Washington State Magazine

Fall 2011 Earth, Wind and Food

Fall 2011

Earth, Wind - and Food

In This Issue...


A Fine Thin Skin—wind, water, volcanoes, and ice :: Different as they seem, the soils of Eastern and Western Washington have one thing in common. They come—either by water, wind, or ice—generally from elsewhere. And what takes eons to form can be covered over or erode away in a geologic heartbeat. by Tim Steury

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Map: Washington soils }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Story: How you contribute to soil health }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Story: When soil goes sour }

Above & Beyond :: In the spring of 1792, George Vancouver praised “the delightful serenity of the weather.” A few years later, William Clark complained of a dour winter that was “cloudy, dark and disagreeable.” How right they both were. Weather patterns determined by mountains and ocean grant the Pacific Northwest a temperate climate that also has a dark and unpredictable side. by Hannelore Sudermann

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Links: Links to weather news, AgWeatherNet, and other resources for following Pacific Northwest weather }

Billions Served :: Seven billion people will soon become nine billion before the global population levels off. Can so many people be fed from a finite Earth? Yes, they can, say WSU researchers. But the solutions will necessarily be many. by Eric Sorensen


{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Images of Antarctica: WSU geochemist Jeff Vervoort and interior design assistant professor Kathleen Ryan discuss their exhibit of photos from the frozen continent. }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Puzzle: Creature crossings: A lesson in teaching the nature of science }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Video: Valley View Fires of 2008 and Firewise Community Produced by the Spokane County Conservation District }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Map: Historic wildfires of the Pacific Northwest }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Story: How to protect your home from wildfires }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Video: Small forest management }


{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Project: Coug-o-lantern Stencils for carving the WSU Cougar head logo on pumpkins }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Illustrations: Plans and sketches for new WSU football facilities and Martin Stadium }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Recipes: Pumpkin recipes }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Interactive photo: Tour the Admiralty Head Lighthouse }


{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Cougar logo through the years }

New media

:: The Docks by Bill Sharpsteen ’80

:: L.A. Rendezvous by Charles Argersinger

:: A Chinaman’s Chance by Alex Kuo

Cover photo: “Small Forest in the Palouse Hills” by Chip Phillips

Fall 2011
Web Exclusives
Lean, Clean and Green.  Maintaining a green 30 foot distance is very important to the survivability of your home. <em>Courtesy WA Department of Natural Resources</em>

Lean, Clean and Green. Maintaining a green 30 foot distance is very important to the survivability of your home. Courtesy WA Department of Natural Resources

How to protect your home from wildfires

| © Washington State University

If you live in a wildfire-prone area, preparation and forethought is key to your personal safety and preserving your home.  You can follow these ten FireSafe steps to prepare your home and land.

(Courtesy www.firesafespokane.com, a service of the Washington Department of Natural Resources)

1. Recognize the hazard

Fire is a natural part of our environment. In Spokane County, the grasses and pine forests have been subjected to fires every 3 to 30 years. This is a normal part of our Eco-system. There are more than 300,000 people living in Spokane County and many live in or adjacent to forestland. Understand the steps you can take to create a FireSafe environment, making it safer to live, work and play.

2. Define your defensible space

Clearing flammable materials from around your home creates a defensible space. A minimum 30-foot buffer reduces the chance of wildfire from spreading to your home. On steeper ground, as much as 100 feet of clearance may be necessary. FireSafe Spokane and your local fire department provide courtesy inspections to help you determine your needs.

3. Reduce flammables

A key step to creating a defensible space is removing dry grass, brush, dead leaves and pine needles. Replace highly flammable plants with fire resistive, high moisture content varieties. Some good choices are Barberry, Rose of Sharon, Sedum and Spirea.

4. Prune or remove trees

Remove or thin overcrowded or weakened trees. Prune low-hanging branches to keep a ground fire from climbing into upper branches.

5. Relocate wood piles

Stack wood, construction debris, and other flammable materials at least 30 feet away from your home. Keep flammable vegetation 10 feet away from woodpiles.

6. Keep it clean

Clean pine needles, leaves and debris from your roof, gutters, decks and yard. Remember to clean up after storms. This is especially important during the dry summer months when a single spark can ignite a fire.

7. Be accessible

Make sure firefighters can find you. Easy to read signs and addresses will help with this. Your driveway needs to be wide enough for emergency vehicles to safely pass and turn around at your home. Driveways should be trimmed of vegetation to allow emergency equipment to reach you. Bridges should be constructed to support the weight of emergency vehicles.

8. Rate your roof

Your roof is the most vulnerable part of your house in a wildfire. If you have a wood shake roof consider treatment or replacement with a fire resistive material.

9. Recycle yard debris

Use alternative disposal methods like composting or recycling to get rid of yard and garden debris. Burning vegetation is restricted in parts of Spokane County. Always contact the Department of Natural Resources or Spokane County Air Pollution Control Authority for current burning regulations.

10. Be prepared for wildfire

Your home must have smoke detectors and should have fire extinguishers. Keep garden tools like rakes, hoses and shovels easily accessible. Make sure everyone in your home knows where this equipment is, and how to call for help in the event of an emergency.

Read more about wildfires and communities, including research at Washington State University, in "When wildfire comes to town."

You can also :

Watch a video of how homes were saved from wildfire in the 2008 Valley View fire near Spokane.

See an interactive map of historic fires of the Pacific Northwest.

Categories: Forestry, Natural sciences | Tags: Wildfire, Natural Resources, Forest fires, Housing