The cave is home to Townsend’s big-eared bat, which is listed as a sensitive species in Washington and Oregon.
Bats are susceptible to White Nose Syndrome, a deadly disease triggered by a fungal infection that can kill entire bat colonies by disrupting their winter hibernation.
A USDA Forest Service interpreter will be on site at Boulder Cave to provide information about the cave and explain the White Nose Syndrome prevention protocol visitors must follow as they enter the cave., which include brushing and scraping off the soles of their shoes when entering and leaving the cave.
We’re all about providing great recreation on public lands while minimizing harmful impacts to wildlife,” Joan St. Hilaire, a USDA Forest Service wildlife biologist, said. “To help prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome, visitors are asked to brush off and scrape their shoes on an astro turf carpet prior to entering and leaving the cave.”
Cave visitors are also encouraged to wash clothing, outerwear, and gear between visits to different caves or other places bats congregate.
When visiting Boulder Cave, all visitors are required to carry a flashlight. A good pair of walking shoes and layered clothing are also recommended. Pets are not allowed.
“We can all do our part by limiting all noise, staying on the trail, not touching cave walls, and keeping lights off the ceiling (to avoid disturbing the bats),” St. Hilaire said.
The cave is closed annually from September through May to provide a secure refuge during the bats’ hibernation period.
Source information: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest (press release)
Public lands are open to all, but research shows not everyone feels equally at home in them. That’s a problem for our national forests, which are managed by public resources that won’t be made available if the public doesn’t understand their needs. And it’s a missed opportunity for Americans who are not aware of, not encouraged to, or who don’t feel empowered to enjoy the incredible recreation opportunities, inspiration, and personal health and well-being that can be found on public lands. That individual disparity adds up to effects on society as a whole, though less public awareness of rural and ecological issues and in less diversity among applications for forestry-related science programs and for natural resources jobs.
This New York Times article talks about the disparities that exist, and how members of some underrepresented communities are seeking to change it.
OLYMPIA, Wash. (May 16, 2019) – The newest member of the team that protects Washington’s waterways from invasive species has quite the ruff routine: Sniff, sit, play!
Starting this spring, Puddles, a 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix, will use her keen sense of smell to help detect quagga and zebra mussel larvae on boats traveling through mandatory watercraft-inspection stations run by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
“Invasive mussels can impact our state’s water quality, power and irrigation systems, wildlife and recreation,” Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council, said. “We all need to work together to prevent invasive mussels from changing our way of life and harming resources we value. In many ways, invasive mussels would change what it means to be a Washingtonian.”
Quagga and zebra mussels can clog piping and mechanical systems of industrial plants, utilities, locks and dams. Researchers estimate that invasive species cost industries, businesses and communities more than $5 billion nationwide over 6 years, and the power industry more than $3 billion.
“We believe Puddles will be a great addition to the Washington invasive species program,” Heidi McMaster, regional invasive species coordinator for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said. The bureau paid for Puddles’ training as part of the Bureau’s fight to keep the Columbia River basin and Washington State free of invasive mussels. “Reclamation is proud to be part of this effort to prevent the introduction of quagga mussels to the Columbia River basin.”
Puddles was initially surrendered to a shelter in Fresno, California where she caught the attention of the Green Dog Project’s “Rescued for a Reason” program. Staff at the Green Dog Project contacted Mussel Dogs, a training program for dogs, and Puddles was trained there.
WDFW Sergeant Pam Taylor spent 2 weeks in California and at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona and Utah training with Puddles for her new assignment.
Puddles is just one of the ways Washington State is working with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and other partners – including the USDA Forest Service – to control and stop the spread of invasive species.
National Forest lands in the Pacific Northwest protect a number of watersheds that provide clean water for drinking and irrigation, as well as hydroelectric power generation and wildlife habitat – all uses that are threatened by invasive species, including quagga and zebra mussels.
How you can help: Clean, Drain, Dry!
The Washington Invasive Species Council asks the public to Clean–Drain–Dry their boats, personal watercraft, and other gear each time they remove their craft or equipment from a body of water.
Some invesive species can hitch a ride on clothes, shoes and boots, boats, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and even fishing poles, pails, and shovels!
Clean: When leaving the water, clean all equipment that touched the water by removing all visible plants, algae, animals and mud. This includes watercraft hulls, trailers, shoes, waders, life vests, engines and other gear.
Drain: Drain any accumulated water from watercraft or gear, including live and transom wells, before leaving the access point to the water. If transporting watercraft, clean and dry everything before transport.
Dry: Once home, let all gear fully dry before using your boat or watercraft it in a different water body. Just draining and letting your watercraft and gear dry may not sufficiently remove some invasive species.
Transporting boats across state lines: Clean, Drain, Dry may not protect local waterways against all potential invasives. If you are bringing a watercraft into Washington for the first time, contact the Washington State aquatic invasive species hotline (1-888-WDFW-AIS) before placing it in the water. Be prepared to provide the state and water body where your watercraft was used, and whether you decontaminated your watercraft before you left that state. In some cases, WDFW will require an intensive decontamination upon entry into Washington, provided at no cost to the owner. Remember that it’s illegal to transport or spread aquatic invasive species and violators can face heavy fines, and even jail time!
Source information: The Washington Invasives Species Council and Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (joint press release).
Mushroom hunting is a hobby for some, and a business opportunity for others. To ensure that mushroom hunting can continue for years to come, land managers must ensure those harvests happen at a sustainable pace.
That’s why the USDA Forest Service requires permits for both commercial and hobbyist mushroom hunters before collecting mushrooms from National Forest System lands.
What permits are required, and how many are available, varies because conditions on forests vary. Even within a single forest, one species of mushroom may be plentiful, while another species must be managed more closely to ensure enough are left for others, and for wildlife.
On many Pacific Northwest forests, a limited quantity of mushrooms can be collected for personal use with a “free use” permit. These permits are issued at no cost to the user, but the permit requirement helps land managers to track harvest activity and monitor conditions in the areas.
Commercial permits allow for larger harvests, and for resale of mushrooms collected on public lands. These permits which are typically more closely managed to reduce the chance of potential land-use conflicts with other commercial users and recreational visitors.
If you have questions about permit requirements for other National Forests, reach out to the district office or visitors center that serves the area you are interested in hunting mushrooms on. You can find links to websites for all National Forests in Washington and Oregon at https://www.fs.usda.gov/contactus/r6/about-region/contactus
If you’re interested in mushroom hunting as a hobby, your local mycological society can be a great resource. You’ll want to learn what mushrooms are safe to eat, which aren’t, and what rules apply to harvesting in the areas where you’ll be hunting. Never eat a mushroom that you cannot positively identify – many poisonous mushrooms closely resemble species that are safe to eat!
Mycological Societies & Mushroom Club websites serving Washington & Oregon:
It’s the size of a 10-week-old kitten, constantly on the move, eats up to 25 percent of its body weight each day, and patrols up to 5 miles daily while hunting for songbirds and other food to fuel this active lifestyle.
The Humboldt marten (Martes caurina humboldtensis), is a subspecies of Pacific marten (M. caurina). It roams the Pacific Northwest’s coastal forests, usually so well hidden by the forest understory that it was believed to be extinct for more than fifty years.
In 1996, that changed when a small population of Pacific martens was discovered in California. The species is threatened by habitat loss as human development leads forests to become more fragmented, various diseases, trapping and vehicle-related mortality.
Yet, efforts to develop strategies for protecting the Pacific marten has struggled in the face of the tiny mustelids’ ability to stay to stay hidden, resulting in a lack of information about the existing population’s size, habits, and habitat needs.
Katie Moriarty, then a postdoctoral research wildlife biologist with the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station, established a new baseline for monitoring and managing Humboldt marten populations in the Pacific Northwest. (Moriarty now works as a senior research scientist with the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement).
She worked with researchers and field crews representing more than half a dozen organizations and agencies to collect information about Pacific marten distributions Oregon and California, conducting what became the largest carnivore survey in Oregon.
Findings from that research confirm that small populations of Humboldt martens persist, but not only in late-sucessional forests as previously thought – but in fewer areas than researchers had hoped.
On Oregon’s central coast, scientists projected that just two to three deaths a year could lead to extinction of small, local populations of Humboldt martens within 30 years.
Pacific Northwest communities have always lived with the risk of wildland fire – but our understanding of how we can manage that risk continues to evolve.
While many Native American tribes used fire as a tool to manage the landscape, the population growth that came with America’s westward expansion shifted land managers’ focus. People living in the west began to prioritize putting out wildland fires before they grew too large, or spread into their communities.
More than a century later, we’ve learned that fire is needed to keep many western ecosystems healthy – from releasing seeds of waxy ponderosa pinecones, to clearing land of invasive vegetation and creating more space for fire-resistant seeds of native grasses and wildflower species to germinate and thrive, providing the ideal food and habitat for many bugs, butterflies, and other wildlife that’s native to the area.
Land managers now know that preventing fires now can lead to more serious, more damaging fires later as more fuel accumulates on the forest floor – incinerating soils that would be enriched by less intense fire, and scorching even mature, thick-barked native trees past the point survival.
Without fire to clear smaller saplings and brush, trees become crowded – deprived of needed sunlight, susceptible to drought, and at greater risk of dying from diseases, parasites, and insect infestations.
In this video, Doug Grafe, fire protection chief for the Oregon Department of Forestry, explains how fuel reduction through active management and through prescribed fire can help with the prevention of catastrophic wildfires.
Source information: USDA Forest Service (via YouTube)
OLYMPIA, Wash. (May 10, 2019) – Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Kelly Susewind, USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen, and Regional Forester Glenn Casamassa today signed a “Shared Stewardship” Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), calling it a model for other states to follow.
The MOU, only the second of its kind in the nation, establishes a framework for Washington state and the USDA Forest Service to work collaboratively toward mutual goals and effectively respond to the increasing suite of challenges facing communities, landscapes, and natural resources across the state. The partnership will work together to improve forest health – a cornerstone of clean water and abundant wildlife habitat – and create exceptional recreational and outdoor opportunities across the state.
“The challenges we face transcend boundaries,” Chief Vicki Christiansen said. “This agreement strengthens and advances an already strong partnership between federal and state agencies in Washington state. Working together, we can ensure that we’re doing the right work at the right scale to improve forest health, reduce wildfire risk, and benefit local communities.”
“Wildfire, forest health, and habitat loss are not issues that respect property lines,” Commissioner Hilary Franz said. “To truly tackle our wildfire and forest health crisis, at the pace and scale this crisis demands, we need a strong partnership between Washington state and the USDA Forest Service. This agreement ensures that our response will be unified, well-coordinated, and deliver maximum benefit for the people.”
“Washington’s fish and wildlife are facing real challenges,” Kelly Susewind, WDFW Director, said. “Large-scale collaborations like this are critical if we are to preserve our native species. It is encouraging to have the state’s three largest landowners come together in this new agreement and work more effectively to promote healthy wildlife and ecosystems in Washington.”
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishes a framework to allow the State of Washington and the USDA Forest Service to collaboratively advance shared priorities, coordinate investments, and implement projects on a landscape scale across Washington.
Under this Shared Stewardship strategy, agencies will focus on forest and watershed restoration projects that improve ecosystem health, reduce wildfire risks, and benefit fish and wildlife habitat, among other priorities.
The “Shared Stewardship” MOU is just the second of its kind in the nation, serving as a model for other states. Idaho was the first state to sign such an agreement (December of 2018).
The MOU builds on strong, existing partnerships, such as the Good Neighbor Authority agreement between DNR and USFS. Signed in 2017, the Good Neighbor Authority allows DNR to conduct forest health work on federal lands. A Good Neighbor Authority agreement with WDFW signed in January this year provides additional opportunities.
The agreement supports Washington state goals and existing plans, such as DNR’s 20-Year Forest Health Strategic Plan, which will restore the health of 1.25 million acres of federal, state, private, and tribal forest.
By working together, the agencies will maximize resources and create the efficiencies needed to return Washington’s forests to health, which is a cornerstone to healthy wildlife habitat and clean water.
This partnership creates a unified voice on issues before Congress and the state Legislature.
The U.S. Postal Service will feature two Pacific Northwest rivers, one in Oregon and one in Washington, on a new Wild and Scenic Rivers “Forever” postage stamp issue scheduled for later this month.
A pane of twelve stamps will be released May 21 that pays tribute to Wild and Scenic Rivers, exceptional streams that run freely through America’s natural landscapes.
Each stamp showcases a different river, and the issue as a whole is designed to highlight the preservation efforts of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which established the federal designation.
Wild and scenic rivers are those deemed remarkable for values including fish and wildlife, geology, recreation and cultural or historical significance, and flow freely through natural settings, and mostly without man-made alterations.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act categorizes designated segments as either wild, scenic or recreational:
Wild rivers are un-dammed, un-polluted and often accessible only by trail.
Scenic rivers may be accessible by roads, in places.
Recreational river areas are readily accessible, may have been dammed or have some shoreline development, but offer exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities such as fishing, boating, and other activities.
Featured rivers include the lower Deschutes River in central Oregon, which runs through the Deschutes National Forest and is recognized as a Wild and Scenic River for its exceptional recreation value.
The Skagit River segment of the Skagit River System, located on the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington State, is also recognized for its recreational value, while the Sauk, Suiattle, and Cascade River segments of the river are designated as scenic under the act.
The more than 200 rivers and river segments designated in the Wild and Scenic Rivers System enrich America’s landscape by providing clean water, places of beauty and sanctuary and habitats for native wildlife.
A “first day of issue ceremony” for the Wild and Scenic Rivers Commemorative Forever stamps will be celebrated at Tumalo State Park in Bend, Oregon on Tuesday, May 21. The ceremony is open to all, with free admission and parking. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP at uspsonlinesolutions.com (https://uspsonlinesolutions.wufoo.com/forms/zggcc90134hohk/). News of the stamp is being shared with the hashtag #WildScenicRiversStamps and #WildRiverStamps.
To purchase stamps after the first day of issue (May 21), visit usps.com/shop, call 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), order by mail through USA Philatelic catalog, or visit Post Office locations nationwide.
COLVILLE, Wash. – Objection resolution meetings regarding the proposed revisions to the Colville National Forest’s Forest Land Management Plan (“Forest Plan”) are scheduled for April 24-26, 2019 in Colville, Wash.
Meetings will take place April 24 and 25, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. each day, at Spokane Community College – Colville; and April 26, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Stevens County Ambulance Training Center.
The meetings are open to the public for observation.
Discussions during the meeting will be opened to eligible objectors (those who filed during the objection-filing period, which closed Nov. 6, 2018) and interested persons granted recognition by the reviewing officer after submitting a letter of interest during the advertised notice period (which closed Nov. 26, 3018). If you believe you have status as an objector or eligible person but have not been notified, or if you have other questions about the forest planning or objections process, contact email@example.com.
The 60-day objection-filing period began on September 8, 2018, after the Forest Service published its legal notice in The Seattle Times, which is the newspaper of record for Regional Forester decisions in the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service in the state of Washington. The objections-filing period closed on November 6, 2018. View submitted objections here.
The Forest Service has published the revised Forest Plan , supported by a Final Environmental Impact Statement. The draft Record of Decision and other supporting documents are available on this website.
The purpose of the revised Forest Plan is to provide an updated framework to guide the management of approximately 1.1 million acres of National Forest System lands in northeastern Washington.
The revised Plan replaces the existing 1988 Plan, addressing changes in local economic, social, and environmental conditions over the past 30 years.
The proposed revision honors the time and energy invested by diverse interests since the plan revision process began in 2004. The Forest Service received 926 letters containing over 2,000 comments regarding the draft EIS in 2016. In response to substantive formal comments, and following further public engagement in 2016-17, the Forest Service modified the preferred alternative (“Alternative P”) to better reflect public input on recommended wilderness, livestock grazing, and recreation.
Before the final decision is made on the revised Forest Plan, the Forest Service follows the requirements of 36 CFR 219.5 for a pre-decisional administrative review, which provides an opportunity for the resolution of objections.
Visit the Objection Reading Room to view eligible objection letters. These letters were received or postmarked by the deadline (November 6, 2018) and met the objection filing requirements. The Reviewing Officer sent a notification letter to each eligible objector to confirm acceptance of their objection for further review.
Eligible objectors have an opportunity to participate in objection-resolution meetings, and will also receive a final written response from the Reviewing Officer after the review is complete.
Written requests for recognition as an interested person (36 CFR 219.57) must meet the requirements and were required to be submitted by 11:59 pm EST on November 26, 2018. (Please see the legal notice in The Seattle Times for more information).
Eligible interested persons who have been granted recognition by the Reviewing Officer will be able to participate in discussions with Objectors and the Reviewing Officer related to issues on the meeting agenda that interested persons have listed in their requests.
The meetings also are also open to observation by the public.
Avian influenza, rabies, mad cow disease, and even chronic wasting disease are animal diseases that make the headlines because of their threat to human health, and the ease in which they spread among animals, regions – even countries. But nongame wildlife diseases are less known.
Although an alert for global amphibian declines began almost 30 years ago, it took another decade for ecologists to realize that diseases were a top threat to amphibians.
Today, the groundwork laid by studying earlier threats may make a difference for hundreds of North American amphibians that could be in danger from an exotic pathogen that is hitchhiking along global trade routes, and may soon appear on this continent.
Learn more about Bd [Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis], the emergence of Bsal [B. salamandrivorans], and the international task force that’s researching this new fungal pathogen – tied to amphibian die-offs in multiple places around the world, and a multispecies disease threat to amphibian biodiversity, including more than 200 likely vulnerable species in North America – and Deanna “Dede” Olson, the Forest Service research ecologist who helped launch a task force dedicated to protecting these amphibians from the Bsal and related threats, in Science Findings #214 (a publication of the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station): https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/sciencef/scifi214.pdf.
Did you know: Bsal and other exotic infections or diseases are most likely to be introduced to a new ecosystem via an infected amphibian or carrier imported as a pet. You can help prevent exotic diseases from spreading by ensuring you purchase pets only from reputable breeders or suppliers, and that they raise only certified disease-free, legally-imported animals. For more information, visitwww.salamanderfungus.org/.