The USDA Forest Service’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest staffers team up with colleagues from the National Park Service to host an event for national Get Outdoors Day at Fort Vancouver, Wash. each year.
Get Outdoors Day has evolved into a major community event, with visitors from throughout the greater Portland, Ore. and Vancouver, Wash. metro area and partners from local organizations, businesses, government partners, and even historical re-enactors, all working together to encourage and inspire members of the public to “GO” – Get Outdoors – and explore!
The 2019 National Get Outdoors Day was also a fee-free day on National Forests in Washington and Oregon.
Fee-free days offer no-cost access to Forest Service -managed trail heads and recreation sites, in an effort to encourage outdoors experiences and ensure all Americans have opportunities to access and enjoy recreation opportunities on their public lands.
USDA Forest Service -designated -fee-free days may not extend to some vendor, or concessionaire, -managed sites, or to sites managed by other federal agencies.
Gallery: Photos from the Get Outdoors Day event, hosted by the USDA Forest Service – Gifford Pinchot National Forest and National Parks Service – Fort Vancouver June 8, 2019 at the fort, located in Vancouver, Wash.
USDA Forest Service photos provided by Gala Miller and Heather Ibsen, Gifford Pinchot National Forest staff
VANCOUVER, Wash.(June 13, 2019) — The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is seeking proposals for a concessionaire to provide high-quality public services in the operations and maintenance of 33 campgrounds, group camps, and associated recreation sites on the forest. Recreation sites being offered in this prospectus are located on the Cowlitz Valley, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams Ranger Districts.
Applicants are encouraged to consider new ways to enhance user experiences at existing campgrounds. This could include interpretative services, campfire talks, concession-owned yurts, cabins or other overnight camping options, to name a few.
The Gifford Pinchot
National Forest provides a broad range of quality recreational opportunities
and experiences for visitors around the world. The concession program
represents one means of delivering recreation opportunities to the public and
providing business opportunities to those interested in managing recreation
sites on the forest.
Applications must be received by the forest no later than Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019 at 5 p.m. Anyone interested in this opportunity is encouraged to apply. For questions about the prospectus, contact Debbie Terrion, forest special uses coordinator, at (360) 891-5175 or email@example.com.
Source information: Gifford Pinchot National Forest (press release)
VANCOUVER, Wash.(June 3, 2019) — What would you do with 24,600 square feet and a view of one of America’s most powerful and dynamic landscapes?
Gifford Pinchot National Forest recently released a “Request for Expressions of Interest” from individuals, organizations and companies with a vision for the facility currently in use as the Coldwater Visitor Center on Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
The center was built in 1993, and is located seven miles from Johnston Ridge Observatory, the primary Forest Service visitor center at Mount St. Helens, and is located approximately 45 miles from Interstate 5.
The building boasts spacious atriums with peaked roofs and skylights that both reflect and capture the mountain peaks beyond, a large commercial kitchen, small theater, exhibit areas, dining terrace, and gift shop among its amenities, and is currently used to host educational programming offered by the Mount St. Helens Institute.
But the building also costs $23,000 per year to operate, and $110,000 per year in maintenance expenses, and an estimated $3.3. million is needed to catch up on deferred maintenance needs.
The request, or RFEI, is part of the forest and the monument’s sustainable recreation initiative, an effort to build a high-quality, sustainable recreation program.
Throughout the Forest Service, officials are evaluating existing facilities and infrastructure and re-organizing to ensure forests are managing a sustainable number of sites to a high standard, rather than juggling a large number of sites in poor condition that do not meet safety or sanitation standards.
The agency’s goal is to explore creative options to develop community-based solutions for future management of some facilities, and to identify infrastructure that is no longer needed by the agency or the community.
Forest officials said at this stage, they are not looking for a finished proposal – but they are interested in exploring possible options for the site with entities interested in partnering with the forest to make use of the site.
Proposals could include public, non-profit, private or commercial uses in the existing facility, or demolishing the current structure and building something completely new on the site, Heather Ibsen, a forest spokesperson, said.
Coldwater Visitor Center overlooks Mount St. Helens and is located within the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument area. The center serves thousands of visitors to the monument every year, hosts programming for the Mount St. Helens Institute.
Built in 1993, the structure is located 7 miles from Johnston Ridge Observatory, the primary Forest Service visitor center at Mount St. Helens, and 45 miles from Interstate 5.
Anyone interested in proposing a new use for the space should submit:
A cover letter expressing your interest which includes your name, company or organization, and contact information (phone, address, email address).
An explanation of your concept, including the type of use proposed, and how this use supports the purpose and mission of the Monument and the Forest Service. This section should also include a description of planned improvements and any additional information or considerations relevant to your concept or experience.
Business and financial considerations: Address the nature or any partnerships proposed, including the roles and responsibilities of each entity in the proposed use. Describe the cost of planned improvements and your funding source. (Note: If a permit is issued, a fee will likely be charged. The fee can be for items such as covering the cost of administering the permit, functioning in lieu of rent, or funding a share of building maintenance. Proposals should not be contingent upon the availability of Forest Service funds).
Proposals are due no later than July 31, 2019. The Forest Service will host a site visit June 25, 2019 for interested parties who would like to tour the entire Coldwater Visitor Center facility. To RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org by June 18, 2019.
To submit your concept, provide both a paper copy and an electronic copy on USB flash drive (jump drive). Submissions should be mailed or hand-delivered to: Mount St. Helens NVM (attn: RFEI); 42218 NE Yale Bridge Rd., Amboy WA 98601.
The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the globe. Created by Congress after the 1980 eruption that radically transformed the landscape, the Monument protects the scientific, geologic, and ecological resources surrounding the volcano. Nearly 40 years later, scientists still continue to study this area to learn more about volcanic activity and how landscapes recover from disaster.
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)
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.
This year Smokey will celebrate 75 years at the forefront of the Forest Service’s wildfire prevention campaign. To commemorate Smokey’s contributions to the U.S. Forest Service and wildfire prevention, replicas of historic portraits by artist Rudolph Wendelin will travel to National Forests across the country throughout 2019.
Wendelin created hundreds of Smokey representations that highlighted natural resource conservation and wildfire prevention.
Under his direction, Smokey assumed the softer human features, ranger’s hat, jeans and shovel for which he is best known.
The touring exhibit consists of replicas provided by the National Agricultural Library.
The replicas are on display at the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest’s Mt. Baker Ranger District offices from June 3-16, 2019 during regular office hours. Address: 810 WA Route 20, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284.
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.
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.
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.
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:
COLVILLE, Wash. (March 4, 2019) – Summer promises exciting new recreation opportunities on the Colville National Forest, as the Mill Pond Historic Site and Campground reopens after a two-year closure.
This site has been closed since July of 201,7 when construction began to remove Mill Pond Dam and restore surrounding habitat.
The campground is scheduled to reopen before Memorial Day, with 10 upgraded campsites, including new food storage lockers, and major improvements to roads, parking, signage, and bathroom facilities to better support visitors’ outdoor experiences.
The Mill Pond Historic day use site and a new trail system are expected to re-open by June 27, 2019.
The project is being performed by Seattle City Light on the Colville National Forest, as required by the Settlement Agreement for the Boundary Hydroelectric Facility License issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2013.
The log crib dam that formed Mill Pond was constructed in 1909 by the Inland Portland Cement Company, and was replaced by a concrete dam in 1921, but had not been used for electricity generation in many years. Seattle City Light agreed to perform the removal work as part of an agreement to re-license a different dam.
Two new loop trail systems will be available around the old pond site, including two footbridges spanning the old dam site and the upstream channel. The new trails connect to about three miles of existing trail in the area.
The Mill Pond Historic Site day use area will also be renovated with a large new picnic pavilion, which includes a community fireplace, new picnic tables, and accessible parking.
New interpretative signs and kiosks that tell the history of the site will be installed by late fall of 2019.
Visitors to the area will find the landscape of the old pond site has been transformed during the closure. Most of the sediment in the pond was flushed downstream with strong Sullivan Creek flows in the spring of 2018, exposing the pre-dam ground surface of the Sullivan Creek floodplain.
Throughout the summer and fall of 2018, a natural riverine ecosystem was shaped with multi-thread stream channels and extensive logjams to provide high quality fish habitat and spawning areas.
During the fall, thousands of locally sourced shrubs, trees, and grasses were planted in five different planting zones around the old pond site.
As warmer weather sets in this spring, the site will begin greening up and the final steps of the site restoration will be complete.
For more information on the Mill Pond Dam Removal and Habitat Restoration project, visit www.millponddam.com.