Washington state has many natural resources, both renewable and nonrenewable, and has established a state-level Department of Natural Resources to regulate their use. Washington is known to have large supplies of timber and open farmland. It has rich fisheries and a thriving tourist industry that bring people in to enjoy them. Washington also has mineral resources that it exports around the world.
Much of the natural wealth of Washington is a result of the frequent rain that blows in from the Pacific Ocean. The year-round rains give Washington's forests and farms an unending growing season that drives the growth of its vast green belts. The heavy rainfall enriches the soil and makes farming especially productive throughout the year.
The state's heavy rains also keep its reservoirs and aquifers filled with fresh water. Some of this water is extracted for drinking or irrigation, and some of it feeds the large, powerful rivers the state boasts. Many of these river systems have been tapped for the generation of hydroelectric power, which contributes to the state's energy independence and helps insulate its residents from irregularities in the national energy market. Washington is also the largest producer of Pacific-coast salmon in the lower 48 states. No fewer than five fisheries operate on the Columbia River alone.