Agriculture and Grazing Lease Viewer Introduced

In the July issue of The Dirt, an article about our expanded marketing efforts (“Plans for Expanded Marketing of Expiring Leases“) informed readers of an upcoming interactive map viewer on DNR’s website. The Agriculture and Grazing Lease Viewer is now available for use and can be accessed on DNR’s Leasing for Agriculture web page.

Agriculture & Grazing Lease Viewer

The DNR Leasing for Agriculture webpage, featuring links to new Agriculture & Grazing Lease Viewer.

The viewer helps you locate agriculture and grazing leases that will soon be available for bid. Clicking on a state parcel shown on the map will display information and links to more about that parcel. If no information is displayed, the parcel is either not being leased or is not currently available for bid.

DNR Agriculture and Grazing Lease mapUpcoming or recent public auctions are currently shown on a map (see image). In the next couple of months the map will also display leases that will be expiring soon.

Basic and detailed user guides, as well as directions for a mobile app are also displayed on the Leasing for Agriculture webpage. Try it and let us know how it works for you.

Tracking Temperatures for Future Trustland Development

data loggers

These small digital data loggers (not shown in representative scale size) can capture temperatures and other climate data over a period of several months.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) acquired a number of temperature data loggers to deploy on DNR-managed properties that show potential for orchard and vineyard development. These remote temperature loggers are inexpensive but are able to capture temperatures as often as once every second. The battery-operated units collect and store temperature information around-the-clock for later downloading, analysis and review.

solar shield for temperature logger

A simple design using PVC pipe keeps temperature data loggers out of the elements to assure accurate readings.

The loggers are placed at different elevations on the trust land parcels so we can identify all of the significant warm and cold temperature zones on that property. Each logger is waterproof and protected from the sun’s radiant heating by a solar shield. Battery life and internal memory storage allows for data retrieval once every four to five months, which helps reduce the staff time and related expenses for tending to their care.

Our goal in deploying temperature monitors is to identify which properties are suitable for growing fruit crops now; which ones merit further study; and which ones are simply too cold for fruit production.

By Mark Bohnet, Snake River District Management, DNR Southeast Region

New Experiences Bring New Insights

DNR managed crop land

DNR managed crop land. Photo by Kristie Thomas.

I started working for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in April of 1991 and have enjoyed a challenging and diverse career working in a variety of programs including forest practices, surface mining reclamation, aquatics, fire, and now agriculture.

Last April, I was asked to fill a temporary position in the Columbia Basin District as an Agricultural Unit Land Manager working out of our Ephrata field office. I grew up on a ranch raising sheep and cattle and this was an opportunity to get back to my roots, so I accepted the position.

DNR's  Southeast Region

In the past year, DNR’s Southeast Region earned more than $15 million from state agricultural trust lands for the school construction fund. Photo by Kristie Thomas.

As a graduate of Central Washington University and of the Agriculture and Forestry Leadership program, involved in the Ellensburg Rodeo, WSU Extension, and other agricultural-based organizations in Kittitas County, agriculture is no stranger to me. Living in Ellensburg, I’ve had a lot of exposure to irrigated agriculture–mostly hay–but no exposure to dryland farming, irrigated row crops, orchards or vineyards. Over the summer I realized just how diverse farming in the Columbia Basin really is. It is interesting to compare the rainfall, production, and farming methods in the different counties in which I work. I’ve learned about the many different varieties of spring wheat and winter wheat, moisture barriers, sunlight reflectors, frost pockets, summer fallow, contour farming, crop residue, CRP programs, farming rotations, marketing, and a myriad of other things that make the agricultural industry tick.

Photo by Kristie Thomas.

DNR manages many types of agriculture and grazing lands for state trust beneficiaries, such as public schools. Photo by Kristie Thomas.

Over the summer I’ve enjoyed working with many farmers and ranchers who have state leases and tried to absorb as much of their vast knowledge and experience as possible. I have always known that the agricultural community is a well-connected community. It is interesting to find just how many of the folks I have met know people that I know. It was a real eye opener to see what challenges farmers in the dryer areas of our state have to make a crop and how much capital is invested in an irrigated crop. I have enjoyed my time in the agriculture program and have a new appreciation for farmers, ranchers and the dedicated people working in DNR’s agricultural program.

This past year DNR’s Southeast Region earned more than $15 million from state agricultural trust lands for the school construction fund and I am proud to have been a part of that success.

By Cindy Preston, Ephrata Unit Land Manager, DNR Southeast Region