Message from Tami Miketa, Manager of the Small Forest Landowner Office — This Spring, Try Forest Bathing to Decrease Stress

Trillium flowers in a spring forest. (Tami Miketa / DNR)
Tami Miketa


As I sit here at my desk and look out my window, I see fresh buds coming out on my garden plants, the forsythia is blooming, and the crocuses are pushing their way up out of the ground. Nevertheless, it is still so cold outside! Other sure signs that spring is on the way for me are the return of the swallows swooping overhead and the trillium blooming along the forest floor. A few weeks ago, I was on an assistance site visit to a small forest landowner’s property on a beautiful piece of land near Shelton . Located along Cranberry Lake, a wooden boardwalk crosses over some beautiful wetland areas. As I was looking down at the water, I saw hundreds and hundreds of flies that had just hatched (yes, that seemed early for me too!). When I looked up in the sky I also saw hundreds of swallows circling over the wetland snatching up as many of those flies as they could! What a sight it was! Full spring is just around the corner!

As spring comes upon us, as forest landowners, we all know how good being in nature can make us feel. The sounds of the forest, the scent of the trees, the sunlight playing through the leaves, the fresh, clean air — these things give us a sense of comfort. They ease our stress and worry, help us to relax and to think more clearly. Being in nature can restore our mood, give us back our energy and vitality, and refresh and rejuvenate us. What exactly is this feeling that is so hard to put into words?

In Japan, they practice something called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku. Shinrin in Japanese means, “forest,” and yoku means, “bath.” So, shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses. This is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.

Forest bathing in nature allows the stressed portions of your brain to relax. Positive hormones are released in the body. You feel less sad, angry and anxious. It helps to avoid stress and burnout, and aids in fighting depression and anxiety. A forest bath is known to boost immunity and leads to fewer days of illness as well as faster recovery from injury or surgery. Nature has a positive effect on our mind as well as body. It improves heart and lung health, and increases focus, concentration, and memory.

Certain trees like conifers also emit oils and compounds to safeguard themselves from microbes and pathogens. These molecules known as phytoncides are good for our immunity too. Breathing in the forest air boosts the level of natural killer (NK) cells in our blood. NK cells are used in our body to fight infections, cancers and tumors. So spending time with these trees is a special form of tree bathing. Most important is the size of the forest. The larger the forest, the more phytoncides and the better the results . Much of the health benefits are described collectively in the book Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness by Dr. Qing LI, chair of the Japanese Society for Forest Medicine.

So how does forest bathing work?  First, find a spot. Make sure you leave your phone and camera behind — you do not need any devices. Instead, you are savoring the sounds, smells and sights of nature and letting the forest in. Listen to the birds singing and the breeze rustling in the leaves of the trees. Look at the different greens of the trees and the sunlight filtering through the branches. Take a deep breath. Smell the fragrance of the forest and breathe in the natural aromatherapy. Taste the freshness of the air as you take those deep breaths. Place your hands on the trunk of a tree. Dip your fingers or toes in a stream. Lie on the ground. Drink in the flavor of the forest and release your sense of joy and calm. Now you have connected with nature, and as a small forest landowner has always known, you have crossed the bridge to happiness  I know that small forest landowners value their forests similarly and personally experienced forest bathing, whether or not you call it that. I found reading about the research behind forest bathing affirming and inspiring to do it more myself, and I encourage you to take the time to relate with your forest in this way in addition to all the other ways you value your forestland.

In this newsletter, we continue a spring theme with articles on frogs, getting out into your woods with photopoint monitoring, and joining others at a variety of upcoming educational events statewide. Our forest entomologist and pathologist will discuss the results of Washington’s recent Forest Health Highlights report and communications staff will outline the Western Washington expansion of the, Wildfire Ready Neighbors program. We are also excited to feature Washington Farm Forestry Association (WFFA) and Executive Director Elaine Oneil’s article on the new Carbon Workgroup established by recent Climate Commitment Act legislation to pursue carbon-offset projects for small forestland owners.

Dan Pomerenk cropped
Dan Pomerenk

As we move into springtime, DNR service program staff will be out and about assisting forest landowners. We wanted to take this opportunity to highlight one of those staff, Dan Pomerenk, who is retiring after more than four decades of public service with DNR, the past 21 years working directly with small forest landowners protecting natural resources as the Forestry Riparian Conservation Easement Program Manager. Please join me in wishing him the very best in his retirement years.

Our Amazing Little ‘Kermit:’ the Pacific Tree (or Chorus) Frog


San Juan island dark phase Pacific tree frog (Ken Bevis, DNR)
Pacific Tree Frog. (Photo by Noelle Nordstrom)

By Ken Bevis, Stewardship Wildlife Biologist, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and Dr. Corey Straub, Associate professor of Biology, Ursinus College, cstraub@ursinus.ed.

It is early spring, and in many fortunate places near ponds, puddles and wetlands across Washington, voices of our small native frog ring all around. The song is both joyous and sometimes deafening! It is a crisp, “ribbit,” with many joining into the occasionally synchronized chorus. In spring, male Pseudacris regilla, inflate sacs on their lower jaw, and sing to attract mates around the edges of open water. They defend their tiny singing territories (about 30 square inches according to one study) and hush when a prospective female arrives. They then quietly mate. Eggs are laid in water and attached to or under vegetation. This remarkable critter is the most widespread frog in the Pacific Northwest, occurring across many habitats and elevations. They are a very adaptable amphibian.

Amphibian egg mass from shallow pond. (Ken Bevis, DNR)

They are small — with adults measuring only 2 or 3 inches in length, and a formidable almost 1 inch tall. They can tolerate a wide range of conditions, including dry forests, and travel to upland sites when not breeding. Tree frogs, like all frogs, undergo the miracle of metamorphosis, whereby the herbivorous, swimming tadpole, changes into a carnivorous, legged predatory adult frog. They can live five or more years!

These little critters are voracious predators too, eating a wide variety of insects and various invertebrates (including slugs), usually swallowing their prey whole. They capture prey using their long flashing, sticky tongue and quick strong jaws. They are also prey for a wide variety of predators, including garter snakes, kingfishers, great blue herons and even some owls.

Recognizable by the distinctive black eye stripe, they come in a variety of colors, but mostly either brown gray, or green (sometimes a strikingly bright green!). I heard these frogs change color to match their environment, so I reached out to my friend, Dr. Corey Straub, who studied them for his Master’s Thesis, and asked. He sent me this wonderful short essay answering the question: Do Pacific tree frogs change color? And how?

“Pacific Tree Frog Coloration”

By Dr. Corey Straub

One of the more interesting features of Pacific tree frogs is their body color. In a single population, green, brown, and gray frogs often coexist. In rare cases, reddish and even blue frogs have been observed. Species with color polymorphisms (poly = multiple, morph = form) raise lots of interesting questions for biologists. What is the function of body color? Why does it vary among individuals? Can individuals change their body color?

Body color can serve multiple functions, but the one that has received the most attention in Pacific tree frogs is protection from predators. Cryptically colored (or camouflaged) frogs are harder to see, and studies have shown that Pacific tree frogs are less likely to be eaten by snakes and birds when they are resting on a background that matches their body color. In nature, green, brown and gray backgrounds are provided by leaves, soil and tree bark. While all three colors can be found in the same habitat, seasonal changes in the amount of green vegetation are a regular feature of the frogs’ environment. The frogs emerge from their overwintering refuges to find a largely gray and brown world that becomes increasingly green as spring unfolds into summer. Researchers have observed that the relative abundance of green color morphs increases with the abundance of green vegetation, and vice versa. Thus, hungry predators and variation in environmental color (across space and time) appear to work together to favor color polymorphism in the Pacific tree frog.

Interestingly, the Pacific tree frog has two different strategies for blending in. Some frogs change their body color, while others are careful about where they rest. Color-changers will turn green (or stay that way) in response to brighter environments, perhaps because bright light and green leaves are associated in nature. The change from one color morph to another takes days-to-weeks (a rate that true chameleons would consider laughable) and only some individuals are capable of it. Non-changing green and brown frogs appear to compensate for their stubborn skin by choosing the right place to rest. These frogs select backgrounds that match their body color when given a choice, an adaptive behavior that their color-changing counterparts seem to lack.

Pacific tree frog breeding habitat. Western WA near Chehalis. (Ken Bevis/DNR)

We find tree frogs under the barbeque cover and in potted plants on our porch in the dry Methow Valley every year! Where do they winter? According to the Deschutes Land Trust, they “seek out deep cracks and crevices in logs or rocks, or burrow as deep as they can in leaf litter” to hibernate. And they will move long distances to find good habitats.

According to one source, Pacific tree frogs were one of the only vertebrate species to survive in the Mt. Saint Helen’s blast zone!

Numbers of amphibians globally are declining and of great concern. However, our little frog seems to be doing okay, and we get to enjoy their singing and delightful presence on our small forest lands! What a cool little critter. Appreciate the next one you meet.

Send me a photo of your favorite tree frog.


Morey, S. R. 1990.  Microhabitat selection and predation in the Pacific treefrog, Pseudacris regillaJournal of Herperptology., 24: 292-296.

Resnick, L. E., and Jameson, D. L.  1963.  Color polymorphism in Pacific tree frogs. Science, 142: 1081-1083.

Straub, C. S. 2001. Environmental color tracking by the pacific chorus frog, Pseudacris regilla (Masters Thesis, Central Washington University).

Tordoff, W.  1980.  Selective predation of gray jays, Perisoreus canadensis, uponboreal chorus frogs, Pseudacris triseriataEvolution, 34: 1004-1008.

Wente, W. H., and Phillips, J. B.  2003.  Fixed green and brown color morphs and a novel color-changing morph of the pacific tree frog Hyla regilla. Am. Nat., 162: 461-473.

Wente, W. H., and Phillips, J. B.  2005a.  Microhabitat selection by the Pacific treefrog, Hyla regilla. Anim. Behav., 70: 279-287.

Wente, W. H., and Phillips, J. B.  2005b.  Seasonal color change in a population of Pacific treefrogs (Pseudacris regilla). J. Herp., 39: 161-165.

Wild Apricot: Web publication. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

Photopoint Monitoring: A Simple and Effective Tool

The road, Douglas fir, and a GPS point were used to mark this point. This photo was taken pretreatment. (Rachel Mazzacavallo, DNR)

By Rachel Mazzacavallo, DNR Service Forestry Coordinator,

Do you monitor your forestland? If you take routine strolls around your property, the answer is yes! Every time you take a walk around your property, your visual observations are part of your own micro-monitoring effort. What if I told you, you are one step away from turning your enjoyable strolls into a valuable management activity? All that is missing is a visual record. Photopoint monitoring is a simple and effective way to use an organized series of photos to capture change over a given period of time. All that you need to do is strategically choose a location- or several, take a photo, file it, and re-measure at the interval that meets your goals. Photopoints can help you make informed management decisions, pass local knowledge to the next stewards, or even settle an argument about, “what was there,” with your spouse. So, as the weather improves and you begin to venture out more, start to consider what location would be a good spot to establish a photopoint. Despite what it can teach us, this type of monitoring is often overlooked in small private forestland, so grab your camera and head to the woods!

Basic steps of photo point monitoring:

  • Select a location

Choose a good vantage point. Some areas that provide good locations for photopoints are along trails, roads, natural openings, on side slopes, and in locations that have no close visual obstructions. Identify a distinct, fixed object, such as a unique tree or a landscape feature, to frame within your photo. This will be used to relocate your point and improve the precision of your re-measurement photos. Mark the location on a map, with a GPS, or on the ground with a monument such as a small metal stake, changing pin, or rebar with flagging. If you do use flagging, use a sharpie to write on the flagging the point number and photo direction.

  • Determine the re-measurement interval

While you do not need to re-measure your points every year, you do want to revisit them often enough that you are capturing the visual changes of your forest over time. If you are planning to implement a management activity, you should plan on measuring the point before implementation and soon after completion.

  • Organize

Do not discount the importance of keeping your files organized. Plan to keep a digital copy or a hard copy. Use whatever storage method is easiest for you to follow through with consistently.

This photo was taken post treatment. (Rachel Mazzacavallo, DNR)

Tips for photo storage:

  • Keep them in a file on your computer, preferably in the same folder as your forest management plan. I suggest creating a photopoint folder with subfolders for each year you re-measure the point.
  • Name each picture with the location or a plot number.
  • Keep a plot card with the date, the photopoint number name, and the cardinal direction you are facing or place a placard in the corner of each picture with this information.

And lastly, when you update your forest management plan, add monitoring as one of your management activities!

Spring and Getting Out for Outreach

A sawmill demonstration at the 2022 Forest and Range Owners Field Day in Chewelah. (Kelsey Ketcheson, DNR)

By Holly Haley, Community Outreach and Environmental Education Specialist, DNR Small Forest Landowner Office,

As the community outreach and environmental education specialist for DNR’s Small Forest Landowner Office, my work is to get the word out about technical and financial assistance programs available to landowners for their forest management needs. Whether on the phone, through email, virtually by video, or in-person, I get to meet and talk to many landowners and work in partnership with a variety of forestry service partners, statewide. When I started this position, coming off the height of the pandemic, most educational outreach was not in person. That all started to change last spring, and although I enjoy all forms of communication, there is something special about engaging in person for dialogue, and for making those personable connections that build good working relationships and community together. Whether at a Washington Farm Forestry Association chapter meeting, a Washington Conservation District native plant sale, a Washington Tree Farm Program tree farm tour, or Washington State University Extension Forestry seminar, it has been wonderful to get out about again.  Therefore, this spring, I am looking forward to even more in-person outreach opportunities and getting outdoors and in the woods with you too. In fact, my favorite part of the calendar year of education outreach events is coming up, forest owner field days! That is when many forestry service partners and forest landowners get together in the woods for a full day, sharing our passion and learning with each other.

Washington State Extension Forestry will host two forest owner field days in June, one in Eastern Washington and one in Western Washington. Field days are an out-in-the-woods educational events where forest owners can learn about forest management strategies and emerging issues and connect with experts and services to help meet their objectives. These events feature a rotation of forestry classes taught by experts from around the Pacific Northwest. Each field day will offer classes on a variety of topics including forest health, wildlife habitat enhancement and management, thinning and pruning, wildfire risk reduction, noxious weed control, and landowner assistance programs. It is also a great opportunity to network with other landowners and connect with your local foresters and other professionals that can assist you on your property.

DNR forest entomologist Glenn Kohler leads a class about forest health during 2022 Forest and Range Owners Field Day in Chewelah.

The Western Washington Forest Owners Field Day will be held on Saturday, June 10 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the University of Washington’s Pack Forest in Eatonville.

The Eastern Washington Forest and Range Owners Field Day will be held on Saturday, June 24 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kalispel Tribe’s Indian Creek Community Forest in Newport.

You will find information on registering for these outreach education events and many others in this newsletter’s section about Upcoming Events.

I continue to explore ways to get the word out about DNR and other service programs available to forest landowners, including experimenting this summer with staffing a forestry booth at county and state fairs! If you have an organization gathering or event where you would like to feature outreach about DNR’s small forest landowners service programs, please let me know and we can try to arrange myself or other DNR staff to join you in person or virtually! In fact, a small forest landowner who read last spring’s edition of this newsletter, where I first introduced this new outreach role, invited me to join their Lewis County Master Gardner’s event this weekend!

Enjoy this newsletter’s upcoming events section and thanks letting me know if you have a relevant event you think would be valuable to post in the next newsletter, Forest Stewardship Notes, coming out in June. Happy spring for now!

Upcoming Events, Classes, and Workshops

Blooming osoberry on a recent sunny spring day. (Holly Haley, DNR)


What’s Happening with Sudden Oak Death

April 11 – April 18, 2023
4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Participants in this free webinar will learn what sudden oak death is, how it spreads, symptoms to watch out for, the treatment approach, sampling and detection strategies, current research and citizen science opportunities.

Emerald Ash Borer Webinar
April 26, 2023
1 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Presented by Dr. Kevin Zobrist with Washington State University Extension Forestry, this free webinar will focus on properly identifying both the beetle and symptoms on trees.  Dr. Zobrist will discuss the implications for Washington forests and wetlands, management options, and what to expect in the coming years. Register online by 8 a.m. the day of the webinar.

What the Old Forest Taught Us: Forest Stewardship in the 21st Century
May 3, 2023
7 p.m. – 8 p.m.
The University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) hosts Dr. Jerry Franklin, SEFS Emeritus Professor, as the 2023 Sustaining Our World Speaker. Dr. Franklin will present, “What the Old Forests Taught Us: Forest Stewardship in the 21st Century,” and a short Q&A will be held after the presentation. The event takes place at Kane Hall at the UW’s Seattle campus and is offered online or in person. RSVP online.

Birds of the Willamette Valley
May 18, 2023
7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
During this free Oregon State University Extension Master Naturalist Program webinar, zoologist Dr. Ivan Phillipsen will present about the wonderful diversity of bird species found across the Willamette Valley Ecoregion. In addition to exploring the avian fauna of several major habitats, including prairies, wetlands, riparian forests, and oak woodlands, discussion will include their ecological importance and some key conservation issues.


Stewarding a Climate-Resilient Forest West of the Cascades-Chimacum, WA
April 29, 2023
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
At this free workshop in Jefferson Land Trust’s Valley View Forest, professional foresters will introduce forest owners to a set of simple, hands-on strategies for increasing their forests’ resilience in the face of a warmer and drier climate. Discussion topics include ecological risks facing Jefferson County forests due to wildfire, drought, disease, and insect infestation, how to evaluate the current health of a forest based on desired future conditions, and how forest owners can use woody biomass to create wildlife habitat structures such as constructed logs, snags, and habitat piles.

Field Days

Washington State Extension Forestry will host two forest owner field days in June, one in Eastern Washington and one in Western Washington. These events feature a rotation of forestry classes taught by experts from around the Pacific Northwest. Field days are an out-in-the-woods educational event where forest owners can learn about forest management strategies and emerging issues and connect with experts and services to help meet their objectives. Each field day will offer classes on a variety of topics including forest health, wildlife habitat enhancement and management, thinning and pruning, wildfire risk reduction, noxious weed control, and landowner assistance programs. It is also a great opportunity to network with other landowners and connect with your local foresters and other professionals that can assist you on your property.

2023 Western Washington Forest Owners’ Field Day

June 10, 2023
8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
This event will be held at the University of Washington’s Pack Forest in Eatonville, WA.
Registration for this event is open now. Please visit 2023 Western Washington Forestry Field Day to register and learn more.

2023 Eastern Washington Forest and Range Owners Field DayJune 24 2023
8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
This event will be held at the Kalispel Tribe’s Indian Creek Community Forest in Newport, WA.
Registration for this event will open in May; check the website for more information.

Other Events

The 2023 Olympic Experimental State Forest Science Conference

May 3, 2023
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) annual update on scientific research and monitoring in the Olympic Experimental State Forest (OESF). OESF is comprised of 270,000 acres of state lands designated in the early 1990s with the intent to study how to integrate revenue production from timber harvests with ecological values such as habitat conservation. Oral presentations, a poster session, panel discussions, demonstrations of less familiar field monitoring equipment, and more. This conference is free and open to the public but registration is required.

2023 Washington State Society of American Foresters Annual Meeting

May 3-5, 2023
La Conner
This in-person annual meeting will include speaker presentations on forest health, climate resilience strategies, tribal cultural uses, carbon projects, current research in fire ecology and post-fire regeneration, and forestry in youth education.  Two field trip options will allow participants to see a range of forest management and related activities.

2023 Washington Farm Forestry (WFFA) Annual Meeting

May 21 – 23

  • Sunday, May 21 – Field Tour and Luncheon Meal, Hama Hama Tree Farm, Lilliwaup, WA
  • Monday, May 22 – 2023 Annual Meeting including WTFP 2023 Tree Farmer of the Year Award Luncheon and Annual Business Meeting, Olympia, WA
  • Tuesday, May 23 – Executive Board Meeting, Olympia, WA

The WFFA celebrates 70 years since incorporated as an organization. Come enjoy the fellowship of your fellow tree farmers and learn more about forestry and small forestland management.

Forest Health Highlights – an Annual Summary of Insect and Disease Activity in Washington

A bigleaf maple tree with sooty bark disease signs (sunken black fungal mats) were sampled as part of the summer 2022 survey. (Photo by Rachel Brooks / DNR)

By Glenn Kohler, Forest Entomologist, and Rachel Brooks, Forest Pathologist, Washington DNR,,

Every spring, the Washington Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Forest Service publish a Forest Health Highlights report that summarizes forest health conditions and trends across Washington from the previous year. The 2022 report and previous year’s reports are available on DNR’s Forest Health website.

Information for the report is gathered through annual monitoring projects and special surveys in response to recent forest damage events that are conducted by DNR and the Forest Service. Examples include an annual aerial survey, insect trapping, baiting streams for the pathogen that causes sudden oak death, and installing ground plots to monitor emerging forest health issues, such as emerald ash borer and sooty bark disease of maple. The report also includes information on long-term field research plots, such as evaluation of white pine blister rust resistance in outplanted trees established at sites throughout Washington.

In addition, the report summarizes recent wildfire activity, weather events and drought conditions that may affect forest health, and updates on forest health initiatives such as Washington’s Forest Action Plan. Maps, charts, photos, and brief descriptions make much of the information in the report accessible at a glance. For those who want more detail, it includes links to other resources like maps and data and the contact information of forest health specialists.

Notable forest health condition events in 2022:

An emerald ash borer.
  • The June 2022 detection of emerald ash borer (EAB) in the northwest Oregon city of Forest Grove increases the potential of this serious, non-native, forest insect pest moving into Washington. The small, metallic green, wood-boring beetle attacks and kills true ash trees (Fraxinus species). EAB has killed over 100 million ash trees in eastern North America since its original introduction to Michigan in 2002. Since then, it has spread to 36 states and moved gradually westward. An EAB infestation could devastate the ash component of Washington’s forests, as well as sensitive riparian areas where the native Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia) is a keystone species. Infestations of ornamental ash in urban forests will result in very costly removal and replacement.The public is encouraged to report suspected EAB sightings or damage to ash trees. In Washington State, report a sighting at
  • Swiss needle cast aerial and ground surveys indicate no consequential change. Aerial observers conducted a Swiss needle cast aerial survey in May 2022, covering 2 million acres along and near the coastline. Approximately 115,000 acres with symptoms were observed. To support the aerial survey, 96 ground locations across the same coastal range of the aerial survey were assessed in spring 2021 and 2022. Additionally, during the same time period, 32 ground plots were surveyed in Whatcom and Skagit counties in an area where monitoring had not occurred before.
  • The fungus Cryptostroma corticale, which causes sooty bark disease of maples in Europe, continues to be detected in Washington. Initially, this fungus was detected mainly around the Seattle area, but now samples have been found as far north as Bellingham, south into Oregon, and as far east as Pullman. These samples have confirmed the presence of corticale mainly on maple trees (Acer spp.), including on bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), our only native canopy maple. A 2022 ground survey of 50 Western Washington properties indicates that C. corticale on bigleaf maple appears well distributed throughout Western Washington.
  • No notable changes regarding Phytophthora ramorum, the causal agent of sudden oak death, were observed in 2022. ramorum is often found in streams associated with commercial plant nursery trade activity, but there has yet to be any indication that the pathogen is leaving the waterways and impacting bordering vegetation. No stream-baiting sampling locations tested positive for Phytophthora ramorum in 2022.
  • The area with mortality caused by pine bark beetles in 2022 was approximately 123,700 acres. Mountain pine beetle damage increased from 53,100 acres in 2021 to approximately 76,800 acres in 2022. The majority of annual pine bark beetle mortality is in lodgepole pine killed by mountain pine beetle, which totaled 66,800 acres in 2022. Surveyors mapped the highest concentrations of mountain pine beetle mortality in lodgepole at high elevation areas of Yakima, Kittitas, Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, and Pend Oreille counties.
  • Mortality of ponderosa pine due to western pine beetle has increased steadily since 2012 and reached a peak of approximately 44,300 acres in 2022, the highest level since 2006. Recent drought conditions are likely an important driver of these increases. The highest concentrations of western pine beetle-caused mortality were throughout forested areas of Klickitat County and the Yakama Indian Reservation, central Kittitas County, eastern Okanogan County, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, throughout Stevens and Spokane counties, and the Blue Mountains in southeast Washington. Mortality attributed to Ips pine engravers was mapped on 2,500 acres in 2022, above the 10-year average of 1,700 acres.
  • Mortality due to Douglas-fir beetle has been increasing in recent years, reaching a 10-year high of approximately 105,000 acres in 2022, well above the 10-year average of 43,000 acres and the highest level recorded since 2001. Fir engraver caused mortality, primarily in grand fir, had been steadily increasing since 2015 and reached a 10-year high of 166,300 acres in 2019. Since then it has declined to approximately 65,700 acres in 2022.
  • Chronic infestations of the non-native balsam woolly adelgid affected approximately 30,000 acres in 2022, accounting for the majority of defoliation damage in Washington. Damage was primarily in subalpine fir at high elevations in the Olympic, Cascade, and Selkirk mountain ranges. No Douglas-fir tussock moth defoliation has been recorded in Eastern Washington since the 2018-2019 outbreaks in Kittitas, Chelan, and Okanogan counties collapsed. No new western spruce budworm defoliation was observed from the air in northeast Washington, where the most recent outbreak is declining.|
  • Some foliar diseases were notable in 2022. Western larch defoliation was mapped on approximately 27,500 acres, an increase from the 3,300 acres mapped in 2021. Of the acres affected, lower crown defoliation due to larch needle cast (Rabdocline laricis) was mapped on approximately 27,300 acres, driving the increase. An outbreak of powdery mildew was observed on bigleaf maple in spring 2022 throughout western Washington. Similar to many foliar diseases, these will likely have minimal long-term impacts to healthy trees.

    Total acres with insect and disease damage in Washington, 2013-2022. *Trend data are not available for 2020 due to changes in survey methods and reduced survey area.

Annual Insect and Disease Aerial Survey:

An annual insect and disease aerial survey conducted by the Forest Service in cooperation with DNR covers the majority of Washington’s 22 million acres of forested lands and provides much of the trend information in the report. Since 1947, aerial observers have reported the location and intensity of damage by forest insects, diseases, and other disturbances across all ownerships of forestland in Washington.

Without aerial surveys, it would be impossible to track disturbance conditions over such a large area using ground-based methods. Aerial surveys are also an important tool used to detect and map new outbreaks of native and exotic insects and diseases. The total area mapped with some type of damage varies each year from a few hundred thousand to nearly two million acres.

This map shows the flight lines of the 2022 Washington Insect and Disease Aerial Survey (USFW, DNR)

2022 Aerial Survey Highlights:

In 2022, surveyors covered approximately 22 million forested acres across Washington. The 2022 season marked the first time survey operations returned to normal since the COVID-19 pandemic, which influenced operation protocols in 2020 and 2021. Approximately 13% of forested acres typically surveyed in the state were not included in 2021 due to fire activity, aircraft availability, and observer availability. No survey flights were conducted in 2020 to lower risk of COVID-19 exposure among flight crews and their contacts. In place of aerial surveys in 2020, the data used for statewide insect and disease surveys were acquired through a combination of ground sampling and remote sensing.

In 2022, the statewide insect and disease survey recorded some level of tree mortality, tree defoliation, or foliar diseases on approximately 672,000 acres. The area with damage from mortality agents was approximately 604,000 acres, including 346,000 acres attributed to bark beetles and 129,000 acres attributed to bear damage or root disease. Approximately 33,000 acres with damage were attributed to defoliators and approximately 35,000 acres were attributed to tree diseases or other damage causes.

It should be noted that disease damage is significantly underrepresented in aerial survey because symptoms are often undetectable from the air.

Maps and Other Aerial Survey Products available to the public:

Whether you are a regular user of aerial survey maps and data or just learning about what’s out there, check out some of the ADS products now available.

  • Downloadable PDF aerial survey quad maps from 2003 to 2022 are available from the US Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region.
  • Interactive, web-based aerial survey maps are available to explore at: To view, select Forest Health > Annual Aerial Survey Data.
  • The USFS maintains current year aerial survey data and summaries in an interactive, web-based map and a Forest Heath Dashboard. Click on the “Data Viewer” and “Forest Health Dashboard” links to learn more.
  • Washington’s annual Forest Health Highlights report is available online and includes information on how to access downloadable GIS layers.

If you have any questions about these products or need information about forest insects and diseases, please contact the DNR Forest Resilience Division at 360-902-1400 or email:

To see more from Glenn Kohler and Rachel Brooks, visit Washington State University Extension Forestry’s Lunch Break series.

Are You Wildfire Ready? Popular Eastern Washington Wildfire Resilience Program Expands to Westside Counties

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, left, and Congressman Derek Kilmer listen as Guy Gifford, assistant division manager for Community Resilience at the state Department of Natural Resources, speaks about the Wildfire Ready Neighbors program during a press conference on April 4. (Photo by DNR)

By Natalie Johnson, forest practices communication manager,

Since 2021, thousands of Eastern Washington residents have taken steps to make their homes more resilient to wildfire through the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildfire Ready Neighbors program.

But wildfire isn’t just an Eastern Washington issue. Starting this month, Wildfire Ready Neighbors is launching in three Western Washington counties – Pierce, Mason, and Thurston.

That means residents of Western Washington can visit to sign up and get their own Wildfire Ready Plan, which provides tips and strategies to make their properties and neighborhoods more resilient to wildfire.

Residents in current WRN counties – including the three new Western Washington counties — can also sign up for Wildfire Ready Home Visits from a trained partner, who can give them personalized plans to better prepare their property for fire. During the six-week launch event for each new county, residents are eligible for a drawing to a local hardware store for a gift card to help them take action on their property.

The program provides this technical assistance by working with local partners, such as fire and conservation districts. Locals know their communities needs and risk best, and they’re crucial in crafting each launch in a new county.

Wildfire Ready Neighbors launched two years ago in some of Eastern Washington’s most at-risk counties — Okanogan, Chelan, Spokane, Yakima, Kittitas and Klickitat counties. Since then, more than 4,000 Eastern Washington residents have signed up to get a personalized Wildfire Ready Plan and committed to take more than 20,000 actions to better prepare their homes and communities for wildfire.

If you don’t live in one of our Wildfire Ready counties, hold tight. House bill 1578, passed earlier this month by the Washington state House of Representatives, is now being considered in the Senate, and would fund further expansion of the program in Western Washington communities.

Carbon Markets and Forest Management Incentives for Washington’s Small Family Forest Owners

Tucking in the last seedlings of the day, incense cedar and ponderosa pine. (Photo by Jeff Gersh)

Moments after planting, a Ponderosa pine seedling casts shade over its new Westside home. (Photo by Jeff Gersh)

By the Washington Farm Forestry Association (WFFA)

In 2023, the nonprofit Washington Farm Forestry Association (WFFA) is celebrating its 70th year supporting the stewardship of small family forest owners. This anniversary is especially significant as we partner on one of the most important projects in our history — to cultivate a viable future for the communities and ecosystems we care about.

Two years ago, the Washington state legislature passed the Climate Commitment Act (SB5126) establishing an incentive program to fund carbon reductions in Washington. The act recognizes that prevention of forest loss, changes to forest management practices, reforesting or afforesting areas without forest cover, and wise use of harvested wood products are all crucial in mitigating climate change.

The legislation calls for recommendations to encourage the voluntary participation of interested small forest owners in markets that pay for storing carbon; and, in management techniques that improve carbon storage — which in turn benefit forest health and fire hazard reduction.

WFFA was awarded a contract from the Department of Natural Resources in 2022 to develop these recommendations with a work group of small family forest owners and technical experts, and in partnership with the Washington Tree Farm Program and the American Forest Foundation. A final report is due to the legislature in June of 2024. Once implemented, this landmark effort will reward tree farmers who wish to receive payments in exchange for ecosystem services provided to the state, the region, and the world.

Work group responsibilities include:

  • Understanding the needs—and possible barriers to participation—of Washington’s small woodland owners in additional carbon storage
  • Evaluating existing and potential carbon markets
  • Coordinating with managers of state and federal forests, which link to the larger forest ecosystem and economy
  • Gathering substantive input from underserved community members as part of environmental justice considerations
  • Developing cost-effective remote sensing tools to inventory carbon stocks
  • Tracking carbon from the tree farm to the marketplace in order to quantify real outcomes created by carbon storage

The 218,000 small forest landowners in Washington account for 15% of the state’s forests—nearly 3 million acres—and produce roughly 15% of the harvested wood products in Washington. Success of WFFA’s comprehensive approach depends on listening closely to our small woodland owners across the state, and to all of those who care about the health of our forests, communities, and economy.

We are eager for your input, and there are numerous ways to participate—as advisers, through surveys and focus groups, and in creative conversations with members of our work group. Visit WA Carbon Workgroup | Washington Farm Forestry Association ( for more information and please join our mailing list to stay informed about opportunities as the program develops. For additional information, reach out to Elaine Oneil, executive director of WFFA:

Message from Tami Miketa, Manager of the Small Forest Landowner Office

Tami Miketa, manager of DNR’s Small Forest Landowner Office

I hope all is well with you as we all get ready to hunker down for the winter.

As the days get shorter and we wait for snow to fall in parts of the state not already dusted or dumped on, we in the Small Forest Landowner Office are looking back on the successes of a busy year.

Throughout the past year, we’ve told you in this newsletter about how the Washington Department of Natural Resources has greatly expanded landowner services and staff in its Service Forestry Program, the Small Forest Landowner Regulation Assistance Program, the Urban and Community Forestry Program, and Community Resilience and Prevention.

In October, DNR facilitated a training as part of the Integrated Small Forest Landowner Assistance Program, established in state law in 2021 to bring existing programs together to more efficiently help landowners, remove barriers to assistance and funding, and increase education and outreach, among other tasks.

As the number of small forest landowners who seek assistance from DNR grows each year, so too does the need for information on what programs they qualify for.

Based on the Washington’s Small Forest Landowners in 2020 study conducted by the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, and an informal survey conducted this spring by DNR, we believe many small forest landowners know what services they need, but don’t always know where to turn for help.

DNR’s Integrated Small Forest Landowner Service Program training. (Holly Haley, DNR)

The two-day in-person event trained new and existing staff who work directly with small forest landowners on this new effort to integrate the programs, resources, and services available to you, the small forest landowner community.

Within DNR, that included highlighting resources like our significantly expanded Regulation Assistance Program, which now includes five regulation assistance foresters, who can help you with questions on Forest Practices Applications and alternate plans, and a fish and wildlife biologist to help with water typing and riparian zones, among a wide variety of other topics.

For information on programs outside of DNR, we invited representatives from the Washington Farm Forestry Association (WFFA), the Washington Tree Farm Program, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, WSU Extension Forestry, Washington conservation districts, the Cascades to Coast Landscape Collaborative, and the Washington Department of Revenue.

We also highlighted new online tools available to landowners. The Landowner Assistance Portal brings links to many resources for landowners — both within DNR and outside the agency — under one umbrella to provide a one-stop-shop experience.

Small forest landowners will find 34 of the most commonly sought-out subjects sorted into four categories: Resources for Managing My Forest, Keeping My Forest Healthy, Education and Training, and Permits and Regulations. Click on a topic and see our recommendations for a variety of links with more information. You can also use our new Find Your Forester tool to contact foresters and other program managers for their specific geographical area.

Want to talk to someone directly? You can call 1-800-523-TREE (8733). Or you can email us at You can also fill out a survey to help us improve these new information tools.

In this newsletter, you will also hear from one of our partners, the Cascades to Coast Landscape Collaborative, who have an update on their online search tool. This tool is another option to browse not only DNR service programs, but a plethora of incentive programs landowners could be eligible for by federal, county, and non-governmental organizations. The Washington Department of Natural Resources funded the expansion of the tool that now covers all of Washington state.

I am also happy to announce the Small Forest Landowner Office is fully staffed. In this newsletter edition, we are highlighting new staff in the Forestry Riparian Easement Program and the Regulation Assistance Program. You will learn more about Daniel Hevezi, Sean McCluskey, Martin Pillow, and Karl Peterson later in this edition.

I hope you all have a safe and joyous holiday season!

Cascades to Coast Landscape Collaborative Expands Conservation Program Explorer Tool to Washington State

Rachel Santa Olalla with the Conservation Program Explorer booth at a WSU Extension Forestry Field Day. (Holly Haley, DNR)

 By Rachel Santa Olalla, John Mankowski, and Kaitlyn Landfield, Cascades to Coast Landscape Collaborative.

Most landowners are committed to maintaining healthy wildlife and ecosystems on their lands. Having effective and efficient incentive programs available to landowners supports and encourages their environmental stewardship.

It’s been one year since the “one-stop-shop” Conservation Program Explorer tool emerged for private forest and agricultural landowners in Southwestern Washington. Housed by the Cascades to Coast Landscape Collaborative (CCLC), the web-based Conservation Program Explorer tool was created for private landowners to easily browse conservation incentive programs. During the development of the tool, the CCLC worked with partners and rural landowners to better understand their needs. They found that the consistent hurdle for landowners to take advantage of incentive programs was navigating the numerous websites.

The Conservation Program Explorer tool provides landowners or agency staff one place to browse all incentive programs landowners could be eligible for including those offered by federal, state, county, non-governmental organizations, and other resources. Within the tool, incentive programs are grouped into three categories: Financial, Public Recognition, and Free Technical Assistance. Using a series of drop-down menus, landowners can select their location, land type, and desired program to see what’s currently available to them.

After the Conservation Program Explorer’s successful launch in Southwestern and Olympic regions of Washington in November 2021, the Washington Department of Natural Resources funded the expansion of the tool to the rest of Washington state. While the expansion of the tool is another milestone for CCLC, feedback from landowners using the tool will be critical to the tool’s success. Feedback is needed to drive the dialogue with program providers and create and amend programs as needed to further collective stewardship efforts. Feedback on how this tool can be adjusted to best serve private landowner decision making and understanding of conservation incentive programs will also be an important driver of future improvements. The project lead, Rachel Santa Olalla, is working with the project advisory team and partners to engage landowners and stakeholders and solicit feedback on the Conservation Program Explorer tool at various events like the WSU Extension Forestry Field days.

Learn more about the Conservation Program Explorer through this informational public webinar recording.

The Cascades to Coast Landscape Collaborative is an informational hub for landowners who value conservation, and a collaboration space for conservation partners. Please visit our website here to see what we are up to, stay informed with updates and events by signing up for our newsletter, and get in touch with us for partnership in your conservation endeavors. In the meantime, if you have questions or ideas on this project, please contact Rachel Santa Olalla (

The CCLC extends its gratitude to the participation of the CCLC leadership team and various partners including the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Small Forest Landowner Office, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Farm Forestry Association, Washington Tree Farm Program, Washington Forestry Protection Association and many more.