Wildfire season in Washington State begins today

Wildfire season officially begins April 15, as specified by state law, and already the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has had more than 60 forest fires reported this year on lands protected by the agency.

“This year, we have ominous predictions for a hot, dry summer,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “While we work hard to prepare for what could be a challenging season, there are some things property owners can and should do to prepare.”

Property owners can reduce fire risk to their homes and lands by keeping dead vegetation off roofs and away from buildings. The Firewise program explains how to use these techniques and offers incentives to communities who follow Firewise principles.

Prediction for this summer’s weather is available from the National Weather Service. The risk of wildfires can change rapidly during the spring when warmer, dryer weather increases. Among other things, that means people working in the woods or clearing land need to have fire prevention equipment on hand.

Already, above average temperatures and low snowpack have created dry grassland and forests. On March 13, Governor Inslee declared a drought in three Washington regions – the Olympic Peninsula, east slopes of the Central Cascades and Walla Walla.

Last year, more than 315,000 acres of DNR-protected lands were consumed by about 900 wildfires, in the state’s worst ever fire season.  Even though Washington experienced more lightning strikes than normal, 75 percent of the fires were human-caused.

Starting April 22, DNR will offer a series of wildfire preparedness meetings across eastern Washington aimed at helping residents in fire-prone areas of the state prepare for wildfire season.

The agency is also current requesting additional resources from the legislature to increase wildland firefighters and equipment, and to improve the health and fire resistance of Washington forests.

Washington’s summer fire rules

Washington’s “summer fire rules” are in effect April 15 through October 15. These rules apply to the 13 million acres of private and state forestlands protected from wildfire by DNR.

These regulations affect loggers, firewood cutters, land clearers, road builders, heavy equipment operators, off-road motorcyclists, and others. During fire season, people using motorized equipment in the woods must have approved spark arresters and follow fire safety precautions. In addition, those working in the woods must have fire prevention and extinguishing equipment in good working order at the job site and workers trained in proper use.

The rules are intended to prevent forest fires and to extinguish small fires before they spread. Those same rules restrict cigarette smoking in forested areas on roads, gravels pits, or other clearings. They also prohibit lighting fireworks on forestland.

Stay connected during wildfire season
Daily fire risk ratings available by phone and Internet

Industrial Fire Precaution Levels (IFPL) may change daily and classify varying levels of potential fire hazard in different parts of the state. People who work in the woods must observe the IFPL. More information is available from the following sources:

precaution levels, a map of current shutdown zones, and a copy of DNR’s Industrial Fire Precaution Level Bulletin.

  • DNR’s toll-free business line at 1-800-527-3305 plays a message identifying daily

industrial fire precaution levels, which are listed by geographical region. The hearing

impaired can phone Telephone Device for the Deaf at 1-800-833-6388.

  • Email DNR at RPD@dnr.wa.gov. Ask questions or request a copy of DNR’s Industrial

Fire Precaution Level Bulletin or additional information on safe outdoor burning of forest debris and safe recreational campfire tips.

DNR’s wildfire mission

Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, DNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 13 million acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands. DNR is the state’s largest on-call fire department, with over 1,100 employees trained and available to be dispatched to fires as needed. During fire season, this includes over 700 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 400 seasonal employees hired for firefighting duties. Additionally, Department of Corrections’ adult offenders and Department of Social and Health Services-Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration juvenile offenders support firefighting efforts through DNR’s Correctional Camps Program. DNR also participates in Washington’s coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.


Repairs on State Route 4 near Naselle will lower speed limit

Work begins today on a portion of State Route 4 West of Naselle where a culvert failed and heavy rains of early January washed away the road 3.1 miles East of U.S. Route 101. The Washington State Department of Transportation reports a bypass road is in use around the damage, drivers will notice a reduced speed limit of 15 mph through the area.

A portion of State Route 4 was damaged when a culvert collapsed on Monday Jan. 5, due to heavy rains. Contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation built a temporary bypass road.  This will allow traffic to return through the area, at a reduced speed, while permanent repairs to the highway and the culvert are being made.

Veterans Day Ceremony and Fundraiser at Aberdeen VFW

“Come join us in a Veteran’s Day Ceremony to honor the Veterans of the U.S. military,” says Aberdeen Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post #224, Commander Jim Daly.  “The Aberdeen Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #224 will be hosting a ceremony to honor veterans at 11:00, on November 11th at the post home, 105 E. Heron, Aberdeen.”

“We honor and serve veterans, and offer this short ceremony for the public to share.  At the conclusion of the approximately 20 minute ceremony, we will begin serving burger or hot dog baskets with and fries and a pop, as a fund raiser to help pay for the over $300,000 in building repairs completed this year.”

The Fundraising Event, Tuesday, Veteran’s Day, November 11, from Noon – 6 pm.  We welcome the public to join us for food and information.  We will have people there to answer your questions about membership.

“Please come support our local Veterans.  There will hamburgers, fries, and pop, for $8 or substitute a hotdog and it will be $7.” said Nell Todd, Auxiliary President.  “We will also hold a 50/50 raffle.”

Commander Daly said:  “This will also be an opportunity to renew your membership or to join at the Veterans of Foreign Wars, if you are qualified.  Our Service Officer, Commander, and other members will be present for much of the day to speak with Veterans about benefits and the benefit of joining the VFW.  To become a member of the VFW a veteran must have been in a direct support role of combat operations of the U.S. military.

The Auxiliary President, Nell Todd and many of her members will also be present to speak with ladies who are qualified, about membership as well.  To become a member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, a lady must have an immediate family member (father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, daughter, or son) qualified to be a VFW member.

“The Post and Auxiliary are back in full swing.  We host Bingo at the post on Wednesday’s, with doors opening at 4:00pm.  We serve Burgers and chicken baskets on Wednesday’s.   We also serve full dinner menus on

Thursday and Friday from 4:30 – 7:00pm, and breakfast Saturday and Sunday from 8:30am – 1:00pm.  And our lounge is fully operational for members;” said Terry Holderman, Post Quartermaster.

If you would like to support the Aberdeen VFW for their building repairs, donations may also be made to the special donation account at Anchor Bank or dropped off or mailed to VFW Post 224, 105 East Heron, Aberdeen, WA 98520.


Needed Most

Show You Stand FOR VETERANS!

Our veterans and service members sacrifice so greatly and ask for little in return. Today you can honor and help them by making a generous donation to the VFW. Our programs support our troops while they are on the front line, as they are being discharged and long after they return.

Your tax-deductible donation will be immediately directed to the VFW programs where your support is most urgently needed. The VFW is on the front line in the fight for health care, jobs, education and justice FOR VETERANS!

Process to move Chalet in Olympic National Park begins, Enchanted Valley closed to camping September 1-14

The complicated process of moving a historic two-story building about 50 feet begins today, complicated because the Enchanted Valley Chalet in the Olympic National Park is 13 miles from any developed roads.
Jeff Monroe of Monroe House Moving tells us crews and pack mules are hiking in Wednesday, lifting on Saturday and should start moving late Saturday or first thing Sunday. Helicopter flys on Thursday and Friday weather permitting.
The Parks Service has closed the Enchanted Valley to camping for the first two weeks of September to accommodate crews working in the park.

Monroe House Moving, Inc. of Sequim, Washington has been awarded the contract to move the building.  The contractor plans to complete the relocation operation by mid-September, weather permitting. 

To protect contractor and visitor safety, Enchanted Valley will be closed to all public camping for the duration of the project, September 1 through 14.  

Hikers and stock users may continue to travel through the valley, but between September 1 and September 14, must be escorted by park staff.  The camping closure and escort-only hiking restriction extends from the steel bridge at the downstream end of Enchanted Valley (mile 13 on the East Fork Quinault River Trail) to one mile upriver of the chalet. 

The Graves Creek Stock Camp (located near the Graves Creek trailhead) will also be closed between September 1 and 14 to accommodate stock animals and handlers involved in transporting supplies and equipment during the project. 

“Visitor, employee and contractor safety is our top priority,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.  “Moving a two-story structure is inherently risky. We appreciate the public’s patience and cooperation during the process of relocating the chalet.” 

Using industry standard house-moving techniques, the contractor will move the Enchanted Valley Chalet a distance of 50 to 100 feet from its current location where it is undercut and in danger of collapsing into the East Fork Quinault River.  The threats to natural and wilderness resources posed by the structure collapsing into the river warrant temporary relocation of the building.  Additionally, preventing the chalet from imminent collapse will allow time to examine and plan for the long-term future of the structure. 

The chalet relocation project was examined in the “Emergency Action to Temporarily Relocate the Enchanted Valley Chalet for the Protection of the East Fork Quinault River Environmental Assessment” (EA) and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was issued on July 25. 

The National Park Service is charged with protecting all of Olympic National Park’s priceless resources, from historic structures to fish, to the unique and irreplaceable character of the Olympic Wilderness. 

The Enchanted Valley Chalet is located 13 miles from the nearest road, deep within the Olympic Wilderness.  The chalet was constructed by Quinault Valley residents in the early 1930s, prior to establishment of Olympic National Park.  The chalet served for several decades as a backcountry lodge and more recently, as a wilderness ranger station and emergency shelter.  The chalet was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.    

Photos shared by park visitors in early January showed that the main channel of the East Fork Quinault River had migrated to within 18 inches of the 1930s-era chalet.  Last winter’s storms and high flows resulted in the Quinault’s main channel continuing to shift by at least 15 feet.   Recent photographs show that the river has undercut the building by approximately eight feet.  

Migration of the East Fork Quinault’s channel is common in the loose, unconsolidated soils of Enchanted Valley.  Storms, fallen trees, rockslides and simply the constant process of erosion can all cause the river to shift and carve a new channel. 

The EA and the FONSI, along with other supporting documents, are available for review at http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/EVCEA.  

Rollover accident on Highway 12 sends one to hospital

A rollover accident on Highway 12 east of Aberdeen early Sunday morning sent one to the hospital. The Washington State Patrol reports their 2012 Ford Focus left the road to the right and rolled, coming to rest on its wheels at milepost 2 just East of Aberdeen at 2:23 Sunday morning. A 19 year old Aberdeen woman was transported from the scene, her 23 year old male passenger from Fort Lewis was uninjured, both were wearing their seat belts.

Passenger ejected from car wreck that sends two to hospital

Two young men were injured yesterday when their 2007 Mazda 3 collided with a utility pole on the East Agate road and ejected the passenger. The Washington State Patrol reports a 22 year old Centralia man and his 21 year old passenger from Shelton were transported to Mason General Hospital just before 11 Thursday night. Trooper Salverson reports the passenger was not wearing a seat belt when their Northbound car left the road to the right and hit the pole.

Intermittent SR 12 closures scheduled for pole replacement work

All lanes of State Route 12 east of Aberdeen at Baila Dip will be closed intermittently between 10pm on Thursday, Aug. 28th and 4am on Friday, Aug. 29th.  The closures are part of ongoing line maintenance and pole replacement work by Grays Harbor PUD line crews.

The intermittent closures will be between milepost 1.6 and milepost 2.07 and are expected to last 10 to 20 minutes each.  Drivers are advised to use alternate routes during the impacted time.  The closures will not impact Thursday evening or Friday morning commutes.

Alternating lane closures on State Route 8 near McCleary Friday

Crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation are nearing completion of a project to repave the right lane of eastbound State Route 8 near McCleary.

As part of the final work, drivers can expect alternating left- and right-lane closures to stripe the roadway from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8.

Crews have been working to create a smooth surface between mileposts 4 and 10.5, which extend from about two miles west of McCleary to four miles east at the Grays Harbor/Thurston County line.

Drivers are advised to prepare for delays and to give themselves extra time to reach their destinations.

New home construction to begin in East Hoquiam, Summerhaven is also hiring

There’s some new developers at Summerhaven in East Hoquiam, Mayor Jack Durney told his city council last night “They have brought contractors down interested in investing and building some houses. It’s the first – really substantial housing development in Hoquiam since the 60’s or 70’s.”

The unfinished housing development past Hoquiam Plywood was once a senior-living community. Developer Michael Zblewski explained before the city council meeting “It was 55 and older, and now we’re developing single family homes. We’re just finishing the financing on Wednesday and hopefully we’ll begin construction within the next two weeks.
Co-Developer Michael Velanni said they’re also looking to hire as much local workers as possible on the new homes. They plan to launch a website with more details soon.

Olympic National Park to move Enchanted Valley Chalet

PORT ANGELES, Wash. (AP) – Olympic National Park says it’s moving forward with a plan to move a historic chalet that’s being threatened by the shifting east fork of the Quinault River.

The Enchanted Valley Chalet, located 13 miles from the nearest road, was built as a backcountry lodge in the 1930s, before the creation of the park. More recently, it has been used as a wilderness ranger station and emergency shelter.

Visitors last winter noticed the river had come within 18 inches of the chalet, and recent photographs show the river undercutting the building by about 8 feet. Park Service officials said Monday that an expedited environmental review has been completed, giving them the green light to move the building.

They’re worried that if the chalet falls into the river it could harm protected bull trout.

Plans call for moving it away from the river bank before fall rains begin, and then undertaking a more complete study and public review to figure out what to do with the structure long-term.

Officials said they do not yet have details about how and when they will move the chalet.