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Outdoors blog

Archive for July 2011

Youths get shot at Turnbull ducks

HUNTING — For the second time since 1937, youngsters can apply for limited permits to participate in a two-day youth waterfowl hunt this fall at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will restrict the hunters under 16 to about eight hunting sites during Washington’s youth waterfowl season, Sept. 24-25.

Two youth hunters accompanied by one or two non-hunting adults will be allowed at each site. The hunters must have state small game and waterfowl licenses.

Hunters will be selected in a random drawing.

Applications will be accepted Aug. 1-15.

Apply on a U.S. Postal Service postcard. Include the youth's full name, address and telephone number.

Youths may apply with a youth friend or youth sibling on the same application.

Mail postcards to Refuge Manager, Turnbull NWR, 26010 S. Smith Road, Cheney, WA 99004.

The Spokane Chapter of the Washington Waterfowl Association will conduct a workshop the week prior to the hunt to help the youths select hunting sites and provide waterfowl identification and hunting tips.

Info: 235-4723; fws.gov/turnbull/

Big billfish upstaged in Mexico

FISHING — Former Spokane resident and angler John Jankovsy sends us a report of great fishing and great local pride in fish from his adopted home in Mexico.

He included the photo above of what's reportedly been accepted by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the largest marlin and sailfish sculpture anywhere.

Problem is, he couldn't photograph the entire sculputre without cropping out a portion of Miss Mexico, Karin Ontiveros.

So you'll have to use some imagination about the fish.

Read on for more details about the artist and this sculpture situated at Barra de Navidad.

Catch-and-keep steelheading to open in lower Clearwater

FISHING — The fall steelhead harvest season in Idaho opens Aug. 1, on a two-mile stretch of the lower Clearwater River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 12 Memorial Bridge near Lewiston.

The catch-and-release steelhead season has been open on the lower Clearwater River since the beginning of July.

Click here to check the upstream progress of the fishery fish at Bonneville and Lower Granite dams.

Read on for details from Idaho Fish and Game.

Judge signs off on forest protections

NATIONAL FORESTS — A federal judge signed off this month on an agreement between conservation groups and the U.S. Forest Service to update protections for rare and obscure species that depend on old growth forests to live.

U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour in Seattle signed the agreement, which restores protections the Bush administration had dismantled to increase timber production on federal forests in the Northwest.

The protections, known as the survey and manage rule, require the Forest Service to look for rare species ranging from lichens to great grey owls before planning timber sales in old growth forests.

One thing appears to be growing well this year: Antlers!

BIG GAME HUNTING — The crop whitetail bucks are growing is looking a lot better this year than my tomatoes. 

This buck was photographed the evening of July 23 in Stevens County by a motion-activated scouting camera set up by Kevin Scheib of Colville.

Wash vehicles to reduce spread of weeds

CONSERVATION — Vehicles can pick up large numbers of seeds from weeds and other plants and spread them for miles, especially when the vehicles are driven off-trail and under wet conditions.

This factor in the spread of noxious weeks is documented in a story in a new Montana State University Extension publication describing field studies that measure the extent to which vehicles pick up and disperse weed seeds.

Some of the findings include:

  • Wet conditions promote weed attachment to vehicles.
  • ATVs picked up large numbers of seeds. In the fall, up to 5,500 seeds per mile were picked up off-trail compared to about 400 seeds per mile on-trail. The number of seeds picked up in spring was much lower.
  • Tracked vehicles picked up more seeds than wheeled vehicles.
  • Up to 99 percent of seeds stayed attached to a truck after traveling 160 miles under dry conditions, but seed retention was much lower after traveling long distances under wet conditions.
  • However, if seeds are picked up in mud, which then dries on the vehicle, they can travel almost indefinitely until it rains or the road surface is wet, allowing for extremely long distance transport of seeds.

The researchrs say preventing the spread of weeds into non-infested areas is the most effective and efficient way to manage weeds over the long term.

To help prevent the spread of weeds, washing vehicles frequently is beneficial with particular concentration on wheel wells. Washing vehicles is especially important before and after driving on roads with high densities of weeds along the edges or after driving off-road or trail.

Expedition Idaho six-day adventure race gearing up for Aug. 14 start

ADVENTURE RACING — Here's the skinny on the upcoming Expedition Idaho adventure race based out of Silver Mountain Resort.

Indeed,the race will finish on the mountain at the start of the Blues and Brew Fest.

If you're not up to entering — join the club! — the organizers are looking for more volunteers to staff remote checkpoints and form search and rescue groups, etc. Call organizer Dave Adlard, 208-664-0135.

Expedition Idaho:

  • Begins Aug. 14 and ends Aug. 20 at Silver Mountain Resort.
  • More than 30 four-person co-ed teams must stay together.
  • Teams navigate to checkpoints on uncharted course covering roughly 400 miles in six days.
  • Travel includes mountain biking, rafting, paddling, trekking, orienteering, running, climbing, plus surprises.
  • Team travel more than 20 hours a day and sleep – rarely.
  • Entry fee is $4,000 per team competing for a purse of around $40,000 in cash and prizes.

Trail down from Mount Spokane summit closed for re-routing

TRAILS – A trail that plummets down from the summit of Mount Spokane has been closed for re-routing and erosion control.

Steve Christensen, state park manager, said Trail 135 is especially popular with mountain bikers, but it’s poorly designed and seriously eroding.

Plans to re-route the trail will make it safer, he said, but the bulk of the work may not get underway until September.  The new version of the trail will be renumbered 140 and connect with another reconstructed trail that descends to the Mount Kit Carson Lower Loop Road trailhead.

Another priority project, Christensen said, is widening the nordic skiing trails to accommodate a larger groomer the state park may be able to purchase.

Classic climb: Catherine Destivelle solos sandstone in Mali

CLIMBING — Take time out to enjoy this 1987 film that set a standard for climbing pictures.  Not only is the climber a beauty with bulletproof shoulders, the film is as masterpiece of staging and arrangement.  Very cool.

French climber Catherine Destivelle was 28 at the time she was featured here in Africa soloing a sandstone cliff in the Mali desert. 

One of the top climbers in the world at the time, she performed for the camera as well as for the local people, the Dogons of Sanga, scaling unroped to their ancient cliff dwellings and the skulls and skeletons in their ancient graveyard caves.

Four organizations leading group hikes to choice wildlands

HIKING — It's not too late to join organizations leading Inland Northwest group hikes this summer. Check them out:

Please confirm with field trip leaders before attending any of these group hikes.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers set work party in Colville Forest

CONSERVATION — The Backcountry Hunters & Anglers of Washington group is meeting in the Colville National Forest Friday through Sunday for its annual summer meeting and work party.

This year's habitat projects will focus on Middle Fork of Calispell Creek, where the group plans to build split-rail fencing and repair ATV abuses in an area called Delaney Meadows. 

“This area is notorious for abuse, but enforcement has been cracking down here, bettering the chances our efforts will not be dashed nights later by more outlaw riders,” said Jeff Holmes, BHA member, adding that there also will be plenty of campfire discussion about fishing and big-game hunting in the area.

Sportsmen who want to engage with the group can contact Jeff Holmes washingtonstatebha@yahoo.com or Joe Mirasole outlawoutfitters@hotmail.com

  

Washington waterfowl calling competition open to all callers

HUNTING– A waterfowl calling contest coming up in the Tri-Cities will give the open division winner an all-expense-paid trip to the hallowed quacking grounds of the World Duck Calling Championships in Stuttgart, Ark.

The sanctioned Washington Duck Calling Championships are set for Aug. 6-7 at Wholesale Sports in Kennewick, sponsored by the Washington Waterfowl Association.

In addition to the Open Duck competition, the event has eight other contests and divisions for duck, goose, youth and  two-person competition.

Info: Abel Cortina, (509) 786-9196, email abelcortina@gmail.com.

Read on for details on the divisions.

Colville forest plan revisions to be presented at area meetings

PUBLIC LANDS — Colville National Forest plan revisions, including proposals for new wilderness areas, will be presented in the Spokane and Newport area next week.  

The Forest Service has scheduled a series of public meetings in July and August to share information about the Draft Proposed Actions for Forest Plan Revision for the Colville and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests.  The public comment period ends Aug. 29.   The meetings are set as follows;

Spokane, Monday, Aug. 1
5 p.m. – 7 p.m.,  Spokane County Public Library, N. Branch, 44 E. Hawthorne Rd.

Newport, Tuesday, Aug. 2
5 p.m. – 7 p.m., Newport High School Auditorium, 1400 W. Fifth Street, Newport, WA 99156
  

The public meetings are intended to help the public become familiar with the proposals so they can make comments, said Margaret Hartzell, leader for the Forest Plan Revision team.  

Topics highlighted during the meetings include:  Vegetation Management, Access (including motorized and non-motorized recreation), Recommended Wilderness, Wildlife Habitat, and the Forest Planning Process.

“While these public meetings are focused on providing information, we will accept written comments turned in during the meeting,” said Hartzell.

View or download the Draft Proposed Actions, and/or to access maps on the project website.

Idaho-Montana wolf issues head back to court on Tuesday

PREDATORS — The battle over the status of gray wolves in Idaho and Montana returns to court Tuesday, where environmental groups will argue Congress overstepped its authority when it stripped the animals of federal protection last May, according to a report by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune.

Two legal scholars who specialize in environmental and constitutional law say the greens face long odds in their effort to reinstate Endangered Species Act protections for wolves.

Read on for the rest of Barker's story.

Grizzly attack takes toll on Alaska NOLS group

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Seven teens participating in a month-long National Outdoor Leadership School wilderness trip in Alaska were mauled by a grizzly bear with a cub in Alaska's Talkeetna Mountains; two hikers had life-threatening injuries, the Denver Post reports.
  

Feds don’t dig giant Palouse earthworm endangered petition

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A large white earthworm (Driloleius americanus) native to portions of Idaho and Washington will not be granted protection under the Federal Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today.

Federal biologists say recent information indicates the elusive worm, known as the giant Palouse earthworm, may be more widespread than previously thought and they need more information before providing protections that might come with an ESA listing.

Of course  it's elusive. It lives underground in the dirt.  Sheesh. If it were common, anglers would be hooking steelhead with those buggers every fall.

Read on for more details from the USFWS.

Montana targets 220 wolves; Idaho to decide this week

PREDATORS– Hunters will be able to shoot up to 220 gray wolves in Montana this fall under rules adopted recently.

The hunt is scheduled to begin in early September and is expected to reduce the predator’s Montana population by about 25 percent to 425 wolves.

Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission will consider wolf hunting and trapping seasons during its July 27-28 meeting in Salmon.

Government biologists declared the species recovered from near-extermination in the Northern Rockies a decade ago. Yet they were kept on the endangered list by a series of lawsuits from environmental groups and animal rights activists, leading western lawmakers to insert a provision in the budget bill that forced the animals off the list — the first time that had happened since the Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Commission Chairman Bob Ream told the Associated Press that he expected the state’s quota decision to draw criticism. However, he added that there was no chance of the population being decimated as some fear.

“We are making the best, science-based decision that we can,” said Ream, a retired biologist who studied wolves as a University of Montana professor. “Wolves are here to stay.”

Virtual tour: Fishing with Lewis and Clark

FISHING — I've often dreamed of tagging along and fishing the virgin wilderness rivers traveled by the Lewis and Clark Expedition as it explored the West.

Now it's easy to at least get a flavor for it.

A major exhibit of the expedition's fishing experiences – originally created by the Federation of Fly Fishers for it's fly fishing museum in Livingston, Mont. – has been adapted by Sandpoint-based Keokee publishers into an interactive virtual tour at UndauntedAnglers.org.

Lewis and Clark relied heavily on fish to survive their expedition across the unknown tracts of what was to become the continental United States – and they had some sport at it, too.

FFF’s project coordinator, Leah Elwell, said the exhibit was originally created in 2005 for display at the FFF’s Fly Fishing Discovery Center in Livingston.

After downsizing operations, the FFF found a new home for the exhibit with the Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and Trails in Nebraska.  

Unusually powerful rivers claim lives across the West

OUTDOOR HAZARDS — The deaths of three young tourists who were swept over a 317-foot waterfall last week in Yosemite National Park serve as a reminder of the deadly and alluring beauty of the raging rivers and streams across the West after a record winter snowfall.

States compiling sobering statistics are reporting an increase in water-related deaths, some of which they blame on the surge in river flows.

Around a dozen people have drown in Washington, including a kayaker near Kittitas, a woman rafter on the Wenatchee River— both wearing appropriate gear and PFDs — and a teenage girl who capsized a canoe with her brother on the Kettle River. He was wearing a PFD and survived. The girl was not wearing a PFD. 

In Montana, at least 10 people have drowned so far this year and another man is missing and presumed drowned after trying to retrieve an oar that fell out of his raft. Only three people drowned in 2010, and Montana officials are warning that the difference is the volume of fast and cold water from the melting snowpack and spring rains.

In Utah, at least 11 people have drowned since April, many of them swept away in fast-flowing rivers swollen by melting snowpack.

In Colorado, five people have died after being swept into Colorado’s raging rivers and creeks.

In Wyoming, at least half a dozen people have died this summer in rivers.

Nisbet to lead walk, wild plant discussion on South Hill bluff trails

TRAILS — Is Spokane’s High Drive Bluff festooned with native plants or plagued by weeds?
 
Author and naturalist Jack Nisbet along with WSU scientist Diana Roberts will lead a hike along the bluff trails on Wednesday to help trail fans understand the vegetation.

The event starts at 7 p.m. at Polly Judd Park,1732 W. 14th Ave.
 
Wear clothes and shoes suitable for a hike on the trails. This workshop is not designed for young children or dogs.
 
Info: Diana Roberts, WSU Spokane County Extension, (509) 477-2167, email robertsd@wsu.edu.
  

BLM sets planning workshops for public

PUBLIC LANDS — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is conducting workshops in the next two weeks so the public can view maps and participate in developing proposals for managing 445,000 acres in Washington, including the Fishtrap Lake area and Huckleberry Mountains.

Issues to be presented include grazing, recreational shooting, off-road vehicle use, wildlife protection and more.

Meetings of interest to the Spokane region are scheduled for 6 p.m.-9 p.m. as follows:

  • Okanogan, July 27, County Fairgrounds Agriplex Annex, 175 Rodeo Trail.
  • Pasco, Aug. 2, TRAC Center, 6600 Burden Blvd., Room 4.
  • Davenport, Aug. 3, Davenport Memorial Hall, 511 Park St.
  • Colville, Aug. 4, Institute for Extended Learning, 985 S Elm S.

More info online.

Oh-oh: Northern pike caught in Lake Roosevelt

FISHERIES — A fisherman on upper Lake Roosevelt Friday caught a northern pike, a non-native predator species fishery managers worry will spread down the Columbia River system.

According to Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine, the fish was landed by walleye angler Davey McKern of Kettle Falls.

Fisheries biologists have feared that the pike explosion in the Pend Oreille River would find its way downstream, where it could eventually raise havoc with salmon and steelhead runs in the Columbia River system. A major pike buffet at the mouth of the Okanogan River, for example, could be devastating.

Biologists from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Kalispel Tribe have been studying the Pend Oreille fishery to get a handle on the situation — if they can.

Spokane Summer Parkways event Sunday on North Side

OUTDOOR NEIGHBORHOODSSpokane Summer Parkways returns to the streets Sunday, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on the North Hill side of town — extending north and south of Franklin Park.

It's the second of three celebrations of human-powered transportation.

“Even though these are set in particular neighborhoods, we hope that people come from all over to experience the unique flavor of each event,” said organizer Bill Bender, noting that perhaps 3,000 people participated in the summer's earlier event on the South Hill.

“We will again have “soft” road closures, largely creating car-free streets, but allowing for local access as needed by those who live on the course.  

See the streets involved in the Summer Parkways event on this map .

Summary for Sunday (July 24):  For all ages. Bring your bikes, boards and feet to promote active forms of transportation, with family activities along closed streets. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.., North Hill neighborhood. Free. Info: (509) 625-6200.

But they’re not quite breeding like rabbits

ENDANGERED SPECIES — I know it's not funny in the case of an endangered species, but somehow it just doesn't seem right that it should be headline news when two rabbits do the wild thing.

Mount Rainier offers hope for whitebark pine woes

NATURE — The whitebark pine is making news as a potential candidate for Endangered Species protections, and the domino impacts on species ranging from Clark's nutcrackers to grizzly bears.

The whitebark pine, a high-elevation tree, is on the decline in the West, brought down by drought, bugs and warmer temperatures, but scientists say the pines on Washington state's Mount Rainier could provide seeds for a healthier, surviving species.

Get the details in this story by Craig Welch of the Seattle Times.
  

Washington’s 5th wolf pack confirmed; this one’s in Stevens County

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Washington’s fifth gray wolf pack has been confirmed in northeastern Stevens County, the state Fish and Wildlife Department just announced. 

Earlier this month, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists caught, marked with an ear tag and released a 2-month-old wolf pup from the pack. Biologists have since been trying to capture one of the pack’s breeding adult wolves to radio-collar it for monitoring.

The effort to document the pack began after local ranchers reported observing three wolf pups and hearing howling in late June.

The pack is believed to include a breeding-age male and female and at least three pups. The group has been named the Smackout Pack, in reference to geographic features in the area.

Read on for more information from the WDFW media release.

Lake Roosevelt OKs private cabin permits

PARKS – Special use permits will continue to be issued for private vacation cabins in the Sherman Creek and Rickey Point areas of Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, officials say. 

This decision was announced today by National Park Service officials after months of deliberation.

An environmental assessment suggested the cabins – some upgraded to large homes – did not significantly impact the shoreline.

Details are available online

The new plan contains new alternatives to protect the shoreline environment and reduce the appearance that the public beaches are private.

Cabin septic systems will have to meet upgraded standards before a new permit is issued.

Park Service officials note that federal law requires them to periodically determine whether the continued use of the private cabin sites interferes with public use.

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area includes 312 miles of publically-owned lakeshore.

Roosevelt at full pool; Coulee Dam still dumping water

RESERVOIRS — The level of Lake Roosevelt was inches below the full pool elevation of 1,290 feet today.  All boat ramps are in the water and life is good for reservoir goers.

For the next week, Lake Roosevelt will continue to be operated in the 1289-1290 range, the Bureau of Reclamation says.  Spill over the drumgates is expected to cease within the next week.   

For the beginning of August the lake is expected to begin drafting gradually to meet the Biological Opinion level of 1280 by the end of August.

For a daily forecast call (800) 824-4916.

GU student hikers help save man near Grand Canyon

BACKPACKING — Two Gonzaga University students vacationing in May near Grand Canyon National Park Gonzaga played key roles in saving a man's life.

According to a story from the GU News Service, nursing student Maggie Clark and accounting student Julia Biemann saved a man from drowning after they'd hike in 11 miles to Havasu Campground.

The man had been swimming in whirlpools churning beneath 200-foot Mooney Falls on Havasu Creek, a Colorado River tributary in the Grand Canyon some 120 miles northwest of Flagstaff.  The vortex caused by the falling water apparrently suck him back toward the falls where the currents forced him underwater for several minutes.

The story explains how a nursing student put her skills to work and how an accounting student with climbing skills honed in GU classes gave the story a happy ending.

Chinook fishing closes Sunday on lower Salmon River

SALMON FISHING — Chinook salmon fishing will close at the end of fishing on Sunday in the sections of the lower Salmon River from the mouth of Shorts Creek upstream to the uppermost boat ramp at Vinegar Creek, and from the Rice Creek Bridge upstream to the U.S. Highway 95 Time Zone Bridge.

The two sections are being closed to reduce the catch of fish headed upstream to the South Fork, Middle Fork and upper Salmon rivers.

Remaining open is the Park Hole section of the lower Salmon River, from the Time Zone Bridge upstream to the mouth of Shorts Creek, and the Little Salmon River. The daily bag limit remains six salmon per day, no more than three of which may be adults; the possession limit remains 18 salmon, no more than nine of which may be adults.

International fly fishing event coming to Spokane in 2012

FLY FISHING — “It's official!” said Spokane fly fisher Len Zickler. “Spokane has been selected as the site for the 2012 Federation of Fly Fishers Fly Fishing Fair & Conclave. 

“We will be teaming with Gonzaga University and the Spokane Sports Commission for the event.”

You can get a flavor for next year's Spokane conclave by heading to this year's event in West Yellowstone, where the 46th annual Fly Fishing Fair & Conclave will be held Aug. 31-Sept. 3.

 Get details here.

Glacier tourism down after record season

NATIONAL PARKS – The late spring and heavy snowpack has been a downer for visitation to Glacier National Park.

The National Park Service reports 266,263 people entered the park in June, down 21 percent compared to June 2010.

Of course, the park attracted record crowds last year because of centennial celebration activities.

But Going-to-the-Sun Road over Logan Pass didn’t open until July 13 this year, the latest opening on record.

Deep snow in the higher elevations is still blocking popular trails.

Bangs reflects on Northern Rockies wolf recovery effort

WILDLIFE — Ed Bangs worked on wolf recovery for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1988, through the reintroduction in the mid-1990s, until he retired last month.

High Country News editor Ray Ring rounded up Bans for an interview and this perspective of the wildlife biologist's experiences in the field and as a manager of a controversial program.
  

Pacific Crest Trail stretch to be closed next week

BACKPACKING — The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail No. 2000 will be closed to all users at the I-90 North Trailhead from Monday July 25 through Thursday July 28 to allow trail crew members to remove a large “log jam” from the trail.

The area of trail blocked by the downed trees is ¼ mile long and is extremely difficult for hikers to pass through, according to Cle Elum Ranger District officials.

“It is a very complex pile of blowdown and will require a variety of removal methods” said Deb Davis, veteran trail crew member.

The trailhead will be posted with closure information and trail crew members will be on the trail to prevent hikers from entering the project area while work is in progress.

Info: Cle Elum Ranger Station, (509) 852-1100.

Swollen streams pose obstacles to hikers

TRAILS — Many mountain streams are still flowing higher than normal for this time of year. 

Hiker's setting out for hikes that require fords should call ahead and plan for possible adjustments to their routes.

Routes around Mount Rainier that ford glacier-melt rivers can be deadly, especially this year.  Others, such as the Salmo River in northeastern Washington or the Little North Fork of the Clearwater in Idaho, might simply be a bit more inconvenient than usual.

Hiking poles and separate shoes for wading might be in order, and in some cases, a climbing rope and dependable companions may be needed for safety. 

Chelan Gorge whitewater kayaking flush is a go! Six sign up for Class V run

KAYAKING — They just barely made the 5 p.m. deadline! The six-kayaker minimum was met this afternoon to trigger the Chelan PUD to release water for kayakers out of Lake Chelan this weekend.

The kayakers signed up today for the rare chance to ride the flows shooting down the narrow gorge in a 3-mile series of Class V falls geared to EXPERT PADDLERS.

The Chelan River, although one of the shortest rivers in the northwest, offers some of the most challenging whitewater boating in the nation.  

This is the third year of a pilot program the PUD has established to test the safety and interest in the program.

Each year, during the study period, whitewater releases for kayakers are set to occur only on the second and fourth weekends in July and September.

Due to high flows, whitewater boating on the Chelan River on July 9 and 10 was cancelled.

More info from American Whitewater.

Read on for details and check out the video above compiled by Bellingham kayaker Matt Kuhrl during last year's weekend flush in the Chelan Gorge.

Great white shark jumps into research boat

OCEAN FISHERIES — From the wide world outdoors beat, shark researchers in South Africa didn't have to go far Tuesday to find a specimen - a 10-foot great white shark leaped into the back of their boat. And rather than a story of the big one that got away, this is a story of a big one they couldn't get rid of.

Read on for more of the report from CNN.

Look a salmon in the eye at Rocky Reach Dam

SALMON — While fishermen are keyed in to the run of chinook and sockeye salmon heading into the upper Columbia River, now's a good time for non-anglers to check out the action, too.

Up to 5,000 adult sockeye and 1,000 adult chinook salmon a day are moving past Rocky Reach Dam on their way upstream to spawn, offering a non-stop look at the  large Pacific salmon through the fish viewing windows at Rocky Reach Visitor Center near Wenatchee.

“This year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife forecast that more than 120,000 adult sockeye salmon will pass by the viewing windows at Rocky Reach Dam,” said Thad Mosey, Chelan County PUD fisheries biologist. “You’ll definitely see a lot of fish.”

The Visitor Center is open 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. every day, which is prime fish-viewing time, Mosey said. The big fish are most active during the day.

The salmon are making their way up the Columbia River to spawning grounds in tributaries. Chelan PUD provides passage upstream for adult salmon and steelhead through its fish ladders at Rock Island and Rocky Reach dams. In the spring, young salmon and steelhead pass the dams on their migration to the ocean with help from a combination of spill and the one-of-a-kind fish bypass at Rocky Reach Dam.

Fish viewing should be excellent at Rocky Reach for about three months, Mosey said. Sockeye and summer Chinook will be the primary travelers for the next month, and steelhead numbers will increase in August.
Visit www.chelanpud.org/fish-counts.cfm for daily fish counts.

The Visitor Center, seven miles north of Wenatchee on Highway 97A, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day through Oct. 31. Information about other things to see and do at the Visitor Center is on the PUD Web site.

Hunter makes case for visible license plates on ORVs

 OFF ROAD VEHICLES — After ATVers who ignored signs and violated rules spoiled an opening day hunt with his 11-year-old son, an Idaho sportsman calls for making off-road vehicle riders accountable.

Derrick Reeves of the Idaho Backcountry Hunters & Anglers makes his case in a commentary in New West online magazine.
 
A national ID standard should be established, and it would be most effective if the license or registration sticker was truly visible.
 
Read on for the main points of Reeve's proposal.

Trail cam documents big-game fattening for fall

WILDLIFE WATCHING — “Not many deer sightings, yet,” said Kevin Scheib of Colville, offering a report on what he's been docmenting with motion-activated game cams he's set up at various spots in Stevens County.

“But I've been haveing troubles with my camera's. One has been stolen. Bears keep readjusting my settings and I had a four piont bull elk rubbing on one.

“But anytime in the woods is good times!”

The photos he shares today show a cow and calf moose as well as several bull elk passing in front of the same camera this month.

  

Camp-raiding bear forces camping area closure up North Fork CdA River

WILDLFE ISSUES – A popular camping area up the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River is being closed to public use because of a black bear that’s been raiding campsites and picnickers.

Idaho Panhandle National Forests officials say the closure affects the Graham Creek area about 14 miles north of Interstate 90 and up the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River off Forest Highway 9. 

Frequent bear encounters have been reported in the area, said Kimberly Johnson, Coeur d’Alene District deputy ranger. 

“While most people are storing their food and trash properly, we have a situation that could potentially turn dangerous if the bear continues to return and becomes habituated to encounters with humans,” she said. 

“By removing food and trash from the area, our goal is to protect both the visitors and the bears by discouraging the bears from returning.”

When camping in bear country keep a clean camp, secure food and trash in bear-proof containers or a vehicle at all times, and keep pets under control, she advised. 

Info and updates:  Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District in Fernan (208) 664-2318.

Idaho’s Fish Lake Trail temporarily closed to motor vehicles

TRAILS — A popular Bitterroot Mountains destination for ATVers up from the North Fork of the Clearwater River has been closed to motorized traffic temporarily because of lingering snow and wet conditions, the Clearwater National Forest says.

Fish Lake Trail 419, located 15 miles south of Hoodoo Pass near the Idaho-Montana state line, is closed to motor vehicles to prevent damage to the trail and fragile high alpine meadows on the lake’s western edge, where ATVers like to congregate.

The trail is still snow-covered in many places, said Adam McClory, the Clearwater's North Zone recreation staff officer.  The dispersed campsites located near the lake are also under snow.

McClory said that Forest officials hope to reopen the trail in mid-August.

  • For updates on road and trail conditions, contact the Clearwater National Forest Information Desk, (208) 476-8267.

Finally! Mount St. Helens snow retreats; road opening

PUBLIC LANDS — The seemingly rentless grip of snow on the high country is giving way.

Road No. 25 on the east side of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument will be open from Pine Creek to Randle by Friday.

Paul Seitz of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest said the snow will be cleared by Thursday, then crews will turn their attention on road No. 99 leading to Windy Ridge.

“We'll start pushing through the 99 by Friday,'' Seitz said. “There is still a lot of snow up there and who knows what kind of damage we’ll find as we work our way in.”

Many secondary roads remain closed by lingering snow.

“In my 21 years on this forest, this is the latest opening we've ever had,'' said Ron Freeman, GPNF public services manager.

Should trophy hunters ride OHVs where other hunters can’t?

BIG-GAME HUNTING — Idaho Fish and Game officials are asking hunters whether trophy-species tag holders should be required to abide by the same motorized vehicle restrictions other hunters must obey. 

After getting feedback from hunters for years, the agency is proposing to apply motorized restrictions to trophy hunts in game management units where restrictions already apply to big game hunts in the southern half of Idaho (see map).

Motorized vehicle restrictions were adopted years ago to resolve many hunters’ concerns about off-road travel conflicting with other hunters in the field.

Typically, these rules restrict the use of any vehicle while hunting, including ATVs, ORV and motorcycles, to established road open to a full-sized automobile. Hunters may use any motorized vehicle to retrieve downed game or to set up camp, if travel in the area is allowed by the land owner or manager.

Motorized vehicle restrictions can be applied to any big game hunt, including trophy species (moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat). But the restrictions have not been applied to trophy species hunts. This has lead to situations in which other big game hunters, such as elk, deer and bear hunters, were restricted in an area while trophy hunters, at the same time, could use motorized vehicles.

Click here to register your comment by July 25 in Fish and Game's online survey.

Centennial Trail affected by Trent Bridge construction

TRAILS — Several construction projects are affecting recreationists traveling the Spokane River Centennial Trail this season.

The newest project involves construction under the Trent Bridge, set to start July 25.

Contractors will be laying ATT cable. Work will be through the week and perhaps into the week of Aug. 1. Trail closures of 2-3 hours are likely at the end of the week of July 25th or the beginning of the week of August 1.

For updates on other construction projects and the Thursday announcement of the membership drive bicycle drawing winner, check out the Friends of the Centennial Trail website.

New exhibits at Mount Rainier’s Sunrise Visitor Center

NATIONAL PARKS — Mount Rainier National Park has revealed a $600,000 upgrade to the Sunrise Visitor Center for visitors to enjoy this season. Sunrise opened for the season last week.

Patti Wold, project manager, told the Tacoma News-Tribune the exhibits were developed with the help of the U.S. Geological Survey, area Indian tribes and National Park Service staff. Among the challenges were developing low-tech displays, since power at Sunrise is supplied by a generator, as well as items that can withstand the freeze-thaw cycle of life at 6,400 feet.

“One of the most interesting exhibits is an actual cutaway of the ground, a 100-inch tall column showing the layers of dirt, volcanic deposits and development of the present-day cone,” reports Jeffrey P. Mayor, the TNT's outdoor writer. “The display shows the strata of the ground going back about 8,000 years,” Wold said.
  

New event gives kids a shot at the good kind of paddling

PADDLING — A boat-load of fun is awaiting youngsters during a new free event that will let them paddle canoes, whiewater kayaks, sea kayaks, invlatable kayaks — as well as the latest rage: stand-up paddle boards.

Paddle, Splash and Play is set for on July 30, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Nine Mile Recreation Area in Riverside State Park downstream from Nine Mile Dam.

The equipment and assistance in using the boats will be provided by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club, Mountain Gear and Spokane Parks and Recreation.

Visitors who have their own life jackets are encouraged to bring them, as there could be a shortage at times on site.

CURIOUS about Stand Up Paddling?

The photo above shows Rob Casey, author of “ Stand Up Paddling: Flatwater to Surf and Rivers,” recently published by Mountaineers Books.
  

Mountain biking event to debut at Fourth of July Pass

MOUNTAIN BIKING — A fat tire event with tours for riders of all levels will debut Saturday at Fourth of July Pass trail system.

Although it's called “50 Miles at the Pass,” the event's Gran Fondo format has different starting areas for rides of 10, 17, 35 and 50 miles.

Proceeds will be used by the new Lake City Trailbuilder's Association, which is working with area land managers to develop and improve trails,  said Kent Eggleston. This new association focuses on mountain bike trails but works with all user groups.

“Judging from the interest we've received, we're expecting 100 to 150 riders,” said Cully Todd of Bicycle Sales and Service in Coeur d'Alene, (208) 667-8969.

Riders can find just the right amount of challenge for their style, he said, noting that the course combines the Fourth of July Pass nordic ski area on the south side of I-90 and the ATV trail system on the north side.

The 35 and 50 mile rides with be on the ATV trails, where there's some pretty good ups and downs,” Todd said. “The 10 and 17 milers will be on the cross-country trails, which are tamer by comparison; more entry level.”

Cost: $25-$45.

Click here for details and online registration.

Click here for course maps.



  

Dam gates closed; Spokane River open for recreation at Post Falls

RIVER RUNNING — Avista has lifted its recreation closure on the Spokane River at Post Falls.

With runoff subsiding, the utility has closed the gates on Post Falls Dam, which allows recreational use to resume in the water between the Spokane Street Bridge and the boat restraining systems just upstream of the dam.

The City of Post Falls boat launch at Q’emiln Park was opened to the public on Monday, weeks later than normal.

Typically, the boat launch is opened sometime between Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday, Avista officials said. The median date for closing the gates is June 22.

This year, cool spring temperatures and a lingering, heavy snowpackcaused longer than normal high water flows, which delayed the opening of the boat launch.

For current information on lake leve changes on Coeur d’ Alene Lake, Lake Spokane and the Spokane River, call:

Idaho, (208) 769-1357;

Washington, (509) 495-8043.

OR check online.

Battle-scarred plug landed 43 salmon in two days

SALMON FISHING — Check out the photos sent to Northwest angler Buzz Ramsey by Bob Toman, who'd been fishing in Alaska's Nushagak River, which sports one of the largest king salmon runs in the world.

The scratched and battered Mag Lip plug had caught 43 salmon in two days, Toman said.

“And Bob want's a new one,” said Ramsey, a tackle manufacturer rep.

Responses from other anglers:

  • “Bah! Send it back down! That plug is just getting warmed up!
  • “I think that plug should be mounted above the fireplace, its the real trophy.”
  • “Tell Bob to send that plug to me, and I will send him one that Won't Catch 43 salmon in 2 days.”

Car vandalized at South Hill bluff trail parking area

TRAILS — Never leave a purse, wallet or valuables in sight in a car seat while parked at a trailhead, whether it's along the Centennial Trail or at the edge of a wilderness.

The latest reminder occured Monday around 10 a.m. when a vehicle parked on High Drive near 37th Avenue was struck by a thief while the driver was hiking the  South Hill bluff trails. 

The thief, apparently attracted by a purse left in the vehicle's seat, broke the window in full view of a residential area and fairly busy city street, grabbed the prize and was off.

Outdoor death toll mounts: More hikers killed in region’s high country

HIKING — The Inland Northwest has logged the fourth death this season of a hiker/climber who died after slipping on snow slopes

On Monday, a hiker on a steep snow field on Glacier National Park's Grinnell Glacier Trail slipped and slid downhill 50-100 feet. Initial reports from park officials indicate he suffered head injuries and died.

The hiker has been identified as Nicholas Ryan, 30, from Omaha, Nebraska.   

The death is the latest in a troubling series of fatalities. Some of them seem to have a link to the late-lingering snowpack that's left more snow to negotiate in the high country and a longer period of high, swift and cold water in the rivers below.

A 55-year-old Lake Stevens man died Saturday when he fell from a ridge in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness west of Leavenworth.  It's the second death in the Alpine Lakes this season.

The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office says Thomas Vietti was traversing a ridge on the west side of a lake lake below Big Jim Mountain. He apparently lost his footing as he was maneuvering around a large rock.

On July 3, a 21-year-old woman lost control while glissading on a snow slope and fell to her death in an icy crevasse in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. That's two similar type fatal accidents in one month in one Washington wilderness.  In addition, a woman climbing Mount Baker slid and fell to her death July 2.

In 34 years of covering the Inland Northwest outdoors beat, the spring-summer of 2011 stands out as one of the most deadly periods for the region's outdoors enthusiasts.

A climber slid to her death this month died this month on Mount Baker.

As today's front page S-R story pointed out, around two dozen drownings have been reported, including at least six — from the Wenatchee to the Blackfoot, Lochsa, Salmon and Owyhee — involving rafters in full whitewater gear and PFDs. 

One accident that wasn't specifically mentioned in that story involved a 14 year old girl who drown May 25 after the canoe she was paddling with her brother capsized in the cold, swift spring waters of the Kettle River. Stevens County Sheriff's officers said her brother, who survived, was wearing a life jacket.  She was not.

Idaho presents wolf hunting-trapping rules Thursday in CdA

FISHING — The Idaho Fish and Game Department will present its proposals for the 2011 wolf hunting-trapping season during an open house meeting Thursday at the agency's Panhandle Region office, 2885 W. Kathleen Ave. in Coeur d’Alene. See map.

Regional staff will be on hand to answer questions and to solicit input on the 2011 wolf season proposals from noon to 6 p.m.

Wolves were hunted during 2009 in Idaho, with 27 wolves legally taken during the hunting season.  This harvest likely slowed the growth of the Panhandle’s wolf population for that year, but wolf numbers increased during 2010, a year in which no wolf season was held. 

Proposals call for:

  • Starting the Panhandle hunting season a month earlier than in 2009,
  • Allowing trapping during a portion of the season,
  • Allowing hunters and trappers to take more than 1 wolf a year

Agency biologists say the number of wolves must be reduced to preserve adequate numbers of big-game animals and reduce conflicts with humans and livestock.  Meantine, they said reducing wolf numbers can be done while ensuring the long-term viability of wolves.

Click here for further information and a public opinion survey on wolves in Idaho. 

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will review public comments before making a decision on wolf season proposals at its July 27-28 meeting in Salmon.

Humpies hammer hooks on Washington Coast

SALMON FISHING — While the fish have just begun entering the Puget Sound area, this year's big crop of pink salmon is already making itself known to anglers along the north Olylmpic Peninsula.

From LaPush all the way to the western edges of Port Angeles, plethoras of pink salmon are flooding into the area, according to local reports.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Randy Lato of All-Ways Fishing (360-374-2052) in LaPush. “[Thursday] wasn’t too bad but [Wednesday] … I know I released over 50 of the damn things. It was just nonstop.

“It got to the point where I just said, ‘Guys, I’ve got to take a break.’ I said, ‘I gotta eat my sandwich.’

“By the time I got done with my sandwich, I had three fish waiting to get released.”

Indeed, the smaller pinks are starting to be a nuisance to the king- and coho-focused anglers.

But they’re providing anglers a virtual guarantee of hooking at least one salmon on a trip to Peninsula saltwater

Mariners can really score — when fishing for lake trout

FISHING — A group of players and friends from the Seattle Mariners took advantage of the All Star break to catch a nice pile of Lake Chelan mackinaw on July 11.

 At left, Aaron Laffey of the Mariners caught with the big fish of the day, an 18.6-pound laker.

The group fished with Anton Jones (the short guy above) of Darrell & Dad's Family Guide Service.

“What still continues red hot is trolling for big lake trout on the Lake Chelan “Bar” early in the morning,” Jones said.  “We are trolling for those Mackinaw in depths of 120 to 150 feet on the Bar just out from the Mill Bay boat launch.  The uplake half of that piece of structure has been absolutely loaded with quality fish the past few weeks.  This pattern has been solid for over a month. 

“We have had consistent success pulling T4 and U20 flatfish in Purple Glow at 1.2 to 1.5 mph.  Mack’s Lures Cha Cha Squidders in glow colors with a purple blade also worked fine.  Additionally Silver Horde’s Ace Hi Fly in glow colors baited with a strip of Northern Pikeminnow also worked great. 

“Don’t forget that you can add an Action Disk from Wigglefin.com to give all those squid rigs a bit of a different action.  Big Smile Blades from Mack’s Lures are another fine choice. 

“Although early and late in the day continue to be best, we have caught nice numbers of fish throughout the day.” 

Afghanistan soldier mourned by 49 Degrees North Ski Patrol

SKIING — He was far more than a soldier, of course.

Among other things, Staff Sgt. Wyatt A. Goldsmith of Colville was a Green Beret and a ski patroller at 49 Degrees North Mountain Resort.

Goldsmith, a medical sergeant with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne),  was killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack by insurgents in Helman province, Afghanistan, according to The Spokesman-Review's front page story today. 

A longtime member of the 49 Degrees North Ski Patrol, Goldsmith is remembered as someone who was always happy to be in the mountains when not serving his country. 

“Whenever Wyatt was on leave, he would be up here on the mountain.” said Brad Northrup, resort spokesman. “Every time I saw him on the slopes, he had a huge grin on his face.  He really loved skiing.”

His military awards include Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (2nd Award), Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghan Campaign Medal with one campaign star, Iraqi Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Parachutist Badge, Military Freefall Parachutist Badge, Special Forces Tab and Combat Infantryman Badge.

He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

And he loved to ski.
  

Wildflowers splashing color across Mount Spokane

NATURE — While a few snow patches still lingered on the upper slopes of Mount Spokane on the third weekend in July, the state park's wildflowers are making up for lost time and bursting into bloom.

From delicate calypso orchids along Trail 110 to the beargrass exploding all over the mountain, this is prime time to fill your eyes with the color nature is splashing on the landscape.

Two notable attractions I found during 12 miles of hiking on the mountain Sunday:

  • Beargrass at the top of the Eagle Crest Trail in the cross-country ski trail system is particularly prolific…resembling deep snow banks in some spots.
  • Lupine is blooming in one of the most spectacular displays on the mountain from — of all places — a former gravely mining equipment “parking lot” on the road near the summit of Quartz Mountain.  Check it out.

Crews have been out to clear blowdowns, leaving most of the trails open for easy cruising. 

Hike reveals bare grass fantasy

HIKINGWhen I hike through the forest this time of year, I can't help but note the resemblance between blooming beargrass and ….

Moose become canvas for new wildlife control tool

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — When law enforcement officers arrived around 6 a.m July 5 to deal with three moose on Interstate 90 near Liberty Lake, they were armed with guns you can buy at a toy store.

Washington state troopers blocked I-90 traffic while state Fish and Wildlife police “escorted” three yearlings out of traffic toward the Spokane River. To keep the moose moving, the officers used paintball guns.

“Two officers went at them on foot and stung them every now and then with the paintball guns,” said Capt. Mike Whorton of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department. “Pretty soon they ran across all four lands of I-90 and out of the way of traffic.”

Whorton said one of his officers tested his own paintball gun last year for harassing and moving wildlife out of danger. The test was so successful, a local sportsmen's group has purchased paintball guns for all of the area Fish and Wildlife police, he said.

“Paintball guns can get off a lot of shots rapidly and accurately,” he said. “They are so much more effective and cost effective than the rubber bullets we had been firing out of 12-gauge shotguns. And aside from some pink paint on their rumps, the paintballs don't do any more than sting the moose.”

U.S. starting to curb appetite for overfishing

OCEAN FISHERIES — Forty stocks of fish populations are subject to overfishing in U.S. waters, but progress is being made to rebuild stocks and reduce overfishing, federal officials say.

The number of fish populations being fished at too high of a level at the end of 2010 was up by two from 2009, according to an annual report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Among the stocks being overfished are cod in the Northeast, red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific bluefin tuna off the West coast.

But officials said many key populations of fish have shown improvement over the years. Twenty-one stocks have been rebuilt to healthy levels since 2000, and three key stocks in the Northeast — Georges Bank haddock, Atlantic pollock and spiny dogfish — reached healthy levels in 2010, said Eric Schwab, the head of NOAA’s Fisheries Service.

“We are turning a corner as we see important fish stocks rebounding,” Schwab said in a statement.

Eating our way out of invasive species infestations

EXOTIC SPECIES — Care for a nutria burger?  Or maybe a dab of didymo “rock snot” on your ice cream?

With a boost from creative marketing, the bloated American appetite could help control exotics while conserving imperiled native species.

An invasive species called lionfish is devastating reef fish populations along the Florida coast and into the Caribbean. According to a New York TImes report, an increasing number of environmentalists, consumer groups and scientists are seriously testing a novel solution to control it and other aquatic invasive species — one that would also takes pressure off depleted ocean fish stocks: they want Americans to step up to their plates and start eating invasive critters in large numbers.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is now exploring models suggesting that commercial harvest of Asian carp in the Mississippi would most likely help control populations there, “as part of an integrated pest management program,” spokeswoman Valerie Fellows told The Times.

When they find tastey recipes for spotted knapweed, cheatgrass, rush skeletonweed, milfoil and zebra mussels, we'll be on the road to recovery.

Learn basics of backpack cooking Thursday at REI

BACKPACKING — Tired of Ramen? Too cheap for freeze-dried?

Get tips for organizing and preapring fun, easy meals on your next hiking adventure during a free intro to backpack cooking program Thursday, 7 p.m., offered by the staff of the REI store at 1125 N. Monroe.

The program will touch on preserving, preparing, packing and cooking tasty meals that won’t drag you down.

Woman hot-footing toward speed record on Appalachian Trail

BACKPACKING — Ultra hiking specialist Jennifer Pharr Davis of North Carolina is trying to break her own speed record of 57 days, 8 hours, 35 minutes  as she attempts to go from Maine to Georgia on the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail.

Davis, who began her supported trek in midJune is also mindful of the men’s record of 47 days, 13 hours, 31 minutes.

For perspective, to set her record of 57 days she had to average a brisk pace of 38 miles per day every day for two months.

She knows what she's up against on the 2,181-mile footpath. Davis hiked end to end (called a thru-hike) from south to north in 2005 before setting the speed record three years later going north to south.

Read on for more details.

Big cover up revealed at Glacier’s Parks Logan Pass

NATIONAL PARKS — The Going to the Sun Road has been open for three days and the scenery's fantastic.

But the photo gives you a hint of what it's like at the top of Logan Pass.

Late snow blocks climber’s 10 peaks in six days attempt

MOUNTAINEERING — Near the top of Eastern Oregon's nearly 10,000-foot Sacajawea Peak, Steve Kominsky of Medford found himself staring at an all-too familiar barrier between himself and Oregon mountaineering history.

A 25-foot snow cliff, slickened under the mid-summer sun, shouldn't be there in July. But there it was, the last impediment to reaching the top.

OregonOutdoors on Facebook

To see two short videos shot by Steve Kominsky, on Steen Mountain and South Sister, go to the Oregon Outdoors Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Oregon-Outdoors/162141490490326

One slip and he'd tumble 1,300 feet or more. He thought of his pregnant wife, Heather, his 15-month-old son, Dawson.

“It was one of those moments of, 'What do I really need to do here?' ” Kominsky, 28, told Mark Freeman, outdoors writer for the Medford Mail. “No summit is worth that risk.”

Indeed, the elements, not his mettle, have kept Kominsky from reaching his goal of climbing Oregon's 10 tallest peaks in six consecutive days.

His personal “Oregon 10-in-6 Challenge” ended Friday atop Mount Hood as something of a bust, with the uber-athlete able to reach the summit at only four of his high-altitude quests.

Gnarly, way-above-average snowpacks have forced him to turn back at six others, even when he stood as close as 300 feet from the top of Middle Sister on Wednesday, Freeman reported.

“It's honestly disappointing,” Kominsky said Wednesday as he climbed down South Sister after reaching its summit. “There's no doubt in my mind that the 10-in-6 is completely doable.

“Unfortunately, there's nothing I can do about the conditions,” he says.

See a his short video from the summit of South Sister near Bend, Ore.

Columbia River sockeye run likely fourth largest on record

SALMON FISHING — Better late than never – the 2011 sockeye salmon run pouring over Bonneville Dam and heading up the Columbia River likely be the fourth largest since records were started in 1980.

Most of the sockeye are headed for the Wenatchee and Okanagan river basins in central Washington and British Columbia, but around 2,000  are destined for a 900-mile swim up the Columbia and Snake  river systems to spawn in the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho.

While this year’s forecast of 181,000 sockeyes is big, it pales to last year’s record run of 387,858.

Beginning yesterday, anglers can retain adult sockeye salmon in the mainstem Columbia River above Priest Rapids Dam, including the Okanogan and Similkameen Rivers, and Lake Osoyoos.

Columbia River sockeye returns are surpassing expectations and fisheries managers say, “Game on!”

The daily limit is four sockeye with a minimum size of 12 inches. All coho and steelhead must be released.

Bonneville Dam counts have ranged from 3,329 on July 12 to 5,262 on July 8.

As of Wednesday, 173,500 fish had moved above Bonneville of the 181,000 expected.

Read on for a breakdown on the sockeye fisheries opening:

Fledgling ‘EagleCam’ star found dead

WILDLIFE WATCHING— One of the young eagles monitored on a popular Seattle-area EagleCam has died, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports.

The fledgling eagles were just learning how to fly when one was found dead near the nest tree Tuesday. There were no visible injuries to how the bird died.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents have taken the dead eagle and a necropsy is planned to determine the cause of death.

Wildlife officials say the surviving young eagle appears fine and has mastered basic flying 101. The young eagle may leave the nest soon or continue using it as a temporarily feeding and roosting site.

The EagleCam live video streams an eagle nest egg perched atop a 200-year-old Douglas Fir tree in Seattle.

Thousands of regular viewers have watched the eagles from when they hatched about four months ago to when they took their first flight just days ago.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's network of eagle cams has become an obsession to some eagle fans and an important way to educate the public and get the involved in efforts to protect the rebounding population.

Crystal Mountain’s ski season finally coming to end

SKIING — Washington's Crystal Mountain ski resort near Mount Rainier says its ski season will end Saturday, nearly nine months after it opened in November.

The resort (see map) says the longest season in its 48-year history was made possible by record-breaking snowfall and the new Mount Rainier Gondola.

The resort measured 612 inches of snow — 51 feet — from November to June.  The previous record at Crystal Mountain was 592 inches in the 1998-99 season.

Crowds flock to opening of Glacier’s Sun Road

NATIONAL PARKS — On Wednesday, all 50 miles of the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road opened to the public and the crowds turned out in droves, heralding the official start to summer in this northern region.

The Sun Road's opening was highly anticipated, according to a story in the Missoulian.

The July 13 opening marks the second-latest opening date in the scenic drive's 78-year history, and the latest it's ever opened due to winter weather, the evidence of which was superabundant Wednesday.

Throughout the morning and afternoon, park rangers delivered informational lectures to visitors curious about the status of Glacier National Park's glaciers, which are quickly disappearing due to the effects of global climate change. A snow-covered Mount Clements and a towering wall of snow provided the backdrop to those climate change talks, called “Goodbye to Glaciers.”

“It's always a tough sell when you're standing beside a giant snowdrift like this,” ranger Megan Chaisson said.

It’s an odd year: that means humpies coming to Puget Sound

SALMON FISHING — Western Washington anglers are starting to get pink fever for the big run of humpies that pours into coastal waters on odd-numbered years.

Returns are expected to be huge, and the first short at the front end of the runs starts Saturday on the Nooksack River near Bellingham.

West Side outdoor writers already are giving anglers details on when, where an how to hook their share of the bounty.

Check here for a column by Bellingham Herald writer Doug Huddle regarding the early opportunity.

Prime time in the rest of Pugest Sound is in August and September. 

“The earliest the Skagit opens for the odd-year salmon is Aug. 1 while it’s Aug. 16 on the Snohomish, Skykomish and Puyallup, Aug. 20 on the Duwamish, and Sept. 1 on the Stillaguamish and Carbon,” reports Andy Walgamott in Northwest Sporstman Magazine. “Some runs stay worthwhile into early October.”

Beargrass is blooming at Mount Spokane

HIKING — Beargrass is to wildflowers what antlers are to bone.

They grow long stalks incredibly fast and explode into a white plume of blooms.

Now showing at Mount Spokane State Park and other IInland Northwest mountains near you.

Bobcat on pins and needles when pursued by cougar

WILDLIFE WATCHING — An Arizona couple recently witnessed a wildlife spectacle outside their home hear Gold Canyon as a mountain lion launched an attack on a bobcat.

In a desperate escape along the foothills of the Superstition Mountains, the bobcat sprinted up a very tall and very stickery saguaro cactus. The mountain lion called off the chase at that point.

Curt Fonger tells the story and shares photos with an Arizona TV station.

The photographer seized the opportunity to capture photos of the bobcat on its perch. One of the photos from a distance gives a good perspective on the height of the cactus.   The bobcat just hunkered on the saguaro for hours until the coast was clear, and then departed, seemingly impervious to the sharp cactus spines.

Fonger said the only way he'll top that wildlife photography experience is if the mountain lion comes by and gives him a pose.

 

Why does a mountain’s shadow appear triangular?

MOUNTAINEERING — Even experienced mountaineers have been stopped in their tracks occasionally by the rare sight of a triangular shadow darkening the landscape in the distance away from a major peak.

The triangle shadow phenomena is fairly commonly seen from the tops of large mountains and volcanoes, but not well understood.

Check out this astronomy website for a good explaination.  Navigate to the Astronomy picture of the day for July 5, 2011.

Montana sets quota of 220 wolves for fall hunt

PREDATORS — Hunters will be able to shoot as many as 220 gray wolves in Montana this fall under rules adopted today by state wildlife commissioners.

The hunt is scheduled to begin in early September and is expected to reduce the predator’s Montana population by about 25 percent to 425 wolves, according to an Associated Press report.

Idaho's proposed hunting-trapping plans last week for controlling wolves — proposals are detailed online — but decisions won't be made until later this month.

Read on for more Montana details and background from the Associated Press.

Last chance: Centennial Trail group offers chance to win bike

TRAILS — Forget the freaking Washington State Lottery. If you want a GOOD chance to win something valuable, join the Friends of the Centennial Trail.

People who become members by Friday (July 15) get their name entered in a drawing to win a Trek 7.2 FX 20-inch bicycle, sponsored by Two Wheel Transit.

It's a nifty bike, and the odds are outrageous.  Only about 60 people have signed up in this campaign.

Check out the details on the Friends' website or call (509) 624-7188.

  • Incidentally, the Friends are worth donations beyond membership. They do great things to help push forward major projects, including proposed overpasses as streets such as Mission Ave.

Epilogue: Nugent’s beliefs off target in my hunting camp

HUNTING ETHICS — Right-wing rocker/hunter Ted Nugent has come and gone from the Inland Northwest.

Here's a column wrapup with a few of my final thoughts on the celebrity and his impact on the sport of hunting as I know it.

Salmon River anglers bagging spring chinook

SALMON FISHING — This year's huge and prolonged runoff down the Snake River system has dealt Salmon River fishing guides a tough hand  — until this week.

“Salmon Fishing is on!” reports Amy Sinclair of Exodus Wilderness Adventures in Riggins. “We are done singing the High Water Blues. Salmon River flows have receded to the 30,000 cfs mark and now is the time to book a trip.”  Email: riverescape@frontier.com

This week's Idaho Department of Fish and Game's regional fishing report concurs:

“Without a doubt the highest catch and harvest rates are around Riggins averaging 4-5 hours per fish kept,” the report says. “Last week (July 4-10) an estimated 2042 adults were harvested in the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers combined. This leaves around 4,000 Rapid River adults to harvest so go put some notches on your permit.”

See the IFG fish planner salmon map for season details.

Join group maintaining South Hill bluff trails

TRAILS — With more than 23 miles of trails to maintain on the South Hill bluff trail system below High Drive, a group is organizing to do the job right.

Join them Saturday, 9 a.m.-noon, for a practical clinic on how to protect trails from erosion.

The group will work on an intersection that is eroding back to its “natural” angle of slope.

Mike Brixey will teach how to deal with these situations, which are common on the bluff trails.

Meet at the High Drive trailhead 20 yards south of Bernard. Wear work gear and bring sturdy tools!

Hikers and mountain bikers are all welcome to participate.

Info:  Diana Roberts 477-2167, Email: robertsd@wsu.edu
  

Kootenai Forest enacts food storage rules in bear country

CAMPING — The Kootenai National Forest, which manages the Cabinet Mountains of northwestern Montana and a portion of Idaho, has enacted stricter food storage rules to help prevent campers, hunters and cabin dwellers from luring bears in to trouble.

Storing food in a vehicle satisfies the rule for most campers.  But campers without hard-sided RVs or vehicles must take extra measures.

Details have been posted on the forest's website.

Bear resistant containers are required for campers in some cases.

Hanging food properly continues to be an option for backpackers and other backcountry campers.

The diagram at left indications how campers who must go light can meet the forest's “approved storage method.”

Storing food in a bear resistant manner means hung 10 feet off the ground and four feet horizontally from a tree or other structure; stored in a hard-sided camper; vehicle trunk, or cab or trailer cab: in a hard-sided building, or stored using an electric fence.

Feds get 25K comments on CM Russell Wildlife Refuge plans

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge no longer is just an expanse of wild prairie along the Missouri River Breaks in northern Montana. It's a lightening rod for how wildlands will be managed.

A proposed management plan would modify proposed wilderness areas — reducing acreage in the preferred alternative — and put fire and cows to work to enhance wildlife habitat.

The plan for the refuge — the second largest refuge in the Lower 48 — drew about 25,000 comments from the public, according to a story in the Great Falls Tribune.

The area, first designated as a game range in 1936 and jointly managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service for 40 years, was changed to a wildlife refuge in 1976 under sole management of the USFWS, with wildlife conservation the main mission.

Pend Oreille Poker Paddle postponed

RIVER RUNNING — Due to high water and related health and safety issues, the 30th annual Pend Oreille County Poker Paddle has been rescheduled from July 16-17 to Aug. 27-28.

Info: Greater Newport Area Chamber and Visitors Bureau website.

Bear experts resume search for North Cascades grizzlies

WILDLIFE — Teams of wildlife biologists have begun the second year of effort to determine the status of grizzly bears in the North Cascades.

U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Western Transportation Institute biologists are using remote-controlled cameras and hair snares spread across about 9,500 square miles in North Central Washington.

Some teams will be working this summer in the Upper Cascade River watershed where a hiker photographed an animal in October that an interagency panel of grizzly bear experts confirmed was a grizzly bear. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week it was the first confirmed grizzly bear sighting in the North Cascades since 1996.

Read on for details about the research, which is having a boost of enthusiasm now that the photos have confirmed grizzlies have been using the area.

Banks Lake drawdown to begin Aug. 1

LAKES — Anglers and campers will see new ground at Banks Lake this summer.

Starting Aug. 1, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will lower Banks Lake by 30 feet to complete about $2 million worth of work at Dry Falls Dam and North Dam.

“It sounds like a lot, but we have a footprint on what it will look like,” said Stephanie Utter, manager at the Bureau's Ephrata office. “It's not as bad as it sounds. It's a pretty deep reservoir and it will still have a lot of water in it.”

The lake has had only a few major drawdowns: in the 1960s and later for milfoil control in the early to mid-1990s.

The drawdown will allow construction and upgrades for recreational facilities, too.

At Coulee City, for example, plans call for work on the swim beach area and expand boat moorage sites, she said.

Ted Nugent’s bottom line for his gun-slinging mouth: “I’m an entertainer”

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Obama: suck my gun barrel

HUNTER EDUCATION — This expert from my recent pre-concert interview with rock guitarist Ted Nugent, a right-wing hunting/shooting fanatic, gives sportsmen a lot to chew before deciding whether they want to follow him as a credible spokesman for hunting, shooting sports, conservation — or politics, for that matter.

  • The video above shows his (fake) gun-slinging taught to then Sens. Obama and Clinton during a concert in Texas.
  • Click the audio link above to hear my question and The Nuge's explanation of the concert rant as well as his response to a hunter education instructor's observation about the way sportsmen should be taught to handle firearms.

Rufus Woods rainbows ravage flies

FLY FISHING — The Swede's Fly Shop crew was presented feathers to fins at Rufus Woods Lake on Sunday, and they came home with lots of stories and even more mangled flies, says Allen Peterson.

“Stop by the shop for direrctions, flies and all the info you need,” he said, showing a photo of an Egg-Sucking Leach pattern that had seen far better days.

“Have to have a float tube, pontoon boat or a boat boat. RIO Deep 7 line. Wow! What a rush!”

Forest fire lookout museum in Spokane available for tours

NATIONAL FORESTS — Ray Kresek, author of “Fire Lookouts of the Northwest,” maintains a Fire Lookout Museum in north Spokane available to the public by appointment.

Contact:(509) 466-9171; email rkresek@comcast.net

Kresek recently was honored by the U.S. Forest Service with a national Smokey Bear Award.

Kresek began leading the effort to preserve the Salmo-Priest Wilderness in 1968. Wilderness status was achieved in 1984.

Trails: Blue Mountains snow gone; blowdowns not cleared

HIKING — A Tuesday report from the Blue Mountains indicates that the snow is gone in “most” of the critical areas, but Umatilla National Forest crews are just completing their work to clear roads and now they're starting to getting out to clear trails.

Here's the report from John and Diane Latta of Spokane after they hiked the trail to Oregon Butte:

“Great views from the lookout and other points along the trail.  You can see the Seven Devils, Wallowas and Elkhorn Ridge.
 
“The road is logged out all the way to the very nice Teepee Treailhead.  The recent big fires have not affected the area in the slightest.  We did find probably 100 blowdowns blocking the trail, many in large groups. We managed to find our way around, over and under them to make it back. 
 
“The old trail over West Butte avoids some of the worst blowdowns, but there are still plenty to contend with to get to the Lookout.  The camping sites near Oregon Butte Spring are covered with blowdowns as well.
 
“Only minimal patches of snow in the woods that will probably melt in the next few days.”
 
A Northwest Forest Pass or federal equivalent is required on vehicles parking at trailheads in the Umatilla NF. 

St. Joe River wets rafters before as flows continue downward

St. Joe River Whitewater Rafting from Tanner Grant on Vimeo.

RIVER RUNNING — While fishermen have been chomping at their bits, whitewater rafters have been enjoying the prolonged high flows in Idaho's St. Joe River.

Tanner Grant of Spokane shot this video of a June 28 rafting trip on the Joe from Packsaddle Campground to Avery. The flows were around 7,900 cfs.

This week the flows are trending down below 5,000 cfs.

Mount Spokane trail project volunteers needed

STATE PARKS — After years of effort and the approval of a park master plan, the coast is clear for organized volunteer groups to work with park managers to re-route and improve the multi-use trail system at Mount Spokane State Park.

And the're wasting little time.

The snow has barely cleared from the slopes, yet the Spokane Mountaineers are organizing a work party on Thursday.

Read on for the scoop on that effort from organizer Holly Weiller, plus two other alternatives for volunteers who'd like to join the group this weekend and next week

Idaho offers reduced hunting, fishing fees to nonresident disabled vets

HUNTING/FISHING — Since July 1, Idaho has been offering reduced license and tag fees to nonresident disabled American veterans participating in a hunt in association with a qualified organization.

Before July 1, reduced license and tag fees were available only for resident disabled veterans.

Under the new law, nonresident disabled veterans meeting the conditions may be eligible for the following bargains:  hunting license $5; deer tag $10.75; elk tag $16.50; bear tag $6.75; and turkey tag $10.75.

Read on for details on the qualifications.

Little Spokane River moves paddlers along

PADDLING — The Little Spokane River's flows are still unseasonably high, but they've dropped to a pleasant level.  I joined a group of canoeists Sunday at flows of 300 cfs and we effortlessly floated from St. George's School to the takeout near the confluence of the Spokane River in 2.5 hours — that includes a little slough exploring.

Some trees were down on the water, but we found big gaps and easy maneuvered past them.

Remember, Washington's new Discover Pass is required for parking at facilities along the Little Spokane River and other state park facilities.

The Little Spokane River is a natural area with additional rules beyond those at most state parks.

1. All use of the river must be by a device that keeps passengers out of the water. In other words, canoes, kayaks, and rafts are acceptable; inner-tubes, air mattresses, or swimming are not.

2. No alcoholic beverages are allowed on the Little Spokane.

3. Keep your pets elsewhere. They do not belong in the Little Spokane Natural Area.

4. Of course, please take home whatever you bring. Do not litter. Isn't that obvious?

5. Because it is a natural area, please do not disturb the wildlife in any way. Fishing is allowed (guess they aren't considered wildlife…) but not from shore.

6. Wear your personal floatation device at all times.

Don't have your own canoe or kayak? Here are sources for renting them:

  • Mountain Gear, 325-9000.
  • REI, 328-9900.
  • Riverside State Park, (509) 465-5064.

See Idaho wolf hunt plans; participate in online survey

PREDATORS — Idaho's proposed hunting-trapping plans for controlling wolves are detailed online

The same website asks viewers to complete an online survey rearding the proposals.

Idaho Fish and Game officials say they will survey 1,000 randomly selected hunters and 2,000 members of the public about the proposed wolf season.

For anyone else interested, but not included in the survey, the questions will be posted on the website along with a place to offer comments. The results will be presented to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at the July 27 and 28 meeting in Salmon.

The comment deadline is July 24. Written comments may be sent to: Wolf Comments, Idaho Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707.

Pack goat group works on Lewis and Clark Trail

PUBLIC LANDS — A Clearwater National Forest Service crew leader and 23 volunteers from the North American Pack Goat Association made major improvements to an Idaho stretch of the Lewis and Clark National HistoricTrail last weekend.

The organization established in 2001 to promote packing with pack goats, cleared brush and wind-felled trees from 2 ½ miles of Clearwater Forest’s Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, between Small Prairie Camp and the Dollar Creek Bridge. 

The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail runs 3,700 miles from Wood River, Ill., to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon.

Info: Northwest Packgoats in Weippe,  Idaho.

Hikers still dealing with snow on region’s mountain trails

HIKING — Maria Trujillo Vogel and her husband, Cary, tried to ride the trail to Blossom Lake on the Idaho Montana Divide east of Prichard,Idaho, on their mountain bikes last weekend for an annual July trip.

“Left the bikes half way because we had to trek over several feet of snow,” she said. “Next time we will bring snow shoes and poles. It is July for heaven's sake!

“We did skip the swim this time.”

Her photo above signals why.

But the steady warmer weather is changing conditions rapidly.

Skinny dipping by August, I predict.

New calf swimming with orcas in Puget Sound

MARINE MAMMALS — A newborn calf has been spotted among one of the pods of killer whales returning to the Puget Sound.

The Kitsap Sun reports the baby orca was seen Wednesday, when a majority of the three pods of killer whales returned to the San Juan Islands, as they do each year.

Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research says all the adult orcas in the three pods seem to be accounted for, including one whale that had not been seen since February.

Balcomb says the newborn calf is male and still had his umbilical cord attached on Wednesday. That means he is only days old. His birth brings the total Puget Sound or Southern Resident orca population to 88. The whales are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Now’s the time to bag an Idaho resident elk tag

BIG-GAME HUNTING — Idaho resident elk hunters who didn’t draw in any controlled hunt permits can pick up a general season tag now that the controlled hunt drawings are over.

Tags for elk zones subject to a quota went on sale Sunday. Resident quota elk tags available are:

Elk zone     Tag type / No. available

  • Dworshak          B       2,118
  • Lolo                   A           128
  • Lolo                   B           630
  • Elk City             B       1,414
  • Selway              A           179
  • Selway              B           480
  • Middle Fork      A       1,168
  • Middle Fork      B           925
  • Salmon              B       1,489
  • Sawtooth           A           496
  • Sawtooth           B       1,920
  • Smoky Mtn       A           646
  • Diamond Creek A       1,017        

Congress pushes to gut Land and Water Conservation Fund

CONSERVATION — Very little good news is coming from the national hunting, angling and conservation groups that keep an eye on the U.S. Congress and it debates deficits, debt ceilings and revenue shortfalls.

On the chopping block today are projects that have protected water quality, working ranches and forests and critical natural resources, state and local parks, as well as those that ensure access to public lands for hunters, fishermen and outdoor recreationists.

The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote today on a recommendation to eviscerate the funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, cutting it by 80 percent from last year.

In Washington over the past 45 years, about $525 million from this fund has help protect public lands in  national parks and forests across the state as well as providing matching project money for groups doing wildlife habitat work, including The Nature Conservancy and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The Spokane County Conservation Futures Program has worked with Ducks Unlimited to harness Land and Water Conservation funding for securing and restoring wetlands such as the Slavin Conservation Area.

LWCF is in the crosshairs for cuts that could have far-reaching and devastating impacts on Washington’s outdoor recreation and tourism economy, according to the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition.

Lookout Pass ski expansion eyed by backcountry skiers

SKIING — The Phase1 plans for the proposed expansion of Lookout Pass Ski Area is being watched by the Stevens Peak Backcountry Coalition.   Here's the group's latest update, and a map.

In a related topic, the coalition posts this update on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests response to a request for a comprehensive winter plan.

Steelhead are showing signs of a surge at Bonneville Dam

STEELHEAD FISHING — Although this year's big flows have delayed the migration of this year's adult steelhead run UP the Columbia River, the surge has begun at Bonneville Dam — the first dam the fish hit as they come inland from the ocean. 

Within a week or so, the trickle over upstream dams, including Lower Granite Dam downstream from Clarkston, should improve to more of a flow.

Last year at this time, around 200 steelhead a day were climbing over Lower Granite, the last Snake River dam before the fish head into Idaho or the Grande Ronde River.

This year, fewer than 10 a day are being counted at Lower Granite.

Columbia sockeye forecast upgraded, summer chinook lower

SALMON FISHING — Good news and less good news for salmon anglers comes from today's meeting of the Columbia River fisheries Technical Advisory Committee.

The group of scientists updated expected run sizes as follows.

  • Summer chinook = 80,000 at the Columbia River mouth.  Pre-season forecast:  91,900.
  • Sockeye – 181,500 at the river mouth.  Pre-season forecast: 161,900. 

Video: Rafters well washed after running upper Spokane River

Upper Spokane River Drift from Tanner Grant on Vimeo.

RIVER RUNNING — Tanner Grant of Spokane filmed his rafting trip Saturday as he and friends ran the unseasonably high flows from Harvard Road downstream through Flora and Sullivan rapids to Plante's Ferry Park.

He said the Spokane River was running about 10,700 cfs when he started.  The flows have been going down fairly steadily for the past three days.

Wyoming, Montana working toward joining Idaho in wolf hunt

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Idaho announced it's wolf management plans — including trapping — last week.   Montana officials plan to address hunting and management proposals this week.

Wyoming continues to be a step out of sync, although that may be changing.

U.S. and state officials said Thursday they were close to reaching a deal over how to end federal protections for wolves in Wyoming.

Environmental groups criticized the proposal that would allow wolves to be shot on sight in most of the state, the Associated Press reports. They also said a pending congressional proposal to exempt the plan from court review promises to undermine the Endangered Species Act.

Wyoming is the last state in the Northern Rockies where the federal government still manages the wolf population.

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar said the wolf population clearly has recovered in the region and he expects to publish a rule by the end of September detailing how to turn over management of Wyoming wolves to the state.

Pressure to end federal wolf protections is high in Wyoming, where some ranchers and hunters are concerned about the animals feeding on livestock and wildlife.

Pioneering outdoorswoman Anne LaBastille dies

OUTDOOR PEOPLE — A woman who became cult hero as a naturalist an outdoorswoman in the 1970s has died after a long illness.

When her marriage fell apart in the mid-1960s, Anne LaBastille took refuge in the wilderness, building a log cabin on a hidden lake in the Adirondack Mountains and then carving an influential writing career out of her remote existence, the New York Times reports.

The women's and environmental movements were on the rise in 1976 when she published “Woodswoman,” the first in a four-volume autobiographical series that celebrated her adventures - and inspired women across the nation to engage in the great outdoors.

LaBastille, who had Alzheimer's disease, died July 1 at a care facility in Plattsburgh, N.Y., said her friend Doris Herwig. She was 77.

Read on for more details from the Associated Press.

Kayaker rescues hiker backing away from Yellowstone grizzly

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS —  An Oregon man visiting Yellowstone National Park with his family helped rescue a hiker who was being threatened by a bear on Friday just days after another grizzly attacked and killed a hiker in the park.

The rescue as he paddled his kayak to help her swim safely across the lake was captured on video and photos and presented in this KING 5 TV report.

While it might be an exaggeration that he saved the woman's life — the bear had no cubs to defend — Dave Beecham, 37, certainly defused the tension as he helped the woman escape from the approaching bear Friday at a remote lake in the park.

Park officials say backcountry visitors have been edgy since the story broke July 6 that a grizzly with two young cubs had killed a 57-year-old California man as he was hiking in the backcountry with his wife.

Park officials are encouraging backcountry hikers to carry pepper spray and have it ready for instant use, according to this ABC News video report on the bear attack.

The Nuge says archery industry has too much pull

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How archery shops are thwarting their own sport.

BOWHUNTING — From my recent interview with Ted Nugent, here's an audio clip of his rant on the archery industry and its tendency to promote high-poundage bows.

Algae blooms can affect swimmers, boaters, dogs

LAKES — Public health officials issue warnings this time of year to be wary about the color of the water we enjoy for recreation.

Algae, the microscopic organisms that grow naturally in the ocean and fresh water, are generally harmless.

But one kind, called cyanobacteria or blue-green algae, can produce toxins capable of causing illness in people and animals, including dogs.

People can be exposed in several ways — through contact while wading or playing in the water, swallowing affected water when swimming, or inhaling water droplets during activities like water-skiing.

Read more about harmful algae blooms

Read on for details from an Associated Press report.

Kings Lake proposed for rotenone treatment

FISHING – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is holding meetings this month to discuss proposed treatment projects at four Eastern Washington Lakes, including a project at Kings Lake in Pend Oreille County.

Using rotenone to remove existing fisheries and restocking with desired species  would improve trout broodstock production and trout fishing, officials said.

At Kings Lake, which is not open to sport fishing, biologists would remove rainbow trout that are hybridizing with westslope cutthroat trout.

The treatment is needed to maintain the genetic integrity of Kings Lake cutthroat trout, which are the source of hatchery production for fish stocked throughout the eastern region, said Bill Baker, district fish biologist.

After treatment, Kings Lake would be re-stocked with cutthroat. As a broodstock source, the lake will remain closed to fishing, Baker said.

Other rehabilitation projects are proposed for Alta and Fish lakes and Schallow Pond In Okanogan County.

Public meetings in the Spokane region are:

  • July 13 in Newport, at Create Art Center, 900 W. 4th St.
  • July 14 in Spokane Valley, at the WDFW Eastern Region office, 2315  N. Discovery Place (in Mirabeau Point, between Evergreen and Pines streets)

Learn basics of camp cooking Thursday at REI

CAMPING — Get tips for organizing and preapring fun, easy meals at the campground during a free intro to camp cooking program Thursday, 7 p.m., offered by the staff of the REI store at 1125 N. Monroe.

Next week at REI: Backpack cooking basics.

Columia Gorge wets your whistle for waterfalls

HIKING — There's nothing like the lure of a waterfall to coax a hiker out on the trail in the heat of summer.

Certainly we have a few good waterfalls in the Inland Northwest.

But we are the bush league of waterfalls compared with the Cascades.

Terry Richard, outdoors writer for the Oregonian, says Oregon's Cascades have the best concentration, but he gives high marks to the Columbia River Gorge area and Southern Washington Cascades destinations such as Falls Creek, Rodney Waterfall in Beacon Rock State Park and Lower, Upper and Middle Falls on the Lewis River.

Read his story here.

Lake Roosevelt levels near full pool

RESERVOIRS — The elevation of Lake Roosevelt was nearling1,288 feet today. The lake is expected to continue filling and reach full pool of 1,290 feet around Monday, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

Once full pool is reached, the lake will be operated in the 1288 -1290 range for the remainder of the week.  Lake Roosevelt continues to be operated for flood control.

All boat launches are in the water now. See the Lake Roosevelt minimum levels for boat launching chart, and keep watching the current water elevation

For a daily forecast by phone, call (800) 824-4916. Recording is updated at 3 p.m.

Roosevelt's rising water levels are floating up debris from the shoreline. Beware.

Park plea: Don’t pee along trails

HIKING — Olympic National Park hikers who urinate along trails may be creating linear “salt licks” that attract mountain goats. The practice may be partially responsible for luring in goats that have been harassing and even killing park visitors.

Sounds like a troublesome new pack it in, pack it out policy — but there's reason for complying with the park's request to avoid peeing along trails as much as possible.

Read on for more from the Peninsula News.

Biologist answers FAQ on Panhandle wolves

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Idaho's new wolf management hunting and trapping plans announced this morning will generate discussion.  To help people sort out the facts, Idaho Fish and Game's Panhandle region wildlife manager Jim Hayden has put together answers to questions he's being asked. 

Read on for some solid background plus insights and updates on the latest plans.

No quota for wolf hunting in Idaho Panhandle

PREDATORS — Idaho Fish and Game officials announced today there won’t be quotas in much of the state. That applies to four zones: Panhandle, Lolo, Selway and Middle Fork.

The S-R's Boise capitol reporter Betsy Russell filed this story roundup up the new wolf hunting rules announced this morning by the Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Bird dogs ‘cheated’ out of mid-summer training

GUN DOGSCheatgrass has flourished in the late spring conditions, and the seed heads have cured. The spear-like seeds are at their prime for sharpness and readiness to cling to your socks and your dog's fur, where they're specially adapted to work into a dog's does, eyes, nose and ears.

These despicable seed heads don't stop at the skin. They penetrate like porcupine quills to cause abscesses and pierce eardrums.

Legend has it that veterinarians sowed cheatgrass years ago for guaranteed income.

It's nasty stuff. My dogs sit and wait for me to stuff cotton in their ears before their daily runs this time of year.

  Dog trainers have to gear back their efforts until we get some hot weather followed by big winds to knock the seeds to the ground.  Some pounding rainstorms will help, too.

Dream on.

Roading plans threaten Kelly Creek cutts, angler says

FISHERIES — A man with his eyes on proposed development in the Clearwater National Forest issued an alert this week in the Letters to the Editor section of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.   Read on if you're a fan of the westslope cutthroat trout that lure fly fishers to Kelly Creek.

Finally! Glacier’s Sun Road to open Wednesday

NATIONAL PARKS — Glacier National Park officials have announced they expect entire 50 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road to be clear of snow and available for vehicle traffic on Wednesday.

This will be the second latest opening of the road and one of only three seasons in which the famous road over Logan Pass has not been open for the Fourth of July holiday.

A flyover of the Big Drift at Logan Pass on June 4th revealed a snowpack over the pavement was about 30 feet deep and looking more like April than June, officials said, noting that this amount of snow at this time of year is unprecedented.

The Highline Trail remains closed at this time no opening date is projected yet.

For current information on park roads and weather conditions, and visitor services throughout the park, visit Glacier's website www.nps.gov/glac,

Bikes will rule in Silver Valley’s Bicycle Jam, July 14-17

CYCLING — The Silver Spokes Bicycle Jam sounds like a two-wheel spectacle, with a family bike triathlon, criteriums, time trials and a hill climb and the Silver Mountain Downhill— not to mention some fun rides for the less competitive.

It's all scheduled in the Wallace-Kellogg area July 14-17, along with music and vendors adding to the festivity.

More information is posted on Chamber of Commerce websites for Kellogg  and Wallace.

Meantime, Read on for a schedule and more details.

Fuel-saving tips for towing the boat

BOATING — With fuel prices high, trailering a boat has become more expensive.

Some simple fuel conservation  measures can add up to real money by the end of the season.

Read on for nine ways to stretch that tank of gas with your tow vehicle, courtesy of BoatUS:

Champion elk caller advises hunters to work now on confidence

BIG-GAME HUNTING — Seven-time world champion elk caller Corey Jacobsen and fellow Elk101.com pro staffer Cameron Haines had polished answers to a couple of questions posed recently by Roger Phillips of the Idaho Statesman.

Tip: don't wait until September to get your act together.

Read on for the Q&A.

Interviewing The Nuge: He blew me away

HUNTING/SHOOTING — After an hour-long interview on hunting, shooting and the American way with Ted Nugent, followed by a two-hour concert that loosened the mortar between the bricks of the Knitting Factory, I must say….. I need an F-ing break.

Story to come.

Northwest Tandem Rally snapshot

BICYCLING — Spokane treated the 600 riders in the Northwest Tandem Rally to sunny weather over the holiday weekend and two days of tandem cycling fun out of the city and into the Palouse.

But as you can see, tandem doesn't always mean a bicycle built for two.

The engineering and craftmanship in modern multi-rider bikes is mind-boggling.

Conservative agenda apparent in Interior appropriation bill

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A measure that would give Wyoming control over wolves and fend off lawsuits if a deal was struck to take the wolf off the federal endangered species list was attached by U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis to the 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.

The Jackson Hole Daily has this update.

The bill is laden with a number of other provisions that would direct the U.S. Forest Service to put more focus on logging beetle-killed forests, limit funding for endangered species and critical habitat, and protect grazing rights.
  

Forest Service taps new Sandpoint District Ranger

NATIONAL FORESTS — A Forest Service administrator in Vermont has been named the new Sandpoint District ranger by Idaho Panhandle National Forests acting forest supervisor Maggie Pittman.

Erik Walker, Deputy District Ranger in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont will replace Dick Kramer who retired from the Sandpoint District ranger position in May.

Walker comes to the Idaho Panhandle with more than 20 years of Forest Service experience on a wide variety of natural resource issues throughout the nation including Lake Tahoe and the Lassen National Forest in California, the Las Vegas and Carson Ranger Districts of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada, and the Manchester Ranger District in Vermont.
  

Walker and his wife say they look forward to getting out in the local area and taking part in some of their favorite activities, including snow-shoeing, skiing, hiking, biking, gardening, kayaking, and photography.

Walker is expected to report to Sandpoint at the end of August.
  

Idaho Panhandle fisheries projects listed

FISHERIES MANAGEMENT — With the field season finally in full swing, here are some of the projects Idaho Fish and Game Department fisheries biologists are conducting on the Idaho Panhandle, according to Jim Fredericks, regional fisheries manager in Coeur d'Alene:

  • Channel catfish stocking program evaluation in various lakes around the region (Cocolalla, Hauser, Fernan)
  • Priest River fish population survey
  • St. Maries River fish population survey
  • Pygmy whitefish surveys in Priest and Spirit lakes
  • Hauser and Fernan lakes creel surveys

Video: kayaker shares Dead Dog Hole experience

PADDLING — Local kayaker Brian Jamieson has produced a nifty video to give the rest of us a feel for the thrill of playing at Dead Dog Hole.

This accidental treasure of a wave is in the Spokane River on the state line. 

Kayakers were concerned that construction of the new stateline bridge would affect the wave. 

More recently, they've been rejoicing:  Not only has the construction had no effect, the water conditions have provided them great play paddling for five months, Jamieson says.

Check it out.

Federal grant to boost hunter access in Washignton

HUNTING — A federal grant of nearly $1 million will be used to give private landowners in Eastern Washington an incentive to open their lands to fishing and hunting, the Washington  thanks to to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports.

The federal Farm Bill-authorized grant is the second awarded to Washington in as many years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last year, WDFW received $1.5 million to increase recreational access to private lands around the state.

Don Larsen, the agency's private lands coordinator, said the $993,231 grant will be used in three ways:

  • Provide incentives to private landowners to allow hunting on forested properties in Kittitas, Klickitat, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Yakima counties.
  • Work with landowners in Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Walla Walla and Whitman counties to improve habitat enrolled in both the federal Conservation Reserve Program and WDFW access programs.
  • Initiate a “Feel Free to Fish” program in southeast Washington, paying  private landowners for shoreline access to river fisheries.

Read on for more details.

Idaho jury convicts Rammell in elk poaching case

HUNTING — In case you missed the news, an eastern Idaho jury on Friday convicted former gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell of illegally shooting and killing a cow elk in December.

The jury of six people deliberated about an hour before finding Rammell guilty of misdemeanor unlawful possession of wildlife, according to the Associated Press.

His hunting license was suspended for two years and he was ordered to serve 180 days in jail, with all but five days of the jail sentence suspended.

Rammell was told to pay a $250 process fee as well as $1,500 in fines, suspending $500 of the fines.

Rammell says he didn’t get a fair trial and will appeal. Because of the appeal, Rammell’s jail sentence was stayed.

Jury’s out on impacts to kokanee at North Idaho’s big lakes

FISHING– High lake levels and prolonged heavy out flows this year are reason for worry about the kokanee fisheries at Pend Oreille and Coeur d’Alene lakes.

What are the impacts? “The short answer is that we don’t know, and we won’t for a couple more months,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department Panhandle fisheries manager.

Read on for details on why he’s cautiously optimistic.

UClimb: learn to have a life on the rocks

ROCK CLIMBING – A fun-oriented, low-key weekend event to introduce people to the sport of rock climbing is set for July 23-24 at Q’emiln Park in Post Falls.

The annual UClimb  (www.uclimb.org) sponsored by Mountain Gear recruits professional climbers who teach and encourage beginners to scale vertical rock cliffs in safe rope-supported stations.

The group will camp out at the park picnic shelter, where Saturday’s barbecue dinner will be served followed by Sunday’s pancake breakfast.

“It’s a friendly setting where people can learn a lot and become comfortable with the sport,” said Phil Bridgers, Mountain Gear spokesman, noting that UClimb events also are scheduled in Western Washington, Nevada and Kentucky.

Cost for the full weekend:

  • $199 if you have your climbing gear.
  • $329 for the weekend package ($179 for youths) that lets you keep nearly $300 worth of gear, including shoes, harness, belay device, helmet, locking carabiner & chalk bag.

Local info: (509) 340-1165. Preregister online.

Grizzly kills hiker in Yellowstone: first in 25 years

NATIONAL PARKS —  A grizzly bear killed a hiker today on a popular trail in the Yellowstone National Park backcountry. It's the first fatal bear mauling in the park since 1986, officials said.

Park spokesman Al Nash said it appears the man and his wife surprised a female grizzly and her cubs this morning, the Associated Press reports.

Nash said investigators have been interviewing the woman about the bear attack, which took place close to Canyon Village, near the middle of the park. He said authorities aren’t prepared to release the man’s name, age or hometown and likely won’t release more details until Thursday.

Nash said park officials haven’t taken any action against the bear, which he described as a sow with cubs.

Read on for details.

Royal honeymooners resort to paddling

CANOEING — Prince William and wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have been muscling their way through the Prince Edward Island portion of their Royal Tour of Canada this week.

First they competed against each other in Dragonboat races, digging in with paddles in time with large teams of 15 other paddlers in 50-foot-long canoes.

Then they launched on a more peaceful a canoe tour with elder Francois Paulette, above left, from the Fort Smith area at Lake Blatchford, Canada, lodge on Tuesday.

Slow start to upper Columbia chinook fishing

SALMON FISHING — High water and gusty winds hindered the opening weekend of chinook salmon fishing on the upper Columbia River.

The Wenatchee World reports the water was rough and fishermen say they’re getting few bites.

Glen Sagdal of East Wenatchee said he and a friend caught 12 fish last year on opening weekend. On Friday they caught zero salmon.

Fishing boats were battling a strong current and rough water and some people report the waves are so rough that guides are getting seasick, the World reported.

The fishing wasn’t as disappointing at Wanapum, where Jerrod Gibbons of Okanogan Valley Guide Service said he had five bites Friday and pulled in one 25 pounder. Gibbons said the fish are late, but they’re coming.

Whitewater rivers claim two more drowning victims

RIVER RUNNING — Two more deaths have been confirmed among whitewater river runners in the Inland Northwest, making 2011 one of the deadliest rafting and kayak seasons in memory.

  • In Montana, a woman in her 60s was killed in a rafting accident on the swollen Blackfoot River near Missoula on Tuesday.
  • In Washington, the body of a Kittitas River kayaker missing since Monday evening was found by authorities Tuesday afternoon.

AMONG THE OTHER recent drowning or major injury incidents:

Read on for details from the Associated Press about the latest two confirmed deaths.

Rigby man named to Idaho Fish and Game Commission

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter named a 60-year-old Rigby man to the seven-member Idaho Fish and Game Commission, the Associated Press reports

Kenny Anderson replaces Cameron Wheeler of Ririe, whose term expired June 30.

Among the issues Anderson will help decide is management of wolves during the upcoming hunting season.

Anderson is the owner of a cabinet and millwork business, as well as an avid sportsman and member of the National Rifle Association.

Otter says among numerous qualified candidates, Ken Anderson stood out as someone with a grasp of the issues and an even temperament.

Rufus Woods trout game for almost any lure

FISHING — While many river anglers are in a deep funk over the unusually high water, fishermen focused on Lake Rufus Woods been coming home with huge smiles — and even bigger fish — for several weeks.

Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of fish released from commercial net pens have been feeding a fantastic fishery in the reservoir downstream from Grand Coulee Dam.

I've been asking successful anglers to report their top methods, and the answers have been interesting in that there's been no single way to catch the notoriously portly fish.  Almost every reasonable presentation seems to have been working. Here are two examples.

  • “My stepson says throw spinners or cranks right up against the shore,” said Al Liere, S-R fishing report columnist. “Don't try to anchor — just drift, but concentrate on the larger bays. If you don't mind keeping your first two, a white mini-squid (small) with double hooks baited with 'crawler and a slinky-type sinker drug along the bottom will get hits. My friend, Al Rettman echoes Evan's report — small plugs cast or trolled shallow.” 
  • Dale Davis went Sunday and had a glowing report. I asked him how they fished:

“Bouncing weighted jigs on the bottom with power bait. With anise scent on the plug. We drifted around the pins. There were six of us that went and we limited out in an hour. Super fantastic fish. I attached a picture of them, pay attention to the pop can in the middle to see how big these suckers were. Couldn't have asked for a better day.”
  

Join group for Friday hikes in Glacier Park

HIKING — The Glacier National Park Fund is inviting people to join up with their Friday Hiking Club, which heads out on a great park tail every week, starting this Friday through Sept. 16.

The hikes range from 5 miles to 13 miles, easy to moderately strenuous.

Foundation staffers say they're not really “leading” the trips, just facilitating them to introduce people to the sights, insights and needs of the park.

Info: 406-892-3250

GNPF logo
 The Glacier National Park Fund supports the preservation of the outstanding natural

beauty and cultural heritage of Glacier National Park for the use and enjoyment

of present and future generations by fostering public awareness and

encouraging private philanthropy. 

Turnbull Refuge offers tours, activities Saturday

NATURE — Turnbull Wildlife Refuge staff and volunteers are leading several tours, walks and activities Saturday to coincide with the annual Jubilee in nearby Cheney.

Pre-register with group leaders for details and meeting places.

  • 8 a.m: A two-hour morning walk around the Pine Lakes area to see what birds can be found in summer.  Leader: Marian Frobe, 328-0621.
  • 8:45 a.m.: Biologist Sandra Rancourt will conduct a pond study for families that identifies aquatic macroinvertebrates and discuss the environmental importance of these creatures.  You will be collecting and identifying these critters.  Call Louise O’Leary, (509) 235-4531 or email looeezoleary@netscape.net
  • 9:45 – 11:15 a.m.:  tour of the Turnbull National Refuge that you don’t usually get to see.  Refuge biologist, Mike Rule will be your guide sharing some of the history of the refuge, the Native Peoples and pioneers of the area along with the current management of Turnbull.  Call Louise O’Leary, (509)235-4531 or email looeezoleary@netscape.net
Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge will have an information booth and kid’s activity table at the main events area at the Safeway parking area in Cheney with many other vendors and activities.  
 
Cheney Jubilee will provide transportation to and from Turnbull, if necessary.
 

West Fork Bitterroot salmonflies on last legs

FLY FISHING — With the large snow pack and cool temperatures this spring the fishing has been tough and slow to get started on many Montana rivers, including the Clark Fork and Bitterroot.

“Due to high, fast and cold water the morning bite is slow with the better fishing being in the afternoon after it warms up,” said Jim Mitchell of  Montana Hunting and Fishing Adventures based out of Hamilton.

“The water is finally starting to drop and clear and the fishing will continue to improve with lots of water well into this summer,” he said Tuesday. “The hatches have been running later this year the salmonflies are still out on the upper West Fork (Bitterroot), but won't last much longer.”

Snow sloggers find company on Scotchman Peak

HIKING — Deb Hunsicker and Phil Hough know their way around Scotchman Peak northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.

As members of the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness the couple has hiked up the namesake peak numerous times.

Their intimacy with the mountain paid off Saturday as they easily scaled the peak even though most of the trail for the 7 mile round trip is still hidden by snow.

“There's still a LOT of snow,” Phil said. “The trail's obscured, so hike only if you already know the route or go with someone who does and add more time than you think you will need.”

At the top, in weather warm enough for t-shirts and shorts, Hunsicker and Hough were greeted by the Scotchman mountain goats.

They welcomed the company.

BTW, they know better than to feed the goats. Please don't do that if you go. They're good goats, now.  Let's keep them that way.

Field trip, seminars planned at Butterfly Conference in Newport

NATURE — Here's an event to make your heart flutter:

Youngsters and novices are welcome to join the fun at the Washington Butterfly Association's 12th annual conference, July 15-17, at the Pend Oreille Playhouse in Newport.

The schedule includes:

  • Friday evening lecture, “Butterflies and Habitats of Northeast Washington,” by John Baumann (with help from Carol Mack and other local WBA members)
  • Saturday, full-day field trip
  • Saturday evening, keynote address by Jon Shepard, lepidopterist from Nelson, British Columbia, and author of “Butterflies of British Columbia”
  • Sunday, half-day field trip
Register for part or all of the conference by visiting the WBA website.
Children and novices are welcome.
Special low conference registration rate for first-time attendees.
 
Local contact:  John Baumann, (509) 327-4827, or email baumann.j56@gmail.com
 

Climber’s body found on Mount Baker

MOUNTAINEERING — Searchers have found the body of a woman who fell and was missing Saturday while climbing on Mount Baker on northwestern Washington.

The Whatcom County sheriff’s office says 34-year-old Sheryl Costello, of Golden, Colo., had reached the summit of the 10,781-foot mountain on Saturday with her boyfriend. They were on their way down when he lost sight of her near Heliotrope Ridge. 

Bellingham and Skagit mountain rescue teams spotted the body Sunday in a hole that develops in the snow just west of the ridge, the Bellingham Herald reports today.

Deputy Mark Jilk says they were unable to reach the body because of extreme snow conditions. The Herald said conditions will have to improve before the body can be removed from the mountain.
  

Black bear killed where woman was attacked near Colville

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A small black bear was killed the day after a woman was attacked while she was jogging Thursdya near Thomas and Gillette campgrounds east of Colville.

As I reported in my blog post on Friday, the 36-year-old woman surprised a bear while jogging. She fell to the ground and was batted around by the bear.

She was not seriously injured, but state Fish and Wildlife officials say they have to take bear encounters seriously in developed areas.

Fish and Wildlife officers brought in a houndsman who released dogs near the site of the incident.

“Very shortly they spooked up a couple of bears,” said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman. “One was estimated at 140 pounds. The other, about 70 pounds, turned on the dogs and handler, so they took it out.”

It's not clear whether that was the bear that was aggressive toward the woman, she said.

The officers baited and set a culvert trap in the Lake Gillette area, but no other bear has been captured in nearly four days, she said.
  

Fourth breeding wolf pack confirmed in Washington

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Washington’s fourth documented breeding wolf pack has been confirmed, this one in Kittitas County, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Depatment just announced.

Last month, agency biologists caught, attached a radio collar and released an adult female wolf that was lactating, indicating she was nursing pups. The biologists took tissue and hair samples and submitted them for DNA testing to determine whether the animal was a wild wolf or a wolf-dog hybrid.

Results of the DNA testing conducted at the University of California-Davis confirmed the animal is a wild gray wolf, the agency says in a prepared release.

WDFW biologists are monitoring the wolf’s location and activity through the radio telemetry tracking collar. They are referring to the new wolf pack as the Teanaway Pack.

The Lookout Pack, confirmed in Okanogan and Chelan counties in 2008, was Washington’s first documented resident pack since a breeding population of wolves was extirpated from the state in the 1930s.

A second pack, known as the Diamond Pack, was documented in 2009 in central Pend Oreille County. 

A pup from a third pack, known as the Salmo Pack, was radio-collared in 2010 in northeast Pend Oreille County, where pack territory ranges into British Columbia.

Wolves from the Cutoff Peak Pack, with a den site in Idaho, range into Pend Oreille County in northeast Washington.

This announcement of a new wolf pack in the Cascades comes on the heels of reports that only two animals remain in the original Lookout Pack.  Authorities believe the Lookout Pack's numbers were severely reduced by illegal killing.

“The discovery of another resident wolf pack clearly indicates that wolves are returning to Washington state naturally,” said WDFW Director Phil Anderson. “Their return highlights the need to continue efforts to finalize a state wolf conservation and management plan that will establish state recovery objectives and describe options for addressing wolf-livestock and wolf-ungulate management issues.”

Read on for more details.

Hunters, anglers get $1 off at Indians baseball

SPORTSMAN PERKS — It's Hunting and Fishing Day at the Spokane Indians Baseball game tonight at Avista Stadium in Spokane Valley. The tribe takes on the Tri-City Dust Devils at 6:30 p.m.

Sportmen with a hunting or fishing licenst pay $5 for a reserved bench seat. Normal price is $6.

More details? Visit the Spokane Indians website.

Paintball guns deter I-90 moose at Liberty Lake

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Nevermind the Tasers and high-powered weaponry in their vehicles. When law enforcement officers arrived around 6 this morning to deal with three moose on Interstate 90 near Liberty Lake, they were armed with guns you can buy at a toy store.

Washington State Troopers blocked I-90 traffic while state Fish and Wildlife Police “escorted” three yearlings out of traffic toward the Spokane River. To keep the moose moving, the officers used paintball guns.

“Two officers went at them on foot and stung them every now and then with the paintball guns,” said Capt. Mike Whorton of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department. “Pretty soon they ran across all four lands of I-90 and out of the way of traffic.”

Whorton said one of his officers tested his own paintball gun last year for harassing and moving wildlife out of danger. The test was so successful, a local sportsmen's group has purchased paintball guns for all of the area Fish and Wildlife police, he said.

“Paintball guns can get off a lot of shots rapidly and accurrately,” he said. “They are so much more effective and cost effective than the rubber bullets we had been firing out of 12-gauge shotguns. And aside from some pink paint on their rumps, the paintballs don't do any more than sting the moose.”

WILDLIFE UNDERPASS NEEDED

The larger issue, Whorton emphasized, is that the Liberty Lake area is a natural migration corridor for moose, elk and deer.

“The Department of Transportation needs to install a freeway underpass for wildlife in that area,” he said. “It's a safety issue for wildlife and the motorists.  A woman was killed near there after hitting a moose a couple of years ago.”

Woman drowns rafting Wenatchee River

RIVER RUNNING — A 69-year-old Chelan County woman drowned Sunday while on a guided rafting trip on the Wenatchee River.

The Wenatchee World says Sharon G. Hughes was one of seven family members and a guide in a raft that hit log jam in the middle of the afternoon. Six family members were able to climb out of the raft onto the log jam, said Sgt. Mike Harris. But the raft flipped over with Hughes and the guide in it, throwing them both into the water. Harris said the woman was swept under the log jam, but washed back out after being under it for one to two minutes.

Rafters indicated the accident occurred at logs blocking the river left side of Boulder Bend rapids.

Read on for details.

Details on hiker’s deadly slide in Alpine Lakes Wilderness

HIKING/CLIMBING — More details are available regarding the death of a 21-year-old Eatonville, Wash., woman who slipped and fell into a crevasse Sunday while hiking and glissading in the Aasgard Pass area (elevation 7,841 feet) of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

The woman has been identified as Julia A. Rutherford, 21. She was a junior at Pacific Lutheran University. Most likely she died from hypothermia Sunday after she fell down a snow face and was pinned between snow and rock flooded with icy snowmelt.

“A person can only stand being in that water for about 20 minutes,” Chelan County Sheriff’s Lt. Maria Agnew told the Wenatchee World this morning. “That’s glacial water and it’s really cold.”

Aasgard Pass is in the Cascade Mountains near Leavenworth. It is the shorter, steeper way of two routes up into the Enchantment Lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The pass is still snow-covered.

Rutherford was hiking with her boyfriend and two other companions when she slid down the snow face, disappearing over the edge into an opening about 5 feet wide, where water was pouring in from snowmelt.

Read on for other details from the Wenatchee World.

Veradale kid shows Ilwaco salmon anglers how it’s done

SALMON FISHING — Out with his family for their first ocean fishing experience, 8-year-old Jared Clark of Veradale topped all anglers in last week's Ilwaco king salmon derby with the bright beauty he's posing with above.  

Clark landed the fish on Friday while fishing off the Washington Coast with Captain Rob Gudgell of the Katie Marie booked through Pacific Salmon Charters.

Jared had just begun reeling in to check his bait when the chinook struck.

His dad had to help steady the rod, but Jared manned the reel, reports his mother, Shelly.

“The captain got so excited when he saw what Jared had on his line, he ran down to net the fish himself, even though there were two deck hands helping the fishermen,” Shelly said.

The king salmon weighed 21.90 pounds after it was cleaned, earning Jared a handsome $100 prize in addition to being able to take home enough dinner for the neighborhood.

“Jared's been saving money to buy his own (hand-held computer),” Shelly said, noting that the derby prize is more than a huge windfall for an 8 year old. “When he heard how much he'd won, he said 'This is my dream day.' “
 

More details on grizzly bear in North Cascades

WILDLIFE — I posted the notice Friday when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that experts had confirmed a bear photographed by a backpacker in the North Cascades in October was indeed a grizzly.

A news report by Craig Welch of the Seattle Times provides much more detail on this rare bit of documentation.

Before this, the last officially recognized sighting was in 1996, when a biologist happened on a bear and a cub in the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area and was able to make a cast of the adult's track.

“Our records go back to the mid-1950s, and the last official photo we have is of a dead bear that was killed in 1968,” said Doug Zimmer, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman in Olympia, who monitors a hotline for grizzly-bear sightings.

Joe Sebille, of Mount Vernon, was hiking in the park in October when saw the bear south of Highway 20 in the upper Cascade River drainage, on the western slope of the range. He made the photos with a cell-phone camera.

More trendy activities proposed for Banff National Park

NATIONAL PARKS — Canada's national parks officials are making another stab at generating more revenue from Banff National Park.

Parks Canada announced last week that it would consider proposals to offer via ferrata, aerial parks, traction kiting, hang gliding and paragliding in Canada's flagship national park, although zip lines and canopy tours would not be considered after getting soundly trounced in public opinion polls after a previous proposal.

A report from the Rocky Mountain Outlook says conservationists are concerned about the dramatic shift away from traditional national park values, but the proposals are winning praise from business operators.

It's hard to believe that one of the world's most scenic natural areas isn't good enough to enjoy and savor just the way God made it.
  

Case, Nugent - critter opposites - perform side by side Thursday

ANIMALS — It's a bizarre coincidence, from an animal rights view:

Singer and animal advocate Neko Case will be performing at the Bing Crosby Theater on Thursday evening next door to “Kill It and Grill It” right-winger rock guitarist Ted Nugent at The Knitting Factory.

Plug your ears! Ted Nugent is coming

HUNTING/SHOOTING — Rock guitarist, gun rights advocate, shameless hunter and “Kill It and Grill It,” cookbook author Ted Nugent is coming to Spokane for a concert Thursday at The Knitting Factory.

What would YOU ask The Nuge about guns or hunting if you had a chance while he's here?

‘Raft for the Cure’ on Clark Fork River

CHARITY OUTDOORSROW Adventures will be giving breast cancer research a boost by hosting a one-day benefit raft trip on the Clark Fork River July 31.
 
Proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen breast cancer project in Coeur d’Alene.
 
The event is great for families. Minimum age: 5. Pink will be “in.”
 
Sign up online or call (208) 770-2517. 
 

Sign up for flatwater kayak trips to explore Spokane River

RIVER RUNNING — Don't delay to sign up for some or all of the remaining Meet Me at the River guided paddling trips organized by the Spokane River Forum to introduce the public to the great river running through us.

Since Meet Me at The River began in 2008, 430 community members have traveled all or part of the river with people who have expertise in everything from the wildlfie to the sewage treatment plant.

“Our goal is to have fun while introducing more and more people to this iconic community resource,” said Andy Dunau, the Forum's executive director. Equipment and professional guides provided for all trips.

Read on for a list of remaining trips. Places are limited.

Discover Pass required starting today at state parks and other state lands

 STATE LANDS — Starting today, the new Discover Pass authorized by the Washington Legislature will be required for vehicle access to nearly 7 million acres of Washington state-managed recreation lands – including campgrounds, parks, wildlife areas, trails, natural areas, wilderness areas and water access points.

The $30 seasonal vehicle permit ($10 daily) will be required at state parks and lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

The passes are sold at face value at state parks. A $2 dealer fee is added at sport retailers.  Fees totaling $5 for the $30 annual pass are added when purchased online.

Sportsmen who have hunting and fishing licenses automatically get a pass for fish and wildlife lands and boat access sites.  But that Fish and Wildlife Vehicle Access Pass does not work for state parks and DNR lands. 

Read my recent story for more details.

Check this story for answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Click here for a summary of other passes one might need in the Pacific Northwest for outdoor recreation on private, state and federal lands.

Hummingbirds not above a handout

BIRDWATCHING — Living in a hummingbird migratory route has its benefits for close-up bird observation.

When the activity was peaking at her feeder, Abagail  Alfano of Pine, La., put a sugar-water solution in a red plastic cup and didn't have to wait long before she had a swarm of feathered friends.

She said they lit light as a feather on her hand.

Getting higher hiking in North Idaho

TRAILS — Here's the view David Braun recently caught from the top of North Chilco Peak, a nice 4-mile round-trip hike in North Idaho east of Athol.

Bat fungus already has two species on the ropes

ENDANGERED WILDLIFE — A devastating fungus that has killed off caves full of bats could soon be blamed for threatening the existence of two bat species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday that it was launching a 90-day investigation into whether the eastern small-footed bat and the northern long-eared bat need protection under the Endangered Species Act. The two species are the first to be evaluated - and would be the first to be classified as endangered and threatened - because of white-nose syndrome.

Since its discovery in 2006 in the East, the deadly disease - named for the sugary smudges it leaves on noses and wings - has killed more than one million cave-dwelling bats and is moving westward.

State and federal agencies have taken steps to halt its spread, including barring people from caves.

Glacier Park great for bikes, hikes; Logan Pass still not open

NATIONAL PARKS — It's snow go for vehicles driving over Glacier National Park's Going to the Sun Road this holiday weekend.

For the third time in the Montana park's 100-year history, the uppermost reaches of Going-to-the-Sun Road will remain closed to visitors during the Fourth of July weekend.

Park plowing crews have reached Logan Pass but they're still trying to chew through The Big Drift — the last snow obstacle to be cleared on the Sun Road. The drift is estimated at 50-60 feet deep, a depth normally seen on Memorial Day weekend. Get status reports here.

But bikes are allowed on the road to that point, and the park transit system is operating on the road, which is closed to other vehicles.

Note: Rivers, streams and creeks in the park are flowing close to flood stage this weekend.

Drowning is the most prominent cause of death in Glacier National Park.

Info: (406) 888-7800.

Read on for the other dates the Sun Road was closed this late.

Black bear sought in attack near Colville

DANGEROUS WILDLIFE — Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers are searching for a black bear reported to have attacked a female jogger northeast of Colville Thursday.

Stevens County Sheriff’s officials say a 36-year-old woman was attacked by a black bear while she was jogging in the late morning on a trail between Thomas and Gillette lakes, 17 miles northeast of Colville on the Colville National Forest.

She dropped to the ground into a protective fetal position and the bear batted at her and then left the area. Later in the day she was treated and released at Mount Carmel Hospital in Colville.

Today WDFW officials were notified of the incident by the Sheriff’s office. State and federal wildlife staffs are investigating and placing bear traps. They may use dogs to find the bear.

USFS campgrounds are maintained at Thomas and Gillette lakes.

Read on for details, who to call in the case of a wildlife problem and tips for camping in bear country. 

Ducks Unlimited applauds Fish and Wildlife director confirmation

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The U.S. Senate Thursday evening confirmed Daniel Ashe as the 16th director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ashe, a career employee of the agency, assumed his duties immediately.

Dale Hall, CEO of Ducks Unlimited — and the FWS director from 2005-2009 — praised the Senate action.

“I have known and worked with Dan for more than 15 years,” Hall said. “He’s a strong supporter of wildlife resources, an avid outdoorsman and a committed conservationist. The Fish and Wildlife Service is an important partner to Ducks Unlimited, and we look forward to working together to tackle the challenges facing wetlands and waterfowl today.”

Ashe has served as the Service's deputy director since August 2009. From 2003 to 2009, he was the science advisor to the Service's director with broad responsibility to develop and implement the agency's scientific policy and programs for resource management.

Bear experts confirm North Cascades bear was grizzly

WILDLIFE — A team of government and independent grizzly bear experts has confirmed that a bear photographed by a hiker n North Cascades National Park in October 2010 was a grizzly bear, according to a statement just released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The agency says this was the first “confirmed photograph” of a grizzly bear in the North Cascades in perhaps half a century.  Another sighting confirmed by tracks and evidence was recorded in 1996.

A panel of experts identified the grizzly in a photo taken last October in the upper Cascade River watershed by Joe Sebille. The Mount Vernon man says he was hiking near Marblemount when he saw the bear and snapped the cell phone photo.

Friends persuaded him to share the photo with the North Cascades National Park.

A member of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, Becki Heath, says it’s a significant event in the recovery of the bear. Fewer than 20 grizzlies are believed to live in Washington’s North Cascades. The bears are protected under state and federal law.

At nearly 10,000 square miles, the North Cascades Ecosystem is the second largest of six official grizzly bear recovery zones designated by the federal government and the only one outside of the Rocky Mountains. State and federal agencies have been working to recover the North Cascades grizzlies for more than two decades.

Read on for more.

Dworshak Reservoir nearly at full pool

BOATING — Dworshak Reservoir is within 5 feet of full pool today. That's lower than normal for the Fourth of July holiday, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still leaving room for the unusually high, late snowpack to pour out of the mountains.

Officials flew the headwaters Tuesday and determined about 10 percent of the area was still snow covered.

“We’ll be at about 1 foot from full pool (1,600 feet) on July 5, and anticipate reaching full pool by July 10,” said Steve Hall, Corps reservoir manager.

All campgrounds and boat ramps are open.

Info: Dworshak Dam Visitor Center, (208) 476-1255. 

Dworshak Dam Visitor Center is open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Avalanche damage extensive to Glacier’s Sperry Chalet

NATIONAL PARKS — A century-old rock chalet in Glacier National Park that was damaged by a winter avalanche may be open for only a few weeks this summer after crews working to ready the backcountry hotel for the tourist season found additional damage to the two-story lodging and its kitchen building.

The Missoulian reports that workers giving the buildings a more thorough inspection have found damage to the roofs and rafters from the heavy snow load this winter.

In a post on the chalet's web site Thursday, chalet coordinator Kevin Warrington said repair crews will need complete access to the hotel for much of July as well as in late August and September.

Sperry Chalet's season was scheduled to begin July 8, but all reservations are being cancelled through July 19. Reservations in September and some in the last week of August also are being canceled.

Read on for details.

Roosevelt headed toward full pool; keep camp up from shore

COLUMBIA RIVER — Lake Roosevelt continues to fill rapidly and is expected to reach full pool - elev. 1,290 feet — on July 11, the Bureau of Reclamation says.

Meantine, miles of inviting sandy beaches are beckoning campers at Lake Roosevelt, but rapidly rising lake levels warrant caution when pitching tents.

Lake Roosevelt's level is above 1,280 feet today. 

Holiday campers note: The lake will continue to rise more than a foot a day through the 4th of July to around 1,285 on Tuesday.

Shoreline campers should make camp away from the water’s edge.  Boats should be securely anchored or tied securely to the shoreline to avoid having them drift out into the lake.

The rising lake levels have opened boat launching at most of Roosevelt's 22 public boat launches.

See the Lake Roosevelt minimum levels for boat launching chart, and keep watching the current water elevation

For a daily forecast by phone, call (800) 824-4916. Recording is updated at 3 p.m.

Roosevelt's rising water levels are floating up debris from the shoreline. Beware.

Centennial Trail flush with nesting birds

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Serious birdwatchers are finding plenty to see and hear along the Spokane River Centennial Trail this week.   Here's part of a report posted today by Tina Blewett on Inland Northwest Birders.
 
Went on a walk on the Centennial Trail yesterday and saw a lovely number of species, but what was great was the number of birds on nests we also found.  We parked at the access point near the YMCA off the Pines Street Exit off I-90 and walked downstream.  
 
Active nests we found: Black-headed grosbeak, cedar waxwing, American Robin, cliff swallow, eastern kingbird, and European starling (boo!).  We also saw a lot of birds provisioning chicks or saw chicks: American robin, cedar waxwing, and several times pygmy nuthatches.  
 
The place was so crowded with cedar waxwings, seemed like we saw a different pair, or an adult with a chick every couple hundred feet; they were fun.  
 
We also saw an interesting behavior.  Near the Eastern kingbird nest, a male bullock's oriole came right up to the nest with the adult kingbird right there, and it appeared as if the oriole tried to stick its head in the nest.  The kingbird chased it away.  And we had a fun time watching a Bewick's wren bask in the sun, and sing it's cheerful song.  
 
Great little place for a lunchbreak!

Detour starting for White Salmon River rafters

RIVER RUNNING — Boater passage under the Northwestern Lake bridge on the Washington's White Salmon River will be closed beginning Tuesday.

The White Salmon River, a popular whitewater rafting attraction, flows south from glaciers on Mount Adams, entering the Columbia River by the town of Hood River, Ore.  See map.

Condit Dam is 3.3 miles from the mouth and just inside the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

PacifiCorp is rebuilding the bridge as part of the removal of Condit Dam. During the work, a temporary take-out will be located at cabin 12 just upstream of the bridge on the Skamania County side. A boat barrier will direct boaters to the location.

The temporary site is not as easy as using the Northwestern Lake boat ramp. It will take multiple rafters to move the boat and the grade is uphill.

Info: PacifiCorp at (503) 331-4361.

Discover Pass sales pick up; enforcement begins Tuesday

STATE LANDS — Employees from three Washignton state agencies will spend the Fourth of July weekend reminding people they need the pass for their vehicles, according to Virginia Painter, spokeswoman for the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

Enforcement of the new Discover Pass will begin Tuesday at state parks and state land managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources. 

Vehicles already have been required to have state vehicle passes at Washington Fish and Wildlife access sites, such as Libert Lake boat launch.  There's no grace period at those sites.

At least 8,745 annual Discover Passes and 30 one-day passes had been sold as of noon Thursday.
 
Painter said an additional $550,000 came from dealers outside of the Fish and Wildlife system, who bought them to resell to customers.
 
She said total revenue from all sources so far is $813,000. The money is needed to keep state parks open and fund management of other state recreation lands, she said.

Centennial Trail has new Maringo Drive trailhead

TRAILS — A new 12-vehicle parking lot and trailhead for the Spokane River Centennial Trail officially opens today east of Argonne Road at the end of Maringo Drive.

See map.

The new facilities were built by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, with the support of the Friends of the Centennial Trail, Washington State Park Foundation and Inland Empire Paper Co.

This much-needed parking lot will enable trail users to avoid parking in a residential area. The Maringo Trailhead already included restroom facilities and a drinking fountain.

Coast remains hot destination for salmon fishing

SALMON FISHING — The Washington Coast remains the highlight of early summer salmon fishing, as two other popular inner-marine areas open today.

“Ilwaco had the highest catch with 1.14 fish per person (25 percent was chinook, and the rest was hatchery coho),” Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist, told Ron Yuasa of the Seattle Times. “Neah Bay was the other hot spot with 1.2 fish per person. We also saw pinks caught all the way down to Westport, and hardly ever see them this early.”

At Westport, the catch was 0.7 fish per rod, and fish seemed to be more scattered than they'd been early last week, Yuasa said.  At La Push they averaged one fish per rod, with almost all hatchery coho.

Read on for more details from Yuasa's report.

Sun Valley Bike Festival features 400 miles of single track

CYCLING — Sun Valley is unveiling a new cycling event this summer — the Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival with events running July 11-17.  

The festival showcases the area’s 400-plus miles of continuous single track trail and 32 miles of multi-use paved bike paths.

Watch the USA Cycling’s Olympic Mountain Bike Cross County National Championships on the slopes of Sun Valley’s rugged Baldy Mountain. Other activities include the Avett Brothers in concert, Fat Tire Criterium and “Geared: the Culture of Bicycles” exhibit at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts.

At the lower River Run parking areas, a technical Expo will be open daily, featuring top cycling vendors from around the world displaying the newest and latest in cycling gear and equipment.

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News, field reports and insights on the Great Outdoors.

Rich Landers – hunter, animal lover, hiker, paddler, angler, naturalist and conservationist – has been covering the outdoors beat for more than three decades. His versatility and field research as a trails and waterways guidebook author help him connect issues to a wide range of interests.

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Rich Landers (@SRoutside) Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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