RIVERS – The best time to float the Priest River comes and goes, but the next couple of weeks will be worth checking out.
At its extremes – up to 10,500 cubic feet per second and down to 165 cfs – the river is basically too high for safe passage except for experts or too low to float without dragging a vessel over the rocks.
During summer through early fall, when most people would be lured to portions of the river downstream from Priest Lake, the water generally is too low to float without bouncing and scraping along the rocks.
However, inexperienced paddlers running inflatable boats can have a safer, enjoyable float at flows in the 600-1,000 cfs range in the Eight Mile Rapids stretch from McAbee Falls downstream. (See description below.)
Prime times for experienced paddlers farther upstream are:
Read on for more details and notes on flows from Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club diaries.
PREDATORS — Gov. Jay Inslee today signed legislation that will provide state wildlife managers more resources to prevent wolf-livestock conflict and expand criteria for compensation to livestock owners for wolf-related losses.
PUBLIC LANDS — The South Sherman Road (FSR 2020000) has suffered an impassible washout on the west or upper end of the road, the Colville National Forest reports today.
The temporary closure will be from milepost 11.65 to milepost 11.85 (just off of U.S. Highway 20 near the top close to Sherman Pass between Kettle Falls and Republic).
Access to Barnaby Buttes Trailhead and the South Fork of Sherman Creek is still possible from the lower access point on Highway 20. Forest crews are anticipating being able to repair the washout this summer.
Info: Three Rivers Ranger District, (509) 738-7700.
TRAILS — The Route of The Hiawatha rail-trail near Lookout Pass is set to open for the 2013 summer season on Saturday (May 25).
The 15-mile route for mountain biking or hiking follows the abandoned Milwaukee Railroad grade between the old town site of Taft, Mont., (off Interstate 90) and the North Fork of the St. Joe River near Avery, Idaho.
Top attractions include seven trestles towering up to 230 feet over the creeks and forest and 10 tunnels, including the 1.7-mile St. Paul Pass Tunnel at the Montana-Idaho border.
The gentle 1.6 percent average grade drops 1,000 feet over the 15 miles length with shuttle buses available to transport trial users and their bikes back to the top.
Trail passes, shuttle tickets and mountain bike rentals are available at Lookout Pass Ski Area conveniently located off I-90 at the top of the pass on the Idaho/Montana border 12 miles east of Wallace, Idaho.
Basic trail passes cost $6 for kids and $10 for adults. Season passes and group rates area available, as well as shuttle bus service from Lookout Pass, lunch options and guided tours.
The trail will be open daily, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. PDT, through Sept. 29.
Biking the Hiawatha is one of the Inland Northwest's top memorable adventures you can organize for an active outing with summer out-of-town guests.
HUNTING — Wednesday (May 22) is the deadline to apply for Washington's special big-game hunting permits for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons.
Permit winners will be selected through a random drawing in late June.
Update your email and mailing address in the system when purchasing your special permit applications and licenses. Each year, hundreds of special hunting permits are returned because of invalid addresses, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officials say.
Idaho's first controlled hunt application period ended April 30. The second CH application period for leftover tags is June 15-25.
Montana's main deer and elk special permit application period ended March 15. Applications for antelope and secondary elk and deer permits is June 1.
PREDATORS — Federal wildlife officials are postponing a much-anticipated decision on whether to lift protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states.
In a court filing Monday in Billings, Mont., government attorneys say “a recent unexpected delay” is indefinitely holding up action on the predators. No further explanation was offered.
Gray wolves are under protection as an endangered species and have recovered dramatically from widespread extermination in recent decades.
More than 6,000 of the animals now roam the continental U.S. Most live in the Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes, where protections already have been lifted.
The protections are still in effect for most of Washington.
A draft proposal to lift protections elsewhere drew strong objections when it was revealed last month.
Wildlife advocates and some members of Congress argue that the wolf's recovery is incomplete because the animal occupies just a fraction of its historical range.
State and federal wildlife biologists and groups respresenting agriculture and hunting interests say wolves have recovered dramatically fast and must be managed to control the impact they have on livestock and big game herds in certain areas.
SHOOTING — This court case — stemming in part from secondary deaths to creatures such as California condors that die after ingesting lead bullet fragments from wounded game — is worth watching.
Local note: The Loon Lake Loon Association is among the plaintiffs. The association was instrumental in getting fishing restrictions on lead weights and lures in more than a dozen northern Washington lakes where loons nest.
What: A federal court will hear arguments this week in a lawsuit filed by conservation groups against the Environmental Protection Agency for its refusal to address toxic lead in hunting ammunition that poisons and kills eagles, endangered condors and other wildlife as well as threatening human health. The court hearing will focus on motions to dismiss the lawsuit by the EPA, National Rifle Association and other gun groups; and whether the EPA has the authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to regulate toxic lead in ammunition.
When: Thursday, May 23, 2 p.m.
Where: U.S. District Court, 333 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., in Courtroom 24A before Judge Emmet G. Sullivan
Background: In 2012, 100 organizations in 35 states formally petitioned the EPA to use the Toxic Substances Control Act to regulate the toxic components of hunting ammunition, including the lead bullets and shot projectiles that cause lead poisoning of wildlife.
When the EPA refused to evaluate the petition, the Trumpeter Swan Society, Cascades Raptor Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Loon Lake Loon Association, Preserve Our Wildlife, Tennessee Ornithological Society and Western Nebraska Resources Council filed a lawsuit in 2012.
The National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Safari Club International and Association of Battery Recyclers intervened in the case, claiming the EPA does not have authority to regulate lead ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
After approving the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976, the U.S. House of Representatives said in a report about the history and intent of the Act that it “does not exclude from regulation under the bill chemical components of ammunition which could be hazardous because of their chemical properties.” The EPA has already declared that lead is a toxic substance and taken steps to remove it from other products and uses.
MOUNTAINEERING — Two climbers with Spokane connections had their moment on Mount Everest, elev. 29,035 feet, last weekend with mixed results.
Dawes Eddy, 70, who climbed the world's highest peak in 2009, made his way to around 24,000 feet on Sunday (May 19) before turning back for unspecified reasons.
Did you note — Dawes is 70!
“He did say 'everything is good' and hopes I can get him a flight out of Kathmandu on the 22nd which would put him back in Spokane around the 24th,” said his wife, Mary Kay.
Aaron Mainer,32, a graduate of Mead High School, was one of two guides with International Mountain Guides leading the U.S. Air Force Seven Summits Team to the top of the world's highest peak on Saturday (May 18).
As a native of Washington State, Aaron was introduced to the outdoors at an early age by his parents, who often took him and his younger sister skiing, backpacking, and boating. He attended the University of Puget Sound, where he graduated with a degree in International Political Economy. Since he started working with IMG in 2006, he has guided well over 100 trips on Mount Rainier and along the way done several trips to Alaska, Antarctica and South America. His passion is for ski mountaineering and he has numerous first and second descents in Washington and Alaska. One of his favorite things to do is ski on Mount Rainier, where he has skied over a dozen different routes from the summit, including most recently a first descent of Cryogenesis. (Check out the video.) Aaron is an AMGA Certified Rock Guide and Ski Mountaineering Guide. He lives in Enumclaw, WA, but does not like horses
PUBLIC LANDS — A proposal to purchase a 9.5-acre addition to an access site for the 1,066-acre Antoine Peak Conservation Area is on the agenda for today's Spokane County Commission meeting.
Antoine Peak is the mountain north of East Valley High School and east of Forker Road in Spokane Valley.
The Spokane County Parks, Recreation, and Golf Department will ask permission to spend $300,000 in county Conservation Futures funds to purchase the site owned by the Johnson Family Trust. The family has been allowing the public to use some of the property since the county secured the land in three phases concluding in 2011.
Public use is growing in the area, which is part of the voter-approved conservation program to protect wildlife habitat and open spaces for passive public recreation.
The property the family is offering to the county — before listing it for sale to the public — includes the existing public parking area on the east side of the mountain along with a 2,800 square foot residence with detached garage. The site is critical to the county because it's the only place available near the trailhead for public parking.
The residence could be used as a park ranger or maintenance worker residence. Acquiring the subject property would also allow Spokane County Parks to expand the existing lot as needed to handle increasing use.
Another parking site is being researched on the west side of the peak.
Out & About: Washington raising stakes for drunk boating … REI project to boost Little Spokane River Trail … Mountain bikers gear up for 24 Hours … Two Rivers walleye derby … Angler nailed for taking two limits
ADVENTURE SPORTS — Fitness junkies who enjoy trail running, mountain biking, paddling and other outdoors sports will love the big event coming up based out of Farragut State Park.
Adventure Sports Week Idaho features 14 different races and clinics over eight days, June 2 - 9. Racers are traveling from long distances to join locals at this event, said North Idaho organizer David Adlard.
Trail runs include a June 2 Beaches 2 Boulders with 5k, 10k and 9 mile fun runs and the
June 8 Deepwater half marathon, marathon, 50 k and 52 mile races.
Mountain bikers can zero in on the Mad Dash races, 4 or 6hours, on June 2.
Adventure races set for June 8-9 combine a variety of sports and skills on June 8-9.
Kids are offered their own adventure race, plus a clinic on orienteering and adventure racing.
The week includes prizes, barbecue and other treats.
Plus, “Farragut is beautiful,” Adlard said.
Info: (208) 664-0135.
TRAIL – Introduce yourself to the developing Pend Oreille Bay Trail near Sandpoint with a running OR walking benefit on June 1, National Trails Day.
Pre-register online by May 28 for the 5K and 10K events, which include t-shirts and prizes. The route starts and finishes at Trinity at City Beach and goes along the lakeshore and Sand Creek.
The event will benefit Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, a group working to link a natural waterfront trail from City Beach to Black Rock and Ponder Point along the lake’s northwest shore.
Info: (208) 946-7586 or email email@example.com.
WINTER SPORTS — The Lookout Pass Ski Patrol has been named the 2012-2013 “Outstanding Patrol of the Year” for the Inland Empire Region by from the National Ski Patrol – for the third consecutive season.
“These dedicated men and women provide an outstanding service for our skiing guests and we greatly appreciate their commitment and contribution to Lookout Pass,” said Phil Edholm, ski area president.
Other ski patrols in the National Ski Patrol's Inland Empire region include:
Mount Spokane, Silver Mountain, 49 Degrees North, Echo Valley, Loup Loup, Mission Ridge, Cottonwood Butte, Snowhaven, Bald Mountain and Ski Bluewood.
FISHING — A charity fishing derby with hundreds of dollars in prizes is set for Sunday (May 19) based out of Klink's Williams Lake Resort south of Cheney.
Divisions for adults and youths.
Prizes include full weekend packages a the resort.
Cost: $10 per angler.
Info: (509) 235-2391.
RIVERS — The level of Lake Roosevelt rose to an elevation of about 1264 feet today and lake levels are expected to continue rising over the next week into the 1272-1276 range.
Lake inflows began increasing a week ago as the spring runoff began from the Columbia River's headwaters (see chart).
However, note that flows of southern tributaries were already subsiding. The Coeur d'Alene River has been dropping rapidly this week (see chart).
St. Joe River flows also are plummeting (see chart).
Get links to river flows in this region at The Spokesman-Review Outdoors topics page.
Get daily Lake Roosevelt level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.
Check out this NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.
PREDATORS — There's a little less love for wolves in central Idaho this week.
Idaho issues 2 kill permits on wolves near Carey after 31 sheep killed
Between May 10 and May 12, John Peavey, the owner of the Flat Top Ranch near Carey, Idaho, lost 13 ewes and 18 lambs to wolves. Idaho Wildlife Services has issued a kill permit for up to two wolves.
—Idaho Mountain Express (Sun Valley)
WILDLIFE — Elk numbers in Montana's Bitterroot Valley are up this year mostly because of better calf survival, according to reseachers.
This year’s aerial spring count found 7,373 elk in the five hunting districts that encircle the Bitterroot Valley. That's the fourth highest number of elk spotted by biologists in the 48-year history of the annual spring survey.
Range conditions and more emphasis on controlling wolves, cougars and bears played a roll in the increase, biologists say.
WILDFLOWERS — Shooting starts are among the most delicate and fascinating wildflowers, sprouting about 5 inches tall at different elevations, in damp to not-so-damp wild areas, from early spring well into summer.
They're also very difficult to photograph, although you wouldn't know it by this image snapped Thursday by Montana Outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.
HUNTING – The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation says it’s waiving fees for auctioning state-sponsored big-game hunting tags and is challenging other groups to do the same to increase funding for wildlife conservation.
The Missoula-based foundation announced last week that it will return 100 percent of the revenue it generates from the auction of state special big game permits through its national events and programs to the individual states.
Large groups that organize tag auctions or raffles generally take a percentage of the profits for their efforts and return the rest to state wildlife agencies for managing big-game species such as elk, deer and bighorn sheep.
“These tags were intended to benefit wildlife conservation and hunting access, not the organizations selling them,” said David Allen, RMEF president.
RMEF recently auctioned a special elk permit offered by Arizona for $385,000 at its national convention.
The RMEF convention generates $700,000 to $1 million each year in the auction sale of special tags/permits from state game and fish agencies.
Similar high-bid auctions are organized by groups such as the Wild Sheep Foundation and Safari Club International.
Allen also called for groups and sportsmen to follow the auction funds to make sure they’re used for the intended purpose of managing target species.
He said wildlife conservation groups should allow complete transparency of all their financial information including the publishing of their audited financials from each fiscal year.
WILDLIFE — Idaho Fish and Game Department regional habitat biologists will discuss southern Panhandle wildlife management areas at the monthly informal Coeur d'Alene Sportsmen's Breakfast, 6:30 a.m., Tuesday (May 21) at Lake City Senior Center, 1916 N. Lakewood Dr.