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Outdoors blog

Archive for May 2012

Clothing-optional hike among National Trails Day outings

HIKING — A Washington nudist park north of Spokane is celebrating National Trails Day June 2 with a clothing optional hike.

Kaniksu Ranch Family Nudist Park near Loon Lake, WA will host the hike Saturday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. in its 260-acre forest. The park, run by members, welcomes everyone. The group says it's family oriented, although unless the kids are still learning to walk, it doesn't take four hours to hike 260 acres.

“The Inland Northwest has lots of wonderful scenery, but the one unique feature Kaniksu Ranch offers that no one else does is that we can hike safely and legally NAKED in a beautiful, family-friendly environment,” organizers said.

They made no mention of whether the mosquitoes are out.  And we suggest you bring plenty of sunscreen — and dark glasses.

Click “continue reading” for all the dangling details on this event.

MEANTIME, here are a few mainstream Trails Day options for Saturday, June 2 (most require clothing and advance sign-up):

Washington Trails Association is organizing a work party to re-route and maintain trails at Liberty Lake County Park.

Riverside State Park is joining with REI for a family-oriented forest health pruning project in the park.

Elk Creek Falls is the destination for a free two-mile loop hike on the Colville National Forest, led by a Forest Service wildlife biologist.

Butterflies at Turnbull Wildlife Refuge will be the focus of a presentation and field hike led by an expert from the Washington Butterfly Association.

Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness are leading a family and dog walk on Saturday and a visit to the Ross Creek Cedars on Sunday.

Idaho river runners enjoying good water year

WHITEWATER RIVERS — Rafters, catarafters, kayakers and surfers had thrills and a few spills and chills over Memorial Day Weekend at Lochsa Falls rapids on the Lochsa River, Idaho.

The snowpack forecast spells a great whitewater season for floaters in the Inland Northwest.

Read on for information on booking summer trips from the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association.

Get stoked to get soaked at Big Water Blowout in Riggins

WHITEWATER — Guides are gearing up to give discounted raft runs through some of the Salmon River's popular rapids at their biggest on Saturday during the annual Big Water Blowout festival based in Riggins, Idaho.

Get the scoop here.

Idaho underpass ushers wildlife safely across highway

WILDLIFE — Wildlife are quickly figuring out the safety benefits of an underpass built on Idaho Highway 21, where about 2,600 vehicles travel to and from the Boise area each day.

Instead of becoming roadkill, deer have been documented using the underpass to come and go while avoiding the collisions with vehicles that prompted the project.

An estimated 90 percent of a herd of 5,000 to 8,000 mule deer and a herd of 300 to 1,800 elk cross the highway each fall, when they come down from the mountains to the Boise Front and the Lucky Peak area.

See the story and more photos.

Washington fishermen oppose Alaska mine proposal

FISHING — SEATTLE — Washington fishermen who oppose a proposed mine in Alaska are having their say at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing today in Seattle.

According to the Associated Press, Sen. Maria Cantwell requested the hearing because she says fishermen would be affected if the Pebble Mine damages the Bristol Bay salmon fishery.

Cantwell said nearly 1,000 people in Washington hold commercial permits for Bristol Bay fishing that was worth more than $113 million in 2008.

Sportfishing groups also have formally opposed the mine because of its threats to the country's richest  salmon producing waters.

Recreational salmon fishing was worth another $75 million for Washington businesses.

The copper and gold mine is proposed near the headwaters of Bristol Bay rivers. Opponents worry about pollution and loss of habitat. Supporters say the mine would create jobs.

The EPA plans seven more hearings in Alaska and could veto the project under clean water laws.

Float trips introduce public to entire Spokane River

RIVERS — In their  fifth year, the Meet Me at the River trips sponsored by the Spokane River Forum are one of the best ideas ever floated to introduce people to the segments of the river that eventually cover all 112 miles from Lake Coeur d'Alene to the Columbia River.

These Eco Tours feature group trips in different river stretches. Local river outfitters provide the guides and boats appropriate to the section of river, whether they’re sit-on-top kayaks or rafts. Each trip includes people with expertise on a facet of the river to foster discussion.

The whitewater trips are limited to one weekend to take advantage of the best rafting conditions through the two stretches of the river prized for rapids.

Cost: $15 for Spokane River Forum members; $25 for non members.

Read on for the schedule:

Resident volunteers needed for Pend Oreille water sampling

The Pend Oreille Riverkeeper group is looking for volunteers to help with a lake-wide water quality monitoring program.

The goal is to produce reliable, scientifically credible data from water samples collected from multiple locations throughout Lake Pend Oreille and the Pend Oreille River on a monthly basis.

Measurement will include water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations, bacterial levels, and other parameters that indicate the health of these water bodies.

Volunteers will be trained and given the supplies.

This is a great project for people and familes who live around the lake.

Sign up for the Water Quality Monitoring program in the drop-down menu at this website.

Controlled burns boost elk habitat in Colville NF

PUBLIC LANDS — Fires were purposely set on the Colville National Forest last week to provide two big dividends later this summer: a hedge against catastrophic wildfire and a boom in lush tender growth to feed elk.

Colville National Forest crews have completed a 320-acre prescribed fire in the Sullivan Creek drainage in northern Pend Oreille County just east of the Cascade Cut-off Road (Forest Road 2200250). 

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation helped fund the effort to improve local forage for big game, reduce hazardous fuels in the forest and re-introduce fire into the ecosystem. 

Read on for details.

Salmon limits to drop on Clearwater River

SALMON FISHING — Effective Saturday, June 2, the bag limits on adult chinook salmon will be reduced for parts of the Clearwater drainage.

The new bag limits will be four salmon per day, but only one may be an adult, and 12 in possession, but only three may be adults. Adults are 24 or more inches in length.

Anglers have caugh about 30 percent of their quota for the Clearwater, and anglers and fish managers want to slow the rate so fishing can continue into July.

All other rules and seasons remain unchanged.

Read on for details.

Catch of the day: Fishing 101 class for adults

FISHING – Sign-up is underway for limited openings in a two-session fishing clinic for adults who haven’t been introduced to the sport.

The clinic seeks to fill the gap to help people learn how to catch fish even if they don't come from a fishing family.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and volunteers from the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council are teaming to teach non-fishing adults age 16 or older. 

The clinic involves an evening session on June 7— a suggest born from last year's clinic — followed by a weekend daytime session at Williams Lake.

The on-the-lake clinic is set for June 9, which is free fishing weekend in Washington – no fishing license required!

Sign up: 892-1001 or email

Read on for more details.

Virus draws attention to salmon farms

FISHERIES — Alexandra Morton, the Canadian biologist that sounded the alarm last fall with her findings of a virus that had killed millions of farmed fish in Chile in wild salmon off the British Columbia coast, is busy these days, after another virus found in fish farms off Vancouver Island and Bainbridge Island forced operators to kill millions of farmed fish.

The Seattle Times says the determined biologist may be salmon farming's worst enemy.


Annual walk includes 17 bridges over Spokane River

HIKING — Believe it or not, hikers participating in this  can cross 17 bridges over portions of the Spokane River in an enjoyable — especially during spring runnoff — stroll in downtown Spokane. An annual event sponsored by Spokane City Parks celebrates this unique Spokane opportunity. Details: 

What:  Participants will walk a 4.5 mile loop that crosses 17 bridges in the heart of downtown Spokane.  Experience the roaring Spokane River falls,  one of the city’s greatest natural wonders!

When:  Saturday, June 2, 2012  (OPEN START- 9:30am-10:30am)

Where:  Veteran’s Court (Corner of Monroe & Post Streets)

Cost:  $9 Adults ages 17 and older, $9 youth ages 5-16, FREE for ages 4 and under (no participation pin).

Register here  or call (509) 625-6200.

Butterflies featured in talk, walk at Turnbull

NATURE — A colorful day is in store for people who sign up for the Butterfly Talk and Walk on Saturday, 9 a.m., at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

John Baumann of the Washington Butterfly Association made 19 visits into the refuge backcountry over the course of two summers for an informal survey of the butterfly species living there.  

Baumann will present a short PowerPoint program at the refuge headquarters, followed by a walk to some of the public areas he surveyed so participants can see some of the butterflies that make their home at Turnbull.

Sign up with Louise O’Leary 235-4531 or

Plan on bringing a sack lunch and plenty of water for an experience that could last through most of the day.

Cougars take bite out of Montana wolf research

PREDATORS — Why would a mountain lion want to mess with a wolf? 

That's what a Montana wildlife researcher is wondering as mountain lions take a toll on the radio-collared wolves she's trying to follow through the Bitterroot Mountains.

The risk of injury doesn't seem worth the benefit for an animal that can simply climb a tree and watch the wolf world pass buy. 

Here's the story from the Ravali Republic.

Discover Pass gets boost from marketers

STATE PARKS — Washington's Discover Pass, a vehicle permit required in state parks and other public lands, is getting help from a public relations firm to boost lagging sales.

The pass was created by the Washington Legislature to fund the State Parks System.

A public relations firm, Weber Shandwick, has a $157,500 state contract and a mission to promote social networking is building a new website to encourage visitors to post pictures, videos, stories and recommendations from their trips to Washington's more than 100 state parks.

The contractor's plan involves strategies on everything from Twitter use to greater visibility for Washington State Parks' mascot - tentatively known as Eager Beaver.

According to a story in the Olympian, the agency is involved in another bid process to create a mobile-device app, and is also hiring a marketing coordinator.

The parks agency originally predicted the Discover Pass would raise $32 million a year, most of it dedicated to parks. But it brought in just $11.3 million in its first 10 months which ended in April.

Ilene Frisch, assistant director for administration at the state Parks and Recreation Commission, said the pass is now meeting new, lower projections. Lawmakers are hopeful a change they made this year in response to complaints will help sales. Pass holders are now allowed to transfer their passes to a second car.

Idaho ‘Take Me Fishing’ trailer scheduled at area lakes

FISHING — Stocked with fishing tackle, Idaho Fish and Game's Take Me Fishing Trailer  is scheduled through out North Idaho in the next few weeks. The next event is Thursday at Hauser Lake.

Fishing equipment and bait can be checked out for free during the scheduled times listed. Reservations are not needed and equipment is checked out on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Participants will be able to fish without a license during the hours of the events at the event locations, however all other rules such as size limits and species limits apply.

Idaho children 13 years old and under can always fish for free. These events give their parents, older siblings and friends the opportunity to try fishing without purchasing a license.

The only thing kids and their parents need to do is show up!

Read on for the continuing schedule for May and June:

Educators invited to Kalispel Encampment; credit offered

NATIVE AMERICANS — Enrollment is underway for the Kalispel Encampment, an educator's workshop June 28-30 with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians and the David Thompson Bicentennials Partnership.

Educators will bask in the Native American history and culture as it meshed with the fur-trade era in the encampment along the Clark Fork River near Thompson Falls.

Educators can earn credit, renewal units or clock-hours for requirements in Montana, Idaho, and Washington.

The general public is also invited, but space is limited.

Pre-register at the Montana History website.

Read on for details:



Landers picks region’s top early season backpacking trips

BACKPACKING — With the snow still a few weeks from clearing off mountain trails, early season backpackers don't have to wait to hit the trail for multi-day trips.  The Inland Northwest has a good assortment of trails that some hikers have been enjoying since March. 

Here's my list of favorite early-season backpacking treks:

Sandpoint readies for CHaFe 150 and 80 mile rides June 2

BICYCLING — A few slots remain open in the June 2 CHaFE 150 bicycle event ride out of Sandpoint.

The 5th annual catered event includes 150- and 80-mile ride options in a Gran Fondo format.

Sign up online.

Read on for details.

Coeur d’Alene forest roads closures affect holiday recreation

PUBLIC LANDS — Road damage has forced the Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District to restrict access on Forest Service Road 209 (Little River Road) between milepost 21 and 22, near Picnic Creek (about 2 miles north of Honeysuckle Campground). 

The road has sustained excessive water damage from runoff and is not passable at this site, said Jason Kirchner, Idaho Panhandle National Forests spokesman. 

“We realize that this will affect people recreating on the forest, but the safety of the public is of the utmost importance at this time,” says Dan Scaife, Acting District Ranger. 

Forest Service Road 209 is also currently inaccessible from the direction of Fernan Saddle due to snow on the roadway.

Other road closures in effect due to soft roadbeds and extensive road damage are:

  • Road 202 (Searchlight-Marie Creek) closed at milepost 2.4,
  • Road 1575 (Beauty-Cedar Creek) closed from milepost 1.0 to the end of the road, 
  • Road 805 (West Fork Eagle Creek) from milepost 1.0 to road end.

Info: Silver Valley office (208) 783-2363, and Fernan Office (208) 664-2318.

Lake Roosevelt levels rising for holiday weekend

RESERVOIRS — The level of Lake Roosevelt was 1248.90 at 9 a.m. today as the lake continues to fill. The Bureau of Reclamation predicts the levels will continue to rise up to 1 foot a day over the next week.

Through the Memorial Day weekend the level of the lake is anticipated to be in the 1250-1253 range.

Daily lake level forecast by phone: (800) 824-4916.

Better yet, check out this new NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.


Hot shots lead Take Your Daughter to the Range Day

SHOOTING —  Girls will rule Saturday, June 9, at a Take Your Daughter to the Range Day sponsored by the Bonner County Sportsmen’s Association.

The event is set of 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Sandpoint Outdoor Range off of Baldy Mountain Road with a heavy punch of female talent to work with participants:

Kathy Konek, a Sandpoint junior rifle team coach.

Hattie (Ponti) Johnson, a former Spokanite, member of the Army Marksmanship Unit and a participant in Air rifle in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Organizers say all family members are welcome, but emphasis will be on girls age 6-18.

Association members say they give the girls an opportunity to learn to shoot .22-caliber rifles and pistols in a fun and safe environment with certified instructors and range officers on hand to help.

Guns and equipment will be provided.

Sign up in advance go guarantee a spot: (208) 266-0141, email

Wind River springer limit boosted to 6

SALMON FISHING — Up to six hatchery origin spring chinook salmon may be retained on the Wind River from the railroad bridge upstream starting Saturday, the Washington Fish and Wildlife has just announced.

Up to four of the fish can be adult chinook.

Similar limit increases were announced for Drano Lake. The rules will extend to June 30 unless revoked earlier.

Read on for details

Pike reduced in Pend Oreille River, but still available

FISHING — More than 5,200 northern pike have been gillnetted out of the Box Canyon portion of the Pend Oreille River downstream from Newport this spring.  But anglers still are likely to catch them, says Jason Connor, the Kalispel Tribe's pike management project leader. 

Here's his report going into the Memorial Day weekend.

We are still grinding away at the netting. Catch has been down, but consistent. Up to about 5,200 pike removed to date. We are now catching far more juvenile fish aged 1-2. We haven't seen a lot of anglers out on the water lately. The River is still really high (2040 ft) which is 9 feet above base flows. Water is also still relatively cold.

The Clearwater Bass Anglers from Lewiston held a bass tournament last weekend but I haven't heard how they did.

There are still fish to catch in sloughs that are traditionally fished right now. As the water warms and elevation drops in June, I would target the weed beds in the main channel in the central part of the reservoir.

If I were headed out, I would fish boundary reservoir launching at Metaline Park and heading upstream. The side channels and backwaters between there and around Selkirk School surely have fish in them.

Moon Light Catfish Tournament near Tri-Cities

FISHING — The Richland Rod and Gun Club is sponsoring a Moon Light Catfish Tournament starting at 7:30 p.m. on June 1 and ending at the 2 p.m. weigh-in on June 2.

Apparently the tourney organizers are catfishermen, who know that night isn't the most convenient time to for a contest, but it's the best time to catch catfish.

The event helps pay for fish to be stocked into the Kids Fishing Pond in Columbia Park.

Contest winners will also be able to win cash prizes for the contestant with the largest catfish and most total weight (without largest fish).

Sign-up starts at  5  p.m. June 1 at Columbia Point Gazebo No. 4.

Contestants can fish per WDFW rules/regulations in any waters found in Benton, Franklin, or Walla Walla Counties.

Idaho sets bluegill fishing clinics for kids

KID FISHING — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is signing up kids, ages 5 to 16, for two special bluegill fishing clinics on June 16 at Hauser Lake south of Rathdrum.

The limited number of participants will have the opportunity to spend a morning or afternoon on a tournament fishing boat learning how to catch bluegills.  The event is free.

Mentors will be experienced anglers affiliated with the Panhandle Bass Anglers Club who are volunteering their boats, time and expertise to the event. One parent/guardian must accompany young anglers on the lake.

Fishing equipment and bait will be available for use during the clinic, but those who own fishing tackle are encouraged to bring it. Mentors will be able to give participants tips on how to properly use the tackle they bring.

IDFG will be issuing First Fish Certificates to recognize young anglers catching their first fish. The objective is to teach young folks a lifelong hobby, instill an appreciation of aquatic resources, and provide an inexpensive and fun family outing.

Participants will be treated to a fish fry and a hamburger, hot dog and soda barbeque.

Advance reservations are required and space is limited. Call the IDFG Panhandle Region Office, (208) 769-1414. 

No fishing license is needed.

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: 

Wolf likely killed calf at Methow ranch

 ENDANGERED SPECIES — A Methow Valley rancher may get the distinction of receiving Washington's first compensation for livestock killed by wolves.

State and federal wildlife managers have determined that wolves likely caused injuries that resulted in a death of a calf on a Methow Valley ranch May 18 and that the landowner would qualify for compensation.

The landowner would be the first in the state to qualify for compensation under criteria established by the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan adopted late last year.
Steve Pozzanghera, a regional director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said it was not possible to say for certain that wolves caused the injuries that resulted in the death of the calf, although evidence at the scene supports that conclusion.
Read on for details.

Mt. Spokane ski expansion plan comment ends Tuesday

PUBLIC LANDS — A years-old effort to expand lift-assisted skiing to the “back side” of Mount Spokane State Park will enter its final stage with Tuesday’s deadline for public comment on environmental impacts.

Details are on the Washington State Parks planning website.

Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park has been seeking permission from Washington State Parks to add a lift and expand the downhill ski area into the forested northwest side of the mountain. Ski area managers say they need to expand their terrain to remain competitive with other area ski resorts.

Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologists have warned that clearing ski runs could impact wetlands and other wildlife habitat in the remaining third of the upper mountain not already impacted by the ski area.

Groups such as The Lands Council, Spokane Mountaineers and Sierra Club oppose the expansion, saying the resort should spend money upgrading existing facilities rather than invading an intact forest and meadows favored by backcountry skiers.

Comments should be directed to:

Project lead: Randy Kline, Environmental Program Manager

Mail: P.O. Box 42650, Olympia, WA 98504-2650

Also underway, the State Parks Commission is seeking input about the future of Washington State Parks  including Mount Spokane and Riverside State Park.


Mt. Spokane Ski Area Expansion

Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park

Mt. Spokane Coalition

Washington State Parks – Beyond 2013

Route of the Hiawatha opens Saturday

BICYCLING — The Route of the Hiawatha rail trail near Lookout Pass will be open for the season starting Saturday, says Phil Edholm at Lookout Pass Ski Area.

That's great news for folks planning bicycling outings over the Memorial Day weekend.  Heck, people were skinning up and skiing the slopes in the area last week.

The nationally acclaimed 15-mile rail-trail uses the abandoned Milwaukee Railroad grade between the old town site of Taft, Mont., and the North Fork of the St. Joe River near Avery, Idaho. 

The unpaved route features 10 tunnels and 7 trestles as high as 230 feet within the Loop Creek canyon at the crest of the scenic Bitterroot Mountains. The grade is a gentle 1.6 percent.

Trail passes, shuttle tickets, mountain bike rentals, souvenirs and picnic lunches are available at Lookout Pass Ski Area, just off I-90 at the Idaho/Montana border 12 miles east of Historic Wallace, Idaho. 

Call (208) 744-1301 or visit for trail information. Equipment reservations are recommended. 

The Hiawatha Trail is set to be open daily through Sept. 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

New 20-mile bike path links Jackson to Grand Teton NP

CYCLING — A 20-mile bike path has just been completed offering cyclists a motor-vehicle-free route for safe passage between Jackson, Wyo., and Grand Teton National Park.

Finally, bicyclists can breath easy among the tourists and enjoy the Grand Tetons as they pedal through this popular cycling corridor.

Read the story here.

Expert to lead wildflower walk Sunday at Turnbull

NATIVE PLANTS — Late May is prime time for some of the loveliest wildflowers at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

Join Northeastern Washington Native Plant Society veteran Sylvia Eberspecher for a leisurely 2-hour walk to learn about some of the wildflowers, trees and shrubs.  

She will point out distinguishing features of common plants that can be confused with each other, and share a few stories of how some plants got their names.

A former Master Gardener and garden center employee, Sylvia will point out some native plants that grow well in urban gardens. Although scientific plant names will be given, you don’t need to know Latin or memorize botany terms to enjoy this trip. Sylvia will bring her favorite identification books and explain what is particularly good about each one, from beginner to advanced.

 Muffins and bottled water are provided. Meet at 10 a.m. by the Turnbull Headquarters buildings.

For starters, here is a plant list.

Pre-register wtih Sylvia (209) 379-5881 or Louise OLeary (509)235-4531 or email

Huge summer runs of chinook, sockeye forecast

SALMON FISHING — Although forecasts for the 2012 spring chinook salmon run turned out to be overly optimistic, Northwest fish managers are projecting a large return of summer chinook to the Columbia River and a record-breaking run of sockeyes.

And the forecast for the fall chinook heading to the Hanford Reach of the Columbia isn't bad,either.

Read on for details.

Grizzly sow and cub killed in North Idaho

POACHING — Maybe somebody feels proud about killing a sow grizzly and her cub in North Idaho.

But it appears to be among the most gutless wildlife crimes that's come to light in a long time.

There's a $10,000 reward for information leading to revealing, arresting and convicting  the scumbags. 

Here's the story.

Wolverine kit confirmed in North Cascades

WILDLIFE RESEARCH —  After six years of effort, Methow Valley-based researchers have documented that wolverines have produced kits this spring in the North Cascades south of Highway 20.

A remote camera had photographed a GPD-collared female carrying a kit from one den to another.  That's an exciting development for the Forest Service researchers.

Read the Wenatchee World story.

Local junior angler to represent state

TOURNAMENT FISHING — Dakota Jones of Spokane will be representing Washington in a national bass fishing competition after winning the 15-18 age-group title in the 2012 Washington’s Junior State Bass Fishing Championship at Lake Washington.

Jones, a member of the Inland Empire Junior Bass Club, will represent Washington State Bass Federation and the Washington National Guard at the National Guard Junior World Championship at Gainesville, Georgia. Aug. 9-12.

Jones weighed in four fish totaling 8.85 pounds to top the other 12 competitors in his division at the state championships April 28 near Seattle.

Salmon season closing in Snake today

SALMON FISHING  – Fishing for spring chinook salmon will close on the last two sections of the Snake River at an hour past sunset Today (May 22).

By then, the catch of Snake River spring chinook salmon is expected to reach harvest guidelines based on the most recent estimate of the run size, according to fishery managers at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“The majority of the fish were taken in the lower Snake River, but the catch guidelines apply to the river as a whole,” said Cindy LeFleur, WDFW Columbia River policy coordinator. “For that reason, we had to close the upriver fisheries sooner than expected.”

The two sections of the river set to close Tuesday are:

  • Below Lower Granite Dam – From the Casey Creek Canyon Road on the Garfield County shore (approximately six miles downstream of Lower Granite Dam) to the fishing restriction boundary downstream of Lower Granite Dam.
  • The Clarkston area – From the intersection of the Steptoe Canyon Road with Wawawai Road on the north shore upriver about 12 miles to the Idaho state line.

The state line runs from the east levee of the Greenbelt boat launch in Clarkston northwest across the Snake River to the boundary marker on the Whitman County shore.

Two other areas of the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam and Little Goose Dam closed for spring chinook fishing May 18.

“Unless there is a major change in the run forecast, this closure will likely mark the end of the season for spring chinook fishing on the Snake River,” LeFleur said.

Fly fishing day camp for kids offered at Glacier

Glacier Anglers based in West Glacier, Mont., has scheduled  Fun on the Fly! Youth Fly Fishing Day Camps on June 9 and June 30.

The sessions run from 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. for kids ages 12-16 at the Glacier Outdoor Center for a fun day of fly fishing and casting at stocked fishing ponds with the Glacier Anglers pro staff. 

Kids will learn the basics of casting, knots, fly selection and entomology while practicing catch and release methods in Glacier Anglers’ stocked ponds. Each day will end with a friendly casting competition and awards ceremony with great prizes.

While kids are participating in Fun on the Fly! Youth Fly Fishing Day Camp, their parents or guardians can spectate or enjoy a discounted half-day raft trip for $32.

 Info and registration: (800) 235-6781.

Sea lions raising hell above Bonneville Dam

PREDATORS — Like the cormorants that move in ahead of them, California sea lions are leaving their original saltwater hunting areas to chase fish inland as they go up the Columbia River.

At least three, and maybe four of the big marine mammals this year have managed to find their way up the Columbia 146 miles from the Pacific Ocean to cross above Bonneville Dam.

The sea lions have in recent years increased their presence in the waters below Bonneville Dam, feeding on salmon and steelhead spawners that are looking for an upstream passage route.

More recently they’ve been seen at The Dalles Dam, which is another 45 miles upstream from Bonneville.

Tribal spokesmen say the sea lions have been raising hell for tribal gillnets in the area.

BLM Advisory Council meets Wednesday

PUBLIC LANDS — The Eastern Washington Resource Advisory Council (RAC) will hold a meeting on May 23 in Moses Lake focusing on the East Side and San Juan Resource Management Plan and the Forest Plan Revision for the Colville National Forest.

The meeting will run 10 a.m.-4 p.m in the Hardin Room of the ATEC Building at Big Bend Community College, 7662 N.E. Chanute St. 

The meeting will be open to the public and there will be an opportunity for public comments at 10:00 a.m.

The Eastern Washington RAC is comprised of 15 members from a variety of backgrounds who are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. The Eastern Washington RAC provides advice to the Bureau of Land Management Spokane District Manager and the Colville National Forest Supervisor regarding management of federal public land in eastern Washington.

For info about the Eastern Washington RAC contact the Spokane BLM District Office, 1103 N. Fancher Rd, or call (509) 536-1200.

Fat Tire riders show film to boost local trails

MOUNTAIN BIKING — The Spokane Fat Tire Trail Riders Club is showing of the new Anthills feature film Strength In Numbers as a fundraiser for local trail projects.

Check it out May 25 The film at Spokane Falls Community Colleges SUB Lounge. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; show starts at 7:15. Tickets available online in advance,$12 (w/service fee) or $14 at the door.

Woman, 73, oldest to climb Everest — again

MOUNTAINEERING — At 73, Tamae Watanabe is the oldest woman to summit Mount Everest — again. The last time she made the record, she was 63.

She reached the top with four other team members Saturday morning after an all-night climb, Asian Trekking says. The Japanese mountaineer was leading Asian Trekking's International Everest Expedition 2012.

In 2009, Kay LeClaire of Spokane briefly held the distinction of being the oldest woman on top of the world.

Ang Tshering of the China Tibet Mountaineering Association in Nepal tells The Associated Press that the team is in good condition and heading back to the base.

Asian Trekking has a list of Watanabe's other mountaineering feats, which have taken her all over the world, including Alaska's Mount McKinley in 1977.

The oldest man to climb Everest was Min Bahadur Serchan, who was 76 when he reached the highest point on Earth in 2008, according to the Guinness World Records. Radio Australia News reports the youngest person to climb the mount was 13-year-old American Jordan Romero in 2010.

See EverestNews reports here.

Mud boggers damaging forest meadows

PUBLIC LANDS — They're at it again.   As though it's a rite of spring for lame brains, some four-wheel drive enthusiasts are ripping into soggy national forest lands for a few thrills that will leave ruts and plant damage for years to come.

Some of the most serious offenses are occuring in Idaho.

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest law enforcement officers are asking for any information pertaining to the mudbogging damage in the areas behind Fish Creek Campground and the Milner Trail. 

Last weekend, jerks a full size vehicle bypassed the posted sign and mudbogged in the creek behind site #8 at Fish Creek Campground.  They created a diversion in the main stream course and broke down the stream banks to flood their playground.

Another mudbogging site (above) was also found off the Milner Trail where extensive damage occurred in a meadow.

Contact: Jill Forth, Law Enforcement Officer, at 208-983-4054.

Lake Roosevelt levels looking up for Memorial Day

RESERVOIRS — The level of Lake Roosevelt was 1243.30 at 10 a.m. today as it continues to rise slowly.

“The prediction calls for the level of the lake to be in the 1245-1246 range for this weekend,” the Bureau of Reclamation says. “Next week the level of the lake is predicted to rise less than 1 foot per day resulting in the lakel level being in the 1250-1252 range over Memorial Day weekend.”

Daily lake level forecast by phone: (800) 824-4916.

Better yet, check out this new NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Moon Pass opened for shortcut to St. Joe River

RIVERS — Moon Pass, the route over the Bitterroot Mountains between Wallace and Avery, is open according to Shoshone County Public Works.

The road is a popular shortcut from I-90 to the St. Joe River.

Gold Pass out of St. Regis, Mont., remains blocked by snow.

Boating safety course offered at Northtown

BOATING — A boating safety class that satisfies Washington’s driver certification requirements will be offered at the Northtown Mall 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday next week (May 21-24) in honor of National Safe Boating Week.

The eight-hour course will be taught by the Spokane Sail and Power Squadron.

  • Preregister: 328-6165.

Any Washington resident age 40 or younger must have a Washington boater safety certificate to operate a vessel in state waters. Next year the requirement will extend to age 50.

Migratory bird day events set in Inland Northwest

WILDLIFE WATCHING — National Migratory Bird Day has inspired several upcoming events in the Inland Northwest:

Saturday (May 19): Birding activities at Blue Creek Bay on Lake Coeur d'Alene, 9:30 am-12:30 pm, an event for all ages. Info: BLM wildlife biologist Carrie Hugo, 208-769-5048; or Suzanne Endsley, BLM public affairs, 208-769-5004.

Saturday (May 19): “Floods, Flowers and Feathers,” a new festival at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge that will feature elements of the Ice Age Floods that shaped the land along with the flora and fauna that flourish in this special channeled scablands habitat, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Info: (509) 235-4723. Some events can be reserved online.

May 26:  Bird Walk at Turnbull Wildlife Refuge to see birds in breeding plumage. Info: Marian Frobe, 328-0621.

June 2: a birding field trip to Hawk Creek area of Lake Roosevelt. Novices will be teamed with experts in groups. Contact Nancy Williams by May 22nd at (509) 536-1281, or e-mail

Columbia to reopen briefly for spring chinook fishing

SALMON FISHING — The spring chinook fishery will reopen this weekend (May 19-20) for two days of fishing on a section of the Columbia River stretching 163 miles upstream from Bonneville Dam, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced this afternoon.

Anglers fishing those waters will be allowed to keep two marked hatchery adult chinook per day. All wild, unmarked chinook must be released unharmed.

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon agreed to the two-day opening after the run forecast for upriver spring chinook was raised from 202,000 fish to 216,500 fish. (The original forecast recently was downgraded by nearly a third).

Cindy LeFleur, WDFW Columbia River policy manager, said the two states will meet May 22 to consider additional openings – both above and below Bonneville Dam – if the estimated size of this year’s spring chinook run continues to rise.

“All eyes are on the fish counts at Bonneville Dam right now,” LeFleur said. “This run is one of the latest on record, so we really have to gauge from one week to the next how many spring chinook are still coming.”

This weekend, boat and bank anglers can fish from the Tower Island powerlines to the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank anglers can also fish from the powerlines downriver to Bonneville Dam.

Those waters have been closed to fishing since May 6, pending a run assessment.

  • WDFW emergency regulations are posted online.
  • Click here for details on Washington fishing seasons and regulations.
  • Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information, (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. 

Icicle River salmon fishing opens Saturday

SALMON FISHING — The spring chinook salmon fishing season on the Icicle River in Chelan County will open Saturday (May 19), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced this afternoon.

The closing date, subject to change, is July 31.

Daily limit:  Daily limit two salmon, minimum size 12 inches. 

Location: Icicle River, from the closure signs located 800 feet upstream of the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.

Read on for details.

Two Snake River spring chinook fishing zones close Friday

SALMON FISHING —  Snake River spring chinook fishing will close one hour after sunset Friday (May 18) below Ice Harbor Dam and near Little Goose Dam.  

The closure does not affect spring chinook fisheries in the six miles below Lower Granite Dam, or in the Clarkston area. Both will remain open until further notice, according to an announcement just released by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fishery managers.

“Because wild salmon in the run are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, these fisheries must be managed within the ESA guidelines,” said John Whalen, WDFW’s eastern region fish program manager. “Based on the most recent chinook run estimate, the catch rates we are seeing, and the projected harvest, the allowable salmon catch for the Snake River will be reached sooner than we estimated.”

Read on for the details about the season closures:

’Three Cups’ readers take fraud claims to court

MOUNTAINEERING — Three people who bought books by mountain climber Greg Mortenson are taking their claims of fraud against the humanitarian to a federal appeals court. 

Last month, U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon dismissed their lawsuit that alleged that Mortenson, his publisher, his co-author and his charity lied in his books “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones Into Schools” to boost sales and donations.  

Haddon called the case flimsy and “fraught with shortcomings.”  

The Associated Press reports today that on Wednesday, attorneys for the readers from Montana and California filed a notice of appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A fourth plaintiff from Illinois has dropped out of the lawsuit. 

The best-selling memoirs recount how Mortenson started building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The lawsuit was filed last year after media reports that Mortenson fabricated parts of them.

Pregnant caribou could drop state’s first calf in 50 years

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Montana wildlife officials say a Canadian caribou has wandered into northwestern Montana for the second time this spring, and this one has the potential to make history. 

Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife manager Jim Williams tells KCFW-TV the possibly pregnant cow is from a herd that biologists brought to British Columbia to augment an existing herd. 

He says if the caribou gives birth, it would be the first known caribou birth in Montana in over 50 years.  

A biologist in Libby is tracking the animal in the Purcell Mountains, near the Yaak River and anyone who spots a caribou is asked to report the sighting to FWP. 

In late April, state wildlife officials located a collared caribou that was feared dead, got it medical treatment and returned it to Canada.

Spokane meetings focus on future of state parks

PARKS — Washington State Parks officials have set meetings in Spokane to discuss potentially sweeping changes in management of facilities at Riverside and Mount Spokane.

The meetings will be at Spokane Public Library Shadle Branch, 2111 W. Wellesley Ave. as follows:

Similar meetings across the state will gather public opinion on whether the state parks system would be operated as a private enterprise based on profits generated at the sites or as a public conservation asset.

Other options include turning over more parks to local communities to operate as a non-profit attractions, officials said.

Officials also are asking the public to help them rank the top features of their state parks and what needs improvement, said Virginia Painter, parks spokeswoman in Olympia.

The cash-strapped parks system is trying to make a five-year management plan. The Washington Legislature had voted to wean the parks from all state general funding in the next few years.

Rangers and other staff positions at Riverside and Mount Spokane state parks were cut by 40 percent in Jaunary.

Click here for information about the planning effort and making comments.

Blackwell Island launch opens May 23 for CdA boaters

BOATING —The Bureau of Land Management’s Blackwell Island boat launch and recreation area will open on May 23 in one of the annual harbingers of th Lake Coeur d’Alene boating season.  

The popular site is just south of Coeur d’Alene along Highway 95.  

Season passes cost $40.  The annual pass covers both Blackwell Island recreation site and Mineral Ridge boat launch.   Daily rates at Blackwell Island are $6 per day.

BLM staff will be on-site during the Memorial Day weekend to sell season passes.  Cash or check is required for on-site purchases; credit card purchases may be made at the BLM’s Coeur d’Alene District office during business hours at 3815 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene. 

Blackwell Island recreation site offers picnic facilities, including a large pavilion that is available on a rental basis; wildlife viewing along the boardwalk trail; walking paths and four boat launch lanes.

Info: 208-769-5000.

Applications for special hunting permits due May 18

HUNTING — Friday at midnight is the deadline to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons in Washington.

Permit winners will be selected through a random drawing conducted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in late June. The special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

Applications may be purchased from license vendors statewide or online.

Consult the 2012 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet for details.

Read on for more information:

Snake River spring chinook fishing likely to close early

SALMON FISHING — Fishing for spring chinook on the lower Snake River could close after fishing hours on Friday because of the downgrading of the forecast from about 314,000 to 220,000 fish up the Columbia.

Anglers have been catching springers in the Snake, and they may be close to their quota given the reduced numbers of fish coming upstream.

Look for an announcement, possibly late today, that would close the Snake from Little Goose downstream on Friday night.

Fishing upstream in the Snake would likely close after the weekend, according to John Whalen, regional fisheries manager, who said fish managers would be meeting Monday to go over the numbers again.

Alaska Airlines lands a whopper salmon

FISHING IN YOUR DREAMS — Alaska Airlines and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute on Monday unveiled the world’s largest king salmon. Stretching nearly 129 feet, the fish-themed design will adorn a Boeing 737-800 this fall.

The new “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon II” design is derived from an earlier version of the paint scheme Alaska Airlines unveiled on a 737-400 in 2005, which was re-painted with the carrier’s traditional Eskimo livery last year.

The new design is about nine feet longer than the original ’salmon plane’ and also features fish scales on the winglets and a salmon-pink colored “Alaska” script across the fuselage.

“This airplane celebrates Alaska Airlines’ unique relationship with the people and communities of Alaska and underscores our air transport commitment to the state’s seafood industry,” said Marilyn Romano, Alaska Airlines’ regional vice president of the state of Alaska.

Last year, Alaska Airlines flew nearly 25 million pounds of seafood from Alaska to markets in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

And it flew a lot of fishermen back and forth, too.


Sacred Salmon Ceremony set for May 26

SALMON FISHING — Dorey boat fishing guides and elders of the Nez Perce Tribe will row around a big eddy on May 26 and pray for a safe return of spring chinook to the Salmon River during the 11th annual Sacred Salmon Ceremony and Friendship Feast near Riggins, Idaho.

The event will be based out of the Spring Bar Campground, 10 miles upstream from Riggins. The ceremony starts at 2 p.m. A circle ceremony will be followed by a potluck dinner, said Gary Lane, owner of Wapiti Outfitters.

By the way, the spring chinook are moving into the salmon on their upstream migration, with fish showing up in the Rapid River Hatchery traps.

Read on for details on the colorful Sacred Salmon event.

Fundraiser to help post Spokane River fishing rules in Russian

FISHING – Signs in Russian language are being designed for posting along the Spokane River to explain special fishing rules, and a fundraising is planned for Saturday to help pay for the effort.

 A group of anglers is trying to get all Spokane River anglers speaking the same legal language about the fishing restrictions designed to protect the struggling native redband trout.

The group has worked with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department to tanslate important rules into Russian for signs to be posted along the river.

The issue is about fish conservation, but the fundraising event to raise money for the signs is all about art and painting.

The Tipsy Muse event, set for Saturday (May 19), 1 p.m.-4 p.m. at Arbor Crest Winery, features participants getting chance to work on a painting alongside a professional artist. The participants get to keep their painting and everybody enjoys sipping wine and bidding on fly fishing trips, casino packages and other items.

Limited tickets are available online only.  Cost: $45 (includes tasting fee) or $10 for spectators (non painting, but also includes tasting fee)

Read on for more details about the issue and the text on the signs.

Ride of Silence mourns downed cyclists

BICYCLING — Ride of Silence, a global moment of solidarity, is bringing bicyclists together tonight for the 10th annual informal ride to commemorate cyclists who have been killed in accidents involving motor vehicles.

In Spokane, riders will meet 6 p.m. at Riverfront Park between the fountain and runner sculptures. The route is a loop that involves part of downtown.

Info: Craig Hofmeister at

Celebration honors Snyder Guard station 104 years

NATIONAL FORESTS — The Bonners Ferry Ranger District is planning an event to celebrate of the history and recent renovation of the historic Snyder Guard Station.

At more than 104 years old, the guard station has been a symbol of north Idaho’s history as it transitioned from housing early Forest Service firefighters to becoming one of the finest recreational sites in the region.

On Saturday (May 19), an open house will offer tours of the facilities, presentations of historic interest and free chili and cornbread while it lasts.

“Snyder Guard Station truly is one of those special places that everyone in the area should visit,” said Bonners Ferry District Ranger Linda McFaddan. “This facility has been a part of north Idaho since the early days when it housed firefighters and trail crews. Today it’s a favorite location for family reunions, weddings and quiet retreats.”

Read on for details.

Turnbull festival combines geology, flora, fauna

NATURE — Floods, Flowers and Feathers is the theme for a new festival at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge that will feature elements of the Ice Age Floods that shaped the land along with the flora and fauna that flourish in this special channeled scablands habitat.

The festival, set for May 19 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., includes several free outdoor elements:

  • Learn geology of the unique channeled scablands landscape.
  • Enjoy nature walks with native plant and bird experts.
  • Watch biologists band songbirds for research.
  • Examing reptiles and amphibians.
  • Learn how to track elk with radio telemetry.

Call (509) 235-4723 for more information and to make reservations for events.

Places in some events can be reserved online.

Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is partnering with numerous organizations/agencies to make this Festival a wonderful outdoor event in a remarkable environment. Some of the partners include Eastern Washington University Biology Department, Friends of Turnbull Refuge, Ice Age Floods Institute-Cheney Spokane Chapter, Northeast Washington Chapter of the Native Plant Society, and Spokane Audubon Society.

The Refuge is located 4.2 miles south of Cheney, off Cheney-Plaza Road.

Yakima River spring chinook fishing opens Wednesday

SALMON FISHING — Two sections of the Yakima River will open this week to fishing for hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon, under regulations announced late this afternoon by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Wednesday, May 16, the lower Yakima River will open to fishing for hatchery spring chinook from the Interstate 182 Bridge in Richland to the Grant Avenue Bridge in Prosser.

Saturday, May 19, the salmon fishery will expand to the upper Yakima River from the Interstate 82 Bridge at Union Gap to the railroad bridge below Roza Dam.

John Easterbrooks, regional WDFW fish program manager, said the lower river is expected to remain open through June 30, while fishing in the upper section will likely continue through July 31.

“The springers are running late this year, but they’re finally moving into the Yakima River,” said Easterbrooks, noting that fishery managers are predicting a return of approximately 5,000 adult hatchery chinook to the Yakima River.

Read on for details.

Turnbull Wildlife Refuge gets high marks from visitors

REFUGES — Most visitors to Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in 2010 and 2011 were impressed with its recreational opportunities, education and services, according to a government survey released today.

About 90 percent of respondents gave consistent high marks to their refuge experience.

The survey, commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and designed, conducted, and analyzed by researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey, evaluated responses from more than 200 adult visitors surveyed at the refuge between July 2010 and November 2011. Turnbull was one of 53 national wildlife refuges surveyed.

President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida's Pelican Island as the first wildlife refuge in 1903. Today the 556 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System protect thousands of fish and wildlife while more than 400 of the refuges also are open to the public.

  • Many refuges are known as popular sites for recreation such as hunting and fishing, paddling and hiking, environmental education programs and wildlife observation.
  • More than 45 million people visited national wildlife refuges in 2011.

Where Turnbull visitors live: Seventy nine percent of Turnbull survey respondents live within 50 miles of the refuge but most nonlocal visitors said that visiting Turnbull Refuge was a primary purpose or sole destination of their trip. 

The top three activities respondents participated in included wildlife observation (82%), bird watching (71%) and driving the auto tour route (67%).

Turnbull created: Prompted by local activists, sportsmen, and naturalists, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established Turnbull in 1937 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.

Located south of Cheney, the 16,000-acre Refuge supports an extensive complex of wetlands, Ponderosa pine forests, Palouse steppe, and riparian habitats.  These habitats create exceptional species diversity, providing homes for hundreds of migratory birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, plants, and other life.

“Turnbull’s unique Channeled Scabland landscape formed by volcanic activity and glacial floods created diverse wildlife habitats that also attracts visitors from around the country,” said Turnbull Refuge Manager Dan Matiatos. 

The survey found 94 percent of respondents were satisfied with the refuge’s job of conserving fish, wildlife and their habitats.

Coeur d’Alene angler presents program on fishiing in Russia

FISHING — Coeur d’Alene attorney Denny Davis will share photos and stories from his trip to Russia starting at 7 p.m. May 16 at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library, 702 E. Front Ave.

Davis’ free program, “Moscow and Fishing in the Russian Far East,” is one in a series of Novel Destinations programs sponsored by the Library Foundation as an opportunity for area residents to share photos from unique places around the world.

Log hazard for Moyie River rafters at Eilene Dam

RIVERS — North Idaho river rafters have been watching a log that's jammed into a chute at Eilene Dam on the Moyie River northeast of Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

It poses an unavoidable hazard for rafters trying to complete the river float.

“Its still there, and it still poses a very serious hazard,” Todd Hoffman said in a post today on the North Idaho Whitewater Boating Facebook page. “A group of us went in and looked at it yesterday. We came to the unanimous conclusion that the log is not coming out any time soon. Unless we have a high flow event that manages to knock it loose, its probably going to be there for the foreseeable future.”

Rattlesnake bites man in Clarkston Walmart

DANGEROUS WILDLIFE — The Clarkston Walmart had a special on rattlesnake bites Saturday.

A man says he reached down to pick up a stick lying in the gardening aisle of a Wal-Mart in Clarkston, Wash., only to discover that it was a rattlesnake that then bit his hand.

On the lighter side, some people are asking if the snake blended in because it was made in China?

Read the AP report here

Rattlesnakes very rarely are agressive except when disturbed.  Most rattlenake bites occur when someone accidently puts a hand down near a snake, as in scrambling on rocks, or, more often, when someone intentionally tries to handle a snake.

The photo above was taken the same day in Montana by wildlife photographer Jaime Johnson.

The warm weather is letting the snakes be active.

Grizzlies active: 3 killed near Castlegar; four sighted in Stevens County

WILDLIFE — About the time four grizzly bears were documented by remote trail cams in northern Stevens County last week, other grizzlies were getting into big trouble just over the border in in British Columbia.

Conservation officers in the West Kootenay destroyed three grizzly bears in less than a week after the bears devoured eight sheep grazing on a ranch near Edgewood, B.C., north of Castlegar.

The three bears were coming out of hibernation and got a taste for sheep, the conservation officers said.

A fourth was relocated after chasing an ostrich, which died. But since the grizzly didn't feed on the bird, the bear was trapped and taken to the Granby Wilderness area near Grand Forks, B.C.

Read on for details about the B.C bears in this May 10 story by CBC News.

The video above shows one of the Stevens County bears.

Two Washington plants warrant ESA protections

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Two plants found exclusively on or adjacent to Washington’s Hanford National Monument warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today. 

Both species, the Umtanum Desert buckwheat and the White Bluffs bladderpod, are found primarily on federal lands, occupying cliffs overlooking the Columbia River.

The Service is proposing to list the Umtanum desert buckwheat and the White Bluffs bladderpod as threatened.  A species listed as threatened is considered likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

The agency is also proposing to designate critical habitat for each plant: approximately 344 acres for Umtanum Desert buckwheat and approximately 2,861 acres for White Bluffs bladderpod. All of the land proposed for critical habitat for the Umtanum Desert buckwheat is federally-owned. Of the 2,861acres proposed as critical habitat for the bladderpod 2,400 are federally-owned. The remainder of the proposed critical habitat is a mix of state (42 acres) and private lands (419 acres).

More photos are available here.

Read on for details.

34-inch tiger musky wins Silver Lake tourney

TOURNAMENT FISHING — Mark Kendall, teamed with Doug Wood, caught the 34-inch tiger musky (above) to top the 11 anglers Saturday in the Silver Lake Mountain Muskies Tiger Musky Tournament in Spokane County.

The second place team of Herb Zielke and Don Grove wwere just a half an inch shy with one musky measuring 33.5 inches

Those were the only two tigers the 11 anglers caught during the day-long tournament, reports Douglas Wood, president of the local Mountain Muskies chapter of Muskies, Inc.

Both of the fish were released.

“Many more were seen, but not caught,” Wood said.

Anglers want to post Spokane River fishing rules in Russian

OUTDO – A group of anglers is trying to get all Spokane River anglers speaking the same legal language about the fishing restrictions designed to protect the struggling native redband trout.

The group has worked with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department to tanslate important rules into Russian for signs to be posted along the river.

The issue is about fish conservation, but the fundraising event to raise money for the signs is all about art and painting.

The Tipsy Muse event, set for Saturday (May 19), 1 p.m.-4 p.m. at Arbor Crest Winery, features participants getting  chance to work on a painting alongside a professional artist.  The participants get to keep their painting and everybody enjoys sipping wine and bidding on fly fishing trips, casino packages and other items.

For years, concerns have simmered about illegal fishing among Eastern European-Russian immigants, said Tyler Comeau, an Eastern Washington University student. Comeau has been working on the project with the Spokane Falls Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Fish and Wildlife police confirm that language barriers often are given as excuses for poaching activity on the river.

Cost: $45 (includes tasting fee) or $10 for spectators (non painting, but also includes tasting fee)

Limited tickets are available online only:

Clinic teaches basics, safety of flatwater canoeing

PADDLING — The annual Flatwater Canoeing Clinic conducted by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club is set for May 20 at Medical Lake.

The clinic, for solo and tandem canoeists, covers strokes, equipment, safety and rescue, hypothermia, transporting canoes, launching and canoe trim and paddler position.

Cost: $55 per person, plus club membership.

Sign up: Diane Adams, coordinator for all club clinics, 448-9214, email

Flatwater Clinic is a pre-requisite for the Moving Water Canoeing Clinic set for July 7-8.

A three-day Sea Kayaking Clinic will be offered July 19, 21 and 22.

Whitewater Kayaking Clinic is June 2-3.

Hunters must update email to stay in loop

HUNTING — Sportsmen who want to be involved in surveys that might affect hunting seasons and be on the list for other communications from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department must make sure their contact info is correct.

Update your email and mailing address in the system when purchasing  special hunting permit applications and licenses.

Each year, hundreds of special hunting permits are returned due to invalid addresses.

Hunters have through May 18 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons in Washington.

Applications may be purchased from license vendors statewide or online.

Consult the 2012 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet for details.

Montana discusses future of free-roaming bison

WILDLIFE – Planning for long-term management of bison at a wildlife species – which may include hunting down the road — will kick off Monday, May 14, in Missoula with a public meeting organized by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The meeting is set for 6 p.m at the Holiday Inn, Downtown at the Park, 200 S. Pattee.

Putting bison back on more of the Montana landscape would restore the last existing link to the wildlife mix at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

But landowners in particular are wary.

Issues already identified include, the risk of bison spreading disease to domestic livestock, competition between bison and other wildlife, competition between bison and livestock for rangeland, damage to fencing, public safety, and the legal classification and status of bison in Montana.

Info: Under 'For Fish & Wildlife Information' choose “Bison Background.”

Grizzly bears sighted in Stevens County ‘wedge’

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Rare sightings of at least four grizzly bears in “the wedge” of land between the Kettle and Columbia Rivers in northeastern Washington have been documented this week by Fish and Wildlife Department trail cameras.

Here's what the agency posted Thursday:

A number of grizzly bear detections have been reported just within the last ten days, including photographs of four different grizzly bears in the Wedge, Game Management Unit (GMU) 105. One of the photographs was of a sow and two cubs, which is highly significant for Washington State. Amongst response measures taken so far, District Wildlife Biological Staff Dana Base and Jay Shepherd have coordinated with relevant staff from other agencies having management jurisdiction, posted bear awareness signs at campgrounds and other suitable locations in the Wedge, and made telephone advisory contacts to spring black bear permit holders for GMU 105.

Washington’s first 50-inch tourney tiger musky immortalized

FISHING — A standing offer to replicate the first 50-inch tiger musky caught and released in a Washington tiger musky tournament was honored this week.

In September, Chris Gades of St. Maries caught a 50-incher in Muskies Inc. tourney at Curlew Lake. It wasn’t just big for the area. According to Muskies Inc., it’s the biggest tiger musky recorded in North America in 2011.

Gade, a Colvile native, unhooked the fish, measured it, posed it for a photo and released it unharmed in the lake, as required in the tournament.

Lax Reproductions of Conover, Wis., came through with its promise to honor this milestone fish. Using the photos Gades provided, the company prepared a replica of the lunker, which was presented to Gades by Doug Wood of Spokane, president of the Mountain Muskies Chapter.

A tiger musky is a sterile cross between a northern pike and a muskellunge.  The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has planted the hybrids in seven lakes in the state to control rough fish and provide a trophy fishing opportunity.

Washington rules require any tiger musky less than 50 inches long to be released alive, but tournament anglers release all of their fish.  


Lake Roosevelt refill levels off for time being

RESERVOIRS — After a fairly rapid rise in early May, the level of Lake Roosevelt was 1238 at 8 a.m. today and  predicted to stay at fairly stable levels for a while.

“Inflows have decreased over the last week, but are expected to increase slightly in the coming week,” the Bureau of Reclamation says. “At this time, the prediction is that the lake level will remain fairly stable over the weekend and rise slightly next week. At this time we anticipate a daily rise from 0-1/2 foot (6 inches). If the weather warms or there is increased precipitation, then there may be an increase in the daily rise of lake levels.

Daily lake level forecast by phone: (800) 824-4916.

Better yet, check out this new NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.


Record Roses Lake tiger trout all but confirmed

FISHING RECORDS — The 13.75-pound state record tiger trout caught in Spokane County’s Fish Lake on May 27, 2008, by local angler Evan Roda has finally met its match.

The vetting and paperwork isn't complete, but Washington Fish and Wildlife department officials say it looks likely that a 15.04 pounder caught in Roses Lake of Chelan County will be the new record.

Kirk Herrin, a painting contractor from Manson, landed the big brook trout/brown trout hybrid last month while fishing for bass. He was casting a Fluke — a soft swim-bait lure.

The only tiger on the books, from anywhere, larger than Herrin's fish is the IGFA all-tackle world record of 20 pounds, 13 ounces, caught in Lake Michigan 34 years ago.

Read more details in this Everett Herald story.

Bumper Dumper offers relief with no hitches

CAMPING — Answer the call of nature on your next backcountry drive with the Bumper Dumper, a toilet seat attached to a steel frame that requires only a trailer hitch receiver to turn the back of your vehicle into a veritable port-a-potty making the whole “roughing it” experience a cruise in the park.

Privacy?  It's a free world!

Tonight: Get the skinny on climbing gear from Black Diamond rep

CLIMBING — Learn the Nuts & Bolts of climbing gear from Eddie Whittemore, a highly regarded Black Diamond sales rep, TONIGHT, 7 p.m., in a free program at Mountain Gear Retail Store, 2002 N Division St.

The informal-informative presentation will cover how climbing gear is manufactured, how it is tested and the standards; then a bit about caring for gear to make it last, and when to retire it for safety.

 A Q & A session will conclude the evening.

Whittemore invites you to bring your gear and your questions.

North Cascades Highway is open and ready for recreation

OUTDOOR TRAVEL — The Washington Transportation Department reopened the North Cascades Highway at noon today after seven weeks of blowing and bulldozing snow and avalanche debris off the roadway. 

Bicyclists have been riding open portions of the route for weeks.

The highway closed for the winter in November along a 37-mile stretch between Diablo Dam and Mazama.

The northernmost route through the North Cascades includes the 4,855-foot Rainy Pass and 5,477-foot-Washington Pass in North Cascades National Park, where recreationists are likely to flock for spring snowshoeing and skiing.

Last year the highway reopened on May 25.

Columbia salmon surge: better late than never

SALMON FISHING — Shortly after the 2012 spring chinook run expectations were downsized, the surge in a late-holding run finally began. Biologists are watching closely; anglers are baiting up.

The largest single-day count of spring chinook of the last nine years climbed over Bonneville Dam on Wednesday.

Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsmen shucked out a few more numbers:

The surge of 18,436 fish is the fifth largest going back through the early 2000's renaissance of the run and sixth largest back to the late 1930s, he said.

The former figure itself is higher than totals for every day of this year's return except Tuesday and Wednesday.

And Wednesday's aggregate brings the three-day total to 39,517 springers, meaning almost half of 2012's run, which now is up to 81,863, has come through the dam since Monday.

The top five all-time best days are April 18, 2001 (27,020), April 30, 2002 (25,631), May 1, 2002 (20,847), April 29, 1972 (19241) and April 15, 2001 (19,192).

In recent years, the best single day has been May 1, 2011, when 15,766 went through.

Washington and Oregon fish managers are watching the returns closely. Any run adjustments most likely would be made on Monday.

Meanwhile, expect a crowd at Drano Lake and Wind River. Anglers and salmon are all showing up at once.

Free skiing Sunday to close Silver Mountain’s season

WINTER SPORTS — With tons of snow still on the slopes, Silver Mountain will be offering one last chance to ride your skis and board.

Scenic gondola rides and lift tickets will be at no charge courtesy of Dave Smith Motors!

The forecast for Sunday, May 13, calls for sunny skies with a high temperature of 62 degrees.

The gondola will start loading guests at 8 a.m. and chair lifts #1 and #2 will turn from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Music, BBQ and beverages will be served at the Mountain House.

NOAA Weather Forecast for 5,900'

Smart Cycling classes set in Spokane aren’t kid stuff

BICYCLING – We learn to bicycle when we’re young. No license is required. But it’s not just kid stuff, as you can learn in one of the League of American Bicyclists’ classes being offered in Spokane.

As Spokane cyclist Cindy Green put it, “Even after 4,000 miles of bike touring and three years of bike commuting in Washington, D.C., I learned so much in this class I became an instructor.”

She’s referring to the “Smart Cycling: Traffic Skills 101” class taught for years in this region by local cycling guru Eileen Hyatt. Green and Erika Henry of Spokane Regional Health District will be teaching the classes in addition to Hyatt this year.

Sign up online: Choose “Spokane Bicycle Traffic Skills” and select your class dates.

The eight-hour class – spread over two or three days in severa sessions being offered — gives cyclists the confidence they need to ride safely, and legally, on streets, Hyatt said.

Learn principles of riding with traffic, predicting and avoiding motorist errors, bike handling skills, basic bicycle maintenance and essential gear.  

The class is recommended for adults and children above age 15. Students 15-17 must have a parent present. One of the sesson is for women only.

Cost: just $10, thanks to a $40 scholarship offered to each participant this year from a grant through the City of Spokane.

Class dates:

  • May 15 and 21;
  • May 30, June 6 and 13 (for women only);
  • June 5 and 9;
  • June 21 and 23.

Questions: contact SpokaneBikeBuddy@aol.comor


Bike to Work Week is May 20-26 in Spokane.  Sign up here to log your miles and be involved in the free start-off breakfast and the wrap-up party.

New WDFW site details potential wildlife land acquisitions

PUBLIC LANDS – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife unveiled a new web page this week that details a wish list of private properties the state is aiming to purchase to preserve fish and wildlife habitat.

The site includes a virtual tour of 21 proposed land acquisition projects that could take years to complete.

One proposal for Spokane County seeks $1.85 million to purchase 920 acres on Mica Peak adjacent to Inland Empire Paper Co. land to prevent subdividing and fragmenting wildlife habitat protected by adjacent Inland Empire Paper Co. land.

Some of the proposals cover more than 10,000 acres at costs of more than $8 million, including areas in Douglas County, Benton County and a group of areas along the Grande Ronde River in Asotin County.

The agency relies on state and federal grants and help from non-profit groups for most of its acquisitions.

 Among the top grant sources are the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Toxic stew of chemicals tainting Columbia River fish

RIVERS — A federal study released Tuesday found more than 100 toxic substances from everyday life are making their way through wastewater treatment plants into the Columbia River.

What this means, according to details of the report, is that chemicals thoughtless people are pouring down their drains are getting through water treatment plants, into the river — and into the fish sportsmen eat. 


Read the Seattle Times story.

Signs ready to memorialize Sundance Fire in Selkirks

Watch HOT SPOT on PBS. See more from Northwest Profiles.

NATIONAL FORESTS — Forest fire lookout historians have arranged to install a memorial at the site lightning struck in 1967 setting off a huge wildfire in the Selkirk Mountains north of Sandpoint. 

 Following is the update from Ray Kresek, author, historian and host to a forest fire lookout museum in has backyard in west Spokane.  (See video above. Call for a tour).

The large 3” thick cedar signs have now been carved, painted, linseed oiled, and are ready to hang on the posts

already planted atop Sundance Mountain as soon as the snow is gone at the site. It’ll be a while though. At last report, there’s still almost 15’ of snow on the ground at the memorial site 300’ from Sundance Lookout. It is situated just over the leeward edge of the summit, where winter snowdrifts are last to leave. An average snow year, the fire origin site would be free of snow by the 4th of July. This year, a near record snow year, it’s anybody’s guess.


We wish to thank the Webley Brothers Lumber Company in Colville, WA for their generous contribution of three fine cedar planks, with a personal attachment (both were among the 1967 Sundance firefighters); Dave Kresek and Altek Company for computer carving the signs; and those members of the Forest Fire Lookout Ass’n. for their help building the interpretive site trail.

Ray Kresek
Fire Lookout Museum
Contact:(509) 466-9171; email

Trippin with Triploids fishing derby Saturday

FISHING CONTESTS — The first annual “Trippin’ With the Triploids” fishing derby is set to begin on Lake Rufus Woods Saturday, (May 12) beginning at 5:30 a.m..

Derby contestants have a chance to win a $40,000 boat  and other cash and prizes.

Tickets: adults $50, kids under 18, $30.

All contestants get a t-shirt and barbeque dinner at the awards ceremony.

Proceeds go to buying more triploid rainbows for release into Rufus Woods, the reservoir downstream from Grand Coulee Dam, said NancineLorz, derby coordinator.

 Read on for details:

Upgrade or unload at Fly Fishing Gear Swap May 19-20

FLY FISHING — Looking to upgrade your fly rod or reel, but you can't justify your purchase to your significant other?

Want the latest and greatest from your favorite rod company, but need some money to help purchase it?

Wanna get your cheap buddy into the sport?

These reasons and more will be prompting area anglers to sell and buy used gear at the annual Fly Fishing Gear Swap Event sponsored by Silver Bow Fly Shop, 13210 E. Indiana Ave., in Spokane Valley.

Read on for details on selling and buying.

St. Joe high but clear; cutts taking brown drakes

FLY FISHING — The upper reaches of the St. Joe River Road are still plugged with snow, but Sean Visintainer of Silver Bow Fly Shop found decent fishing in the lower river.  The river was clear and dropping and fish were keying on Brown Drakes, a hatch that's usually a bust for fly fishers because of runoff.

Still, he said the he caught the most fish fast-stripping streamers.

Click here for Sean's full report.

In case you didn't notice, the cutthroat he'spreparing to release on Sunday stretches from his forefinger to his elbow. 

Biologist explains wildlife habitat fundamentals tonight

WILDLIFE — Dave Leptich, habitat specialist for the Idaho Fish and Game Department, has planned a highly interactive discussion for tonight in his program on wildlife habitat, Sponsored by the Coeur d'Alene Audubon Society.

Place: Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey, in Coeur d'Alene.

Time: 7: p.m.

Program: “Wildlife Habitat Fundamentals”

The audience should come away with a more complex view of wildlife habitat and a framework from which to understand and interpret management decisions and actions.

Leptich is a Regional Habitat Biologist with the agency. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Resources from the University of Idaho, and a Master of Science Degree in Wildlife Management from the University of Maine.

Thompson, Cayuse passes cleared; plows breaking through on North Cascades Highway

MOUNTAIN PASSES — Thompson Pass between Prichard, Idaho, and Thompson Falls, Mont., was cleared of snow over the weekend. Although signs said the road was still closed, vehicles were traveling over the popular route between the North Fork Coeur d'Alene and Clark Fork river drainagles.

But if you're planning a hike to Revett Lake, you'll need snowshoes.  A snowblowing machine had to be used to cut through still-deep snow at the pass.

North Cascades Highway ready to open

Meanwhile, Department of Transportation crews working from the east and west sides to clear snow off the North Cascades Highway met near Rainy Pass at 11 a.m. Monday.

Crews are continuing to widen road of snow and stabilized conditions.  Tentatively, the popular scenice route between Mazama and Marblemount is set to open on Thursday or Friday.

People are flocking to the attraction on bicycles, packing skis to hit thie slopes.  Here's the plea on the DOT website:

While it’s legal for bicycles to use the highway because they’re not licensed motor vehicles – it’s getting crowded up there and it’s a big concern for our operators since bikes are hard to spot in the mirrors on a loader or a blower. The widening, ditching, guardrail and jersey barrier work is going on all day Tuesday and with avalanche blasting planned for Wednesday (along with the necessary clean up) – this is just not a good time to bicycle the North Cascades – Please wait for Thursday!


Cayuse Pass opening today

The Washington Transportation Department says a scenic drive through Mount Rainier National Park reopens today at noon as gates will be opened to Cayuse Pass on the east side of Mount Rainier.

The department says crews are still clearing snow from nearby Chinook Pass, but hope to have it open in time for Memorial Day Weekend.

Montana to consider trapping for wolf control

PREDATORS — Adding trapping and eliminating quotas will be on the table as Montana's wildlife regulators meet Thursday to consider proposed ways to to reduce the number of wolves in the state.

In 2011, despited a lengthy wolf hunting seasons, the gray wolf population rose 15 percent to at least 653 animals. Ranchers and hunters concerned about livestock and big-game kills complained that number is too high.

Last fall and winter, 166 wolves were killed in Montana’s first hunt since Congress removed the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list in May 2011.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners will hear a proposal to remove the statewide quota. The agency instead would shut down the hunt where officials determine enough wolves have been killed.

The proposed changes also include allowing trapping and ending the season on Feb. 28.

Idaho’s online hunt planning tool helps hunters connect

HUNTING — Idaho Fish and Game has updated its Hunt Planner interactive online tool that allows hunters to search for and create maps for hunting areas of interest.

Hunters simply answer a few questions about what game they would like to hunt, how, where and when they would like to hunt it, and a list of all the available hunts that meet their criteria will be generated.

Select a hunt area from this list and the Hunt Planner will create a map that can be printed or provide links to an interactive map that can be customized further.

The Hunt Planner also generates helpful information for the hunt area selected, such as:

  • General season harvest statistics.
  • Tag, permit and fee prices.
  • Landscape characteristics and access.
  • Weather.
  • Local outfitters and guides.
  • Local services, including lodging, camping and restaurants.
  • How to get there and current road condition.

In addition, hunters may download current and past controlled hunt boundaries, from the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Information System “Open Data” page. It helps to have a little horsepower in your computer, and you'll need to view the information in Google Earth and GIS programs.

Hunters can also download data for game management units, elk and wolf management zones, generalized game animal distributions and current and past Access Yes! property boundaries.

Sandpoint ospreys starting family under web cam

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Things have been looking up for a pair of ospreys since groups in Sandpoint organized to relocate a nest that had to be moved at Sandpoint’s War Memorial Field during renovations.

With a web cam fixed above the nest platform, the public has been able to watch the ospreys arrive on April 10 to begin build their next (see photos above) and go through courtship.

In late April, the camera caught skirmishes between the pair that adopted this nest and a second osprey pair that was attempting to hijack the nest. (The field on Lake Pend Oreille has two osprey nests.)

The Sandpoint Osprey Cam is a collaboration of the City of Sandpoint and Sandpoint Online with corporate support by Avista and Northland Communications. Consulting biologist is Jane Fink of Birds of Prey Northwest.  Moving the nest and puting up the web cam was no easy task. Read about the project.

The Sandpoint Online web page includes a chat feature for osprey watchers to trade observations, plus  Fink is providing an interpretive blog. The number of daily page views is in the thousands and growing especially this week:

Monday at 12:48 p.m. the female laid their first egg (above left).

Soon we'll all be able to watch the hatching and raising of a brood.

Meantime, check out this incredible osprey fishing video and brief yourself with Fink's answers to osprey FAQ»

Fly Fishers’ schedule a script to region’s top attractions

FLY FISHING — The Spokane Fly Fishers are finished with their fall through early spring series of monthly programs. It's time for them to focus on fishing, and this is where the club members kick into another gear.

The wise students who enrolled in the club's extensive fly fishing course during the winter not only have the knowledge and skills to pursue fish with authority this season — they also have a group to help lead them to fishing action that would take considerable time to acquire on their own.

Although there's plenty of private outtings underway and on the schedule this season, anglers who have been fishing this region for a long time mapped out the following schedule for the club's group outings.

Read on for the dates and waters.

Biologist talks about birds, culture of East Asia

NATURE – Howard Ferguson, a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist, will present a free program on his experiences with birds and culture in East Asia at 7 p.m. Wednesday may 9 at the Riverview Retirement Community, Village Community Building, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave.

On sabbatical, Ferguson traveled for several months working and exploring Saipan, Japan, Bali, Borneo, Thailand and Vietnam.

The program is sponsored by the Spokane Audubon Society.

See a map for directions.

Cameras, eyes on wolf pair in Methow Valley

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A trail-cam image of a pair of gray wolves in the Methow Valley is raising the possibility that the Lookout Pack may be regrouping — and possibly reproducing.

The wolves (above) were photographed in April by a motion-activated camera put out by the U.S. Forest Service southwest of Twisp. 

Several sightings of the pair have been reported to the Washington Fish and Wildlfie Department, offering the possibility the pair may have mated and the Lookout Pack is rebuilding.

Poaching and other possible causes reduced the Lookout Pack from 10 wolves in 2008 to two or possibly three animals.

Three members of a Twisp family, whose ranch borders the area inhabited by the Lookout Pack, pleaded guilty in April to charges related to killing endangered wolves and attempting to smuggle a wolf hide to Canada.

Their fines total more than $70,000

The the photographed pair are a breeding male and female, pups could be born in early May.

“Without radio-collared animals, our next best chance of finding out more will be when the pups are old enough to leave the den and start responding to howling solicitations – probably not until mid-June,” Scott Fitkin, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, told the Methow Valley News.

Elsewhere in Washington

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to document whether wolves confirmed in about five new areas of the state have formed new packs.

WDFW biologists currently are attempting to trap and fix radio collars on wolves in the “wedge” area between the Columbia and Kettle rivers in northeast Washington.

Officials say that operation likely will move next to the Hozomeen area in northwest WA.

Efforts to put collars on wolves in the Touchet River area of the Blue Mountains likely won't begin until later this spring or early summer, officials say.

Anglers bring kids into cast of conservation experts

WATERSHEDS — While preparing my Sunday Outdoors story on the Trout in the Classroom program at Spokane County Schools, I was inspired by the men and women who helped teach the youngsters about fish, water and watersheds — not to mention some tips on how to cast a fly line.

One of the coolest stations was the session on macro invertebrates headed by Brook Beeler of the Department of Ecology.  Here's something to keep in mind:


Macro invertebrates (aquatic insects) are bio-indicators that help scientists assess water quality by surveying abundance of certain species based on their tolerance for water pollution. Examples:

Highly tolerant: Aquatic worms, leeches ØModerately tolerant: Dragonfly nymphs ØSuper intolerant: caddis flies, mayflies (and stoneflies in rivers)

Moderately tolerant: Dragonfly nymphs

Super intolerant: caddis flies, mayflies (and stoneflies in rivers)

Cougar killed by wildlife police in tree above Tri-Cities home

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Washington Fish and Wildlife police killed this 120-pound cougar on May 2 after it moved into a Kennewick neighborhood and perched in the tree above a yard where three girls ages 4, 7 and 10 normally play.
Two schools are nearby.
Arrangements are  underway to donate the animal’s remains to Washington State University for biological research at the Tri-Cities campus, WDFW officials said.
See the Tri-City Herald story.

Dishman Hills group invites public to ‘Dream’ on

PUBLIC LANDS — The Dishman Hills Alliance is inviting the public to celebrate their latest step toward securing conservation land or easements for a “Dream Trail” through the length of the Dishman Hills.

A dinner celebrating the recent 269-acre Glenrose-area Conservation Futures purchases will be held May 12 starting with socializing at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. at Moran Prairie Grange, 6106 S. Palouse Hwy.

The Dishman Hills Natural Area Association played an important role in securing the conservation land before it could be carved up for development.  Members of the alliance will toast their success in the decade-old effort to keep a corridor open through the hills for non-motorized travel as well as for wildlife migration.              

Then they'll talk about future plan to made the Dream Trail come true.

Part of the plan involves getting more friends to join the effort

Cost for the dinner celebration is $20 for members. The group is offering a special $10 membership online.

St. Joe River Road open to Conrad Crossing

NATIONAL FORESTS — The snow is starting to clear farther up the St. Joe River road for people anxious to get up the river to camp and kayak.

Going into the weekend, the main road is open to Conrad Crossing. Campgrounds are open that far, but they have not been all cleared of leaners and blowdowns.

The North Fork Road is only open to tunnel 4 because of  a slide crews are still trying to clear.

Lake Roosevelt levels rising up to 2 feet a day

RESERVOIRS — The spring runoff continues to allow operators to raise the water level of Lake Roosevelt.

 Over the next week, the level is predicted to rise 0.2  to 1 foot a day, the Bureau of Reclamation says.

 Spill through the outlet tubes on the face of the dam is occurring intermittently to control the rate of rise in Lake Roosevelt. “There is a large quantity of snowpack to the north of Lake Roosevelt and we want to ensure we have enough room in the lake for what is to come,” BuRec said in a release.

Daily lake level forecast by phone: (800) 824-4916.

Better yet, check out this new NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

State Parks needs volunteer hosts

STATE PARKS —Volunteer hosts are being sought for some Washington State Parks, officials say.

The hosts greet visitors, assist park staff and perform a variety of duties in return free camping and hookups. Host assignments range from 30-90 days.

Details and host openings are online at

Info: (360) 902-8612; email

Montana ranch is wired for wildlife monitoring

WILDLIFE WATCHING — About 100 motion-activated cameras scattered across an 8,600-acre Montana mountainside ranch are documenting a wealth of wildlife activity, including images confirming that Western spotted skunks — rare in Montana — have found a home about 10 miles south of Missoula. 

The cameras, some of which transmit wirelessly to a ranch video specialist, are pretty good at documenting poachers, too.

Read the story about the cutting edge stuff going on at the MPG Ranch, devoted to conservation, in this story by the Missoula Independent.

Oregon gets permission to control cormorants to protect fish

FISHERIES — As voracious as a wolf and more mobile than a northern pike,the cormorant is finally getting more attention as a peak predator on certain fisheries.

Oregon officials were successful in getting permission to kill sea lions that feed on protected salmon trying to swim upriver to spawn. Now they want federal approval to shoot a type of seabird that eats millions of baby salmon trying to reach the ocean.

The Oregonian has the story.

‘Learn to Bird’ workshops, field trip offered by Spokane Audubon

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Spokane Audubon Society will hold its Learn-to-Bird Workshops next week on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Spokane Falls Community College Science Bldg 28, Room 119.

The workshops will be followed by a field trip to Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge on May 12. 

The workshops are taught by Gary Blevins and Kim Thorburn, Audubon members with years of birding and teaching experience.

Each workshop is different. Participants are welcome to sit in on any or all of them, Thorburn said.

Subjects covered are:

May 8 – Bird watching basics, with emphasis on equpment, field guides, bird biology and morphologic and song tips.

May 10-11 – Identifying local birds by habitat.

Preregister: Blevins, 533-3661 or Thorburn, 465-3025

A $20 donation to Spokane Audubon Society is requested.

Insight offered on Rock Lake kayaking tragedy comments

PADDLING — Today's S-R news story with details about the Gonzaga University student who died on an April 1 kayaking trip at Rock Lake was balanced by two men willing to step forward and talk about safety issues involved with cold-weather/water paddling.

No one involved with the accident would speak on the record for one reason or another, but Jerry Cessaratto and Dennis Andrew of the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club allowed me to interview them on the protocols for a group paddling trip in cold conditions.

Take the 10 minutes required to view the video on cold-water immersion (above), Andrew suggests.

My editor had to shorten the newspaper story to fit the layout puzzle in the paper. In doing so, it may have left the edge that Andrew was criticizing the city parks trip leaders. While many people will do so, Andrew was not criticizing, he was analyzing and offering the perspective of what he teaches in the annual three-session sea-kayaking class he coordinates in late June.

Click “continue reading” below for the unedited ending my story published today. Keep in mind that even this was boiled down from two 15-minute interviews and does not include their comments on the need for outdoor groups to:

  • Check weather reports.
  • Assess the situation in the field
  • Assess the gear and experience of everyone on the trip.
  • Factor in remoteness and conditions.
  • Have a contingency plan.
  • Stay together
  • Have a toolbox of options for emergency and rescue.

Spokane River has shot at reaching record flow

 RIVERS — Stan Miller has retired from Spokane County’s water resources program, but he still keeps an eye on the Spokane River and the snowpack left in the mountains. 

In his educated opinion, the river has a chance of reaching an all time high flow:

From May 19 - May 21, 1997 the Spokane River was flowing at 42,000 cfs.

That is about 6,000 cfs more than today.

Only flows on May 31, 1894 (49,000 cfs), Dec. 26, 1933 (47,800 cfs), and Jan. 20, 1974 (45,600 cfs) were higher than the 1997 flow. We could set a record if we get a good dump of rain up high.

If the forecast for cooler weather for the next week is correct, we will probably just see this level for a week or until most of the snowpack is gone.

Remember this level of flow is normally not seen until the end of May or early July.

Roosevelt levels, boat ramp access on 1 online chart

RESERVOIRS — As the water level in Lake Roosevelt continues to rise behind Grand Coulee Dam, more boat ramps are becoming viable again and anglers are becoming more versatile.

A nifty new NOAA hydrograph web page helps boaters with constantly updated information on lake levels, projected elevation changes and boat ramp launching levels.  It also shows when the lake is too low for running the Gifford and Keller Ferries.

“I recently added low-water impacts to the web page with the short term Lake Roosevelt forecast to help prevent more recreationists from hauling their boats out only to find their ramp high and dry,” said Katherine Rowden, the National Weather Service hydrologist who helped worked up the site. 

“The 'Low Flow' line on the hydrograph is when the Gifford Ferry stops running (first significant impact), but if you scroll down below the map, I've also listed all the boat ramps (per elevations on the Park Service's website) so folks can match up current and forecasted levels if they have a certain spot they like to launch from.

“The forecast is updated daily and incorporates planned reservoir operations.”

Officials, ranchers aim to keep sage grouse off endangered list

OUTDOORS — As sage grouse have been strutting during the spring mating season, ranchers are working with state and federal officials to keep the prairie grouse from becoming the spotted owl of the West.

The iconic bird with the showy mating dance is experiencing population declines, and government land managers, with help from ranchers and conservation groups, are pouring tens of millions of dollars and rewriting dozens of management plans to protect habitat where the birds still thrive.

Click here to see a Great Falls Tribune story and videos about sage grouse efforts in Montana.

The goal of the sweeping plans, occurring on both private and public lands in 11 states, is to increase the population and avert the listing of the bird as a threatened and endangered species, which experts say would bring tougher restrictions on grazing and energy development.

“It would just have catastrophic impacts on our food and energy security, much of which comes out of the West,” said Dave Naugle, a wildlife professor at the University of Montana who is serving as science adviser for the national sage grouse initiative headed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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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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