Be aware of what is under your slash pile, too, because burning can damage soil as well as tree roots.
  3. Building tall piles are better – A taller pile is better because it often will burn cleaner and hotter. Just like building a campfire you want to form a pyramid of material. At that bottom of that pyramid you’ll need tinder and kindling to get the larger material above to burn. Needles and small twigs are excellent sources of tinder and kindling to get your slash pile burning efficiently.
  4. Start building piles in spring and summer – Building burn piles in the spring and summer allows them to dry out before fall. Dry material ignites easily and will burn cleaner and more completely.
  5. Cover piles before fall rains – When summer nears its end, cover between a quarter and a third of your slash pile so there will be a dry spot to ignite it. Pick the area you cover carefully; it should have enough dry, fine fuels to easily ignite. Tarps or plastic sold in large sheets make excellent slash pile covers. For a more economical solution, check with local lumber yards to see if they are giving away used lumber wraps — the materials lumber mills use to cover the loads of 2×4’s they ship to lumber yards and home improvement stores.
  6. Build a fuel break around your pile – Clear away all flammable debris for at least 24 inches around your slash pile to prevent the fire from spreading. If your burn is one that requires a permit, follow any special directions indicated on the permit.
  7. Burn with snow – If you live where it gets cold enough for snow to stick on the ground, wait until a couple of inches of snow have accumulated before igniting your pile. If you are not in snow country, burn after several good rains to insure that the ground and any nearby vegetation are moist.
  8. Burn in the fall – Fall or early winter are great times to burn because your material will be dryer than if you waited until spring. Fall burning also takes advantage of the approaching wet, cold winter weather that can help assure the fire stays out after the burn. Statistically, most wildfires caused by escaped outdoor burning occur in the spring, not late fall or early winter.
  9. Ignite your pile with a propane torch – A propane torch is a safe and efficient way to get piles ignited. Never, ever use gasoline to ignite a pile. To see what can happen if you use gasoline, visit www.youtube.com and type in “gas brush piles ignition” to see videos on the many things what can go wrong when you use gasoline to ignite slash piles. Now that you’re online, google “propane torch” for find places to buy a propane torch if you don’t already have one.
  10. Check your pile – Check your pile after you think it is out. Use a shovel to dig in the pile’s ashes to ensure that it is truly out. Numerous spring and summer wildfires linked to outdoor burning are started by slash piles that were burned the previous winter, some even with snow on the ground! What happens is that a pile may burn down and appear to go out but some of the material will get mixed with dirt underneath and smolder throughout winter and into spring. Then, with warmer weather, the ground dries out, the still-smoldering material finally gets exposed to air and nearby dry materials. The result? The next wildfire. No matter how sure you are that your wintertime slash pile burn is out, check the pile again — at least twice — when temperatures warm up in spring.

How do I know if my land is protected from wildfire by DNR? Look at your annual property tax statement. If it contains a charge for the Forest Fire Protection Assessment (FFPA) then your land is under DNR’s wildfire protection jurisdiction. Owners of priva  te and state “forest land” pay this fee to help support DNR’s wildfire preparedness, education, training and other protection activities. FFPA rates are established in law by the legislature (RCW 76.04.610), and are assessed on the unimproved forested or partially forested parcels, excluding structures.

By Guy Gifford, landowner assistance forester & fire prevention and Firewise coordinator, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Northeast Region, guy.gifford@dnr.wa.gov

Want answers to your questions about outdoor burning? Contact your nearest DNR Region Office, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

This article was originally published in 2017 in the Forest Stewardship Notes.

Categories: Partner Feeds

Winter tree care – 4 easy tips

WA DNR News - November 18, 2020 - 10:49am

Did you know that your trees need care throughout the winter to maintain their health? Or that you need to start that care now, before a big freeze hits?

Even though trees in the urban areas are now going into dormancy, they require attention throughout the winter to stay strong and be prepared for the upcoming spring.

Here are four tips to follow:

  • Use mulch. Apply a two- to four-inch layer of wood chips, bark or other organic mulch spread over the root system of the tree to help reduce soil evaporation, improve water absorption and insulate against temperature extremes. To prevent rodent damage and the possibility of rot, make sure that mulch does not rest against the trunk of the tree by applying it in a doughnut shape around the tree’s base, a hands-breadth away from the trunk. In most cases, there is no need to fertilize trees. Consider layering leaves around the base of each tree as natural mulch.
  • Prune. Although trees can also be pruned in the summer during active growth, late winter is often a favorite time for pruning due to the improved visibility of a tree’s limbs and structure when its leaves are gone. The main reasons to prune a tree are for safety, health and aesthetics. First, assess your tree and determine if it is developing a healthy branch structure. Remove dead, broken and crossing branches and improve a tree’s form, but make sure you are doing it correctly. Always prune at the branch collar – the point where a branch joins a larger one – and don’t remove any branches without good reason. Follow this link to find out more about pruning trees. Plus, we recommend first-time pruners sign up for a workshop, such as UW’s Center for Urban HorticulturePlant AmnestySeattle Tilth and City Fruit 
  • Wrap the trunk. Some recently planted thin-barked trees such as honey locust, maple or linden are susceptible to bark-damaging sunscald and frost cracks when temperatures fluctuate in fall and winter. Wrap trunks of younger trees up to the first branches using commercial tree wrap to protect the bark. Remember to take the wrap off once weather warms in the spring.
  • Give them a drink. If this winter brings long periods of dry weather (two to three weeks without rain or snow) and the ground is not frozen, it is a good idea to give your trees some water. Water trees throughout the dripline of the tree – the area from just outside the trunk to the outer edge of the longest branches. Trees need about 10 gallons of water per inch of tree diameter. Long, slow watering will assure that water reaches down into the root zone.

Additional Tips

If a newly planted tree has a Gator bag or other watering bag around its trunk, it is best to remove it during the winter months. During winter, these Gator bags can attract mice and other small mammals who may like to snack on the bark of your young tree. Remove watering bags until we are past frosty weather.

Always call an arborist for consultation if concerns are identified. A certified arborist is trained to use best practices that will keep trees healthy and looking good. Arborists can identify branches that have problems and ones that could be a future hazard.

A little investment into trees when they’re young can lead to beautiful trees that help cool homes in the summer, block winter winds, and add character and property value. Your care for them will provide benefits for years to come.

If you have any questions or want more information on urban tree care, contact DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.

Categories: Partner Feeds

Archie Creek Fire 100 Percent Contained (Archie Creek Fire Wildfire)

Inciweb Articles OR - November 16, 2020 - 4:59pm
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 11/16/20 Archie Creek Fire 100 Percent Contained   ROSEBURG, OR – The Roseburg District, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Umpqua National Forest are declaring that the Archie Creek Fire is 100% CONTAINED as of Monday, November 16, 2020.   Additionally, the Umpqua National Forest is declaring the Thielsen Fire as CONTROLLED.   With the recent change in weather conditions, fire officials with the U.S. Forest Service will officially end fire season on the Umpqua National Forest, effective Monday, November 16, at 12:01 a.m.   With the end of fire season Industrial Fire Precaution restrictions will be lifted on the forest.   During the last several weeks, our area received widespread precipitation which has moderated conditions enough to drop the fire danger to a low status. People are still encouraged to completely extinguish their campfires before leaving a site.   The term CONTAINED is a status of a wildfire suppression, which signifies the...

Malheur National Forest Prescribed Fire Operations Update (Fall Prescribed Fire Projects 2020 Prescribed Fire)

Inciweb Articles OR - November 9, 2020 - 4:07pm
John Day, Prairie City and Hines, OR. – After carefully monitoring conditions across the Forest, fire officials have determined that conditions are within specific parameters, including temperature, relative humidity and fuel moisture to continue prescribed fire operations.    Emigrant Creek Ranger District plans to begin work on pile burning starting the week of November 9.  Areas of planned work include, Wolf, Jane, UP, Marshall Devine and Dove.  Burning of landing piles will occur in the Upper Pine and Wolf project areas.    Prairie City Ranger District will finish up needed work in the Elk 16 FA unit and begin pile burning in units within the Elk 16 (Bugle), Summit, and Dads project areas during the week of November 9.   Blue Mountain Ranger District plan to continue pile burning along the 18 Rd area, Soda Bear (Sugar), and Galena (Hunt and Twin) project areas.    For the safety of firefighters and the public, roads and areas of prescribed fire activity will be...

Malheur National Forest Prescribed Fire Operations Update (Fall Prescribed Fire Projects 2020 Prescribed Fire)

Inciweb Articles OR - November 6, 2020 - 9:11am
John Day, Prairie City and Hines, OR. – After carefully monitoring conditions across the Forest, fire officials have determined that conditions are within specific parameters, including temperature, relative humidity, and fuel moisture to continue prescribed fire operations.    Since beginning ignitions Monday, November 2, Emigrant Creek Ranger District successfully completed 3200 acres of planned prescribed landscape burning, including 2800 acres of aerial ignitions in the George unit. Resources will continue to patrol and monitor the area.   Prairie City Ranger District successfully completed approximately 970 acres of prescribed landscape burning in the Elk 16 FA unit this week.  Resources will continue to patrol and monitor the area.    All 3 districts may begin burning piles on November 9.  All burning is weather and condition dependent.    For the safety of firefighters and the public, roads and areas of prescribed fire activity will be signed. Please avoid these...

Skeletons on the Hill

WA DNR News - October 31, 2020 - 9:15am

She presided over her lands with wide spreading arms, providing grace and shelter for many. Birds loved being near her and often perched in the folds of her luxuriant robes. She fed deer and the soil with all of the things she carefully placed around her solid feet. She deeply held the soil she loved and nourished. Life was good for a long, long time until that fateful day — the day she died.

Ponderosa Pine Skeleton. Photo by Ken Bevis

Was it lightning strikes perhaps? She did stand tall on the hill. Or was it simple ravage of pathogens clogging up her veins? Or did she die from starvation or no water? We don’t know, but suddenly, she wilted. Her flesh withered and became dry and brown — scabby even. Pieces fell to the earth, one at a time after dangling pathetically for long periods, waving weakly in the wind. Miraculously, she did not fall over, but came apart one slow piece at a time, bit by bit.

It took only a few short years for her lush exterior tissues to express death and fall away. All that was left was her vast skeleton and the rough gray/brown skin outside. For a while even this hung on, loose on her surface, spooky night flying bats resting underneath. Eventually, even that fell away one sheet at a time.

All that remains now is her stark white skeleton standing high on the hill, fully a century since her untimely death, haunting us with her silhouette.

Some onlookers feel a chill when they peruse the tall, standing dead tree; the SNAG…….

Skagit River tree skeleton. Photo by Ken Bevis

Snags remind us of death on Halloween, while our minds are filled with goblins, ghosts, ghouls and skeletons rattling about. Just like these monsters, our snags come with their own lore. Don’t lean on her. Don’t linger too long — she likes to throw big branches down to smash you. She rattles in the wind. She is a stark tree skeleton.

But wait! Isn’t that woodpecker tapping on the snag? What is it doing? It’s digging for something to eat. He finds an insect and pulls the delicious treat from the dead wood. And are those mushrooms and fungal conks coming out of the stem? Yes, dead wood is a rich substrate for fungal growth of many types, including some of those that produce a deep death-like sleep. Be careful what you eat.

Hairy woodpecker. Photo by Gregg Thompson

And that woodpecker just went into a dark cavity hole high on the stem, right below the red-tailed hawk perched in the top, right next to the spooky ravens croaking “Nevermore.” A squirrel just went into that other cavity lower on the stem hoping to survive the evening. Night falls and an owl gives eerie hoots as he emerges from a cavity. Bats come swarming out of cracks and holes, flying out into the night. There are many creatures living in and on the snag corpse, like an eerie mansion! Bwa HA HA!!!

Pileated woodpecker nest. Photo by Gregg Thompson

Turns out that dead wood is an essential habitat feature of forest ecosystems. And rotting wood feeds the soil, feeds the fungus, and rots away everything, including dead bodies.

While once spooked by the snag, we now know we need not fear it. Though she seems dead, she may be alive yet! Skeleton indeed, but a living one.

Protect snags whenever you can, especially big ones.

Dead trees are full of life.

Happy Halloween!

Written by Ken Bevis, DNR State Wildlife Biologist

Categories: Partner Feeds

Malheur National Forest Prescribed Fire Operations Update (Fall Prescribed Fire Projects 2020 Prescribed Fire)

Inciweb Articles OR - October 30, 2020 - 12:52pm
John Day, Prairie City and Hines, OR. – After carefully monitoring conditions across the Forest, fire officials have determined that conditions are within specific parameters, including temperature, relative humidity, and fuel moisture to continue prescribed fire operations.   Blue Mountain Ranger District may continue pile burning the week of November 2.    Emigrant Creek Ranger District may begin landscape burning in the George unit, up to 3000 acres, Monday, November 2.     Prairie City Ranger District will finish landscape burning in Elk 16 L1 unit today, October 30.   Monday, November 2, crews will begin landscape burning in Elk 16 FA unit, approximately 940 acres.  Monday crews will begin blacklining (creating a boundary with fire) the burn area.  Ignitions using aerial resources are planned to begin, Tuesday, November 3.    For the safety of firefighters and the public, roads and areas of prescribed fire activity will be signed, please avoid these areas so as...

Revised - Clackamas River Ranger District Fire Closure (Riverside Fire Wildfire)

Inciweb Articles OR - October 29, 2020 - 11:14am
Due to ongoing Riverside Fire hazards the Clackamas River Ranger District Fire Closure has been revised. The new closure order can be found at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd835669.pdfThe revised closure map can be found

Malheur National Forest Prescribed Fire Operations Update (Fall Prescribed Fire Projects 2020 Prescribed Fire)

Inciweb Articles OR - October 28, 2020 - 10:30am
John Day, Prairie City and Hines, OR. – After carefully monitoring conditions across the Forest, fire officials have determined that conditions are within specific parameters, including temperature, relative humidity, and fuel moisture to continue prescribed fire operations.   Blue Mountain Ranger District may begin landscape burning approximately 143 today, Wednesday, October 28. The work will take place in the Starr project area, Unit 22 north of Bear Valley.    Prairie City Ranger District may begin landscape burning approximately 200 acres, Thursday, October 29.  The work will take place in the Elk 16 project area.   For the safety of firefighters and the public, roads and areas of prescribed fire activity will be signed, please avoid these areas so as not to interfere with ongoing operations.  For safety, roads, trails, and areas may need to close temporarily as firefighter operations are taking place. Smoky conditions may also reduce visibility to a level that would...

DNR is protecting our communities by reducing our energy footprint

WA DNR News - October 27, 2020 - 2:39pm

Did you know that a smaller energy footprint contributes to a healthier environment? Using less power reduces the amount of harmful greenhouse gas emissions, which are the leading cause of global warming. On an individual level, we can make conscious choices every day to cut down our energy consumption. As an agency charged with prudent management of our state’s environment, the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is always looking for ways to reduce our energy footprint.

The steps that DNR takes begin with the State Efficiency and Environmental Performance Office (SEEP). This division in the Washington Department of Commerce works with state agencies like DNR to help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions in effective and affordable ways. SEEP assists agencies in finding more sustainable and environmentally beneficial options, like electric vehicles and energy-efficient or zero-energy facilities. They also work to actively reduce the amount of single-use plastics used in state government operations.

With the help of SEEP, DNR recently implemented a series of Energy Support Contracting (ESCO) projects to replace or fix inadequate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems across the state.

The first of the series was a year-long project at the Tukes Work Center, where capital and one-time operating funding was used to replace the HVAC system that greatly improved the center’s energy consumption.  

Another project installed a new HVAC system at the Northwest Region Headquarters, using ESCO to improve the performance of the systems and optimize energy use. Steve Dormaier, DNR Northwest Region Assistant Manager for Business & Operations, spoke about the project’s success:

“The work they performed made a huge difference with making the system operate correctly and has substantially helped with employee satisfaction and reducing HVAC complaints,” Dormaier said. “It was necessary work.”

DNR has taken many steps over the years to reduce energy consumption and continue to look for ways to reduce our energy footprint.

The hangar where we maintain our wildfire helicopters was upgraded to be a more efficient building. The lights were replaced with high-efficiency, low-wattage lamps and ballasts, and the heating system was replenished.

Another plan, called the DNR Windows Server Virtualization Project, was completed to consolidate the number of computer servers needed in the Natural Resources Building Data Center. This project not only greatly lowered power consumption, but also brought in $107,359 from Puget Sound Energy.

DNR is always looking for ways to save money, especially if it can help reduce our energy footprint. As an agency, we value our environment and we are conscious of our energy consumption. As an individual, you can make small or big changes in your life to minimize your carbon footprint for a better future

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