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.

Washington Department of Natural Resources to permit campfires on some state lands

With recent rain and current weather models predicting more moderate conditions in western Washington, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is adjusting the current statewide burn ban. Recreational campfires will be permitted in established fire rings in official campgrounds on DNR-protected lands west of the Cascade crest, the agency announced today.

 

“We’ve seen a shift from extremely hot and dry to more moderate weather in western Washington, which means a reduced risk of wildfire,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “This shift allows us to adjust the burn ban to allow recreational campfires in these specific circumstances on DNR-protected lands on the west side of the state.”

 

Over the summer, high fire hazard conditions throughout the state have caused fires to spread rapidly and challenged firefighting efforts. More than $91 million has been spent so far battling wildfires in 2014, and more than 350,000 acres have burned across the state. There are many weeks to go in this year’s fire season, which usually runs into October.

 

All other outdoor burning on DNR-protected lands continues to be prohibited under this ban.  Fireworks and incendiary devices, such as exploding targets, sky lanterns, or tracer ammunition, remain illegal on all DNR-protected lands. Charcoal briquettes are also not allowed.

 

If campers and visitors are unsure about whether a campground is on DNR-protected land, they should check with local park authorities on campfire restrictions that may be in place.

 

In addition, DNR urges extreme caution around any activity that may cause a fire to start. Under these severe fire-hazard conditions, logging operations, land clearing, road and utility right of way maintenance, use of spark-emitting equipment, and other activities that create a high risk of fire ignition should be drastically curtailed.

 

Those who negligently allow fire to spread or who knowingly place forestlands in danger of destruction or damage are subject to possible civil liabilities and criminal penalties under state law. DNR, as well as anyone harmed by such a fire, may pursue damages that include loss of property and fire suppression costs.

 

The statewide burn ban will run through September 30, 2014. It applies to all lands under DNR fire protection, which does not include federally owned lands.

 

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 more than 1,000 employees trained and available to be dispatched to fires as needed. During fire season, this includes more than 700 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 400 seasonal employees hired for firefighting duties. Additionally, adult offenders from the Department of Corrections and juvenile offenders from the Department of Social and Health Services-Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration support firefighting efforts through DNR’s Correctional Camps Program. DNR also participates in Washington’s coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.

Washington State seeks to purchase forest conservation easements

Landowners with threatened species habitat on their property may apply

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking landowners who wish to apply for permanent conservation easements through its Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program (RHOSP). Since 2002, the state of Washington has invested $3.9 million to purchase easements through the program.

“The program is about finding ways to achieve endangered species protections in partnership with economically viable forest management,” said Washington State Forester Aaron Everett. “This year’s program funds will be targeted in areas where recent science shows us that Northern spotted owls can benefit from strategic habitat protection.”

This year marks the first time funding has been provided by the state legislature since RHOSP was revised in 2013 to include habitat for species protected by the state as threatened or endangered. RHOSP also allows DNR to purchase easements from willing sellers whose property includes areas where a river’s active channel meanders – known as channel migration zones. These islands of timber have high ecological value to species like salmon and steelhead.

Interested landowners must apply by 5 p.m. on September 30, 2014.

Qualifications and priorities

To qualify for a conservation easement purchase through RHOSP, a property must be:

  • Located on forestland with critical habitat for state threatened or endangered species designated by the state Forest Practices Board, or include a channel migration zone;
  • Identified as either “designated forest land” (Chapter 84.33 RCW) or “current use forest land” (Chapter 84.34 RCW) on county assessor records; and
  • Free of unacceptable liabilities such as hazardous substances or other site conditions that may jeopardize the fisheries or environmental quality of the project area.

Applications will be prioritized for funding based on each property’s unique values, such as:

  • Ecological value to strategic Northern spotted owl emphasis areas, with special priority on the I-90 corridor and Klickitat County;
  • Habitat quality, biological characteristics, and significance;
  • Connectivity to other protected lands and areas with conservation agreements; and
  • Viability for conservation management.

 

Instructions and applications have been prepared for both the channel migration zone and critical habitat categories and are available on DNR’s RHOSP web page: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/BusinessPermits/Topics/OtherIndustryLandownerResources/Pages/riparian_open_space_program.aspx

Properties accepted into the program are ranked in priority for funding. Landowners whose easements are not purchased during the 2013-2015 state budgeting biennium will be offered the opportunity to be considered when future funding becomes available. RHOSP also accepts donations of conservation easements.

Landowners who wish to learn more about the program may reach Dan Pomerenk, RHOSP director, at 360-902-1427 or by email at dan.pomerenk@dnr.wa.gov

Campfires prohibited in all Washington state parks

Washington State Parks announced today that campfires in all state parks will be prohibited until further notice to help prevent human-caused wildfires during the hot, dry season on both sides of the Cascade Mountains.

The prohibition on campfires in state parks complies with the announcement Monday by Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which notified the public of a ban on all outdoor burning on lands protected by DNR, through Sept. 30. That agency has fire protection responsibility for all but a few state parks. Prohibiting open fires and campfires in all state parks is intended to minimize public confusion and cooperate in DNR’s effort to prevent wildfires.

DNR has said that significant demands are being placed upon fire suppression resources from regional and statewide firefighting efforts.

Campers in state parks will be allowed to use devices that allow for control of combustion, including:

  • Propane and liquid gas stoves appropriate for camping and backcountry use
  • Propane barbecue devices that do not use solid briquettes
  • Propane or pressurized white gas warming devices that have a shield or base
  • Lava rocks or lava logs may be used in propane grills and barbecues
  • Solid fuel citronella or other candles in a metal bucket or glass container

 About Washington State Parks

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.

Follow Washington State Parks:

 Share your favorite state park adventure on the State Parks’ blog site atwww.AdventureAwaits.com.

Support state parks by purchasing your annual Discover Pass today, and enjoy a whole year of outdoor fun on Washington’s beautiful state-managed recreation lands. For more information, visitwww.discoverpass.wa.gov.

Washington Dept. of Natural Resources bans all outdoor burning

With dangerously hot and dry weather driving fire danger to a new high, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is expanding the current statewide burn ban to cover all outdoor burning on all DNR-protected lands, with no exceptions, the agency announced today.

“All indicators are that we’ll continue to have high heat, low humidity, and storm systems with winds and lightning. That means huge potential for wildfires,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “We need to do everything we can to minimize danger to people, homes and habitat.”

Hot and dry conditions since early summer have caused very high fire hazard conditions throughout the state. These conditions have caused fires to spread rapidly and challenged firefighting efforts.  More than $91 million has been spent so far battling wildfires in 2014, and more than 350,000 acres have burned across the state. There are many weeks to go in this year’s fire season, which usually runs into October.

All outdoor burning on DNR-protected lands is prohibited under this ban, including recreational fires in campgrounds or anywhere on DNR-protected lands. Fireworks and incendiary devices, such as exploding targets, sky lanterns, or tracer ammunition, are illegal on all DNR-protected lands. Charcoal briquettes are also not allowed.

In addition, DNR urges extreme caution around any activity that may cause a fire to start. Under these severe fire-hazard conditions, logging operations, land clearing, road and utility right-of-way maintenance, use of spark-emitting equipment, and other activities that create a high risk of fire ignition should be drastically curtailed.

Those who negligently allow fire to spread or who knowingly place forestlands in danger of destruction or damage are subject to possible civil liabilities and criminal penalties under state law. DNR, as well as anyone harmed by such a fire, may pursue damages that include loss of property and fire suppression costs.

The statewide burn ban will run through September 30, 2014. It applies to all lands under DNR fire protection, which does not include federally owned lands.

For more specific information on burn bans, visit http://www.dnr.wa.gov/Publications/rp_fire_burn_ban_factsheet.pdf.

 

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 more than 1,000 employees trained and available to be dispatched to fires as needed. During fire season, this includes more than 700 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 400 seasonal employees hired for firefighting duties. Additionally, adult offenders from the Department of Corrections and juvenile offenders from the Department of Social and Health Services-Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration support firefighting efforts through DNR’s Correctional Camps Program. DNR also participates in Washington’s coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.

Washington heightens scrutiny of timber harvests near geological hazards

Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark has announced new requirements for proposed timber harvests near potential landslide hazard areas. Applicants for harvest permits will be required by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which Commissioner Goldmark administers, to provide a detailed site review by a qualified geologist when DNR determines that a timber harvest near unstable slopes could affect public safety.

 

“When questions began to be asked if a timber harvest conducted before I took office may have contributed in some way to the tragic Oso Landslide, I promised that DNR would thoroughly investigate these concerns using sound science and take appropriate action,” said Goldmark. “While that investigation is ongoing, DNR is taking the added precaution of requiring site-specific geologic review of any harvest application involving potential geological hazards that is in close proximity to public safety considerations. This added scrutiny provides more information to help properly identify potential hazards and avoid impacts.”

 

“This is part of my commitment to ensure that Washington State has a scientifically rigorous and ecologically sustainable regulatory environment for timber harvest,” said Goldmark. Since Goldmark took office in 2009, the State Forest Practices Board, which is chaired by Commissioner Goldmark’s delegate, has eliminated loopholes that allowed non-specific and outdated Watershed Analysis prescriptions for landslide areas, improved harvest protections for riparian zones, strengthened protections for cultural resources, and convened a special northern spotted owl conservation advisory group.

 

Commissioner Goldmark is acting on recent recommendations from the independent science and policy program, the Adaptive Management Program, which is in place to evaluate Washington’s Forest Practices Rules. A study of 2007 landslides in southwest Washington resulted in recommendations delivered in February, 2014 from the Program’s multi-stakeholder policy committee. No changes to current Forest Practices Rules were recommended, but the group recommended that DNR develop additional documentation requirements and make other improvements, such as seeking funding from the legislature to acquire higher-quality LiDAR topography data.

 

DNR’s new requirement that a “geotechnical report” be prepared is consistent with the policy committee’s recommendations. Geotechnical reports are already required for applications that propose to harvest timber on potentially unstable topographic features. DNR’s action extends that requirement where public safety considerations exist in the area, even when the application itself does not include potentially unstable features.

Department of Natural Resources launches derelict vessel “turn-in” program

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has developed a Vessel Turn-in Program (VTIP) to dismantle vessels that do not yet satisfy the legal definition of “derelict” or “abandoned,” but are likely to become derelict or abandoned in the near future, which could harm water quality and/or threaten public safety.

 

You may be eligible for the program if:

  • you are a Washington resident,
  • you own a boat that is 45-feet or less in length,
  • your boat is in poor condition or no longer functional, and
  • you want to dispose of your boat safely and legally but do not have the resources to do so.

 

DNR will accept and review applications for the VTIP on an ongoing basis and will conduct disposals quarterly. DNR will be working with various contractors and boatyards throughout the state. Public response will help determine dates and locations for disposals. Check the web page (http://1.usa.gov/1o488ds) for details or contact the VITP program at: dvrp@dnr.wa.gov or

360-902-BOAT (2628).

 

Since this is a pilot program, DNR will evaluate vessel applications quarterly on a first-come, first-served basis. If there is high demand or if funding becomes an issue, DNR will rate each vessel based on the application criteria (i.e., vessel age, condition and location). DNR will take vessels that are at a higher risk of becoming derelict or abandoned and will evaluate the “best value” removals for the state. If all other vessels are equal in scoring, DNR will use a lottery to determine which vessels will be accepted.

 

DNR’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program
DNR manages over 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands. DNR’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program administers the VTIP, as well as providing funding and expertise to authorized public agencies to assist with the removal of abandoned and derelict vessels from these aquatic lands. At any given time, there are about 200 derelict vessels on the rivers, lakes, and estuaries of Washington. Primary funding for the program comes from a $3 surcharge placed on annual vessel registration fees and an additional $5 charge added to non-resident vessel fees.

 

For more information about DNR’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program, visit: http://bit.ly/dnr_dvrp.

Governor Inslee signs bipartisan bill to further address the problems of derelict and abandoned vessels

OLYMPIA – Surrounded by legislators and a diverse group of supportive stakeholders, Gov. Jay Inslee today signed legislation that builds on the state’s commitment to prevent derelict vessels from becoming a burden to the citizens of Washington State.

 

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requested the legislation (2SHB 2457) that will further protect Washington’s waters and the public, foster responsible and accountable vessel ownership, provide an additional funding source for removing derelict vessels, and encourage removal and deconstruction before vessels become a problem.

 

“DNR’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program is an award-winning model for the rest of the nation,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “This legislation is significant, not only because of what the bill does, but how it galvanized both sides of the aisle and a diverse group of stakeholders to develop workable solutions.”

 

The process to draft and shape this legislation began last summer with the convening of a work group, as directed by last year’s derelict vessel legislation (ESHB 1245). The work group consisted of legislators and state agency staff who drew up a list of possible solutions to the problems that derelict and abandoned vessels create. The list was then presented to a diverse group of stakeholders representing the commercial and recreational vessel industries, environmental groups, and ports.

 

“I applaud the great collaborative work that was done before and during this session to address the environmental, safety, and public expense risks caused by derelict vessels,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “In particular, I want to thank Rep. Drew Hansen and Rep. Norma Smith for providing the critical legislative support and leadership for this bill, and staff at the Department of Revenue for working with us to develop a more equitable funding solution by requiring commercial vessel owners to pay a fee to support removal costs. For too long, recreational vessel owners have shouldered these costs. It’s a great start, but more work needs to be done.”

 

“A lot of work has gone into this bill—by Democrats and Republicans, House members and Senators, environmentalists, boaters, shellfishers, marina operators, industry representatives and more,” said Rep. Drew Hansen (D-Bainbridge Island), key bill sponsor. “This bill will save jobs and also keep our waterways clean and safe for recreation and industry.”

 

“HB 2457 is truly landmark legislation,” said Rep. Norma Smith (R-Clinton), key bill sponsor. “It was an honor to work with Rep. Drew Hansen, the team at DNR, and every stakeholder at the table to craft responsible policy which will stem the tide of large vessels reaching the crisis stage of threatening our waterways and taxpayer resources.”

 

“Washington’s waterways are the most beautiful in the world,” said Sen. Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe), Chair of the Senate Natural Resources & Parks Committee. “As legislators, it is our responsibility to ensure that they remain clean and free of hazards for generations to come. This legislation will help meet that goal.”

 

Key elements of the bill:

  • Establishes an annual ‘derelict vessel removal fee’ of $1 per foot on commercial vessels that are required to be listed with the Department of Revenue. Revenue from this fee will go into the state’s Derelict Vessel Removal Account, which is managed by DNR.
  • Requires moorage facilities and owners of vessels moored at these facilities to carry marine insurance.
  • Requires insurance at the time of sale for vessels older than 40 years and longer than 65 feet.
  • Prohibits the sale of unseaworthy vessels older than 40 years and longer than 65 feet.
  • Exempts vessel deconstruction activities from the retail sales and use tax.
  • Creates new penalties for failing to register a vessel.

For more information about the 2014 derelict vessel bill (2SHB 2457), visit: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=2457&year=2013

 

For the final bill language as passed by the Legislature, visit: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2013-14/Pdf/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/2457-S2.PL.pdf

DNR’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program
Derelict or abandoned vessels put public safety and the health of Washington’s marine and fresh waters at risk. The program is the state’s key mechanism to address these vessels and provides funding and expertise to public agencies to assist with the removal of abandoned and derelict vessels from state-owned aquatic lands managed by DNR.

For more information about the Derelict Vessel Removal Program, visit: http://bit.ly/dnr_dvrp

DNR to host safety conference for professional divers April 7-8 in Seattle

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today that online registration is now open for the 2014 Professional Dive Safety Conference taking place April 7-8 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Registration is free, but required.

 

The 2014 Professional Dive Safety Conference is designed for divers who earn their living working in underwater professions such as geoduck harvesting, scientific research, salvage removal, and water rescue and recovery. The conference will bring together local, state and national dive experts to present the latest scientific research, technology, and best management practices.

 

“At DNR, safety is an important part of our culture,” said Blain Reeves, DNR Aquatic Resources Assistant Division Manager and conference organizer. “We want to make this conference the best possible experience for all of the participants.”

 

Conference attendees can expect to hear presentations and participate in dialogs with national and regional dive safety experts on the following topics:

  • Diving program at DNR: Overview, history, and sustaining a safe diving culture.
  • Panel discussion with dive safety review experts.
  • Standards governing professional diving.
  • History and regulation of scientific diving.
  • Decompression sickness.
  • Using advances in equipment technology to improve dive safety.
  • EPA task hazard analysis for diving in contaminated waters.
  • Diving risk management course.
  • Developing a dive safety network using technology and social media.

 

Registration will remain open until filled. To view the agenda and to register online go to:  http://bit.ly/dive2014conference.

 

For more information, contact Blain Reeves, 2014dive-conference@dnr.wa.gov, or 360-902-1731.

 

DNR’s Dive Program

The primary responsibility of DNR’s professional dive team is to conduct compliance monitoring of the state’s wild stock geoduck fishery, which is jointly managed by DNR, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Puget Sound Treaty Tribes. These large clams are harvested individually by divers using hand-operated water jets in subtidal areas between minus 18 and minus 70 feet. The dive team also conducts additional in-water and on-water support activities for the agency.

Preacher Slough Road near Montesano closed for construction

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today that Preachers Slough Road near Montesano will close for construction of a river access site for small boats on January 6, 2014. DNR expects the site to be open by January 24, 2014.

The construction project is located within the DNR-managed Chehalis River Surge Plain Natural Area Preserve. The trailhead parking and interpretive trail near Washington State Route 107 will remain open.

View a map of the closed area here: http://1.usa.gov/JzmXGy

 

Improved river access for small boats, canoes, and kayaks

The Preachers Slough Road project will improve existing public access to the Chehalis River in the natural area preserve. The new site will help protect water quality and nearby wildlife habitat from damaging impacts. It will also improve the user experience at the site.

Funding for the project comes from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which is a state grant program managed by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.

DNR Natural Areas Program

DNR conserves more than 152,000 acres of lands and features in designated natural area preserves and natural resources conservation areas, protecting the highest-quality examples of natural Washington and providing opportunities for research, environmental education and low-impact recreation.