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Outdoors blog

Archive for July 2012

Kettle River “tubing” deaths senseless

RIVERS — A tragic season on the region's rivers seems to have no end.

See this sobering video report about floats — in their 70s no less — who dropped their guard, misjudged the power of the Kettle  River last week, and went over the falls near Grand Forks.

No lifejackets — as we've reported in almost every case of a drowning this year.

Idaho Wildlife Summit addresses pressing trends

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT —  Idaho Fish and Game officials have scheduled an Aug. 24-26 conference – with regional and online participation – to get sportsmen and other state citizens to help tackle major challenges facing wildlife management.

The Idaho Wildlife Summit, set in Boise, also will have six concurrent satellite sites including Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston.

Much has changed in the 74 years since Idaho adopted professional wildlife management, says Virgil Moore, department director:

  • The state’s population has tripled and two-thirds of the residents live in cities.
  • Wildlife habitat has changed or disappeared.
  • Invasive species compete against native wildlife.
  • Idaho’s population has increased faster than the number of Idahoans who hunt and fish.

“While 80 percent of Idaho’s wildlife is not hunted or fished, hunters and anglers support most of the cost to manage all species through license and tag fees,” he said. “No general tax revenue goes to manage the wildlife we all enjoy.”

Moore calls the Summit a starting point for exploring broader support for wildlife conservation and wildlife related activities.

The Summit will feature presentations by prominent wildlife and habitat authorities, including The Nature Conservancy. On Aug. 25, participants will gather rotating groups to discuss issues.

Participation is free, but registration is required for on-site attendance.  In this area, participants will be seated at North Idaho College.


Summer fire restrictions starting to kick in on area forests

NATIONAL FORESTS — State and national forests are beginning to enact fire restrictions as the heat wave dries out the woods.

Washington's Department of Natural Resouces already has issued restrictions for state lands.

Beginning today, restrictions are being enacted on the Umatilla National Forest of southeastern Washington.

  • Building and tending of open campfires, including charcoal briquettes, cooking fires and warming fires are prohibited until further notice, except in fire pits at designated recreation sites. Permissible sources for cooking or heat include pressurized gas BBQs, stoves and space-heating devices.
  • Smoking is only allowed within enclosed vehicles, buildings, developed recreation sites or when stopped in an area cleared of all flammable material.

At this time firewood cutting is still allowed.

But if the heat continues, expect more restrictions on the Umatilla and other national forests.

Warm water closes Yellowstone rivers to fishing

FISHING —  A week after an unrelenting heat wave forced Montana to put restrictions on three rivers, Yellowstone Park officials have announced they're closing fishing on portions of three rivers because of unusually warm water temperatures.

Starting Wednesday, park officials will prohibit fishing on the Gibbon River below Gibbon Falls, Firehole River below Keppler Cascades, and the Madison River.

Last week, Montana restricted fishing to early-day hours before 2 p.m. on the Smith, Dearborn and Sun Rivers.

The reason is water temperatures ranging into the high 70s — too warm for trout. Warm weather, hot water from thermal features and low stream flows all are causing the water to warm up.

Warm water can be stressful or even fatal for trout.

Yellowstone officials say the forecast calls for more warm weather and that could cause additional areas to be closed to fishing.

Stand up and cheer for this paddleboarder

PADDLEBOARDING — Feeling like you pushed your limits last weekend during a weekend warrior outdoor pursuit?  How about this?

Connor Baxter, 17, raises his paddle in the photo above after finishing first in the Molokai-2-Oahu Paddleboard World Championship in Honolulu on Sunday.

The 17-year-old from Maui defended his title in a 32-mile paddleboard race across the Molokai channel.

Anglers can cash in at Pend Oreille’s Pikepalooza

FISHING CONTESTS — Sign-up is underway for the season’s second Pikepalooza fishing derby on the Pend Oreille River, Friday through next Sunday, sponsored by the Kalispel Tribe.

Prizes up to $1,000 are being offered in a variety of categories to make the contest interesting to anglers of all ages. Categories include most fish, longest fish, total length of catch, smallest fish and tagged fish.

In addition, each fish caught gives a participant a ticket for raffle drawings.

During the first event June 29-July 1, about 80 anglers endured high water and windy conditions to compete catch 81 northern pike and compete for $3,000 in cash prizes and more than $500 in raffle prizes.

  • Josh Whitney won $1,000 for catching the most northern pike —14.
  • Dale Smith won $500 for catching the largest pike of the derby — 46.4 inches long.

There’s no entry fee, but participants must pre-register before they start fishing. Online registration closes at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Anglers can register on site at check stations.

The event includes the river from the Idaho state line to the Boundary Dam forebay.

Even though most of the non-native pike were gillnetted out of the Box Canyon Reservoir portion of the river this spring, pike are still available to be caught and new fish are likely coming downstream from Montana and Idaho.


Storm nearly dealt Cheney family a death blow at campsite

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CAMPING — The best part of this camping trip?   Nobody was killed.

A Cheney family survived a harrowing evening during the storm that ravaged Ferry County on July 20, 2012.

See their photos above.

See a story about the storm and brief surge of hurricane-force winds swept through the region

Some Colville Forest area still inaccessible from storm

NATIONAL FORESTS — A week after a storm and brief surge of hurricane-force winds swept through the region, areas around Priest Lake and especially the Colville National Forest are still clogged with downed trees.

The good news is that powerline crews, government agencies and private citizens have been working their butts off with chain saws and equipment to make progress.  The bad news is that some areas are a big mess and still unaccessible.

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area reports all campgrounds and facilities are open.  Priest Lake Range Station reported that some trails got “hammered” with blowdowns, but no specific reports were available. Forest trail crews and volunteers had just finished a logging out 192 miles of trails on the Priest Lake District the week before the storm struck, killing a man in his pickup in the Priest Lake area.

Generally, the Panhandle National Forests came out of the dangerous storm fairly well, said Jason Kirchner, forest spokesman in Coeur d'Alene.

But the Colville Forest's Republic Ranger District and portions of the Collville Indian Reservation, where assistance is still being requested, are a different story.

Here's the word from Colville Forest spokesman Franklin Pemberton:

The impact to recreation specific to the Republic R.D. from this event is severe. 

Crews have made significant progress on getting all of the main forest service (FS) roads open and “passible”.  All of the main FS roads are passible for a full-size pickup truck, but motorhomes, camp trailers and horse trailers are not recommended.  Work continues to open all of the main FS roads completely to larger size vehicles such as ambulances and fire engines and is expected to be completed by this Friday.  Many secondary FS roads remain blocked by down timber and will be opened once all the main roads are completed.

Many roads to trailheads remain blocked and trail conditions are being reported as being blocked by down timber.  All campgrounds are open with the exception of Ten Mile Campground.  Crews will continue to work to open secondary roads that lead to recreation sites and trailheads, but there is no estimate of when this work will be completed.

Forest officials are still recommending that visitors to the Republic R.D. stay in the developed campgrounds and limit their travel on the forest as much as possible.

Contact the Republic Ranger District Office, (509) 775-7400 for specific recreation questions.

Washington issues new fish advisories; toxics found

FISHING — Specific types of fish from the Upper Columbia and Pend Oreille rivers contain toxic chemicals according to analysis of two recent studies that's prompted a new fish consumption advisory this week from the Washington Department of Health.

Interestingly, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife knew it was coming by March when the agency published its 2012-2013 fishing regulations pamphlet.

Most of the recommendations of which fish to avoid — such as Pend Oreille River northern pike longer than 24 inches — are already published on page 20 of the pamphlet.

Based on mercury and Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs) contamination, the state Department of Health is advising people to avoid or limit certain types and amounts of fish they eat from the affected areas.

Read on for details from the Health Department media release.

Fish Creek habitat project needs public support

FISH HABITAT — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public comment on a proposal to install a series of log jams consisting of native green and aged woody debris along a portion of lower Fish Creek in Mineral County. 

Fish Creek, which begins at the crest of the Bitterroot Mountains, flows under I-90 and into the Clark Fork River near Superior.

The proposed project is a cooperative effort between FWP, Trout Unlimited and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. 

If approved, the project is projected to be completed later this summer and would improve habitat for native fish, restore natural stream processes and likely enhance the quality of fishing in the area.

A draft environmental assessment has been prepared for this proposal, and FWP is accepting public comment through Aug. 3. 

Find the documents and make comments online at under “Public Notices.”

Info: Region 2 FWP office in Missoula, (406) 542-5540; or email

Spyglass Lookout gets TLC from Lutherhaven volunteers

FIRE LOOKOUTS - Volunteers are refurbishing a national forest lookout ravaged by age, weather and vandalism on Spyglass Peak in the upper reaches of the North Fork Coeur d'Alene River.

The Idaho Panhandle National Forests have partnered with Lutherhaven Ministries and the Forest Fire Lookout Association to renovate three historic structures, including Spyglass lookout tower, a groundhouse where workers who staffed the lookout lived when the lookout was operational, and an outhouse.

The structures have been vacant for more than 20 years.

Lutherhaven offered assistance with grant funding applications and a youthful labor force of volunteers from Shoshone Base Camp. Additional volunteers and expertise have come from the Forest Fire Lookout Association and local Forest Service employees.

Through Lutherhaven’s efforts two major regional grants were awarded totaling more than $25,000, the Forest Service officials said. Additional funding was granted by the Forest Fire Lookout Association and combined with funding from the Forest Service, which enabled the groups to begin work on the site this year.

Lutherhaven Ministries owns Shoshone Base Camp, a Christian youth camp which operates Idaho Servant Adventures, a program that brings youth from around the country to North Idaho for public service projects.

Steve Matz, retired Forest Service archeologoist, is coordinating the multi-year project with the goal of incorporating the site into the forest’s recreational cabin rental program, which generates funding for maintenance on-site.

Info: Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District’s Fernan office at (208) 664-2318.

Rafter videos Clark Fork’s Alberton Gorge rapids

WHITEWATER RAFTING — Local rafter Tanner Grant has put together another in a series of videos that chronicles a rafter's view of a popular river, labeling all the rapids.

This time it's the Alberton Gorge of Montana's Clark Fork River, a popular summer rafting destination between Missoula and St. Regis. 

Grant recentlly floated the river at 7,000 cfs, which is a little higher than normal mid-summer flows because of this year's prolonged runoff.  But you'll get good views of Triple Bridges, Split Rock, Tumbleweed, Fang and all the others.

We put in at St. John and took out 17 miles downstream at Forest Grove below Tarkio Canyon. This is a spectacular solid class III run through a beautiful canyon.

Check it out and see what fun is in store on the river along I-90.

Ferry County residents need donations to get through storm disaster

OUTDOORS — There's plenty of firewood for keeping warm in northeastern Washington this week, but many People are hurting for other necessities.

With hundreds of families still without power after last Friday's wind storm wreaked havoc in the region, officials in Ferry County are trying to drum up help with a list of basic necessisties people are needing to get back into gear — including a family that lost their home.

“There's a snowballing effect to this Ferry County disaster,” said Bob Whittaker, who lives near Curlew. “Ferry County has Washington State's highest unemployment rate.  Everyone has freezers full of deer meat that gets us through the year. Being this rural, all of us shop in bulk and freeze food. 

“But without power, its all going bad. I just found out they are still rationing blocks of ice in Republic.

“Keller on the Colville Reservation is even more devastated than North County but we are not hearing about it as much, yet. again, no power.”

Heat curtails fishing on 3 Montana rivers

FISHING — While rivers in the Spokane-to-Missoula region are still flowing somewhat higher that normal and reasonably cool, waters — and fish — farther east are feeling the heat of a drought.

Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks today advised anglers on three central Montana rivers that all fishing would close daily from 2 p.m. to midnight until conditions improve.

The “hoot-owl” closures, effective Friday, July 27, are issued for:

  • Dearborn River—from Highway Bridge 431 to confluence of the Missouri River north of Craig;
  • Smith River—from the confluence of the North and South forks to Eden Bridge east of Great Falls;
  • Sun River—from Highway 287 Bridge to the mouth of Muddy Creek west of Great Falls.

FWP's drought policy provides for angling closures when flows drop below critical levels for fish, when water quality is diminished, or when maximum daily water temperatures reach at least 73 degrees for three consecutive days. Water temperatures have exceeded 73 degrees on the Sun River for 17 days and for 14 days on the Dearborn River. The Smith River's water temperature has exceeded 73 degrees for the past seven days.

The preferred water temperature for rainbow and brown trout is about 55-57 degrees. Temperatures of 77 degrees or more can be lethal to trout.

Read on for more details.

Trashing the CdA River, one raft at a time

RIVERS — At the risk of sounding like a liberal, greenie, environmental wacko, I must say I'm disgusted by the number of beer cans and even bottles the summer river tubers and rafters deposit in the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River on a hot summer day.

Seems like the Pack It In-Pack It Out slogan is replaced by Put It In-Puke It Out.

I'll let you know when Bud Lights outnumber cutthroat trout.

No life jacket on the Selway River? God help us

RIVER SAFETY — The number of drownings in the region's rivers this year has prompted a local campaign to get people thinking about reasonable safety practices. 

Most of the victims would be alive today had they been wearing life jackets.

Perhaps the most incredible drowning story of the season involves the University of Idaho Student from Nepal who died of drowning last weekend during a rafting trip on the Selway River.

The Selway is a wilderness river, one of the wildest in the region. Just getting a permit to float the river requires a lot of luck in a draw and a safety orientation.

You could watch a thousand rafters or kayakers go past you on that river over the course of a season and not see a single person without a PFD while on the river.

Life jackets are part of the attire on the Selway, just as rodeo cowboys wear jeans.

Wow. What can you say?

Mountain goat man lives the high life

WILDLIFE — A man spotted dressed in a white goat suit crawling around among a herd of mountain goats in the mountains of northern Utah has been identified as a hunter preparing for an archery hunt in Canada.

Read the AP story here.

They guy probably never expected people in airplanes to be taking aerial photos of his scouting plan.

Hey, if walking behind a cow decoy works for snow goose hunters, it's worth a try.

(Some of my friends in Montana reportedly have been doing something like this for years — for sheep.)

I mentioned the Goat Man to a friend and he said I'm already well-suited for his hunting tactic:

“You don't need a goat suit,” he said. “You look like a goat. And smell like one.” 

Swine line lets you squeal on a feral pig

INVASIVE WILDLIFE — S-R Boise reporter Betsy Russell smelled the bacon for today's front page story on the tri-state campaign to keep feral pigs from the wilds of Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

The gist of the story is that feral pigs are tremendously destructive to the land, wildlife habitat and wildlife itself, including upland birds.  We don't need another pain in the butt non-native critter out there, even on the outside chance that they'd give wolves a reason to leave the elk alone.

Here's the SWINE LINE to report sightings of feral swine in Washington, Idaho or Oregon: call toll-free (888) 268-9219.

Read Andy Walgamott's Northwest Sportsman story on the recent history of Washington-Oregon efforts to keep feral pigs from taking hold in the Pacific Northwest, including the radio collaring of a pig dubbed Judas, which led Oregon authorities to its kin so they could be rendered into something like a Jimmy Dean sausage.




The nicest people fish for Upper Columbia salmon

SALMON FISHING — Crowds of anglers are postponing their Alasaka dream trip because there's no reason to leave Washington.

The record run of sockeye salmon booming up the Columbia is attracting large numbers of people to the upper reaches of the river near Brewster, as we've beem mentioning in our weekly fishing report.

Get the latest tip on catching the sockeye here.

An observation of special interest just came in from Jeff Holmes, a Tri-Cities-based angler/writer, who recently returned from bagging limits of salmon.

Those sockeye are easy to catch, relatively speaking.  What a pleasant fishery of polite anglers and no fighting.  Very different from mid-Columbia.

Can anyone explain when one congregation of anglers can be civil while others are gnarly?

Idaho readies hunting, fishing proposals for legislature

HUNTING/FISHING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently adopted a series of “nonbiological” rules that would take effect only if the upcoming Legislature approves them.  Among the proposals:

  • Allow commission to adjust resident and nonresident elk tag allocations in capped zones in which resident demand exceeds tag availability and nonresident tags are undersold.
  • Eliminate the requirement for hunters to remove bear baits from the field between the summer dog training season and the fall harvest season in units 10 and 12.
  • Require trappers in wildlife management areas to register in advance of trapping and enable regional supervisors to manage trapping better on wildlife management areas through limits on the number of trappers, type and number of traps.
  • Limit the number of trappers at any given time, and to regulate the type and number of trap sets in the area.
  • Require that hunters leave one fully-feathered wing or the head on Eurasian collared doves while in the field or in transport to their final place of consumption.

New Idaho rules aid disabled and young hunters

HUNTING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently adopted rules that boost disabled and youth hunters:

  • A companion without a tag or permit will be allowed to assist a disabled hunter.
  • A person will be able to transfer a controlled hunt tag to a child or grandchild.

Idaho lawmakers directed the commission to develop these rules during the 2012 Legislature.

The commission also adopted rules that become effective January 1, 2013, that will allow a person age  8 and older to participate in a mentored hunting program without being required to hold a hunter education certificate.

Read on for details.

Sockeye are hot item in Upper Columbia

SALMON FISHING — Sockeye salmon fishing is hot at the mouth of the Okanogan River near Brewster, and it's no secret.

Anton Jones of Darrell and Dad's Family Guide Service said anglers have converged on the fishery, requiring some thought to how to cope with the crowd.

“Strap on your patience as there were 345 boats on Saturday on the Columbia at the mouth of the Okanagon,” he reports.

“Fish the edge of the old channel just above the depth you mark them on your sonar,” he said.  “Pull big chrome dodgers with a short heavy leader back to a big Mack’s Lures Wedding Ring baited with a piece of Pautzke Fire Cured Shrimp. 

“You can also get some Chinook fishing Super Baits behind a rotating flasher.  Fill those Super Baits with oil based tuna and dip them in Pautzke’s Krill Juice. 

Jone's tip:

Keep your set backs short when you are in that combat fishery at the mouth of the Okanogan.  Twenty feet back is plenty.  More setback will lead to tangles with other anglers. 

Yes, that does have a double meaning. 


Sign up for bicycle maintenance class at REI

CYCLING –A class on basic bicycle maintenance is being offered Thursday (July 26), 7 p.m., at REI in Spokane.

This class is free to attend and space is limited. Register at

Steelhead are on their way to the Snake

STEELHEAD FISHING — Anglers have been catching a few steelhead in the Snake and Clearwater Riers, but as the charts reveal, the fish that have been moving over Bonneville Dam — first they reach on the Columbia - are just beginning to show up in bigger numbers at Lower Granite Dam — last dam on the Snake before the fish reach Idaho waters.


2012 Steelhead Count
From July 1 to November 30
Dam Date of Count Daily Count 2012
Total To Date
Total To Date
Average of Last 5 Years
Bonneville July 22 3,713 41,441 40,207 62,712
Lower Granite July 22 59 677 1,253 2,550
  • Counts include wild and hatchery origin fish. Most steelhead bound for Idaho cross Bonneville Dam between July 1 and October 31.
  • Information on numbers of steelhead crossing the Columbia and Snake River dams is taken from data posted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and is updated weekly during the counting season.

Interior supports removing Yellowstone grizzlies from Endangered Species protection

WILDLIFE — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he shares Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead's desire to end federal protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears.

According to the Associated Press, Salazar wrote to Mead last week saying he expects the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies will finish their court-ordered analysis of the effect of the decline of the whitebark pine tree on bear populations by early 2014.

Mead wrote to Salazar in May saying that the gravity of the bear situation around the nation’s oldest national park cannot be overemphasized. Mead said bears killed four people in the area over the past two years.

It's not clear whether Salazar pointed out that in at least two of those cases, the victims were culpable in the attacks.

Biologists estimate the Greater Yellowstone area had about 600 bears last year. The area includes parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

Truck wipes out 30 percent of bighorn herd’s lambs

WILDLIFE  — A Missoula-area bighorn herd that's been ravaged by disease suffered another blow recently as a single truck wiped out a third of this season's bighorn lamb reproduction in the lower Rock Creek drainage.

The unidentified Idaho driver collided with seven lambs while driving near the Rock Creek Trout Bums fly shop along the popular fishing stream south of Interstate 90.

“A tragedy in itself, the deaths also hammered a herd already halved by a pneumonia outbreak two years ago,” says the story in the Missoulian.

“They were just super frisky, and they played in a group,” said Trout Bums co-owner Deb Peltier. “They came off the mountain racing, like they always do. They were like toddlers – oblivious to everything. When I got there, there were baby sheep laying everywhere like bowling pins. It was a horrible, awful sight.”

Excessive speed on the county road is a regular problem, local authorities say.

12-foot sturgeon caught in British Columbia

FISHING — An couple of Brits fishing with a guide on British Columbia's Fraser River near Chilliwack landed a 12-foot, 4-inch sturgeon last week.

With a girth of 53 inches and weighing an estimated 1,100 pounds, guide Dean Werk of Great Fishing Adventures estimates the sturgeon to be over 100 years old.

Michael Snell, 65, and his wife Margaret of Salisbury, England, will go home with the distinction of catching one of the biggest fish ever caught in North America, Werk said in a story reported by the Vancouver Sun.

“I’ve been a professional fishing guide on the Fraser River for 25 years and I’ve never seen a sturgeon this big,” said Werk.

It took an hour and a half to land the fish.

Forest Capital sells timberlands in northeast Washington

PRIVATE TIMBERLANDS — Forest Capital Partners, which has a regional office in Colville, has sold its 1.88 million-acre timberland portfolio to Hancock Timber Resource Group and Molpus Woodlands Group.

FCP, with headquarters in Portland and Boston, paid $1.65 billion for the timberland in a 2005 deal with Boise-Cascade. The financial terms of what it sold for have not been disclosed.

“We will continue current practice for public access,” said Hancock spokesman Brian Carmichael responding to questions from The Spokesman-Review. “We have no plans for changes at Colville office.”

Hancock Timber is acquiring 573,000 acres in Oregon, 376,000 acres in Louisiana, 264,000 acres in Washington and 138,000 acres in Idaho.

Molpus is buying 286,000 acres in Minnesota, 110,000 acres in Louisiana and 138,000 acres in Idaho.

Dick Molpus is the president of Molpus Woodlands Group, which acquires, manages and sells timberland as an investment vehicle for pension funds, college endowments and wealthy individual investors.

He describes the timberlands as highly productive and ideally situated near timber markets with competitive pricing.

Trophy elk hunter tagged for lying, hiring helicopter

 HUNTING — Outback Outfitters guide Jon C. Wick, 46, of Summerville, Ore., and Tod L. Reichert, 72, of Salkum, Wash., have pleaded guilty to criminal violations in a 2007 Blue Mountains elk hunt involving Washington’s coveted “Governor’s tag.”

Reichert purchased the Eastern Washington Any Bull Elk-Governor's Auction Tag for approximately $47,000. Reichert hired Wick for scouting and guiding services.

Reichert also hired a helicopter service to spot elk for the hunt, which is unlawful in Washington and most other states.

In December 2007, Reichert killed a trophy elk in the Umatilla National Forest with Wick's assistance outside the area the Forest Service had authorized Wick to provide outfitter-guiding services.

Reichert later falsely claimed that Wick had provided no professional services during the hunt or been paid any money for his services.

In 2008, Wick again provided professional outfitter-guiding services in the Umatilla National Forest to the purchaser of the 2008 Governor's Tag, which cost approximately $65,000. At that time, Wick did not have Forest Service authorization to provide the guiding services.

Reichert’s sentence includes a $5,000 fine and two years probation during which he cannot enter a national forest.

Described as “a strong supporter of elk hunting and improving elk habitat,” he has killed several record-book bulls by outbidding other rich trophy hunters to get coveted tags, including $40,000 for the 2007-08 New Mexico Governor's Tag, $19,000 for the 2001 Oregon Governor's Tag, $16,000 for the 2003 edition, and an unpublished amount for the 1999 California tule bull elk tag.

 Read more details about this man's debatable contributions to the sport of  elk hunting in this report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine.

Wick’s sentencing is set for Sept. 13.

Wildlife scientist’s family slams Elk Foundation for wolf stance

WILDLIFE ISSUES — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has removed all references to its Olaus Murie conservation award after the researcher’s family objected to the group’s policy on wolves.

The Missoulian has the full story.

In a letter to RMEF President David Allen, Olaus Murie’s son, Donald Murie, said the organization’s “all-out war against wolves” is “anathema to the entire Murie family.”

RMEF started giving the Olaus Murie Award in 1999 and has presented it five or six times since then to standouts in the field of wildlife science. The Murie family has no involvement with funding or chosing the award.

Murie, who died in 1963, “was a renowned biologist and one of the country’s great champions of wildlife and wilderness,” according the website of the Wilderness Society, where he served as director.

Murie published pioneering research on the elk herd in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and became “an early, staunch defender of predators and their crucial role in ecosystems,” the site says.

Incidentally: Montana just authorized a 2012-2013 wolf trapping season to help beef up the hunting season that failed to take the quota of wolves sought by wildlife managers last year.

This week, within 24 hours of opening registration for the state's first wolf trapping certification course — a prerequisite to getting a wolf-trapping license — 110 people had signed up.

Hikers: check conditions before you head out

TRAILS — Heavy rain and lingering snow have created a few obstacles for hikers, campers and other heading into the backcountry this weekend. Best to check with Forest Service offices today to make sure your destination is reachable.

For example:

  • Hikers headed to Iron Mountain area east of Bonners Ferry will have to walk an extra half-mile to the trailhead because of a washout on Boulder Creek Road. The washout and lingering snow have kept trail crews from the area.
  • Glacier National Park’s Going to the Sun Road was blocked for three days this week after a dozen or so mudslides buried sections of the popular road for miles. It’s open again today. However, the park service says more bad weather is expected on Friday, with a flash flood watch issued for the park from noon to midnight. Heavy lightning, hail and wind up to 60 mph is expected.

Lingering snow has prevented trail clearing in some areas.

  • Idaho Panhandle crews have just begun logging out the Long Canyon area in the Selkirk Mountains northwest of Bonners Ferry.  But the Parker Ridge area above is still covered with snow.

Priest Lake: All 192 miles of trails on the district have been logged out, getting a big boost from the Back Country Horsemen, who cleared out 50 miles of trails in their annual Memorial Day campout work party.

Huckleberries are ripe in some low to mid elevations.

Rockfall leaves Chimney Rock unstable, dangerous

ROCK CLIMBING — Climbers were humbled earlier this month to find a massive rock fall had wiped out a generation of climbing routes on the east face of Chimney Rock, a landmark on the skyline east of Priest Lake.

And the danger lingers.

The collapse of rock from the near-vertical face erased rock flakes used in many pioneering climbs on the iconic granite pillar in the Selkirk Mountains.

Classic lines now gone include Magnum Force, a route first free-climbed in 1967 by Spokane Mountaineers John Roskelley and Chris Kopczynski.

“Many tons of Inland Northwest climbing history are now part of the boulder field at the base,” said Dane Burns, one of the rock’s pioneering climbers.

“From the splitter crack line of Yahoody left all the routes are now gone. That includes but not limited to the Beckey/Cooper South Nose route, later freed by Roskelley and Kopczynski and renamed Magnum Force, Kimmie, named after our friend Kim Momb and UNI the first trad 5.12 crack done in the inland NW.”

Zach Turner, who reported the rockfall on July 5, noted the east face has a swath of new routes to be pioneered, but warned climbers more unstable rock appears to be hanging on the wall.

See Turner's post with before and after photos of the Chimney Rock east face and a list of the climbing routes affected.

Idaho fall chinook fishing opens Sept. 1

SALMON FISHING — A fishing season for fall chinook salmon will open Sept. 1 in the Snake and Clearwater rivers under rules adopted by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

The harvest season will continue until further notice or Oct. 31, whichever comes first, in the Snake River and the lower Clearwater River.

Fishery managers predict 18,272 adult hatchery origin chinook salmon will cross Lower Granite Dam, the last of four federal dams on the lower Snake River on their way back to Idaho.

Read on for details.

Caddis hatch underway at Georgetown Lake

FLY FISHING — My good friend Randy LaBeff has a way of making sure his work takes him to the Anaconda-area of Montana every year around this time.  Once again, he scored.   Here's his Facebook post from minutes ago:

I am really excited! Work has brought me to Georgetown Lake and the caddis fly hatch is on. I am meeting Dick tonight and we will be fishing Beaver head bay with the sun setting on the Pinter mountains. Yippee!

East Side shoulders weight of Washington wolf recovery

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Today's Outdoors column rounding up the recently elevated profile of gray wolves in Washington ends with a hint to another irony of Washington's East-West dichotomy.

Washington's wolf management plan requires 15 breeding pairs of wolves to be established for three years in all regions of the state before they could be removed from endangered status and their populations could be controlled.

But while wolves are moving in naturally from Idaho and Canada and establishing packs naturally in Eastern Washington, wolves would have to be trapped and relocated into the Western Washington and especially the Olympic Peninsula to complete the delisting requirements within a reasonable time frame.

The catch is that a lengthy environmental and public outreach process would be required before wolves could be translocated — even to the Mount St. Helens area where elk are starving from overpopulation. It's not clear whether Western Washington residents would welcome wolf releases, especially in the Olympics.

The East Side is getting wolves without management authority whether they like them or not. West Side residents get to have a say in whether they want wolves in their woods.

East Side wildlife will take the brunt of wolf recovery until West Siders make their decision.

With eight packs confirmed in Eastern Washington and more unconfirmed packs almost surely formed in the area, it seems like NOW is the time to begin the environmental reviews and public outreach required to get the ball rolling toward delisting wolves.

Why wait until wolves wear out their tentative welcome in Eastern Washington and give more East Siders a reason to hate them?

— See map graphics and details on Washington's eight confirmed wolf packs.

— See  KING 5 News video report on Monday's capture and release of a 94 pound adult male and a pup from the Wedge Pack.  The trapping effort confirmed the presence of a breeding pack between the Columbia and Kettle rivers near the Canada border.

— See five wolf pups in a short video clip from a remote trail cam that confirmed the presence of the Huckleberry Pack, a breeding pack in northern Spokane and southern Stevens counties.

Spokane store closure leaves gap in map availability

NAVIGATION — Getting a map is easier than ever with online services and software.

But getting a good durable map that's specific for your application took a big hit this  month as Northwest Maps — formerly Northwest Map and Travel Book Center — closed its shop in Spokane Valley.

As consumers have shifted to digital mapping sources, owner Steve Mitrovich decided to sell his massive map inventory and shifted to an online- and phone-only business to sell only his local-area atlases and marketing maps.

For years, Spokane was a premier hub for maps, including the U.S. Geological Survey office in the Downtown Post office. That office was closed at the end of 2001 after offering 43 years of service.

Mitrovich, who opened his shop in the mid 1985, stepped up to offer not only 7.5 minute quads for the entire region, but also all of the state public land maps, Canada maps, national park and Forest Service maps, wilderness maps and the travel guides to go with them. 

If Northwest Maps didn't have a map you needed, Mitrovich likely could get it.

I pity people who think an 8 x 11-inch printout with smearable ink or even a GPS unit are satisfactory replacements for the information available to somebody who spreads out and pores over a topographic map.

Meanwhile, Northwest Maps is still offering a free map index service and taking phone orders for its local products  through its website

  • The Spokane REI store on North Monroe Street sells some  topo quadrangle and recreation maps.
  • Forest Service and state public lands maps can be purchased from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management office, 1103 N Fancher Road, (509) 536-1200.
  • USGS maps can be purchased online at the USGS Store.

RIP: Hardy Kruse, local fly fishing purveyor

FISHING — Hardy Kruse of Spokane, who ran one of  Spokane's first fishing shops with a special corner for fly fishers, is the latest of several notable angling personalities to drift out of this world in recent weeks.

Kruse, 85, died Sunday after a long illness. No public service is planned, according to close friend Stephen Aspinwall.

Long-time anglers will remember The  Sport Cove, which Kruse operated in the Spokane Valley at the Two Swabbies  for 30 years before closing the doors at the age of 75.

I still have the diver's swim fins Hardy hand rigged with straps to help anglers propel float tubes when they became the rage in the 1980s. “You'll spend three times as much for fins made for use with float tubes and they'll work half as well,” he told me.

I tried them out with Hardy for a story about float-tubing in a fine day of fishing at Bayley Lake (see photo), which was one of Hardy's favorite waters for big brook trout and rainbows at that time.  He also loved fishing the Bow River near Calgary.

Other notable anglers passing in recent weeks include:

Harry Lemire: A Boeing worker who became a standout in fly tying and steelhead and salmon fly fishing circles for his exquisite hand-tied flies — and I really do mean hand-tied.

Lemire said he succeeded in tying a fly without the help of a vise in 1991. “I found it very possible, practical and rewarding,” he wrote. “From that day to this I've never used a vice when tying classic patterns and see no reason to.”

Another Lemire quote: “I've caught steelhead up to 34 pounds on a skating fly and up to 23 pounds on a dry fly. My life, I would say, has been good.”

Homer Circle: A southern gentleman, angler and author known to fans as “Uncle Homer” as he informed anglers for 50 years in Sports Afield and Field & Stream magazines. He passed away June 26 at the age of 97.

Jederman Gran Fondo debuts Saturday on open rural roads

CYCLING — Local cycling guru  Michael Emde has an enticing tidbit for participants in Saturday's Jederman Gran Fondo:

There are no traffic lights and there are only 20 over the length of the 112 mile course… The forecast is for 84F and very little wind!

The Jedermann Gran Fondo is a timed 112 mile cycling ride and cycling festival that will start and finish in Cheney, says Emde, event organizer.

The course in this inaugural event will visit the back roads and farming communities of Sprague, Tokio, Harrington, Edwall and back to Cheney.

In Europe, timed recreational events have been around for decades and each country has a different name for them. In Germany they’re called “Jedermann Rennen's” which translates to “Everyone’s Race”. In Italy they call it a “Gran Fondo” which translates to “Great Ride”. Combine the two and “Jedermann Gran Fondo”  translates to “Everyone’s Great Ride.”

Custom medals will be awarded Saturday for times under 6 hours, under 8 hours and under 10 hours.

Cyclists can enter as an individual OR as a 2-person relay team.

This ride includes mechanical support, food stops, a post race meal, dessert, libations, music, raffles and more.

Register here.

Idaho bighorns lack respect from state leaders

WILDLIFE — Idaho's bighorn sheep are coveted by hunters, only a handful of which are allowed to hunt them each fall.

They are a prize for wildlife viewers and a symbol of the wildness that set's Idaho apart from much of the world.

Yet Idaho lawmakers have turned their backs on efforts to keep bighorns separated in their native range from domestic sheep, which can transmit diseases that have decimated bighorn herds in areas such as Hells Canyon.

Outdoor columnist Rocky Barker has this sensible insight on the issue, pointing out that it really wouldn't be too hard for Idaho's governorn or other lawmakers to give bighorns a better shake. 

Meanwhile, as a recent SR story points out, sportsmen's groups are largely alone in trying to fund Washington State University research looking into preventing the domestic livestock transmission of diseases that are devastating wild sheep herds.

Read on for the details.

Hunter guilty of baiting bears near Methow cabin

POACHING — A Western Washington man has pleaded guilty to 14 counts of luring bears with doughnuts, salmon and other bait so they could be killed for fun by himself and family from the porch of his Methow Valley recreation cabin.

James Erickson, 52, of Eatonville, Wash., has been sentenced to six days in jail on top of a $12,000 fine and 20 days electronically monitored detention at his home. He'll also loose his state hunting privileges for five years. As part of the plea deal, charges against others were dropped.

The case was sealed after years of investigation after Fish and Wildlife police received a tip that led to a remote trail cam with photos that caught Erickson in the act.

See the story and photos from the investigation that led to the arrest.

Global warming new factor in mountaineering safety

MOUNTAINEERING — Safely below the snowline, I was hiking in the Alps near Chamonix, France, last week when 9 climbers were killed by an avalanche on Mont Blanc, the highest peak in western Europe.  It was particularly eery for me and my family, since we had just shared a train ride with a South Africa couple who had just climbed the peak — and we had shared breakfast on a previous day with a man who was headed up to climb.

The tragedy in bringing international attention to what appear to be increasing danger and unpredictibility in snow-country climbing and backcountry skiing. 

Following the tragedy in the Alps as well as another on Mount McKinley, the New York Times has published this report citing veteran climbers pointing out that today’s conditions are combining to create a volatile highball of risk.

Sign up: test drive an outdoor sport at Sekani Adventure Day

OUTDOOR SPORTS — Maybe you'd like to try a traditional sport, such as canoeing or kayaking, or maybe you're curious about more modern sports such as geocaching, slacklining or stand-up paddling.

Sekani Adventure Day — Saturday (July 21) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — at Camp Sekani Conservaton Area off Upriver Drive is the perfect opportunity. Try out a new sport while getting instruction and the chance to try a huge variety of outdoor equipment.

The event is sponsored by Spokane Parks and Recreation and boosted by volunteers from a variety of outdoor groups. Other sports covered include mountain biking, letterboxing, paddle rafting, archery, map and compass navigation, scrambling and maybe rock climbing this year

Nothing is sold at this event. It's strictly try it and see if you like it.

Where: Camp Sekani Conservation Area, 6707 E. Upriver Dr. See map.

Cost: $9 pre-registration or $15 at the gate.

Get more info and pre-register online, or call 625-6200.

Pikepalooza proves Pend Oreille River still holds whoppers

FISHING — The gillnets didn't get all the northern pike in the Pend Oreille River.

This spring, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department and Kalispel Tribe used gillnets to remove about 87 percent of the non-native northern pike in the Box Canyon section of the river downstream from Newport. (See story)

But results from the June 29-July 1 Pikepalooza organized by the Kalispel Tribe indicate that serious anglers not only can catch a number of northern pike in the river on an outing, they also can catch some whoppers.

  • Josh Whitney won a whopping $1,000 for catching the most northern pike — 14 — during the tournament.
  • Dale Smith won $500 for catching the largest pike of the derby — 46.4 inches long!

The tribe reports that 138 anglers pre-registered and an additional 70 anglers signed up on site.

But water and weather conditions limited participation to about 80 anglers who turned out to compete for $3,000 in cash prizes and more than $500 in raffle prizes.

Although anglers faced tough fishing conditions over the weekend including high water, wake restrictions, closed boat launches, and hit-and-miss weather, the 80 anglers harvested 81 northern pike, reports Jason Connor, the Tribe's fisheries biologist.

  • 33 people registered at least one pike.
  • Pike from 286 mm (11.25”) to 1178 mm (46.4”) were harvested with the majority (74%) being 1-2 year olds less than 18 inches. 
  • No tagged pike were caught, so prizes will roll over to the next Pikepalooza event set for Aug. 3-5.

Read on for the complete list of prize winners.

Veterinarian’s state flora ripe for trouble

Nature didn't stand still while I've been on vacation. 

In the past two weeks, the cheatgrass has gone from green and soft to cured with spear-like seedheads that cling to socks and fur.

I just brushed dozens of cheat seeds out of my dog's fur after a training run.

The season has come to stuff cotton in a hunting dog's ear's before going afield.  I could buy a yacht with the money I've spent over the years to have veterinarians extract cheatgrass seeds from deep inside my dogs' ears.

Big berry crop at your ‘service’

FORAGING — Bruce Howard of Spokane says this is an epic year for serviceberries, the pulpy purple fruit on the native shrubs that caught our eyes with lovely, delicate white blossoms in April.

“With the weather we've had, they are like real fruit this year,” he said, noting the berries have been abundant and more flavorful that normal.

Tiger musky open tourney at Newman Lake

TOURNAMENT FISHING — Herb Zielke from Muskies Inc., Mountain Muskies Chapter 60 here in Spokane says the group is taking registration for the
Newman Lake Open Muskie Tournament on July 21.
The event runs 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. out of Newman Lake Resort. Registration starts at 6 a.m. A mandatory meeting starts at 6:30 a.m.
Cash prizes will be awarded along with a tackle raffle after the tournament
Preregister: (509)263-7235 or email
See Mountain Muskies for rules.

Free backpack cooking clinic Thursday at REI

BACKPACKING – Backpackers who are tired of Ramen and balk at plain instant oatmeal might benefit from the free clinc on backpack cooking basics Thursday (July 19), 7 p.m., at REI in Spokane.

Topics to be covered include recipies as well as preserving, preparing packing and cooking tasty meals that won’t weight you down.

Take a walk with bats at Turnbull Wildlife Refuge

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge biologists will present a program and an lead evening walk on Wednesday (July 18) to highlight bats, the important critters of the night skies.

“Bats of the World and the Channeled Scablands” starts at 7:30 p.m. at the refuge headquarters south of Cheney.

The talk will be followed by a walk on which special sound detectors will be demonstrated and a few bats may be caught for identification and examination.  

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, a sweater or jacket, and bring a flashlight. 

 A donation of $5 to the Friends of Turnbull is suggested.

Info: Louise OLeary 235-4531 or

Spokane River access opens at Post Falls

BOATING — The City of Post Falls boat launch and swim beach at Q’emiln Park has opened to the public Friday. 

Avista officials said river flows had dropped sufficiently to allow all of the spill gates at the Post Falls hydroelectric facility to be closed last week. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday, and on average about June 22. The spring runoff season extended well into July this year because of a larger than average snowpack and rainfall in June that amounted to more than twice the normal amounts.

For current information on anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’ Alene Lake, Lake Spokane, and the Spokane River, call Avista’s 24-hour telephone information line.

  • In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357;
  • In Washington, call (509) 495-8043.

Video offers primer on chosing trekking poles

HIKING — While a Sunday Outdoors feature story covers the value and issues involved with using trekking poles for hiking, this video offers a useful guide to selecting poles for your type of use.

Our family became advocates of using trekking poles while hiking long ago. They save your knees, ward of charging marmots (seriously), offer an upper body workout and come in useful for all sort of things, including a center pole for a tarp tent.

Volunteers organizing to clear Mount Spokane nordic ski trails

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING – Spokane Nordic members are recruiting volunteers to help trim branches and clear the sprawling cross-country ski trail system at Mount Spokane before the snow flies.

The first of the club’s annual Trail Days is scheduled for Saturday, July 21.

Others Trail Day efforts are set for Aug. 12, Sept. 8, Sept. 16, Oct. 6 and Oct. 21.

Volunteers meet at the Selkirk Lodge at 9 a.m. dressed in work clothes and equipped with gloves, lunch and other tools.

Deails: Art Bookstrom at 624-9667.

Fish and Wildlife dedicates building to Shiosaki

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department today is re-dedicating its Eastern Region headquarters in Spokane in the name of Fred Shiosaki, a former state Fish and Wildlife Commissioner who lives in Spokane Valley.

In addition to his service to fish and wildlife, Shiosaki last fall received the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony honoring the Nisei Soldiers of World War II.  Shiosaki was a member of the U.S. Army All Volunteer Japanese-American 442nd Infantry Regiment.

Shiosaki was instrumental in getting the new Fish and Wildlife facilities completed in Spokane in 2009. 

Sekani Adventure Day offers chance to try 11 outdoor sports

OUTDOOR SPORTS — Maybe you'd like to try a traditional sport, such as canoeing or kayaking, or maybe you're curious about more modern sports such as geocaching, slacklining or stand-up paddling.

Sekani Adventure Day — July 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — at Camp Sekani Conservaton Area off Upriver Drive is the perfect opportunity. Try out a new sport while getting instruction and the chance to try a huge variety of outdoor equipment.

The event is sponsored by Spokane Parks and Recreation and boosted by volunteers from a variety of outdoor groups.  Other sports covered include mountain biking, letterboxing, paddle rafting, archery, map and compass navigation, scrambling and maybe rock climbing this year

Nothing is sold at this event. It's strictly try it and see if you like it.

Where: Camp Sekani Conservation Area, 6707 E. Upriver Dr. See map.

Cost: $9 pre-registration or $15 at the gate.

Get more info and pre-register online or call 625-6200.

Camp cooking clinic Thursday at REI

CAMPING – A free clinic in basic camp cooking will be offered Thursday (July 12), 7 p.m., at REI in Spokane.

Ice Age Floods guidebook authors coming to Auntie’s

GEOLOGY — A just-published guidebook on the region's channeled scablands — a second volume on exploring the aftermath of the Ice Age Floods — is being celebrated with a reading and lecture Wednesday at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane.

On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods: A geological field guide to northern Idaho and the Channeled Scabland” will be unveiled by geologist and Eastern Washington University alumnus Bruce Bjornstad and retired EWU geology prof Eugene Kiver.

The event is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Auntie's, 402 West Main Ave.

The floods helped gouge out Lake Pend Oreill, Idaho’s largest and deepest lake, and sculpted the weird topography of Eastern Washington.

This field guide explores a vast expanse of land on the ground and with great aerial photos. Specific hikes are recommended to see key features.

After hiking and exploring the Channeled Scabland region for 35 years, I didn’t know what I was missing until I read this book.

Washington duck, goose calling contests set for Aug. 25

WATERFOWLING — The 2012 Washington State Duck Calling Championship is set for Aug. 25, sponsored by the Washington Waterfowl Association, Yakima Valley Chapter.

The event, a qualifier for international competition, will start at 7 a.m. at Columbia Park in Kennewick.

The following contests are scheduled:

  • 2012 Washington state Duck Calling Championship, open only to Washington residents. (The Winner will qualify for the 2012 World duck Calling Championship to be held Thanksgiving weekend at Stuggart, Arkansas.)
  • Open Duck Calling contest (open to anyone)
  • Junior Duck Calling contest (open to ages 11-17)
  • Pee-Wee Duck (open to all children under the age of 11)
  • Two-Man Duck (open to all ages)
  • Junior Goose (open to ages 11-17)
  • Washington State Goose ( Open to Washington residents only)
  • Open Goose (Open to all callers)
  • Two-Man Goose (open to all callers)

Info and pre-registration: Abel A. Cortina (509)786-9196.

Bat biologists offer hands-on learning in Spokane

CRITTERS – “Bats of the Inland Northwest,” is a hands-on opportunity to learn about some of the the marvelous abilities and essential services of bats that fly our skies at night.

Ella Rowan, a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologist who specializes in bats, is teaming with biologists from other agencies to offer the class twice this summer, on July 14 and Aug. 25.

Because of the subject matter – nocturnal creatures — timing is a  little later than most classes in the region. Both classes go 7 p.m.-11 p.m.

Cost: Adults $17 or $11 for youth ages 7-17 (no children under seven.) 

The classes include outings in Riverside State Park where bats will be captured.

Pre-registration required online through Spokane Parks and Recreation, or call 625-6200.




Film festival tops first day of International Fly Fishing Fair

OUTSEE – Fly fishing takes center stage in Spokane this week starting Thursday July 12 with the opening of the International Fly Fishing Fair at the Spokane Convention Center.

The public is invited by the Federation of Fly Fishers to cruise the exhibit and take part in presentations, clinics and classes in fly tying, fly casting, fishing techniques, conservation and more.

Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday

Cost: adults $5, kids under 16 free.

Other related activities include:

Benefit for Spokane River Redband Trout, featuring local brews, wind and Dry Fly Distillery spirits, 5 p.m-7 p.m. at Rick Singer Photography rooftop garden, 415 ½  W. Main Ave.  $25. Sponsored by Trout Unlimited's Spokane Falls Chapter.

International Fly Fishing Film Festival, a two hour show featurring edited versions of the year’s top fly fishing films, starting at 7 p.m. at the Bing Crosby Theater. Benefits Spokane RiverKeeper.

Tickets are $15 at the door or $12 if purchased in advance at area fly fishing shops.

Idaho Fish, Game Commission in Bonners Ferry

WILDLIFE – Big-game tag quotas will be on the agenda when the Idaho Fish and Game Commission meets Wednesday and Thursday (July 11 and 12) in Bonners Ferry.

A public hearing is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 11.

Commissioners will consider nonbiological rules for all game animals, nonresident deer and elk tag quotas, nonresident deer and elk tag outfitter set-aside, and release of bighorn sheep tags for auction and lottery.

Commissioners will provide direction on the expenditure of animal damage control funds. Presentations are schedule don legislative proposals, migratory game birds, sage-grouse briefing, the 2014 preliminary budget and a hunting season for sandhill cranes.

Volunteers grouping to trim Mount Spokane nordic trails

SKI TRAILS —  With the State Park cutbacks, the Spokane Nordic club members say more help is needed now more than ever to get the Mount Spokane cross-country ski trails in shape for winter.

The group, as usual, is organizing a series of trail maintenace days to get things pruned and groomed and ready for snow.

The first Trail Days effort of the season is July 21 followed by other work days on Aug. 12, Sept. 8, Sept. 16, Oct 6. and Oct. 21.

Meet at the Selkirk Lodge at 9 a.m. Be dressed in work clothes and bring gloves and your lunch. Also bring hammers, sledge hammers and long-handled shovels if you have them.

Even the kids can have fun lopping alder and exploring the park in the summer!

Info: Art Bookstrom at (509) 624-9667.

Volunteers sign up for work day at Camp Sekani trails

TRAILS — Volunteers are organizing a work party to spruce up the trail system at Camp Sekani along the Spokane River below Beacon Hill.

The Camp Sekani Trail Day is set for Saturday, July 14, 9 a.m.-noon.

Camp Sekani, owned by the city of Spokane, provides recreationists with hiking, mountain biking, disc golf and many other outdoor opportunities.

This work project will bring together volunteers to clean and maintain existing trails, rehabilitate areas that have suffered from overuse and help to develop the overall infrastructure of the Beacon Hill area for users.

Plan to bring sturdy trail shoes, appropriate clothes, gloves, water bottle with water in it as there is no access to water.

Useful trail tools include shovels, rakes, litter bags, and loppers.

RSVP to volunteer coordinator Catherine Lyle at

Camp Sekani is located at 6707 E. Upriver Drive.

Directions:  Head East on Mission. At Mission and Upriver Drive take a right. Continue on Upriver Drive for about 2 miles until you see the Sekani gate on your left. Enter the gate and you should notice the caretakers house on the right. If you get to the Boulder Beach Parking Lot on your right you have gone too far.

Idaho controlled hunt drawing results out soon

HUNTING — The suspense is almost over for Idaho big-game hunters.

Results of special drawings for big-game controlled hunt tags will be available any day on the Idaho Fish and Game Department drawings web page.

Postcards will be mailed to successful applicants by July 10.

Ultimately, hunters must bear the responsibility to determine whether they've been drawn, state officials say.

Unsuccessful applicants will not be notified.

Winners must buy controlled hunt tags by Aug.1; any tags not purchased by that date will be forfeit.

Unclaimed and leftover tags from the first drawing will be available in a second application period Aug. 5-15.

After the second drawing, any tags left over are sold over the counter.

Washington already has conducted its special hunt drawings.

Flathead Lake tests paddlersshore-to-shore

PADDLING —  Kayaks, canoes and stand up paddle boards will go 4.5, 9.5 or 24 miles on Montana's Flathead Lake on Aug. 24 in a race event to benefit First Descents, a non-profit organization providing outdoor adventure therapy for young adults with cancer

The Epic Shore to Shore race is open to all paddlesports enthusiasts.

Paddlers can race as teams or solo as they crisscross the bays and inlets along the west shore of the lake.

 “We are a local group of outdoor enthusiasts who have a passion for paddling,” said event organizer Chuck Ludden.

Info is on the  Epic Shore to Shore website and the event's Facebook page.

Registration includes a T-shirt for each competitor, a free drink ticket and a pasta dinner ticket.

Registrations will be accepted until one week prior to the race. 

Solo entry for Epic/24 miles = $75
Solo for Intermediate/9.5 miles = $60
Solo for Recreation/4.5 miles = $45
Team:  Each member pays $45

Take a gamble on Tri-Town Float down Pend Oreille River

PADDLING – A two day floating festival of canoes, kayaks and other muscle-powered craft will be playing the odds on the Pend Oreille River July 14 and 15.

The Tri-Tow Float, formerly called the Poker Paddle, will have five stations giving out cards to participants as the float 16 miles from Ruby Creek to Ione the first day.

Camping and food options are available.

The second day features a 5-mile float from Box Canyon Dam to Metaline, followed by prize drawings.

Info: (509) 442-4577.

Sign-up by July 6 for discount.

 Entry forms online at the event's Facebook page.

Hunters losing access to land at alarming rate

HUNTING — Nearly 23 percent of hunters polled said places they tried to hunt in the past year had been restricted or placed off limits to them, according to

Compared with the previous year’s results to the same question, hunters who lost land access grew by less than 1 percent, a statistically insignificant bump. But their numbers still reveal that nearly one in four sportsmen nationwide is potentially affected by losing access to hunting land.

“Finding a place to hunt remains one of the biggest challenges to hunters and hunter recruitment” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at

“As available lands for hunting diminish or change ownership, some hunters will inevitably grow frustrated and pursue other activities.”

More than half (52 percent) of those respondents who lost access to a hunting location said their time spent hunting last year was reduced as a result—a 7 percent increase over the previous year—while 11 percent said the lost land kept them from hunting altogether.

Only 7 percent of those respondents said they acquired access to another property where they were able to hunt more than planned.

Southwick pointed to the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), which was part of the 2008 Farm Bill, as a key example of programs designed to improve access to hunting and fishing lands and waters.

VPA-HIP was intended to provide three years of funding to augment state land access programs that provide incentives for private landowners to open their lands to hunting and fishing. The program ended prematurely, however, due to federal budget cuts.

With slashes in government funding and private properties increasingly restricted, land access will continue to be an issue for many sportsmen.

Bear aware: Tips for camping in bear country

WILDLIFE — The summer camping season is kicking into high gear, putting more people out among wildlife, including bears.

The Grizzly Bear Outreach Project offers basic tips to help campers avoid attracting bears, which can be dangerous to people and destructive to their camping gear.

Worse, a bear that finds value — notably food — in raiding camps almost surely will become a repeat offender that ultimately will have to be killed.

Click “continue reading” to refresh your memory on tips that come from years of case studies:

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About this blog

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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About Rich

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.

Recent work by Rich

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