Category Archives: Oregon

Researching ‘birds and bees’ for conifer trees

Douglas fir cone "flowers," Technically, Douglas-fir are not flowering plants, but its young female cones, shown here, are often referred to as “ flowers.” Genetic variation yields “ flowers” of various hues; it also influences the timing of flowering in different populations. Knowing when Douglas-fir are going to flower helps seed orchards have staff ready for the labor-intensive pollination process that yields high-quality Douglas-fir seeds. USDA Forest Service photo by Janet Prevey.

“Timing is everything, especially when it comes to tree sex.”

In the latest Science Findings, researchers from the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station delve into nature versus nurture in conifer reproduction.

To successfully reproduce, conifers, or cone-bearing trees, must have impeccable timing to open their female cones just as pollen is being released from from the male cones of nearby trees.

This timing is a response to temperature and other environmental cues. It is to the tree’s advantage to flower when risk of damaging frost is low, but early enough in the spring to take full advantage of the growing season.

Since Douglas-fir is ecologically important and the cornerstone of Pacific Northwest’s timber industry, seed orchard managers carefully breed different populations of the species to produce seedlings that will thrive in particular areas in need of replanting.

Understanding the environmental cues that influence the timing of flowering is important for predicting how reproduction and survival of trees will change in the future.

To address this need, a team of researchers with the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station developed a model that predicts, within an average of 5 days, when Douglas-fir will flower – which seed orchard managers are already using to plan and schedule time-sensitive tasks related to flowering in the orchards.

Read more in Science Findings #216, available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/58039 (click “view PDF”), or navigate directly to the PDF publication at https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/sciencef/scifi216.pdf.

Past editions of Science Findings are available here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/

To subscribe to Science Findings and other publications from the Pacific Northwest Research Station, click here.


Source information: Josh McDaniel is a science writer based in Colorado. Research by Janet S. Prevey, research ecologist, Connie Harrington, research forester and Brad St. Clair, research geneticist at the Pacific Northwest Research Station. Science Findings is a publication of the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Dog Mountain weekend hiker permits return to CRGNSA for peak season

The view facing west over the Columbia River from Dog Mountain Trail (Forest Service trail #147) in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area May 19, 2017. USDA Forest Service photo.

STEVENSON, Wash. (March 1, 2019) – For the second year, the USDA Forest Service requires permits for visitors interested in hiking Dog Mountain on weekends during peak wildflower season, which began in mid-April and continues through June 16, 2019.

Visitors can obtain permits one of two ways:

Visitors who board the Skamania County West End Transit bus at Skamania Fairgrounds in Stevenson will receive a free permit on arrival at Dog Mountain Trailhead. The shuttle ride costs $1 per person, per trip ($2 round-trip), and seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each permit is good for one individual, on the day it is issued. The shuttle runs every half hour, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through June 16.

Visitors interested in reserving a permit online can submit their request at www.recreation.gov. Dog Mountain hiking permits are offered at no cost, but a $1 per person administrative fee is charged for processing. Visitors parking a vehicle at Dog Mountain Trailhead will also need to pay the recreation site fee of $5 per car for use of the parking area, or present a valid Northwest Forest or interagency federal pass in lieu of the day-use parking permit. Only 250 reservable permits per peak season weekend day are available to limit congestion. Online permits do not guarantee a parking spot, so visitors are encouraged to carpool (or check-out the weekend shuttle service from Skamania Fairgrounds).

The permits are required as part of a partnership between Washington State Department of Transportation, Skamania County, and the Skamania County Chamber of Commerce to protect public safety. The permit program began in 2018, in response to growing safety concerns about congestion and accidents near the Dog Mountain Trailhead.

“Last year’s program was highly successful,” Lynn Burditt, area manager for Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, said, “In fact, many people said they hiked Dog Mountain for the first time last year, because they didn’t have to wake up early to beat crowds into the parking lot.”

Permits will be required for all visitors to the Dog Mountain trail system on Saturdays and Sundays through peak wildflower season (this year, defined as April 20 to June 16), as a measure to prevent congestion at the trailhead by encouraging visitors to take a shuttle.

“We made a few improvements this year – there are more permits available per day, and the administrative fee for online reservations is down to $1 from last year’s cost of $1.50, thanks to a new service provider,” Lorelei Haukness, recreation planner for the scenic area, said.

Dog Mountain Trail System includes both forks of Dog Mountain Trail (#147 and #147C), Dog-Augspurger Tie Trail #147A, and the lower portion of Augspurger Trail #4407.

Each hiker should carry a printed permit or electronic copy of their permit, as Forest Service employees will check for permits at the trailhead.

Back again this year, several businesses in Stevenson will offer discounts to shuttle riders — including Walking Man Brewing, Big River Grill, North Bank Books, Columbia Hardware, and Bits n’ Spurs. Visit Skamania County Chamber of Commerce in Stevenson to learn more about area businesses that are participating.

For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/crgnsa/hikedogmountain or call (541)308-1700.

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area encompasses 292,500 acres of Washington and Oregon, where the Columbia River cuts a spectacular river canyon through the Cascade Mountains. The USDA Forest Service manages National Forest lands in the National Scenic Area and works with the Gorge Commission, states, counties, treaty tribes, and partners to protect and enhance scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Columbia River Gorge while encouraging local economic development consistent with that protection.

Learn more about Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area at www.fs.usda.gov/crgnsa or follow CRGNSA on social media at facebook.com/crgnsa or www.twitter.com/crgnsa.


Source information: The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (press release).

In the news: Study suggests seasonal drainage reduces invasives, boosts salmon migration in Ore. reservoir

Fall Creek wetland, with forests and a rocky mountain peak in the background. Deschutes National Forest; September 9, 1992. USDA Forest Service file photo.

A recent study analyzing more than a decade’s worth of fish migration data suggests the recently-adopted practice of seasonally draining an Oregon reservoir has boosted downstream migration of an endangered salmon species, while flushing two predatory invasive species.

A team of researchers from Oregon State University, USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station, and the Army Corps of Engineers found that juvenile spring chinook salmon raised in Fall Creek Reservoir, located about 30 miles southeast of Eugene, Ore. in the Willamette River basin, registered stronger downstream migrations in the years after the Army Corps of Engineers began draining the reservoir for a brief time, every autumn.

The practice also flushed populations of two invasive species, the largemouth bass and crappie, out of the reservoir – potentially improving survival of future salmon in the system.

Full story, via the Statesman Journal:
https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2019/05/21/fish-salmon-benefit-from-oregon-lake-draining-eliminates-invasive-species/3756561002/

In the News: How to summit Mt. Hood safely

View of Mt. Hood from Timothy Lake with hillside trees and forest in the foreground, Mt Hood National Forest, Jan. 18, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

We talk a lot about the 10 Outdoor Essentials here at Your Northwest Forests, and there’s a reason for it- again and again, we’ve seen that when the unexpected occurs, just a little preparation can make the difference between an uncomfortable experience and a life-threatening emergency.

That goes even more so for technical climbing, such as the increasingly popular snow- and ice- covered climbs approaching the summit of mountains located just beyond the Pacific Northwest’s urban areas, like Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood.

This KGW-TV story, produced with assistance from volunteers from Portland Mountain Rescue, does a great job showing why the mountain appeals to so many – and why such climbs are so dangerous, even when many other visitors seem to be using the same route and summer weather is imminent.

Full story, via KGW.com: https://www.kgw.com/article/news/local/key-safety-tips-for-climbing-mount-hood/283-bd294b2f-8499-4127-9863-dacc1887936e

Mushrooms: Tips for sustainable harvests on National Forest lands

The fungus Morchella angusticeps Peck (Black morels). Photographed in Peace River Area, British Columbia, Canada. Courtesy photo by Johannes Harnisch, used with permission in accordance with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-SA 3.0). All other rights reserved.

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.

Additional info:

Find information about spring, 2019 mushroom season permit requirements in the Blue Mountains (Umatilla, Malheur, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests) at this link:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/malheur/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD627924

For information about spring, 2019 mushroom season permits on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, visit:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/okawen/passes-permits/?cid=STELPRDB5415105&width=full

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

Resources:

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:

North American Mycological Society:
https://www.namyco.org/clubs.php

Oregon Mycological Society:
https://www.wildmushrooms.org/

Willamette Valley Mushroom Society:
https://www.wvmssalem.org/

Cascade Mycological Society:
https://cascademyco.org/

Southwest Washington Mycological Society:
http://swmushrooms.org/

Northwest Mushroomers Association:
https://www.northwestmushroomers.org/

Kitsap Peninsula Mycological Society:
https://kitsapmushrooms.org/

Snohomish County Mycological Society:
http://www.scmsfungi.org/

Olympic Peninsula Mycological Society:
https://olymushroom.org/

Cascade Mycological Society:
https://cascademyco.org/resources-2/

Puget Sound Mycological Society:
https://www.psms.org/links.php

South Sound Mushroom Club:
https://www.southsoundmushroomclub.com/

Yakima Valley Mushroom Society:
http://www.yvms.org/


Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region staff

Tracking the elusive Humboldt marten in coastal Oregon

marten with miniature radio collar

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.

Find out more about this research in Science Findings #215
(a publication of the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station): https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/sciencef/scifi215.pdf.

A marten captured by remote camera along the central coast of Oregon.
A marten captured by remote camera along the central coast of Oregon. With about 30 members in an isolated subpopulation, each marten counts when it comes to keeping the subpopulation from extinction. Courtesy photo by Mark A. Linnell, all rights reserved.

Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station

When fire fights fire: Managing wildland fire risk through prescribed burns, active fire management

A wildland firefighter lights brush using a drip torch during a prescribed fire on the Colville National Forest April 9, 2001. Prescribed fires are typically set during the spring to improve forest health while weather conditions remain cool and the forest is still moist from spring rains, which allows fires to burn more slowly and with less intensity than fires that occur in the hot mid-summer months. USDA Forest Service photo.

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)

New permits to protect wilderness on select Central Oregon trails

A woman hikes past mountain peaks in the Three Sisters Wilderness, Deschutes National Forest, in a Sept. 16, 2016 USDA Forest Service file photo.

BEND, Ore. (May 13, 2019) – The Deschutes and Willamette National Forests will use permits to manage entry at trailheads within three Cascade wilderness areas, beginning the summer of 2020.

Starting next year, from the Friday before Memorial Day weekend through the last Friday in September, wilderness day use permits will be required at 19 of the 79 Forest Service trailheads across Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, and Three Sisters Wilderness areas:

  • Mount Jefferson will have a day use permit system at seven trailheads (32 percent of all trailheads),
  • Mount Washington will have a day use permit system at two trailheads (20 percent of all trailheads) and
  • Three Sisters will have a day use permit system at 10 trailheads (21 percent of all trailheads).

Also during this time frame, overnight use will be managed through a permit system at all 79 trailheads within the three wildernesses.

Waldo Lake and Diamond Peak Wilderness areas will continue to operate with no day use or overnight limits.

For affected trailheads in the Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, and Three Sisters Wilderness areas, some day use and overnight use permits will be available for advance reservations, while others will be retained for issue as next-day or same-day permits.

This permit system is intended to balance the needs of visitors planning trips, as well as visitors making spontaneous visits to wilderness areas, while managing the impacts of increased visitor interest and recreational use at these sites, Tracy Beck, Forest Supervisor, Willamette National Forest, said.

John Allen, Forest Supervisor, Deschutes National Forest, said the changes are needed to “protect the character of these special places for future generations.”

The forests began public outreach regarding the Central Cascades Wilderness Strategy Project in winter, 2016 after experiencing substantial increases in visitation during the previous four years. From 2012 through 2016, visitation to the Three Sisters Wilderness increased by more than 180 percent, with some trailheads experiencing increases between 300 and 500 percent.

The draft environmental analysis was released on April 4, 2018. Several hundred people commented on the draft environmental analysis through public meetings, phone calls, emails and letters.

The draft decision was issued November 14, 2018. Ninety people submitted formal comments on the draft decision.

Forest Supervisors and staff conducted eight meetings with objectors to resolve issues before the final decision was released. The decision can be viewed here: https://tinyurl.com/y27jmjzq.


Source information: Deschutes National Forest, Willamette National Forest (joint press release).

Newberry National Volcanic Monument summer 2019 operating hours announced

A view looking down from a high hillside at Paulina Lake and East Lake on a clear, sunny summer day

BEND, Ore. – May 13, 2019 The Deschutes National Forest has announced 2019 opening dates and summer season hours of operation for several visitor sites at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Lava Lands Visitor Center, Lava Butte, Lava River Cave:

The Lava Lands Visitor Center, Lava Butte and Lava River Cave: are now open to visitors for the 2019 season. Beginning May 3, the visitor center and cave are open Thursday through Monday; Lava Lands Visitor Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Lava River Cave is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (site gate at the Lava River Cave closes at 3:45 p.m.).

On May 23, summer hours begin; both sites will open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily for the rest of the season.

Roads:

Deschutes County Rd. 21, which provides access to the monument’s Newberry Caldera, remains gated at 10 Mile Sno-Park due to winter driving hazards. The gate is currently scheduled to open on May 17. Limited access to recreation sites, boat ramps and trails will continue upon the opening of the caldera, due to snow loading. Recreation fees are required where posted. For more information or updates, visit www.deschutes.org/road.

Forest Service Rd. 9720 to Lava Cast Forest is open, and snow free.

Forest Service Road 500 to Paulina Peak is closed; opening date to be determined based on snowmelt (typically end of June to early July).

Lava Butte Shuttle Service: The Lava Butte Shuttle will operate on Memorial Day weekend, then daily from June 15 – Sept. 2. (Lava Butte is open to passenger vehicles when Lava Lands Visitor Center is open and the shuttle is not running).

Paulina Visitor Center: The Paulina Visitor Center is open weekends from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., beginning May 25. The center offers monument information, orientations, and a Discover Your Northwest bookstore.

Campgrounds:

  • Forest Service campgrounds in the caldera area will re-open as conditions permit (tentatively, May 24-June 12), for first-come, first-served camping.
  • Reservations open June 13 for the Little Crater, East Lake, Paulina and Newberry Group campgrounds.
  • Chief Paulina and Cinder Hill campgrounds are have delayed openings due to an ongoing tree removal project, and are tentatively scheduled to re-open June 27 and Aug. 1, respectively.

For more information about Newberry National Volcanic Monument, visit: www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/deschutes/recarea/?recid=66159.


Source information: USDA Forest Service – Deschutes National Forest (press release)

New US Postal Service stamps to feature Pacific NW Wild & Scenic Rivers

The U.S. Postal Service will release a new issue of 12 wild and scenic river Forever stamps May 21, 2019. Two of the stamps feature Pacific Northwest rivers, the Deschutes River, which flows through the Deschutes National Forest in central Oregon, and the Skagit River, which flows through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington State. A dedication ceremony is scheduled for the first day of issue at 11 a.m. in Tumelo State Park in Bend OR. USPS image.

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.

For more information

America’s Wild and Scenic River system: https://rivers.gov/.

Wild and Scenic River Commemorative Stamps issue: https://about.usps.com/newsroom/national-releases/2019/0419-new-stamps-spotlight-the-natural-beauty-of-americas-rivers.htm.

Day of Issue dedication ceremony – May 21, 11 a.m. at Tumelo Park; Bend Ore.: https://about.usps.com/newsroom/national-releases/2019/0419-new-stamps-spotlight-the-natural-beauty-of-americas-rivers.htm.

The U.S. Postal Service will release a new issue of 12 wild and scenic river Forever stamps May 21, 2019. Two of the stamps feature Pacific Northwest rivers, the Deschutes River, which flows through the Deschutes National Forest in central Oregon, and the Skagit River, which flows through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington State. A dedication ceremony is scheduled for the first day of issue at 11 a.m. in Tumelo State Park in Bend OR. USPS image.
The U.S. Postal Service will release a new issue of 12 wild and scenic river Forever stamps May 21, 2019. Two of the stamps feature Pacific Northwest rivers, the Deschutes River, which flows through the Deschutes National Forest in central Oregon, and the Skagit River, which flows through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington State. A dedication ceremony is scheduled for the first day of issue at 11 a.m. in Tumelo State Park in Bend OR. USPS image.

Source information: U.S. Postal Service press release: https://about.usps.com/newsroom/national-releases/2019/0419-new-stamps-spotlight-the-natural-beauty-of-americas-rivers.htm.

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