Department of Natural Resources LiDAR hazard mapping receives unanimous approval from House

A catalog of detailed LiDAR maps of Washington’s geologic hazards is one step closer to reality after the state House voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of a bill requested by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark.

Senate Bill 5088 requires the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to expand LiDAR mapping of geologic hazards like landslides and fault lines and work with counties, cities and the public to disseminate that information. The measure is the first of three “critical first steps” identified by the Joint SR 530 Landslide Commission convened by Gov. Jay Inslee and Snohomish County Executive John Lovick to study emergency response to the disaster.

“The tragedy of last year’s unprecedented natural disasters should have guided all of our focus on the vital government role of ensuring public safety,” said Commissioner Goldmark. “By creating and maintaining a centralized database of precise locations of hazards like deep-seated landslides and fault lines, we can give planners, developers and the public information they need to be protected against the next disaster.”

The bill was introduced by Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe and was unanimously passed by the Senate in February. House members voted 97-0 to approve the bill Wednesday. It now goes to Gov. Inslee’s desk for final approval.

“I’m very pleased that the House took action on this important bill. It has the potential to help save lives by mapping possible disaster areas,” said Pearson.

Home of the Washington Geological Survey, DNR is responsible for surveying and mapping Washington’s geologic hazards. The department is currently staffed with three hazards geologists and two mapping geologists. LiDAR mapping is one of the agency’s top priorities for this legislative session.

A budget appropriation must be made in order for DNR to implement the program in a meaningful way, according to Commissioner Goldmark. The program is estimated to cost $6.6 million. The operating budget proposed by the House dedicated $4,645,000. The Senate’s proposed operating budget left the program unfunded.

DNR hopes to hire additional geologists and technical experts in order to interpret new LiDAR surveys and prepare maps of hazards that will be accessible to land use planners, emergency managers and the public.

Lidar 4Lidar 3

“Unanimous passage of this legislation indicates public safety is a top priority; one I know legislators take seriously. I’m optimistic they will come through and dedicate funding for this important initiative,” Commissioner Goldmark said.

Lidar 2LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) uses lasers mounted on aircraft to scope topography by measuring reflected light. Those beams of light penetrate forest canopy, ground cover and human development to allow mappers and scientists to see the landforms below with pinpoint accuracy.

A little more than one-fourth of Washington has already been mapped with LiDAR, though much of that was done with lower-quality imaging. DNR will initially target LiDAR mapping efforts at population centers and infrastructure most at risk from landslides and other hazards.

DNR’s Natural Resource Mission on Behalf of Washingtonians

Under the elected leadership of Commissioner Goldmark, DNR manages more than 5.6 million acres of state-owned forest, range, commercial, agricultural, conservation, and aquatic lands. More than half of these lands are held in trust and produce income to support public schools and other state institutions. Lands managed by DNR also provide outdoor recreation, native fish and wildlife habitat, and clean and abundant water.

Montesano man in custody after brief high-speed chase

A 23-year-old Montesano man is back in custody after a high-speed chase from Hoquiam into Aberdeen. Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers tells us the man was at Grays Harbor Community Hospital for an evaluation when Aberdeen police received the report that he had left. Hoquiam Sgt Mitchell spotted a suspicious vehicle that had been reported near an auto dealership on Simpson Avenue just before 3 pm Wednesday. Mitchell reported that the vehicle sped off at a high rate of speed into Aberdeen as he approached. When the Ford pickup rounded the corner from Simpson Avenue onto Park Street it rear-ended an SUV. Myers reports no injuries to either the man or the driver of the vehicle he struck, but the damage disabled his vehicle enough that he put it in reverse and drove into the parking lot near another dealership and struck a U-Haul truck. At that point Mitchell was able to pin the truck and make an arrest with the help of responding officers.

23-year-old Derek Robecker was in Grays Harbor County custody this morning for multiple charges dating back to the summer of 2014.

Myers said it appears that he had just been released that morning, left the hospital and stole a truck from a parking lot near the Grays Harbor PUD. From there it appears he attempted to break into a home on Aberdeen Avenue but was confronted by the homeowner, fled back to the truck, and was then spotted by Mitchell.

On Wednesday, April 8, 2015 at approximately 1435 hours, Aberdeen PD was advised of a subject who had walked away from Community Hospital; he was apparently at the facility pending a mental health evaluation. A passerby later reported giving the subject a ride from the top of the hill down to the area of the Dollar Tree.

At 1445 hours, Sgt. Mitchell was dispatched to a car lot in the 2700 block of Simpson Ave for a report of a suspicious person who had just arrived in a blue and gray older model Ford pick-up. The subject had quickly exited the truck and jumped a six foot-barb wire fence into a nearby alley. Sgt. Mitchell checked the registration on the truck, which returned to an older gentlemen from Copalis Beach; the description of the driver did not match the owner.
Sgt. Mitchell and other Hoquiam officers checked the area in an attempt to locate the subject to no avail. Sgt. Mitchell returned to the car lot a few minutes later to find the male sitting in the truck now parked on the sidewalk. As Sgt. Mitchell pulled over, the suspect rapidly accelerated out into traffic, nearly striking the patrol car. As the suspect entered Simpson Avenue, he lost control of the truck, nearly striking a passing car.
Sgt. Mitchell activated his emergency lights and siren in an attempt to stop the pick-up. The driver accelerated and weaved back and forth between both lanes of Simpson Avenue around other traffic at a high rate of speed. The sergeant was forced to slow for heavier traffic in the 3000 block, but the pick-up driver avoided traffic by driving down the parking strip and then up onto the sidewalk.
Upon entering the city of Aberdeen on Simpson Avenue, the driver weaved from sidewalk to sidewalk around other traffic. The suspect approached Aberdeen Corporal Snodgrass parked on the side of the street intending to deploy spike-strips to stop the truck; the suspect passed by the patrol car at a high rate of speed, only missing the side of the car by inches.
The suspect entered the corner from Simpson Avenue onto Park Street whereby he lost control and apparently struck the rear of a green Jeep in traffic ahead. The pick-up sustained damage to the left front corner, apparently making it difficult to steer.
Sgt. Mitchell attempted to cut-off the pick-up, but instead the driver threw the truck into reverse and careened across both lanes of traffic, over an adjacent grass strip and into the corner parking lot near the old middle Swanson’s store. The driver continued in reverse until he struck the corner of an unoccupied U-Haul truck.
Sgt. Mitchell used his patrol car push-bars to pin the side of the truck to prevent the driver from trying drive off. The suspect, a 23-year Montesano man was pulled from the truck and taken into custody; he was not injured. The occupants of the green Jeep were checked by Aberdeen Fire Department, but apparently were not injured. It was determined the suspect arrested from the pick-up was the same person who had earlier left the hospital.
Officers discovered the pick-up had been stolen from the parking lot of the PUD office during the time-frame after he had left the hospital. Unfortunately, the truck owner had left his keys in the ignition when he went inside to pay his power bill.
Hoquiam officers were later advised the same suspect had forced his way into a home in the 2700 block of Aberdeen Avenue in Hoquiam between the time he stole the truck and led Sgt. Mitchell on the pursuit. The homeowner was concerned as the suspect had been acting strangely and refused to leave, demanding to use the phone. The suspect never made a call and finally left after a few minutes.
Aberdeen PD is investigating the stolen vehicle and related traffic collisions; Hoquiam PD is investigating the trespass at the home and the felony attempt to elude a pursuing police vehicle. The suspect was booked at the Grays Harbor County Jail, ironically where he had just been released that morning after serving his sentence on prior offenses. Aberdeen PD and Hoquiam PD are coordinating all the charges against the suspect with the Grays Harbor County Prosecutor.

DNR purchase on Olympic Peninsula adds to wildlife habitat and working forest

At its regular monthly public meeting this week, the Board of Natural Resources authorized the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to purchase 1,720 acres of forestland north of the Quinault Indian Reservation on the western Olympic Peninsula. The $5.2 million purchase from The Nature Conservancy will be funded by the proceeds from previous sales and state-funded conservation transfers of under-productive trust lands.


“We’re grateful for the partnership with The Nature Conservancy in purchasing this land,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, who chairs the board. “It will benefit future trust beneficiaries and our conservation commitments on the Olympic Peninsula.”


The new purchase will become part of the Olympic State Experimental Forest, which DNR manages under its Habitat Conservation Plan for timber revenue to trust land beneficiaries, including the Common School Trust. About $4 million of the site’s purchase price is represented by its standing timber, the majority of which will be ready for harvest in ten to twenty years.


Park land for eastern King County

The board today also authorized a $3.025 million direct transfer (sale) of just over 122 acres of forestland to King County to include in its Patterson Creek Park Natural Area. The site, located between Sammamish and Issaquah, is nearly surrounded by residential development. DNR will use the sale’s proceeds to purchase forestland better suited for producing revenue for the Common School Trust.


Trust land transfers in Klickitat and Thurston counties

The board also approved two transactions through the legislatively funded Trust Land Transfer program:


  • Eight hundred and nineteen acres of forested Common School Trust property will be transferred to the Klickitat Canyon Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA). The property, which straddles the Yakima-Klickitat county line, is three miles north of Glenwood. The ecologically diverse area includes several rare plants identified as threatened and endangered. The $2.1 million provided by the Trust Land Transfer program for the parcel will support public school construction projects statewide and purchase replacement land better suited for producing natural resources revenue for the Common School Trust.
  • Five hundred and forty-seven acres of forest and wetlands near the town of Elbe in Thurston County will be transferred to Tacoma Public Utilities. The property’s limited road access and isolation from other DNR-managed trust lands make it inefficient to manage for timber harvest revenue. The $4.68 million provided by the Trust Land Transfer program for the parcel will support public school construction projects statewide and purchase replacement land better suited for producing natural resources revenue for the Common School Trust.


DNR… caring for your natural resources
DNR manages more than 5.6 million acres of state-owned forest, range, commercial, agricultural, conservation, and aquatic lands. More than half of these lands are held in trust and produce income to support public schools, county services, universities, prisons, and other state institutions. The Board of Natural Resources adopts broad-based policies and approves major commodity sales and all land transactions for state lands.

Corrections Officer in Western Washington arrested on child pornography charges

Detectives from the Washington State Patrol’s Missing and Exploited Childrens Task Force arrested an Olympia man today after getting a search warrant to check his home computer for child pornography.

Michael C. Boone, 38, was arrested after detectives served a search warrant at his residence and interviewed him at his place of employment.

Boone is currently employed as a community corrections officer by the Washington Department of Corrections. At present there is no indication that any child pornography was stored on Boone’s work computer. Out of an abundance of caution, detectives have seized Boone’s work computer for a forensic examination.

Boone is also a reserve police officer for the city of Tenino. His police department-issued smart phone was seized by detectives.

The investigation began when security officers at Microsoft noticed the electronic signature of well-known and frequently-traded images of child pornography on Boone’s Microsoft SkyDrive account. They contacted the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force which in turn referred the matter to law enforcement.

Detectives used the information to obtain the search warrant, which in turn led to Boone’s arrest. He was booked into the Thurston County Jail for Investigation of Possession of Depictions of Minors Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct.

The Thurston County Prosecutor will ultimately decide what charges to file in the case.

Public comments sought on Weatherwax Wetland and Habitat Mitigation Bank in Ocean Shores

The city of Ocean Shores is getting into the Mitigation Banking business the Department of Ecology is accepting public comment on certification of the Weatherwax Wetland and Habitat Mitigation Bank.
The city has been working on forming a mitigation bank on the 120 acres of wetlands since 2011, certification would finalize the process and permanently preserve the property. With projected revenues of over a million dollars, the Department of Ecology projects to award almost 12 credits for mitigation on the property.

Continue reading Public comments sought on Weatherwax Wetland and Habitat Mitigation Bank in Ocean Shores

U.S. Coast Guard crews rescue man and his dog near Ocean City

Imagery available: Coast Guard rescues man, dog near Ocean City, Wash. A Coast Guard helicopter crew assisted local search and rescue personnel in locating a lost man and his dog near Ocean City, Washington, Sunday.

An MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Astoria safely hoisted and transported both the Ocean City man and dog to Ocean Shores Airport in good condition, where they were met by Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s deputies.

Grays Harbor county SAR personnel began searching for the 60-year-old man around 5 p.m., but were unable to locate him.  Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, in Warrenton, received a request for assistance from Grays Harbor County at about 9:20 p.m., after the man’s cell phone reportedly died and he had no other means of communication.

The aircrew located the man and dog at about 11:15 p.m., after searching in concert with Grays Harbor County SAR ground crews for about two hours. Search personnel on the ground relayed the man’s last known location to the aircrew. Coast Guard personnel used night vision goggles and forward looking infrared cameras to search for the man’s heat signature in the swampy terrain.

“The hiker was using an old lighter that would not light but would spark,” said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Leary, the rescue pilot aboard the Jayhawk. “Through night vision goggles it looked like a flashlight.”

The Coast Guard recommends all hikers and outdoor enthusiasts carry a form of communication more reliable than a cell phone when venturing into the wilderness.

The weather was reported as overcast with visibility ranging from five to 20 miles.

Pacific County Emergency Management Agency offering CERT training

The Pacific County Emergency Management Agency (PCEMA) is offering a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) course in Long Beach.

The course will be held at the Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort (12415 Pacific Way, Long Beach). Pre-registration is required and is limited to 20 participants.

Training is scheduled as follows:

Saturday May 2, 2015 · 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, May 3 2015 · 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 9, 2015 · 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

The CERT program is an all-risk, all-hazard training. This valuable course is designed to help you protect yourself, your family, your neighbors, and your neighborhood in an emergency situation. CERT members receive 20 hours of initial training provided free of charge. The course is taught with classroom instruction for the first two days and practical exercises during the last day. Participants under the age of 18 must have parent/guardian permission to attend.

To register or for more information, contact Scott McDougall at (360) 642-9338 or email

Man arrested after found covered in glass, carrying alcohol from Hoquiam Liquor Store

A Hoquiam man admitted to police that today was the second time he tried to steal liquor from the Hoquiam Liquor store. Police arrested the man after responding to a burglary alarm at the store early this morning. Sergeant Jeff Salstrom tells us they were called to the 900 block of Simpson just after 2 A.M. Friday morning to find that the glass of the front door had been broken out with a large rock. Officer Don Grossi and Salstrom searched the area while they contacted the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office, but before a K-9 officer could arrive, Aberdeen Officer Gary Sexton was assisting, and located a man covered in broken glass, carrying two bottles of alcohol nearby.
This isn’t the first time in the past couple weeks that the store has been broken into, last time someone broke the same window but didn’t get any merchandise. Salstrom said the 26 year old Hoquiam man confessed to both attempts, and was booked on charges of burglary in the second degree.

Aberdeen Police Officers respond to display of handgun

Aberdeen Police responded to a reported display of a firearm near City Hall. Detective Sergeant Art Laur tells us at about 12:24 pm, there were advised of a display of a pistol in the area of Market and F St. Initial information was that an off-duty deputy from a neighboring agency had been driving his vehicle in that area when his vehicle was approached by a green colored suburban style vehicle. The occupants of the suburban began making hand gestures towards him and then displayed a firearm before driving away.

About 20 minutes later, the suburban was observed in the area of Market and I St. Officers from the Aberdeen Police Department were assisted by members of the Hoquiam Police Department and Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office in detaining the 4 occupants of the suburban.

As a result of the investigation, two Aberdeen residents (a 19 year-old male and 20 year-old male) were taken into custody and transported to the Aberdeen Police Department where they face charges of Unlawful Display of a Weapon and Obstructing a Law Enforcement Officer. The vehicle they were driving was seized pending the execution of a search warrant. It is believed that this was a random act and the persons arrested were not aware of the victim’s employment.

Returned ballot? Bad signature? It’s not too late to get counted

If you get your ballot returned to you in the mail asking for signature verification, it might be because you don’t sign your name the same way you did when you registered to vote, Grays Harbor County Elections Supervisor Katy Moore says you still have time to return it and get your ballot counted. “When we get a ballot, it’s put into a group and is manually reviewed. Every single signature is compared by the signature that we have on file. If your signature gets challenged – because maybe you signed it when you were 18 and now you’re 40 and sign a different way, We send a letter out, and we give them until the day before certification, November 24th, to respond to that letter.” The verified signature will go on file for future elections.

Moore said some people don’t even realize they’ve changed, “I get a lot of people that come in, they’re asking questions about their signature. I pull their ballot envelope out, pull the signature up that I have on file and everybody is surprised. They’re like ‘Ohh I forgot I used to sign my name that way.’ This is why we do it, and we do it for a good reason. The people that vote need to sign the outside ballot [envelope] and that’s one of the verification processes that we have.”