Advertise Here

Outdoors blog

Archive for August 2013

Seattle divers video giant Pacific octopus and hatchlings

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Two Seattle divers shared a rare sight with KING 5 TV's Evening Magazine:  a giant Pacific octopus — the largest species of octopus in the world.  

They tracked the GPO for 20 dives and came up with even rarer video:  GPO hatchlings, each one was about the size of a grain of rice. 

See the clip here.

Wolves kill more sheep in Idaho, rancher says

PREDATORS — More wolf-livestock issues are being reported on the same Idaho sheep ranching operation that recently lost 176 sheep in a single attack.

Colville Forest closes Albian Hill Road for repairs

PUBLIC LANDS — Forest Road 2030000 (Albian Hill Road) will be temporarily closed in various sections starting Sept. 3 to replace two culverts in two locations that are currently blocking fish passage. 

The Lower Albian Hill culvert, located just past the junction of Hwy 20 at MP 0.3, will be closed Sept. 3 through Sept. 21. 

The Upper Albian Hill culvert is located just before the Wapaloosie Trailhead at MP 3.2 and will be closed from Sept. 16 through Oct. 8, 2013.

Access to the Albian Hill road is still available by way of Forest Road 9565000 (Deadman Creek Road).

Info: Three Rivers Ranger Station, (509) 738-7700.  

Sept. 1 big day for region’s salmon, steelhead fishing

FISHING — Inland anglers seeking big fish running upstream from the ocean kick into another gear on Sunday (Sept. 1). 

Click “continue reading” for details on salmon and and steelhead fisheries in Washington and Idaho from the Snake River upstream.

State legislator hiking length of Idaho

TRAILS — State Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, who was elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in November, is attempting to hike a 950-mile route the length of Idaho in about 40 days.

“Why did you run?” we asked the mountain climbing guide and outdoor educator who teaches college-level physical education and leadership courses.

“Tom Luna, mainly,” he said referring to the resentment many educators have for Idaho's controversial state schools superintendent.

“More important, why are you hiking the Idaho Centennial Trail?”

“To raise awareness of trails in Idaho and as a fundraiser for the Redside Foundation, which promotes health programs for guides. Outfitters have their own association, but there’s not much support for the guides who work for them.”

Erpelding, who started at Upper Priest River Falls, barely had 100 miles under his belt Saturday when we caught him in Clark Fork poring over maps and protein-loading at a barbecue hosted by Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

“This is a bi-partisan effort,” he said, noting that Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, hosted him for a night at his lake place.

The route is a network of trails, roads and bushwhacking through at least 10 national forests and three wilderness areas.

“I’m getting insights on rural areas and exploring ways people can work together for Idaho,” he said.

The trail isn’t for sissies. “The Upper Priest River trail is amazing through the cedars,” he said. “But in other places the Centennial Trail is poorly marked or nonexistent. Road-walking isn’t fun, and you can go more than 20 miles on ridges without water.”

Despite devoting 10 hours to a 13-mile navigation error over White Mountain, Erpelding, 38, had covered 220 miles in 10 days as of Wednesday.

“Crossed the Selkirks, Cabinets, and some of the Bitterroots,” he posted on Facebook. “Only had to get my bear spray out once and realized that I needed a much bigger can. Bad news: I hurt my left calf; gonna take a rest in Mullan and see if I can get it up to speed.”

Erpending guided climbers in Colorado and on Rainier this summer. He’s also guided five climbs on Denali, although he had to back out of an expedition last summer: “It conflicted with the Idaho primaries,” he said.

Beyond his priorities for education and equality, he wants to spotlight the value of trails for local economies.

“But it does not good to overstate the problems,” he said. “About the same time Hurricane Sandy was trashing the East Coast, Idaho legislators were calling trail neglect in the Frank (Church Wilderness) a ‘national disaster.’ We’re not going to get much credibility with that perspective.”

Trail conditions in the Frank aren’t his top concern for this trek: “Right now the route in the wilderness is closed because of fires.”

His deadline is Oct. 4 – he’s the keynote speaker for the Idaho School Counselors convention in Boise.

“I’ll do the best I can to finish the trail,” he said.

Last question: Is that blood all over your sleeping ground cloth?

“Huckleberries,” he said. “The North Idaho woods are full of them; and the bears know it.”

Wolf suspected in attack on teen in Minnesota campground

PREDATORS — A 16-year-old boy fought off a canine believed to be a wolf during an attack in northern Minnesota Saturday. If confirmed as a wolf, it could be the first reported physical attack by a wolf on a human in the lower 48 states.

Noah Graham of Solway was camping on Lake Winnibigoshish with friends last weekend, and was talking with his girlfriend just before the animal came out of nowhere and chomped the back of his head, according to the Associated Press.

Federal trappers on Monday trapped and killed a wolf they say could be the canine involved in the attack.  That wolf had a jaw deformity that could have prompted rare bold behavior around humans, officials said.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials say it could be the first documented serious-injury wolf attack on a human in Minnesota.

NEWS: The DNR announced today that it is premature to say with 100 percent confidence that the wolf is the one that inflicted the bites. That won’t be known – or may never be known - until DNA testing is complete.
However, on Wednesday the Minnesota Department of Health laboratory confirmed the wolf that had been trapped and killed Monday at the campground tested negative for rabies, although the boy already had been treated for the potentional of getting the disease.

The youth’s shirt (a potential source of wolf saliva DNA) and wolf muscle tissue have been sent to a laboratory at the University of California – Davis for forensic analysis. The analysis expected to take several weeks. The DNR will release the results when they are available.
Only two cases of fatal wolf attacks have been documented in North America, one in Alaska and the other in Canada, according to the DNR and a review of scientific literature.
Read on for more details on the attack from an AP report:

Flash flood warning for North Cascades east slope

HIKING — Watch the sky if your heading for camping or hiking in the North Cascades near Leavenworth.  The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning with a forecast for storms and heavy rain today.

Give bird dog attention before the hunt

HUNTING — My Outdoors column today bags some tips from pro trainer Dan Hoke of Dunfur Kennel for easing bird dogs into the seasons safely and efficiently.

Many hunters get all excited about opening days — forest grouse and mourning doves open Sunday.

But the best and safest hunting for a bird dog is later in the seasons, when the field is cooler, damper and there's been more opportunity to get in tip-top shape after the dog days of summer.

Steens Mountain among Oregon’s top road trips

OUTDOORS TRAVEL — If you're looking for an outdoors-related road trip, complete with opportunities for hiking, fishing and wildlife watching, consider the drive to Oregon's Steens Mountain.

Zach Urness, outdoor writer for the Statesman Journal, notes that it's been called the most spectacular drive in Oregon.

The Steens Mountain Loop Road departs the tiny, historic town of Frenchglen and climbs Oregon’s eighth-tallest mountain on a tour of massive gorges, vast panoramas and one of the most spectacular lakes in the Pacific Northwest.

The 52-mile loop is the state’s highest road and found in its southeastern corner, rising above the high desert like an alpine island, he says.

Last year, Urness wrote a story about backpacking and hiking into the gorges of Steens Mountain.

This year, he's written a detailed report focusing on the family-friendly highlights that can be enjoyed right along the road.

Idaho wolf hunts open statewide on Friday

HUNTING — Although there's a year-round season for wolves on private lands in the Idaho Panhandle, the 2013-2014 wolf hunting season for the rest of the state opens on Friday (Aug. 30).

The season runs through March 31, except in the Lolo, Selway and Middle Fork zones and in that portion of Unit 16 in the Dworshak-Elk City Zone north of the Selway River where the season closes June 30.

An individual may buy up to five wolf hunting tags a calendar year, but hunters may use only two wolf tags in some parts of the state in a calendar year.

No more than two gray wolf hunting tags may be used in the Salmon, McCall Weiser, Sawtooth, Southern Mountains, Beaverhead, Island Park and Southern Idaho zone. No more than five tags may be used in the Panhandle, Palouse-Hells Canyon, Lolo, Dworshak-Elk City, Selway and Middle Fork zones.

Harvest limits have been set in five zones: 45 in the Salmon Zone, 60 in the Sawtooth Zone, 40 in the Southern Mountains, 10 in the Beaverhead and 30 in the Island Park Zone. There is no statewide harvest limit.

The wolf trapping season opens Nov. 15 in all but four wolf zones, and Unit 10A of the Dworshak-Elk City Zone opens to trapping Feb. 1.

  • See details of Idaho's wolf hunting and trapping seasons and rules.

Wolf hunting tags are available for $11.50 for Idaho residents and $31.75 for nonresidents. 

Montana lifts fishing restrictions on Clark Fork River

FISHING — Fishing restrictions have been rescinded for the Clark Fork River as water temperatures have cooled, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials announced this afternoon.

Water temperatures are holding below 70 degrees, and weather conditions have moderated enough that further restrictions are not likely, they said.

The Clark Fork from Perkins Lane Bridge downstream to Flint Creek and from the confluence with Bitterroot downstream to the Flathead River had been closed to fishing from 2 p.m. until midnight since July 25 to reduce the impact on drought-stressed fish.

Other west-central Montana rivers that remain under these “hoot owl” restrictions include the main stem of the Bitterroot River and the bull trout tributaries in the Blackfoot Drainage.

On the Bitterroot, fishing is prohibited from 2 p.m. to midnight on the entire length of the river, excluding the East and West Forks.Region 2 FWP Fisheries Manager, Pat Saffel says that criteria for removing restrictions on the Bitterroot have not been met.

“We’re looking for water temperatures to stay below 70 degrees for three consecutive days in the lower Bitterroot near Missoula, and we’re thinking we might be there next week if cooler air temperatures hold,” Saffel says. 

In the Blackfoot drainage, fishing is closed from 2 p.m. until midnight on important bull trout streams including Morrell, Gold, Belmont, Cottonwood, Copper, and Monture Creeks; the North Fork of the Blackfoot River; and Landers Fork. 

On the main Blackfoot River, temperatures are declining and flows are holding steady just above the trigger point for fishing restrictions.  The Blackfoot Drought Response Plan calls for a “shared sacrifice” approach to improve stream flow and reduce stress on the trout fishery.  Water contributions from irrigators have kept flows high enough to avoid restrictions, but Saffel points out that the water is still low and temperatures warm.

“We encourage anglers on the Blackfoot to reduce fish stress by fishing during the coolest parts of the day, and to handle and release fish as quickly as possible,” Saffel says.

  • Anglers can check for details on fishing restrictions or closures on theFWP home page at Select Drought & Fire under the Hot Topics heading, or check the FWP online fishing guide.

SpokeFest early registration ends Saturday

BICYCLING — Time's running out to register for Spokane's premier bicycling event.

SpokeFest isn't until Sept. 8, but early registration ends Saturday, Aug. 31, so sign up today to get your name in a drawing for gear.   

Choose from four rides ranging from a fun-filled loop in Riverfront Park for kids to 9, 21 and 47 milers through Riverside State Park.

In addition:

  • SpokeFair will have live music, food, vendors and interactive booths!
  • Mountain Gear will be giving away prizes at SpokeFair including sunglasses, day packs, jackets for men and women and more…
  • Spokey, the SpokeFest mascot will be greeting kids and families.
  • Kids riding the Park Loop will be entered in a drawing for a free bike.

Otter appoints two fish and game commissioners

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Idaho Gov. Butch Otter appointed two Fish and Game Commissioners today, including Brad Corkill, owner of Whiteman Lumber Co. in Cataldo.

See details in S-R reporter Betsy Russell's “Eye on Boise” blog.

Forest Service reopens popular trailhead north of Lake Wenatchee

HIKING — Little Wenatchee Road, (Forest Service Road No. 6500), has been re-opened for the first time since winter to public access above the intersection with Smithbrook Road No. 6700, the Wenatchee River Ranger District says today. 

This area, and its popular trailhead for Heather Lake and other alpine destinations, has been inaccessible to motor vehicles since a December storm felled hundreds of trees throughout the area.

The upper portion of Little Wenatchee Road No. 6500 is accessible by taking Smithbrook Road No. 6700 off Highway 2, located about four miles east of Stevens Pass Ski Area, north to the Little Wenatchee Road intersection north of Lake Wenatchee.  The lower portion of the Little Wenatchee Road, from a gate up to the intersection with Smithbrook Road, is still closed due to trees over the roadway from last winter’s storm. 

Trailheads that continue to be open include Little Wenatchee Ford and Irving Pass to Poe Mountain, in addition to trailheads leading to Minotaur Lake, Theseus Lake, Heather Lake, and Top Lake. 

Soda Springs and Lake Creek Campgrounds remain closed due to many down trees and standing dead trees in these campgrounds that can cause safety hazards. 

Reconstruction work continues at Heather Lake Trailhead located on Forest Service Road No. 6701-400 in the upper Little Wenatchee drainage.  For those planning to visit Heather Lake, the trailhead will remain open during trailhead reconstruction work.  Trail users will need to park their vehicles about a half mile down the road from the current trailhead but will be able to walk around construction activities to access the trail. I

Info: Wenatchee River Ranger District, 509-548-2550. 

Priest Lake campground closed for hazardous tree removal

CAMPING — Beaver Creek Campground at the northwest end of Priest Lake has been closed today and visitors are being evacuated after Forest Service inspectors discovered more than 40 hazardous trees that must be removed for visitor safety.

The Beaver Creek boat launch and canoe portage areas northeast of Nordman are outside of the campground and will remain open, officials said, but the campground closure will continue through one of the most popular camping weekends of the year.

The agency ordered inspections of national forest sites in North Idaho after a Sandpoint man was killed by a 200-foot-tall tree that fell on his tent in Stagger Inn Campground during a severe thunderstorm on Sunday night.

Kyle L. Garrett, 48, was killed by the uprooted tree northwest of Priest Lake. A 52-year-old woman was injured and treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Forest Service officials and local law enforcement are evacuating the Beaver Creek Campground today and suggesting alternate camping sites, said Jason Kirchner, Idaho Panhandle National Forests spokesman in Coeur d'Alene.

Campers with reservations through the Labor Day holiday weekend will be notified by email and given a refund for their advance fees through a federal reservation website, he said.

“Closing a popular campground before a holiday weekend is a terribly difficult decision but, in this case there are too many dangerous trees to remove before the weekend, so closure is our only option to ensure a safe environment,” said Mary Farnsworth, forest supervisor.

Crews have been assessing the conditions of developed recreation sites throughout the Idaho Panhandle National Forest since Monday, Kirchner said. In many sites crews have already identified and removed dozens of hazardous trees from campgrounds, picnic areas and trailheads.

Beaver Creek Campground, which is northeast of Nordman, is the only site where danger is extensive enough to require a temporary closure for tree removal, he said.

tHowever, a handful of smaller recreation sites are still being assessed today.

For the latest status of the ongoing storm damage assessment visit

A number of alternate campgrounds are available in the Priest Lake area, including Outlet Campground, Luby Bay Campground, Reeder Bay Campground and Osprey Campground. These sites all include “first come, first served” sites and reservation sites.

Check for reservations and status of these and other Forest Service campgrounds or call (877) 444-6777.

No survey of sites outside campgrounds

The current assessment of hazardous trees does not include areas outside of developed recreation sites so it is vitally important for forest visitors to understand that hazardous trees may be present anywhere on the national forest. Visitors are encouraged to take a hard look at their surroundings when recreating throughout the forest, and especially when selecting a campsite. Hazardous trees are not always readily apparent, but some obvious indicators of dangerous trees include damage to roots, branches or trunk; insect infestations; leaning trees; or dead trees. These types of trees are especially hazardous when the wind is blowing. For more information of identifying and avoiding dangerous trees please download the Idaho Panhandle National Forest’s Hazard Tree Safety Flyer.

For more information on recreation opportunities on your National Forest please contact your local US Forest Service Office.

Idaho eases rule for nonresident junior mentored tags

HUNTING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission earlier this month approved a change in the mentor requirements for holders of the nonresident junior mentored hunt tag.

Under the new rule, the mentor is still required to have tag for same species but it doesn’t have to be for the same area. The change takes effect immediately as a temporary rule, but it is subject to legislative review as a proposed rule.

The holder of a junior mentored tag must have a junior mentored hunting license and must be accompanied by adult license holder with a tag for the same species. The junior mentored deer and elk tags are not valid for bear, gray wolf or mountain lion.

The junior mentored hunter and the mentor must be close enough to be within normal conversation or hearing range without shouting or the aid of electronic devices.

Hunters AND anglers must stop at Idaho check stations

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Idaho law requires hunters AND ANGLERS to stop and Fish and Game check stations.

The code says, “all sportsmen, with or without game, must stop at Fish & Game check stations.”

All those who are hunting or fishing that day, or are returning from an overnight hunting or fishing outing, are required to stop.

“Each year, a few sportsmen do not stop at check stations because they were not successful on that specific trip,” says Phil Cooper, IFG spokesman in Coeur d'Alene. “They see the signs, but think the instructions don't apply to them and continue on their way. 

“However, information about a trip where nothing was harvested is also recorded.  Citations can be issued to those who have spent the day in the field and do not stop.”      

Read on for more details about the two types of check stations the state runs.          

Idaho restricts motorized vehicle use for hunting

HUNTING — While public land managers have restrictions on where motor vehicles can be driven, Idaho also restricts some hunters from using vehicles such as ATVs in some areas to curb conflicts between motorized hunting and other sportsmen and landowners.

The restrictions are south of the Idaho Panhandle.

The Idaho Fish and Game’s motorized hunting rules apply to big game animals, including moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats, in designated units from Aug. 30 through Dec. 31.

Between these dates and in the designated units, specific to all big game hunting, hunters may use motorized vehicles only on established roadways that are open to motorized traffic and capable of being traveled by full-sized automobiles.

Motorized hunting use restrictions apply to units 29, 30, 30A, 32, 32A, 36A, 37, 37A, , 45, 47, 49, 50, 51, 52, 52A, 53, 56, 58, 59, 59A, 66, 66A, 69, 70, 72, 73, 75, 76, 77 and 78.

The rule does not apply to upland game animals or birds in hunts within the designated units.

Video: Raunchy dancing? Forget MTV, go to Midway

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Miley Cyrus doesn't have anything on these birds!

Take a look at the twerking of the mating Laysan albatross on Midway National Wildlife Refuge.

If this tweeks your imagination, learn more about the birds on this tiny dot of an island in the Pacific.

Wolves attacking livestock in Oregon

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Oregon officials have confirmed that wolves were involved in three livestock depredation attacks in the past week. The cases involve the Imnaha and Umatilla River packs.

Authorities are still investigation and discussion their response.

Wolves are still protected in Oregon.

Osprey lands prize catch

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Ospreys will be leaving this fall on their lengthy migrations to other parts of the world for winter.

But their athleticism shouldn't escape us while they're here in their nesting territory. Look at the size of the lunker — apparently a sucker — that this osprey snagged in the water and lifted to a utility pole.

Here's what North Idaho photographer Mark Powers saw:

I was walking to my barn along Cocallala Creek where it flows into the Pend Oreille River across from Laclede when I noticed a larger than normal fish atop what I refer to as the Dinner Pole.  The osprey was not too afraid of me because I presume he was not anxious to get airborne again with this fish.

Panhandle still holds big bulls, but young bull numbers down, biologist says

HUNTING — Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager, speaks frankly in a post he just made to update the status of elk and elk hunting on the Idaho Panhandle.

  • Antlerless elk hunting remains severely curtailed, but there are signs of improving population trends in the St. Joe region.
  • Numbers of younger bulls including spikes appears to be down, but the percentage of old bulls is high, so Hayden expects to see some wall hangers coming out of North Idaho this fall.

Read on for his complete post, plus his encouragement for hunters to participate in the development of Idaho's statewide elk management plan for the next 10 years.

IFG will hold an online chat for sportsmen to monitor or ask questions regarding elk management on Thursday, 5 p.m.-7 p.m.

Bowhunters getting the itch for elk

HUNTING — My buddy, Andy, sent me this photo of bull elk passing by his trail cam, which is mounted just 20 yards from his bowhunting blind.

Trust me: you can't really imagine how anxious Andy is for the first week of September, unless you're a bowhunter.

Camper killed by falling tree in storm; Panhandle forests evaluating campgrounds

UPDATED: 2:55 p.m.

CAMPING — Idaho Panhandle National Forests staffers are scrambling to assess tree damage at developed forest sites after a visitor was killed in the Stagger Inn Campground northwest of Priest Lake by a damaged tree related to thunder storms on Sunday night.

Kyle L. Garrett, 48, of Sandpoint, died when a 200-foot-tall tree uprooted and fell on his tent, according to the Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office. A 52-year-old woman was also injured and was treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The Stagger Inn is a small primitive campground at the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars in Pend Oreille County just west of the Idaho state line.

Other campgrounds are being evaluated before the Labor Day holiday.

Here's the info from Panhandle Forests spokesman Jason Kirchner:

High winds throughout the Idaho Panhandle last night caused numerous trees to weaken and fall resulting in one fatality at the USDA Forest Service’s Stagger Inn Campground in Pend Orielle County, Wash. Investigation into the accident is being led by the Pend Orielle County Sheriff’s Department. Due to these hazardous conditions, and in advance of the Labor Day holiday weekend, the Idaho Panhandle National Forest has begun a widespread assessment of its developed recreation sites to identify additional areas where storm damage may have weakened trees. Rapid assessments of campgrounds, picnic areas and other developed recreation sites will determine whether temporary closures are needed to provide for public safety until crews are able to remove hazardous trees.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident at our campground and are making every effort to ensure that last night’s storm damage has not left hazard trees in our developed recreation sites,” said Idaho Panhandle National Forest Supervisor Mary Farnsworth.

To ensure a rapid and comprehensive response to last night’s storm damage the forest has activated an Incident Management Team, like those used to manage wildfires and other emergencies, to quickly assess and manage hazards discovered in recreation sites across the forest. Assessment will focus only on developed sites, such as campgrounds and picnic areas. Further assessment updates, including any temporary closures will be posted at

It is vitally important for forest visitors to understand that hazardous trees may be present anywhere on the national forest. Visitors are encouraged to take a hard look at their surroundings when recreating throughout the forest, and especially when selecting a campsite. Hazardous trees are not always readily apparent, but some obvious indicators of dangerous trees include damage to roots, branches or trunk; insect infestations; leaning trees; or dead trees. These types of trees are especially hazardous when the wind is blowing.

Mountain goat shoulder wound likely from fight

WILDLIFE — My Sunday Outdoors story about the consequences of food-conditioning wildlife mentions the 2010 incident in which a hiker in Olympic National Park bled to death after being gored in the thigh by an aggressive mountain goat.

The horns on a mountain goat are sharp and they come in to foes at a deadly level.

The wound to the shoulder of the billy pictured above likely is a goring wound from another goat, experts surmise.

Hikers who saw the goat earlier this summer on North Idaho's Scotchman Peak said the wound was bloody and nasty looking at that time — and the goat had a bad attitude about it that forced them to throw a barrage of rocks to get it to leave them alone.

This month, the wound seems to be healing well … and the goat's demeanor was much more pleasant.

What do you think about media personalities and “experts” who suggest to the public that they have a special touch with wildlife that makes it OK for them to befriend and feed wild animals.

Idaho releases elk plan for comment; Washington’s to come

HUNTING – A proposed 10-year elk management plan has been released for public comment by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

The plan is posted on the Fish and Game Department’s elk planning webpage

Public comments are due by Sept. 22.

Agency officials will hold a live online chat from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday (Aug. 29) to answer questions about the plan.

  • Washington is planning to release a long-term elk management plan for public review in November or December, Fish and Wildlife Department officials say.

Think “large” if confronted by mountain lion

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — As young mountain lions are displaced from their mothers this time of year, they must learn to fend for themselves.  It's a tough lesson that often brings them into suburban and even urban settings as they explore food sources, like they did last week moving into neighborhoods of Butte and Bozeman.

Newman Lake and Spokane-area homeowners also have reported cougars in neighborhoods this month. 

Most areas surrounding cities and towns also have healthy white-tailed deer populations that may attract lions.

Most mountain lions are so stealthy they're never seen, and if they are, it's usually a fleeting chance.

But Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials offer these tips should you encounter a mountain lion that lingers to size you up:

Get big (make yourself appear as big as possible and wave your arms)
Get loud (yell, scream and stomp)
Create a barrier and/or throw objects at the lion
Don’t turn your back and DON’T RUN 
FWP also urges recreationists to carry bear pepper spray at all times because it's an effective deterrent for mountain lions as well as bears. 
FWP says propert owners should avoid wildlife feeding, which – in addition to being dangerous to those animals – may bring unwanted predators into the neighborhood.

Walleye limit changes proposed for Sanpoil Arm

FISHING – Sportfishing rule changes proposed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will be explained in a public meeting starting at 6 p.m. on Sept. 3 and the agency’s regional office, 2315 N. Discovery Pl. in Spokane Valley.

Public comments will be accepted through Oct. 31.

One proposal calls for liberalizing the daily limit for walleye to 16 fish on the waters of the San Poil River inundated by Lake Roosevelt (the San Poil Arm) to decrease the overabundant walleye population and to align regulations with those for Lake Roosevelt.

The proposals will be made to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s during its November meeting in Olympia.

The commission, which sets policy for WDFW, is scheduled to vote on the final sportfishing rules package during a meeting in December.

Beavers, wind, bloom put damper on Bonnie Lake fishing

FISHING — No vehicles were parked at the Whitman County road pullouts near the bridge put-in for the Rock Creek that gives access to Bonnie Lake the other day.  That was our first clue that fishing for perch, crappie and bass could be a little off center of perfect.

My buddy Jim and I paddled my canoe upstream for nearly a mile of serpentine creek, narrowed by summer vegetation growth, and came to a beaver dam just before reaching the lake.  

After dragging the canoe over the dam, we paddled into the lake aided by a brisk wind that made uplake travel brisk, but suggested the return could be interesting.

Our first casts revealed we couldn't see our jigs until they were retrieved to about 18 inches or less from the surface.  A bloom was on and water clarity was severely compromised.

We caught some perch, crappie, bluegill and bass, but never more than a couple in any given spot.  We wrestled with anchoring to stabilize in the wind and we just couldn't dial in a consistent bite.

The only notable catch was one 14-inch crappie; the rest were small.

A beaver ushered us out at twilight, with nighthawks swooping in the sky above, as we paddled pack down the outlet stream past its lodge and dam as if to say they would be enjoying the solitude after we left.

September is huge month for bicycling events

BICYCLING – September is jam-packed with cycling events, including some of the best of the season, such as the Great Northwest Fall Tour next Sunday out of Newport, SpokeFest in Spokane on Sept. 8, the Kootenai River Ride Sept. 14 out of Bonners Ferry, ValleyFest rides on Sept. 22 and the Coeur de Fondo on Sept. 28.

See details on these events and a total of 21 other organized rides in the region through October in The Spokesman-Review’s 2013 Northwest Bicycling Events Expanded List.

Fires restricting public access; check before you go

PUBLIC LANDS – Wildfires scattered throughout the northwest are affecting access to niches of national forests and other lands the public normally has access to for hunting, fishing, camping, berry picking and other late-summer pursuits.

Glacier and Yellowstone Parks have had to close sections of road briefly because of fires.

Near Priest Lake, the road to Lookout Mountain was closed for a couple of days  recently and reopened as State Lands crews fought a small fire.

Huge areas of central and southern Idaho are closed by major forest fires as sportsmen plan their early-season hunts.

Most fires and restrictions can be tracked online at

Otherwise, call local ranger district offices for updates.

Writer offers tips for hookups in ‘howling horde of humpies’

SALMON FISHING — Anglers heading to Puget Sound to tap the huge run of pink salmon flooding in toward spawning streams will find good tips on locations and techniques in this column by Wayne Kruse of the Everett Herald.

Snake River dunes patrolled for college parties

PUBLIC LANDS — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is warning college students that officers will be patrolling popular sand-dune party spots along the Snake River.

Some public land areas are notorious for big parties, especially after the Aug. 25-26, 2012, blowout at Illia Dunes that attracted about 3,000 partiers and left behind thousands of pounds of trash, broken glass, foam coolers and other liter along the beach as well as about three miles of road ditch. The area had to be closed to the public for cleanup.

Illia Dunes, on the Snake River about three miles downstream of Lower Granite Lock and Dam, is a popular end-of-summer gathering place for students — but it will be patrolled. 

Read on for the rules from the Corps:

Bear hits town for take-out dinner

WILDLIFE — Apparently picnic baskets are no longer big enough for this bear in Colorado Springs… or maybe she just ordered takeout.

Either way, she's no stranger to food from human sources.  Enjoy this.

Middle Fork Salmon River rafters sickened at campsites

RIVERS — It's hard to believe that a wilderness whitewater raft trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River could be a sickening experience, but that's what's happening to dozens of rafters and even a Forest Service crew.

Idaho health officials are trying to determine what is causing the gastrointestinal illness that has affected commercial and private rafters on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, as well as fire personnel, according to a story just moved by the Associated Press.

Mike Taylor, an epidemiologist with the Eastern Idaho Public Health District, tells the Idaho Statesman that river guides have fallen ill and a Forest Service weed control crew had to be flown out after getting sick.

Taylor suspects it may be norovirus, a highly-contagious viral illness that causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and lasts for about two days.

About 50 people have reported getting ill while rafting or working on the river in the past month.

However, three people who were tested came back with three different illnesses — one had norovirus, one had E. coli and one had giardia.

So far, Taylor said, the only thing the victims have in common is being on the Middle Fork; they came from different rafting parties, and floated at different times.

“Even river guides have reported getting ill. A Forest Service weed control crew had to be flown out” after becoming ill, Taylor said.

The Middle Fork is isolated in rugged country, but it’s highly popular among rafters, with about 9,500 floating the same 104-mile stretch last summer. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the average commercial raft group has about 23 people, while the average private group has 11 people. In all, about 800 people a week share the same campsites, water stations and toilets along the site, giving germs a prime opportunity to spread.

Amy Baumer with the Salmon-Challis National Forest said the federal agency cleans Middle Fork facilities daily and tests drinking water every month. So far, she said, all water tests have been clean.

Taylor said the district is working with the Forest Service to inform rafters about the outbreak and teach them how to reduce the risk of getting sick on a trip.

He says rafters should wash their hands frequently and avoid drinking any untreated water. Filtering river or creek water won’t remove the virus; it must also be treated with a chemical disinfectant.

If norovirus is responsible for the outbreak, it could remain a problem all summer, he said.

“Norovirus is fairly stable in water and sunshine. Over the wintertime, it will be killed and we should start fresh next year,” Taylor said.

Food plots lure Blue Mountains elk from farm fields

WILDLIFE — As mentioned in today's outdoors column about elk management in the Blue Mountains, Washington wildlife managers report good results from a program that signs contracts with farmers and ranchers to improve elk habitat and reduce big-game depredation issues on their lands.

One of the tactics is to plant “lure crops” to attract elk to higher elevation plots so they won't be so tempted to come down and ravage expensive crops such as garbanzo beans.

Remote camera photos such as the one above show elk using these food plots.  Here's the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlfie field report that went with this and other photos:

Elk Lure Crops: Conflict Specialist Rasley met with two farmers on Wilson Hollow in Walla Walla County “regarding no elk damage.” Both farmers said, “This is the first time in over 20 years we have not had 60 plus head of elk in our garbs.” They asked what the reasoning was and Rasley showed them both where all 68 head of elk are living now; in our newly planted lure crops some five miles up the road.

Spokane River cleanup needs crew leaders

RIVERS — The annual Spokane River Clean-up is set for Sept. 28 and the planning team and REI volunteer coordinator Carol Christensen are putting out the call for more crew leaders.

“If you’re willing and able to give a couple hours ahead of time for training and a morning of work leading a crew of about 30 volunteers,” she says, “please e-mail

Fish, wildlife recreation to get boost from Boundary Dam license approval

UPDATE:  State fish managers say the small fish hatchery to be built under this licensing agreement will be devoted to restoring native cutthroat and bull trout.  Fish for stocking in northeast Washington lakes under the agreement will come from existing hatcheries under a contract between the utility and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

RIVERS — The license for Boundary Dam has met the requirements for approval with no appeals submitted, according to Seattle City Light, and that spells the beginning of projects to improve wildlife habitat, recreational facilities and fisheries along the Pend Oreille River.

The license was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in March, but utility officials said today that the final hurdles had been cleared. 

Under the new 42-year license, City Light will be required to mitigate the impacts of the dam to the surrounding environment in Pend Oreille County. These measures include long-term water quality monitoring programs, terrestrial habitat improvements, and wildlife monitoring programs for bald eagles, peregrine falcons and other species.

For example, Mill Pond Dam on Sullivan Creek will be removed under the agreement, clearing the way for fish passage — and kayakers — for the first time since 1909.

A native trout conservation hatchery is planned to raise cutthroats and bull trout that will be planted to help restore the native species in tributaries to the Boundary Reservoir. Required habitat restoration in these tributaries will benefit westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout and mountain whitefish.

Contracts will be signed with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to provide fish of various species from other hatcheries to stock in area lakes.

The utility is required to make avariety of recreational improvements in the Boundary project area including:

  • New recreational trails on the east side of the reservoir.
  • New non-motorized boat access with parking and facilities at the Metaline Falls Portage.
  • Upgrading six dispersed recreation sites along the Boundary reservoir, including sanitation systems, picnic tables, fire rings and watercraft land and tie-up areas.
  • Improvements to Metaline Park boat launch in the town of Metaline.
  • New interpretation and education sites throughout the Boundary project area.

“This has been a long and carefully managed process, drawing input from many stakeholders and taking into account wildlife protection, recreational and cultural amenities, and the water quality of the Pend Oreille River,” said City Light General Manager Jorge Carrasco.

Approval of the 42-year license is a critical economic benefit to City Light’s customers and to Pend Oreille PUD customers whose primary source of electricity is low-cost Boundary power, he said

Read on for details about the conclusion of the license renewal process, according to a Seattle City Light media release:

Wolf pack mostly destroyed before sheep attack

PREDATORS — Wildlife Services say they had already removed 12 wolves from an area where 176 sheep died in a stampede during an attack by two wolves on Saturday.  They've removed at least one more wolf since that incident.

Of the 13 trapped and euthanized wolves, four were adults or sub-adults, an official said. Nine of the wolves killed were pups.

According to the story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide:

The pack’s demise was already underway when two wolves thought to be Pine Creek members ventured into a 2,400-head sheep herd early Saturday morning. The herd, owned by the Siddoway Sheep Company of St. Anthony, Idaho, was bedding down on Caribou-Targhee National Forest land between Pole Canyon and Fogg Hill, about 5 miles south of Victor.

Running downhill in a panic, about 165 sheep from the Siddoway herd were  killed, trampled and smothered in their terror. Two wolves, which were witnessed by a herder at the scene, killed about another dozen sheep. The final tally: 119 lambs and 57 ewes dead. Price tag: $20,000.

Idaho second-draw hunting permit results online

HUNTING —  Results for Idaho's second big-game controlled hunt drawing have been posted on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game website.

Hunters who applied for elk, deer or antelope can learn online whether or not they were successful in the recent computerized drawing.

Results are available here.

Hunters can pick up permits and tags at any license vender in the state, online , or call 1-800-554-8685.

There’s no deadline to pick up tags from the second drawing.

Any tags not drawn will be available for over-the-counter sales starting at 10 a.m. Mountain Time on Aug. 26.

Stargazing at Steptoe Butte on parks cultural calendar

STATE PARKS — A Sept. 7 night of star gazing with expert astronomers south of Spokane at Steptoe Butte State Park catches my eye in this list of upcoming free cultural events scheduled during the year-long Washington State Parks Centennial Celebration.

Here's the remaining schedule of events:

  • Gig Harbor area State Parks: Get your Feet Wet programs, now through Aug. 20, at Kopachuck, Penrose Point and Joemma Beach. Harbor Wildwatch leads beach exploration and marine touch and explore activities, including “stump the biologist.” Programs run mornings starting around 9 a.m. for kids out of school on summer vacation.
  • Birch Bay State Park near Bellingham: Concerts in the Park, evenings Aug. 24 and 30, the Wildlife Theater. Celtic Roots performs at 7 p.m. Aug. 24, and “Wingin’ It” performs at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 30.
  • State parks around Washington: Painting in the Parks, now into September. Plein Air Washington Artists, an outdoor artist group, is sending small groups of artists out to paint the day away in various park settings, and spectators are invited to stop by and chat. Find them in Palouse Falls-area state parks Aug. 22 to 25; Sept. 6 and 7 at Rasar State Park near Concrete on Highway 20; Sept. 20 and 21 at Olmstead Place historic homestead near Cle Elum. A juried show of their park paintings is scheduled for Oct. 19 to Dec. 31, at American Art Company, Tacoma.
  • Cama Beach State Park near Stanwood: Beach Art Festival, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 24. Create drawings or sculptures using found objects, and build on the beach. A fun family activity sponsored by the Cama Beach Foundation. For more information visit
  • Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park, Grand Coulee: On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods, 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 24. Head to the Dry Falls Visitor Center for views of the dramatic landscape created by Ice Age floods, and meet geologist author Bruce Bjornstad, signing his “Ice Age Floods” trail series.
  • Saltwater State Park near Federal Way: Show Brazil, 3 to 5 p.m. Aug. 24: Show Brazil celebrates the culture of Brazil, with music and dance forms including bossa nova, samba, Brazilian popular music and capoeira, a Brazilian martial art form performed to music. A Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks event sponsored in part by the Washington State Parks Foundation, the Washington State Arts Commission and Washington Heritage Resources.
  • Peace Arch State Park, Blaine: Enjoy the final two concerts in a multi-cultural series. Auicha Machis, music of the Andes is scheduled for 2 p.m. Aug. 25. Pava, a Russian Women’s a capella group performs at 2 p.m. Sept. 1. Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks series.
  • Fort Flagler State Park on Marrowstone Island: Eric Miller Band at 7 p.m. Aug. 31. Visit Battery Bankhead on concert night to hear American folk with subtleties of rock, country and blues. The acoustics are great. This concert has an $8 admission for adopts; children under 13 are admitted for free.
  • Cama Beach State Park near Stanwood: Discover Sail Cam Isle Regatta all day Aug. 31, at Cama Beach boat house. Celebrate the art of small boat sailing with activities for all ages, and participate in sailing races or view different types of small boats.
  • Saltwater State Park in Federal Way: Cambodian Cultural Celebration, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 31. Celebrate Cambodian culture with the South Puget Sound Cambodian community, through performances of traditional music and dance, games. Traditional food available for purchase.
  • Steptoe Butte State Park near Colfax: A night of star gazing, 7:15 p.m. Sept. 7, Steptoe Butte State Park: Join park rangers from Riverside State Park and members of the Spokane Astronomical Society, to view Saturn, Mercury and Venus at Sunset, from atop Steptoe Butte, a popular Palouse view site near Colfax. Guides will provide a tour of the night sky and show visitors how to find the North Star. Call (509) 465-5064 for details.
  • Grand Coulee area: Flood Fest, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 14, Dry Falls Visitor Center, Grand Coulee area: This Centennial event focuses on the Ice Age floods that carved much of Washington’s landscape, with local geology experts, tours of unique geologic features, booths attended by local vendors, authors, Native American tribes and government agencies. Food available for purchase. The event is in partnership with the Ice Age Flood Institute and the Coulee Corridor Consortium.

Hot Buoy 10 salmon season gets reprieve

SALMON FISHING — Fish managers have just announced a compromise rule that will prevent the wildly successful Buoy 10 chinook fishery from being shut down prematurely.  Here's the news from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Columbia River anglers fishing Buoy 10

must release wild chinook starting Friday

OLYMPIA – Starting Friday (Aug. 23), anglers fishing at the Buoy 10 fishery near the mouth of the Columbia River will be required to release any wild chinook salmon they intercept, but are currently cleared to catch hatchery chinook through Sept. 1.

Those provisions of a new rule adopted today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon are designed to minimize impacts on wild stocks, while allowing the popular fishing season to continue as previously planned.

Fishery managers from both states have scheduled another meeting Aug. 27 to review the catch and consider any necessary changes to the fishery.

Catch rates for chinook salmon have soared since the fishery opened Aug.1, prompting fishery managers to consider an early closure, said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

In the past week, anglers fishing the Buoy 10 area in the lower 16 miles of the Columbia River have been catching up to 1,600 chinook per day, Roler said.

“Our primary concern is wild chinook bound for tributaries of the lower Columbia River to spawn,” he said. “But fishery managers from both states agreed we could provide adequate protection for those fish without closing the chinook fishery ahead of schedule.”

Under the rule approved today, anglers may retain only those chinook salmon marked as hatchery fish with a clipped adipose fin or a missing left ventral fin.

Barbless hooks are currently required to fish for salmon on the Columbia River, making it easier for anglers to release wild fish unharmed, Roler said.

Anglers fishing the Buoy 10 area have a two-fish daily limit, only one of which may be a chinook salmon. Hatchery coho and hatchery steelhead may be retained to make up the two-fish daily limit.

See more information on current fishing regulations in Washington.

An estimated 678,000 fall chinook salmon are predicted to enter the Columbia River, well above the 10-year average. Fishing for hatchery and wild chinook is currently open from the mouth of the river upstream to Priest Rapids Dam in central Washington.

Details of Washington waterfowl seasons changed

HUNTING — Amendments to some of the fine print on Washington's 2013-2014 waterfowl hunting seasons have been made by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission and posted on the state agency's website. The changes include changes in limits for ducks such as canvasbacks and scaup and details about goose seasons.

Click here to see the final regulations and a Concise Explanatory Statement that describes the changes the Commission has made to these regulations. 

The Commission also extended the comment period for proposed Wildlife Interaction Rules to Sept. 20The rule involves mitigating wolf-human conflicts.  Submit comments to:

Idaho sets waterfowl hunting seasons

HUNTING — Idaho's 2013-2014 waterfowl hunting seasons will include 105 days and a two-day youth hunt, along with some changes in goose seasons and limits, according to action by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Monday.

The number of geese that can be taken in light-geese zones has been doubled to 20 birds a day.

Idaho's waterfowl seasons will open with a two-day youth hunt, Sept. 28-29, for licensed hunters ages 10 to 15.

Duck and Canada goose seasons in the Panhandle and most of the state will run Oct. 12 - Jan. 24, with scaup seasons from Nov. 2 - Jan. 24.

In the area around American Falls Reservoir the seasons will run from Oct. 5 to Jan. 17, with scaup seasons from Oct. 26 to Jan. 17.

The daily bag limit is seven ducks – but no more than two female mallards, two redheads, three scaup, two pintails and two canvasbacks – and four Canada geese.

New this year, the white-fronted goose season was separated from Canada geese to accommodate white-fronted goose hunting opportunities in the southwest part of the state. But during the time the white-fronted goose and light-goose seasons occur at the same time, the use of electronic calls and unplugged shotguns would not be allowed.

  • Washington's migratory waterfowl hunters will have a general duck season open for 107 days — Oct. 12 - 16 and Oct. 19 - Jan. 26. The youth hunting weekend is set for Sept. 21-22. Surveys in the Pacific Flyway show duck populations are near long-term averages, while goose populations are generally at or above management goals.

Read on for more details about Idaho's upcoming goose hunting seasons:

Wolf attack kills 176 sheep near Idaho Falls

PREDATORS — A southeastern Idaho ranch lost 176 sheep as the animals ran in fear from two wolves that chased through a herd of about 2,400 animals south of Victor, the Associated Press reports.

Idaho Wildlife Services State Director Todd Grimm says it’s the greatest loss by wolves ever recorded in one instance in the state. About nine years ago, wolves killed 105 sheep on one night.

In a similar attack in Montana in August of 2009, wolves killed 122 buck sheep in a pasture south of Dillon, surpassing the number of sheep killed by wolves in the entire state in 2008, state wolf managers said.

Sheepherders for the Siddoway Sheep Co. heard the wolves at about 1 a.m. Saturday, but didn’t know the extent of the damage until they saw the sheep piled up on each other at daybreak.

J.C. Siddoway of Terreton says almost all of the sheep died from asphyxiation. About 10 died of bite wounds and one was partially consumed.

Grimm says a dozen wolves have been removed from the Pine Creek area this year. 

Buoy 10 king salmon fishing season too hot to last?

UPDATE at 5 p.m.:  Hot Buoy 10 fishery gets reprieve.

SALMON FISHING — With anglers catching up to 1,600 chinook salmon a day at Buoy 10, the fishery at the mouth of the Columbia is nearing it's quota for kings earlier than normal.

Al Thomas of the Vancouver Columbian reports the season could be closed as early as Thursday.

But fish managers are meeting this afternoon to see if they can work out a plan to extend the fishery through the weekend.

Firefighters storm Marie Creek blaze near Wolf Lodge

PUBLIC LANDS — Forest Service firefighters are continue to attack a four-acre wildfire today just east of Coeur d’Alene near Wolf Lodge, says Jason Kirchner, Idaho Panhandle National Forests spokesman.

The fire is along Marie Creek, which includes a popular hiking trail two and a half miles north of I-90 and five miles east of the Wolf Lodge exit.

Smoke and firefighting aircraft may be visible from the interstate. 

The Marie Creek Fire is lightning caused and was first noted as a one-acre fire late Sunday night, Kirchner said.

Firefighters, including helicopters, Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) and ground crews, spent Monday constructing fire line and dropping retardant to slow and contain the blaze. Firefighting actions today will include additional fire line construction, and water and retardant drops.

Firefighting efforts are complicated by the difficult terrain, he said.

“The closest private property is located more than a mile to the west, but at this time there are no threats to structures.”

Further updates for this wildfire will be posted at

Bull elk getting ready for the season

WILDLIFE — Bull elk are polishing their antlers and getting worked up for the season ahead, as Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson documented yesterday with this photo.

Are  you getting ready for the season?

Is your gear ready?

Do you have your territory staked out?

Are you in shape?

Can you beat the competition?

Traditional bowhunters offer free clinic in Lewiston

HUNTING — A free traditional archery-bowhunting workshop will be held starting at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Idaho Fish and Game Department office,  3316 16th St. in Lewiston.

“If you’re thinking about making the switch to traditional gear, or simply curious, this workshop is a good place to start” says Clay Hayes, habitat biologist and traditional archery enthusiast.

This “into to traditional archery” will cover topics including: choosing a bow and arrows, aiming, practice, tuning, as well as the major differences between modern and traditional archery.  Participants will learn from experts in the field and will get a chance to shoot using primitive archery equipment.

Pre-register: (208) 799-5010.

Two Rivers Trout Derby Sept. 7-8

FISHING – The annual Two Rivers Fall Trout Fishing Derby on Lake Roosevelt is set for Sept. 7-8, sponsored by the Spokane Tribe.

Cost: $125 per two person team.

Tickets are available at White Elephant stores, Two Rivers Casino and Tobler Marina.

Steelhead A-Run size downgraded 27 percent

FISHING — Columbia River fish managers today reduced their early forecast for the steelhead run moving up the Columbia, upper Columbia and Snake Rivers.

Says Joe Hymer of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met this morning, August 19, 2013, to review the summer steelhead run size.  TAC agreed to update the “A” or small steelhead component of the run to 212,000 fish.  This is a decrease from the preseason forecast of 291,000 fish.  TAC reviewed but did not update other components of the steelhead run, or the fall Chinook run.  TAC will meet again on August 26, 2013.

Okanogan County sued for opening roads to ATVs

OHVs — Two conservation groups have sued to block the opening of nearly all of Okanogan County’s roads to ATVs, according to the Wenatchee World.

Conservation Northwest and the Methow Valley Citizens Council sued Wednesday in Okanogan County Superior Court seeking an injunction prohibiting the ordinances from taking effect, and an order declaring that they violate state law.

Mountain goat brightens Sunnyslope yard

WILDLIFE — Mountain goats normally are found in the highest rocky mountain areas during summer.

But a Sunnyslope woman documented a mountain goat in her yard on Wednesday, and the photo was confirmed as a mountain goat by a state biologist.

  See the photo and story from the Wenatchee World.

North Cascades Highway reopening today

OUTDOORS ACCESS — The Washington Department of Transportation says the North Cascades Highway is reopening at 10 a.m. this morning.

It was closed last week by severe mudslides near Rainy Pass.

Several businesses along the scenic route winding its way through the North Cascades National Park reported slower business as a result of the closure last week. Road workers using heavy equipment worked last week to remove about 30,000 cubic feet of rocks and trees in the roadway moved by mountain slides caused by heavy rain.

During the height of tourist season, generally falling in August and September, roughly 2,000 vehicles travel along the highway daily. 

Pink salmon create crowds of anglers along Puget Sound shoreline

FISHING — The huge run of pink salmon moving into Puget Sound is creating what former S-R reporter Adam Lynn calls “Salmon fishing madness in West Seattle.”  

Lynn, now a reporter for the Tacoma News-Tribune, is a regular contributor to the madness in these odd-numbered years when pinks pour into Puget Sound streams to spawn.

Bass fishing derby proposed for Badger Lake

FISHING – EWU Sportsmans Club is trying to organize a fishing derby for bass and perhaps trout on Badger Lake for mid-September.

The lake is proposed for a rotenone treatment in late fall to restore its traditional trout fishery. A decision on the proposal by Washington Fish and Wildlife officials is expected in September.

For updates on plans for the fishing derby, contact Nick Barr by email,

Elk forced out of Turnbull finding new range

WILDLIFE — As hunters are going out scouting for the upcoming big-game seasons, they aren't necessarily looking for elk in traditional places.

For instance, the hunting seasons conducted the past two years inside the boundaries of Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge have spurred more of the elk to move out and set up shop in the scablands to the south, east and north of the refuge.

Last year, on Aug. 30, birding buff Mike Miller was suprised and pleased to capture the accompanying photos while hiking around the Oligher Ranch portion of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Telford Recreation Area.

First, the bull was bedded down in the reeds. When Miller surprised it, and himself, the elk trotted out through the sage.

Washington State Parks seeks winter recreation advisors

WINTER SPORTS — The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is looking for winter sports enthusiasts to serve on the Washington State Winter Recreation Advisory Committee (WRAC).

The committee for non-motorized recreation has three positions that will soon become vacant. Two of the  positions are  for  non-motorized (cross country skier, snowshoer, dog musher, skijorer) who live in Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln or Spokane counties (Area 3). Another position is for a non-motorized recreation representative living in Adams, Whitman, Franklin, Garfield, Columbia, Walla Walla or Asotin counties (Area 6).

An additional open position is for an at-large candidate to represent motorized (snowmobiler) winter sports enthusiasts.

Nominations must be received by August 30. New appointments begin Oct. 1, for a term of three years.

The WRAC is made up of six non-motorized representatives and three representatives from snowmobile winter sports. The committee also has one representative each from the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington Association of Counties. Also included is an ex-officio member from the Washington Department of Licensing.

The committee meets at least two weekends each year, once during the winter and once during the summer. The committee reviews vital issues and advises the Commission and its staff on program policy and funding priorities for snow removal, trail grooming, sanitation, education and enforcement. Members are appointed by the Commission and may serve up to two, three-year terms. Travel, lodging and meal costs for the meetings are reimbursed for members.  

The Winter Recreation Program manages more than 3,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, 300 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails and more than 120 Sno-Parks (plowed parking areas near snowmobile and cross-country ski trails).

The Winter Recreation Program is supported entirely by user fees, snowmobile registrations and a percentage of the state fuel tax.

Contact the Winter Recreation Program by email at, or P.O. Box 42650, Olympia, WA 98504-2650,

Info: (360) 902-8684.

Gray wolf confirmed — in Kentucky

ENDANGERED SPECIES — DNA tests have confirmed a critter shot in Kentucky is a gray wolf, according to this Outdoor Life report.

Idaho commission to consider elk plan

WILDLIFE — Idaho Fish and Game biologists will present a proposed 10-year elk management plan for approval at the Fish and Game Commission meeting Monday, Aug.19, at the Upper Snake Region office, 4279 Commerce Circle, Idaho Falls. 

If approved, Fish and Game will release the proposed plan or a 30-day public review and comment period.

A live, online chat would be held 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. PDT, Aug. 29, to discuss and answer questions about the plan.

Also on the agenda is a proposed 2013-2014 waterfowl season of 105 days and a two-day youth hunt, along with some changes in goose seasons and limits.

The proposed seasons would separate Canada geese and white-fronted geese seasons with two options to accommodate white-fronted goose hunting opportunities for the 2013-2014 season in the southwest part of the state.

Commissioners also will consider a proposed sage-grouse season, with the opening day on September 21. The seven-day sage-grouse season would run through September 27, with a one bird daily bag limit and a two-bird possession limit.

Other agenda items include approval of the fiscal 2015 budget request.

No public hearing will be held during this one-day meeting.

Idaho wildfires take toll on wildlife

WILDLIFE — An aerial survey of the Elk Fire Complex on Thursday showed a number of animals and birds were killed by the wildfire burning east of Boise, Idaho Fish and Game Department officials say. 

After a two-hour overflight, a U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist Scott Bodle reported seeing a total of 14 elk, 31 mule deer, one bear, one osprey, one coyote and one raccoon killed by the fire.

A number of birds were found on the ground, apparently dead of asphyxiation.

  • Several other major fires are burning, including blazes that are threatening Hailey and Sun Valley.

Bodle estimated that most of the animals died in the initial 48 hours of the fire when fire conditions resulted in extremely rapid growth. Winds of about 30 mph carried burning embers that started spot fires up to half a mile ahead of main fire.

Witnesses describe it as a fire tornado, Bodle told Idaho Fish and Game. In the first three days the fire grew to more than 100,000 acres.

Most of the animals were seen in small groups at the upper ends of drainages where they were unable to escape when fire conditions turned extreme.  About half of the fire area where the extreme fire conditions occurred was surveyed. The flight crew also observed many, estimated in the hundreds, live deer and elk in burned areas and in live vegetation.

The fire was started by lightning in the evening of Thursday, August 8, about 10 miles southwest of Pine. As of Friday afternoon, August 16, the fire perimeter enclosed about 125,000 acres.

The fire growth has slowed significantly.

The Idaho Fish & Wildlife Foundation has established an emergency fund for wildlife habitat rehabilitation in response to the fires. To make a donation, go to

Latest buzz from the field: Yellowjackets still bugging campers

CRITTERS — Stinging insects haven’t eased their attack since the newspaper reported on the season of the wasp two weeks ago.

 “The bald-faced hornets and yellowjackets are as bad as I've seen in my life on the Coeur d’Alene River,” said fly fishing guide G.L. Britton. “I expect to be stung every day out!”

Pesky yellowjackets drove Steve and Carol Weinberger out of Sam Owen Campground to eat a peaceful meal at a Lake Pend Oreille restaurant. “A waiter at the Beyond Hope resort said it was so bad on the restaurant deck they called an exterminator,” Steve said.

“A road construction flagger said she had been stung five times last week.”

Chuck Dunning set a personal record this week near Fruitland, being stung nine times in a day: “My hand feels like someone hit it with a hammer!”

Britton has found at least one ally: “I’ve seen pics of hummingbirds tongue lassoing wasps ahead of the stingers and slicing off the danger.

“Last week, a rufous hummer took a paper wasp 3 feet from my face. After five seconds of squealing with action so fast I couldn't discern the strategy, the bird was swallowed the wasp.”

Video: Beacon Hill downhill biker bites dust, walks away

MOUNTAIN BIKING — Many of you saw my story and photos this spring about the efforts by downhill mountain bikers to developed courses for their fast, specialized and dangerous sport in the Camp Sekani area of Beacon Hill in Spokane Valley.

But few of you have ever sat in the saddle of one of these full-suspension bikes as they rocket downhill, soar over basalt rock cliffs and bounce through boulders and outcroppings toward the finish line.

Click above for a fairly epic short video of a run in the March 2013 Double Down Hoe Down race by Mike Brawley, who had a great run in his second-ever race until the last major boulder dropoff before the hairpin curves where the crowd gathers near the end of the course.  

Coming down through the last steep dropoff, he went over the handlebars and knocked himself unconscious.

The crowd cheered after medics check him out and helped him up.

But honestly, he's lucky he's not in a wheelchair.

See medics helping Brawley after the crash.

Snake River fall chinook season opens Sept. 1

SALMON FISHING – Starting Sept. 1, anglers will be able to catch and keep hatchery fall chinook salmon on the Snake River in Washington, the Fish and Wildlife Department has announced.

State fishery managers are predicting another strong return of upriver bright chinook salmon to the Snake River this year and have expanded the daily catch limit to include three adult hatchery chinook, plus six hatchery jack chinook under 24 inches in length.

Anglers may also catch and keep up to three hatchery steelhead, but must stop fishing for the day for both hatchery chinook and steelhead once they have taken their three-fish steelhead limit. The retention season for hatchery steelhead on the Snake River opened on Jun. 16 this year.

Barbless hooks are required, and any salmon or steelhead not marked as a hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin must be released, along with any chinook salmon under 12 inches.

The fishery will be open seven days a week and will extend from beneath the southbound lanes of the Highway 12 Bridge near Pasco upriver to the Oregon state line, approximately 7 miles upstream of the mouth of the Grande Ronde River.

“This fishing opportunity for hatchery chinook salmon is a bonus for anglers during the traditionally productive Snake River steelhead fishery,” said John Whalen, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Whalen said the retention fishery for chinook is expected to extend through Oct. 31, although it could close earlier based on ongoing assessments of the run size and catch totals.

Retention of hatchery chinook won’t increase impacts to fish protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, so long as anglers release wild chinook as required, Whalen said. Of the 434,600 upriver bright chinook salmon projected to enter the Columbia River this year, 31,600 are wild fall chinook bound for the Snake River.

For that reason, Whalen reminds anglers to identify their catch before they remove it from the water. State law prohibits removing chinook salmon or steelhead from the water unless they are retained as part of the daily catch limit.

Check the Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet and watch for updates on the WDFW website.

Cougar report on Priest Lake’s Bartoo Island put to rest

WILDLIFE — Relax and enjoy yourself if you vist Bartoo Island at Priest Lake.  Rumors of a cougar roaming the island have been dispelled.   Here's the report just issued by the Idaho Fish and Game Department.

On Monday, August 12, 2013, campers on Bartoo Island reported hearing and seeing what appeared to be  a mountain lion to the US Forest Service (USFS).  Bartoo Island, located on the Priest Lake Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (IPNF), is one of seven islands on Priest Lake. The island consists of USFS campgrounds and privately owned land.

To ensure public safety, personnel from the IPNF partnered with Idaho Department of Fish and Game and responded to the report. The agencies coordinated with the Priest Lake Sportsman’s Association and volunteers to search the island early on the morning of August 14. The group used hounds to search for the mountain lion, but did not find any evidence that one had been on the island.

While no mountain lion was found, visitors to Bartoo Island are reminded that proper storage of food and beverages can reduce the likelihood of unwanted visitors to their campsites. A mandatory food storage order, covering the Priest Lake Ranger District, is in effect annually from April 1 through December 31. For more information on proper food storage, members of the public are encouraged to visit the Idaho Panhandle National Forest’s food storage web site.

For more information, please contact the Priest Lake Ranger District at (208) 443-2152 or visit the Idaho Panhandle National Forests Website Idaho Panhandle National Forests - Home.

Idaho tiger musky record smashed

FISHING — Edward Kalinowski of New Meadows, Idaho, smashed the state's 12-year-old record for tiger musky while fishing in Little Payette Lake on Aug. 6, the Idaho Fish and Game Department has confirmed.

Kalinowski landed the 44.26 pound lunker on a 12-pound test line with a Neon Magic lure. The fish is 50.5 inches long with a 25-inch girth.

The previous record was 38 pounds, 7 ounces, 48.25 inches with a 22.5- inch girth. It was caught June 16, 2001, in Hauser Lake by Douglas Butts of Eureka Mont., on a Mepps Bucktail Yellow lure.

Tiger muskies have been stocked for trophy fisheries in about 10 Idaho lakes and seven in Washington, including Silver, Newman and Curlew.

  • See a video the Washington Deparatment of fish and Wildlife has posted with tips for catching tiger muskies.

Lake Wenatchee sockeye fishing to close

FISHING — Sockeye salmon fishing at Lake Wenatchee will close Sunday after sunset, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has just announced.   Here are the details:

Closure goes into effect:  Aug. 18, 2013, one hour after official sunset.

Reason for action: Officials estimate that sockeye available for harvest (those in excess of the natural spawning escapement goal of 23,000 fish) will have been caught and removed from the lake by the end of Sunday.

Diseases suspected in Montana deer deaths

HUNTING — Drought may be delivering another blow to deer herds in a portion of Montana, where disease and tough winters already have lowered deer numbers in recent years.

Dead white-tailed deer, possibly killed by epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, have been reported in north-central Montana, state wildlife officials said on Tuesday.

Dead and dying whitetails have been spotted from the Great Falls area to Simms on the Sun River north to the Marias River and even north of Chester. according to a story in the Billings Gazette. While the number of dead deer is not clear, it appears to be at least dozens, based on people calling about finding dead whitetails.

EHD has not been confirmed yet; Fish Wildlife and Parks officials are awaiting test results.

EHD is spread among deer, primarily whitetails, by biting midges. It is one of several hemorrhagic disease viruses found in wild and domestic ruminants.

A related disease, bluetongue virus, affects domestic livestock. While EHD can also infect livestock, it has not been proven to spread from deer to livestock or vice versa. The disease poses no threat to humans.

High-density deer herds may have higher mortality rates; however, the relationship of deer density to the severity of EHD is not clear cut.

Spread of the disease normally stops when the first frost of autumn kills the infecting midges.

Environmentalists win $1.25 million grazing suit in Oregon

PUBLIC LANDS — Environmental groups have won $1.25 million in compensation for attorney fees and costs in their years-long battle against cattle grazing in Oregon's Malheur National Forest and it's impacts on threatened steelhead habitat, according to the Capital Press.

Last year, a federal judge ended a court battle between environmentalists, ranchers and the U.S. Forest Service over the effect grazing had on threatened steelhead habitat.

Disabled hunters can apply for permits in Colville NF

HUNTING — Following is detailed information for disabled hunters interested in signing up for special hunting privileges on six gated roads in the Colville National Forest:

The Colville National Forest in partnership with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are proud to announce the 2013 hunting season routes designated for Disabled Hunter Access and the addition of two non-permanent access platforms to help disabled hunters see over brush.

The 2013 disabled hunter access routes are:

·         Betty Creek in Ferry County (12.4 miles in length)

·         Boundary Mountain in Ferry County (7.8 miles in length)

·         Brewer Mountain of Steven’s County (2.4 miles in length)

·         Middle Fork Calispell Creek in Pend Oreille County (10.6 miles in length)

·         Mitchell of Stevens County (7.8 miles in length)

·         Renshaw in Pend Oreille County (2.8 miles in length)

The Disabled Hunter Access (DHA) program was established to provide high quality hunting opportunities on Colville National Forest (CNF) for hunters with disabilities.  The program allows motorized access into a gated road where other hunters must walk in.  The overall project is a cooperative effort between the Colville National Forest, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council.

The program does not provide special motorized access to all areas on the CNF, just access to specially designated roads otherwise closed to motor vehicles. DHA hunters and one of their two permitted assistants may harvest any game in season for which they have purchased licenses.  Permitted hunters may use the weapons allowed any local hunter for the season such as modern firearm, black powder and archery.

The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council has generously supplied the material and labor to construct and place four 6’x 8’ non-permanent wheelchair accessible platforms and associated ramps along disabled hunter access routes.  The platforms will be placed adjacent to routes in areas where thick brush or topography limits the ability for disabled hunters to see game.  Two platforms will be placed on the Betty Creek route this year and the other two platforms will be placed on the Brewer Mountain and Ruby Creek route at a later time.

To participate in the program, hunters with disabilities must have a state issued disabled hunters permit and must register and sign-in at any one of the six Colville National Forest offices prior to hunting.  Registration and sign-in begins in early August at any Colville National Forest office.  Hunters will be asked to provide information about their party and will receive an access permit, maps, and other pertinent information.  Hunter information packets will also be available in early August at all Colville National Forest offices.  Information is also available on-line at:

For more information applying for an access permit, please contact one of these U.S. Forest Service offices after August 1, 2013: 

·         Colville NF Supervisor’s Office:  765 South Main Street, Colville, WA 99114

(509) 684-7000, Office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

·         Three Rivers Ranger District Office: 255 West 11th Street, Kettle Falls, WA 99141

(509) 738-7700, Office hours are 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

·         Kettle Falls Regional Information Center:255 W. Third Ave., Kettle Falls, WA 99141

(509) 738-2300, Officer hours are 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

·         Republic Ranger District Office: 650 East Delaware Avenue, Republic, WA  99166

(509) 775-7400, Office hours are 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

·         Newport Office: 315 North Warren, Newport, WA  99156

(509) 447-7300, Office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

·         Sullivan Lake Office: 12641 Sullivan Lake Road, Metaline Falls, WA  99153

(509) 446-7500, Office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

·         BLM / Forest Service Information Center:  1103 N. Fancher, Spokane, WA 99212

(509) 536-1266, Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Feds forming panel to determine wolf status

ENDANGERED SPECIES —  This is going to take some time…

USFWS to begin again on panel selection for wolf review
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday that it will begin again on selection of an independent panel to review a proposal to remove federal protection for most wolves in the lower 48 states, a decision that may delay a final decision on the species' status due in June in 2014.

Spokane ranks among top outdoors towns in magazine’s list

OUTDOORS — Spokane is featured in Outside magazine's 2013 list of 18 Best Towns for outdoors enthusiasts.

Park City, Utah, was ranked No. 1 by a feature in the September issue.

I'm proud Spokane is in the spotlight. I know that even a lot of folks who live in this area don't realize what we have in terms of four-season recreation for a wide, wide range of interests.

Other great outdoor towns on Outside's list range from Honolulu to Boston, with niches like Bozeman, Mont., and Minneapolis, sprinkled in between.

While I agree with the distinction, Outside's writeup on Spokane is vague, lacking and slim on details regarding why this region is such a great place for people who love the outdoors.  I'm OK with that. Discovery is part of the adventure.

Best Town stories often are low-budget deals for the magazines. This is an example of that, including a outdated photo of the Riverside State Park footbridge from a Seattle-based stock photography outfit. Geez.

We're still underrated in so many ways…. shhhhh. 

I'll continue to help you count the ways as I've been doing since leaving Montana to make Spokane my home in 1977.

Bitterroot River level drops to 30-year low

FISHING — Much of Montana, and the state's fabled fisheries, are hurting badly for water.

The Missoulian reports the Bitterroot's flows are at a 30-year low.

Low stream flows and continued high water temperatures and prompted Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials on Sunday to close the Upper Big Hole River from Rock Creek Bridge (5 miles upstream of Wisdom) to the mouth of the North Fork Big Hole (approximately 14 miles downstream from the Wisdom Bridge) to all fishing (effective Sunday, August 11) until conditions improve.       

Flows on the Upper Big Hole in the area noted above have dropped below 20 cubic feet per second (cfs) for three consecutive days.  This closure will remain in effect until flows improve to at least 40 cfs for seven consecutive days with water temperatures less than 70 degrees for three consecutive days as well.

FWP biologists will continue to monitor all southwest Montana rivers to ensure the health of local fish populations. FWP appreciates the patience of the angling community.

  • For details on all emergency angling restrictions and other drought updates, go to the FWP home page at and select Drought & Fire under the Hot Topics heading.

Thunder storms put hikers in hot spot

WILDERNESS — I'm just back from four electrifying days of backpacking in the Glacier Peak Wilderness, catching up old news for which I had a front row seat.

Mudslides bury North Cascades Highway — Hikers stranded Monday as storms leave the vital summer passage closed over the mountains between Mazama and the Skagit Valley. The Washington State Department of Transportation says eight mudslides have buried SR 20.

Lightning pounds North Cascades — Lightning maps showed more than 7,400 strikes occurred from 9 a.m. Saturday until 9 a.m. Sunday along the eastern slope of the Cascade Range and in Southeastern Washington, including the Glacier Peak Wilderness where I was hunkered three nights in a row wishing I had ear plugs.  Much of the thunder was concentrated in Okanogan, Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Franklin counties, Forest Service officials say. 

                “Significant amounts of rain fell Saturday night so some fires may not be detected for some time,” said Central Washington Interagency Communications Center Operations Coordinator Jim Duck. “Many times lightning will strike a tree and fire will smolder beneath it for some time until fuel around it dries out.”

David Douglas naturalist exhibit leaving MAC Aug. 25

NATURE – An exhibition featuring the pioneering naturalist who collected and catalogued Northwest flora and fauna is approaching the end of its run at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture in Spokane.

David Douglas: A Naturalist at Work will close Aug. 25 so it can be shipped to the Washington State Historical Museum in Tacoma.

Douglas, a Scottish naturalist, traveled the Columbia River and interior Northwest (1825-1833), identifying and collecting more than 200 species of plants, animals, and birds previously unknown to science. Native species such as the Douglas fir bear his name.

The locally curated exhibit features rare botanical books and artwork, species mounts, original plant specimens that Douglas collected and pressed on loan from The Herbarium and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (London, England). 

Families with children can become explorer/naturalists themselves with the exhibit's interactive features.

Guest curators, Jack and Claire Nisbet contributed to a companion website with selections from Douglas’s journals and letters.

Jack Nisbet’s illustrated books, “The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest,” and “David Douglas: A Naturalist at Work,” are available at the Museum Store. 

The MAC is open Wednesday – Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Spokane River advocates eye untapped recreational potential

RIVERS – Like the water flowing through town, efforts are steadily and quietly progressing to improve the Spokane River corridor.

A new river access at the stateline being developed by multiple agencies could be finished by November, says Andy Dunau of the Spokane River Forum.

The access will provide a convenient 3.5-mile float for anglers to Harvard Road.

The Spokane Conservation District is teaming with Trout Unlimited to boost native redband rainbow trout near Starr Road, he said. Large woody debris structures are being installed to provide habitat for juvenile trout.

S-R columnist Sean Vestal on Wednesday pointed out several exciting trail projects and possibilities from Riverfront Park downstream that are beginning to realize the untapped potential of the river gorge.

Learn more:

Program: Dunau will reveal how to find groups connected with the Spokane River and demonstrate a new Spokane River Water Trail website mapping resource for detailed information about the river’s flows, access points, paddling routes and much more in a free program Wednesday, 7 p.m. at REI.

Sign-up online to reserve a spot,

Volunteer: Spokane River Centennial Trail work parties are set for today, Aug. 17, 25 and 31 to spruce up trailheads with painting, litter pickup, weeding and other light work organized by Friends of the Centennial Trail. Info: 795-4609. 

Hucking junk off mountains isn’t cool

ENVIRONMENT — Go-Pro video cameras have recorded all sorts of stunts, but to see the company endorse the trashing of pristine mountain environments makes me want to gag and go back to the ol' Super 8 camera.

The video above reportedly shows Erik Roner, who strapped on GoPros on as he drove a snowmobile off the edge of a cliff of a spectacular mountain area.

The stunt supposedly was in memory of his late friend and fellow extreme athlete, Shane McConkey, who died in a skiing accident in 2009.

The stunt was a spectacular “burial” of sorts for McConkey's snowmobile in order to memorialize a legend of extreme sports.

It worked, I guess.

I'll always remember McConkey's name, but not without conjuring up an image of someone unnecessarily desecrating a pristine mountain environment.

Hunters, birders eye forest herbicide use in NE Washington

FORESTS – A Stimson Lumber Co. application to spray herbicides on forest land in Pend Oreille County is drawing concern from wildlife enthusiasts.

Timber companies have been getting permits from the Washington Department of Natural Resources for aerial spraying for years to kill brush that competes in harvested areas with newly planted trees.

But birding groups and some hunters are concerned about the toll the herbicides are taking on native plants and the birds and wildlife that depnd on them, expecially moose.

The Stimson application is for prime moose habitat in the Skookum Lake-Half Moon Lake area as well as around North Baldy and Pelke Divide.

Lake Wenatchee sockeye fishing almost too fast

SALMON FISHING — A note from one of my blog readers indicates the sockeye fishing has been great at Lake Wenatchee.

Thank you for your article on the Lake Wenatchee Sockeye Opener last week.

I took my 87 year old uncle out on Saturday, and we limited by 6:45am.

It was so good, I took my sister and her two kids out on Sunday, and we limited by 7:45am.

The funny thing was, we live in the Everett area, so we drove almost 2 hours to get there, fished for 2 hours, then drove 2 hours to get home.

It was a blast!!!

I am having a very hard time finding sockeye counts at Tumwater dam.  Can you please tell me how I can find these counts?

I know fishing dwindles with the counts, and I don’t want to make the long drive and not catch fish.

I would appreciate any information you can share, websites, phone numbers, anything.  Thanks so much.

— Tad Kasuya

Although the information is not updated as often as anglers would like in season, counts for sockeye heading up the Wenatchee River to Lake Wenatchee are available here, courtesy of WDFW and Chelan PUD’s Tumwater Dam fishway.

Salmon group alarmed by high water temps in Snake, Columbia

FISHING — Warming water temperatures in the Snake and Columbia rivers is catching the attention of fish scientists, especially those who support the removal of Snake River dams for the benefit of wild salmon and steelhead.

Following is the third memo in a series calling attention to the warming waters of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and the impacts of those high water temperatures on migrating salmon and steelhead provided by Joseph Bogaard, deputy director, Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, 206-286-4455 x103;

Summer 2013 - Hot Water Alert No. 3

Columbia and Snake River temperatures over 70 degrees for third straight week

Memo to Northwest writers, reporters, editorialists, and columnists – August 7, 2013

For the week July 29 through August 4, water temperatures were 70 degrees or higher 45 times at Columbia and Snake River federal dams passable to salmon – up from 35 readings the previous week. At three dams – The Dalles and John Day on the Columbia, and Ice Harbor on the Snake – temperatures were above 70 degrees all seven days both above and below the dams. At Ice Harbor Dam, temperatures have now been above 70 degrees for 17 consecutive days; at The Dalles and John Day, for 11 consecutive days.

The Dalles Dam(first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)         

July 29

70.1 F     70.2 F

July 30

70.7 F 70.7 F

July 31

70.8 F 70.9 F

Aug 1   70.6 F

70.8 F

Aug 2 70.1 F

70.3 F

Aug 3 70.2 F

70.2 F

Aug 4 71.1 F

71.1 F

John Day Dam (first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)

July 29 70.9 F

70.9 F

July 30 70.9 F

70.9 F

July 31 71 F     

70.9 F

Aug 1 70.8 F

70.8 F

Aug 2 70.6 F

70.6 F

Aug 3 70.9 F

70.9 F

Aug 4 71.5 F

71.5 F

Ice Harbor Dam  (first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)

July 29 71 F

71.1 F

July 30 70.8 F

71.5 F

July 31 70.8 F

71.2 F

Aug 1 70.6 F

70.9 F

Aug 2 70.4 F

70.2 F

Aug 3 71 F

71 F

Aug 4 70.2 F

70.6 F

Bonneville Dam (first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)

Aug 1 70 F

Aug 4 70.3 F

70.3 F

The Idaho Statesman reported August 3 that hundreds of endangered sockeye and chinook salmon were trapped in July by warm water at the base of the Lower Granite Dam fish ladder on the lower Snake. Turbine adjustments and auxiliary pumps finally got the fish moving up the ladder, but the situation could be a harbinger for days and years ahead.

See Columbia-Snake temperatures.

Volunteers needed for Centennial Trail projects

TRAILS — This is a good time to connect with Spokane's signature trail:

Centennial Trail Volunteer Days, August 11, 17, 25 and 31.

Join the Friends of the Centennial Trail for some light volunteer work to improve the trail heads by painting gates and Militery Cemetery trailhead
bulletin boards, clearing asphalt, picking up litter, weed-eating, pulling weeds, etc.

Work will start at the State Line and work westward to Mission Park, finishing two trail heads each weekend through August. 

Earn a Discover Pass with 24 hours of volunteer time!

Register here

Info: email Volunteer Coordinator Megan Ortega or call her at 509-795-4609. 

New Spokane River Water Trail resources detailed

RIVERS — Andy Dunau of the Spokane River Forum is gearing up to reveal how to find groups connected with the Spokane River and demonstrate a new Spokane River Water Trail website mapping resource for detailed information about the river’s flows, access points, paddling routes and much more.

The free program is Wednesday, 7 p.m., at REI.

Sign-up online to reserve a spot.

Leader needed for yurt construction at Mount Spokane

STATE PARKS — The Friends of Mount Spokane State Park are putting out a plea for someone with building skills to help lead the construction before winter of a yurt for snowshoers and backcountry skiers at the park.

Here's the message:

We are now at a critical point in our 4 year effort to build a new winter shelter for snowshoeing and backcountry skiing at Mt. Spokane, and we need everyone’s help.  A grant for materials has been secured from the Johnston-Fix Foundation and additional financial support is available from the Friends of Mt. Spokane.  The plans have been approved and park staff expect to have the foundation for the hut finished by the middle of next week.  The location is Smith Gap.  Unfortunately, the volunteer retired contractor we had lined up to lead the project is no longer available and we need to replace him.  IF we can find a replacement within the next couple of weeks, and if we can find 3 or 4 committed volunteers who can devote several days a week to the project, we could at least get the exterior done this season.  If not, we will do our best to protect the foundation over the winter and resume in June.
So, I would like to ask everyone if they happen to know a retired or semi-retired builder/contractor (preferably a snowshoer or skier!) who would like to devote a few weeks of their time to direct the construction of this hut.  The Friends Group will pay for the materials and at least this person’s expenses.  We think we can start Friday the 16th.  If you know of anyone, have them email me at or call me at 509-466-9540.  I would be happy to discuss the details with them.  It’s easier if they have their own tools, but they will also be able to use the fairly extensive resources that the park has as well.  I will be out of town this Friday to Tuesday but will be available by email.
Then, secondly, assuming we can find the right person, we will need additional volunteers who can pound nails and move boards around.  So those people should contact me too and let me know their level of building experience and their availability.  You do not need a Discover Pass.  In fact, with 24 hours of service, you can get a free Discover Pass! 
This has the potential to be a very exciting, fun project, and volunteers are guaranteed to learn a lot about the park, have the opportunity to hang out with some fun people, and maybe even learn a few things about building.  
Thanks for your help!!
Cris Currie, President
Friends of Mt. Spokane State Park

Roskelley offers sage advice to parent of climber

PARENTING — I have continued to hear many comments from parents regarding my column of reflections on parenting children with an adventurous spirit for the outdoors.

Tom Mosher of Spokane recalled this advice from John Roskelley, Spokane's world-class mountaineer who passed on his passion to his son, Jess.

When my son started serious climbing, I asked Roskelley what he advised, since Mary and I were a little overcome with anxiety. 

His response was a grin and, “Buy him the best helmet on the market.”  We did that.

PCT speed-hiking record setter was overweight girl

UPDATE at Aug. 8, 10:30 a.m. — Unconfirmed reports have Heather “Anish” Anderson finishing the Pacific Crest Trail at 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 7, 2013. That would break the speed record of 64 days by 3-4 days. Reports from Josh Garrett’s friends indicate he will finish this afternoon in a time that would break Anderson’s new record by about two days.

HIKING — Heather “Anish” Anderson is likely to inspire people, including bookworms, daydreamers and overweight people.  Today she is likely to set the world record for through-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail unsupported.

SIDE ISSUE: The debate is likely to continue on whether a record-breaking trek can be called “unsupported” when a hiker posts progress updates on social media and draws a following that shows up at trailheads to offer food and encouragement.   Here's an observation by Karen Dawn, who resents my description of Josh Garrett's record PCT trek as “supported.”

Jennifer Phar Davis does not have the “supported” record for the Appalachian Trail.

When Heather/Anish reached Rainy Pass, 60 miles from the finish, she was greeted by throngs, who knew from her facebook updates that she was coming, and was photographed eating pizza. When Josh got to Rainy Pass, after hiking

120 miles utterly alone, his single support person Tish, who had not had reception, had gone into town to check messages. So Josh stood there all alone, no people, no food. Compare that to Anish's “unsupported” experience….

 I am sorry you chose to propogate the unsupported myth — a hike is not unsupported when you are blogging your location and people are showering you with food. She didn't even have to go pick up her last resupply package. 


Meanwhile, here's Heather Anderson's background in an inspiring vignette from a Facebook entry she posted on Aug. 2 before virtually disappearing in her final push through the north Cascades to end her 2,655-mile odyssey at the U.S.-Canada border: 

I imagine people may think I am a natural athlete, the girl who played sports all through school. The exact opposite is true. I was an overweight child, a bookworm who sat with her nose in an adventure book and daydreamed. I never exercised and couldn't make it around the track without walking. When I graduated high school I weighed 200lbs.

I daydreamed of adventure, but the thing I daydreamed the most was that I would someday set a record. Not just any record though, an athletic record. I wanted so desperately to not be what I was. I hated my body and myself. I consoled myself by eating a bowls full of oreos and milk as though they were cereal. But somewhere deep inside I knew I was capable of doing something more.

When I was 20 I met something that would forever change my life. A Trail. Though my first few hikes were miserable as I forced my body to work, I was enthralled. Trails took me on the adventures I craved and to beautiful, wondrous, wild places. I lost my heart and soul…and eventually 70 lbs…to the trails.

Now, I am a few short days away from fulfilling my oldest daydream: setting an athletic record. I cry when I think about all the things I have overcome to get here, both on this hike and off. It makes me ever so grateful to that chubby girl who dared to dream big, audacious dreams. I am even more thankful that she grew up to be a woman courageous enough to make those dreams reality.

Local woman hiking PCT; slower pace but worthy cause

HIKING — Regarding my story today about record-setting hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail, I've received several notes regarding the other hikers on the trail.  For example:

Laura Talaga, and assistant veterinarian from Chewelah, started in at
Campo on April 23rd.  She's doing it for the adventure and the beauty,
not records, though she's also raising money for the Colville Valley
Animal Sanctuary, which she works with.  Her support is resupply boxes
mailed to strategic locations along the trail.  She's north of Bend at
last report on her blog

Not all hikers do it for publicity.

Happy Trails.

Eric Johnson, Spokane

Video: Experience 6-day Salmon River raft trip without getting wet

RIVERS — Local rafter Tanner Grant compressed his recent six-day whitewater rafting trip on Idaho's main Salmon River into this 11-minute video, listing all the rapids in the 80 miles from Corn Creek to Carey Creek for river runners to view.

He also succinctly shows some of the attractions along the River of No Return from pictographs and hot springs to Buckskin Bill's Museum.

Note that when they launched on July 24 the river was running at about 2,800 cfs, which is considered a low-water run.

7-foot sturgeon surfaces belly up in Lake Washington

FISHING — Despite being 7 feet long, an old-timer has been living peacefully unbeknownst to the masses outside of Seattle, until last weekend.  

Check it out in this report from KING 5 TV.

And this initial report in the Seattle Times.

Colorado pike fishing issue similar to Pend Oreille River

FISHING — This story took me back to the Pend Oreille River about 10 years ago…

Northern pike have made their way into the Upper Colorado River
Utah has already put a $20 bounty on northern pike, the toothy adversary of a healthy trout population, and with a confirmed catch of the invasive predator—and, unfortunately, its live release into the Colorado River at Pumphouse Recreation Area, Colorado should consider a similar program to rid the waters of pike—which have no place in the Colorado River.

A column by Scott Willoughby, Denver Post; Aug. 7

Webcast: Idaho lawmakers eye takeover of federal lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal lands belong to every U.S.  citizen, but the Idaho Legislature is attempting, and perhaps wasting a lot of time and money, to take charge of lands managed by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies.

On Friday, Aug. 9, the Idaho Legislature’s Federal Lands Interim Committee will hold its first hearing to consider a process for the controversial proposal to acquire title to all federally administered public lands in Idaho.

The Interim Committee was established through House Concurrent Resolution 22, enacted by the Idaho Legislature in April demanding that the federal government “imminently transfer title” to more than 33 million acres of public lands in Idaho.

The hearing will be webcast live online.  (Under Committees/Locations, click on Venues, then on EW42)

WHAT: Federal Lands Interim Committee Meeting

WHEN: Friday, August 9, 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. (MDT)

WHERE: Idaho Capitol, Room East Wing 42 (EW42), Lower Level, 700 W Jefferson St, Boise

WHO: Members of the Interim Committee from the Senate include Sens. Winder (Co-Chair), Davis, Tippets, Nuxoll and Stennett. Representatives on the Committee include Reps. Denney (Co-Chair), Moyle, Anderson, Hartgen and Burgoyne.

See the agenda.  

See reaction from the Idaho Conservaton League

Nordic skiers painting lodge, clearing trails at Mount Spokane

STATE PARKS — Spokane Nordic members are recruiting helpers to spruce up the Selkirk Lodge and brush out the miles of trail in preparation for the 2013-14 cross-country skiing season at Mount Spokane State Park.

The second Trail Day of the summer at the Mt. Spokane Cross-Country Ski Park is Saturday, Aug.10. Projects include wood and brush cutting. It looks to be a gorgeous mid-summer day, and families are welcome.

Meet at the Selkirk Lodge at 9 a.m. dressed in work clothes and bring gloves and your lunch. Also bring a small chainsaw or limb/branch loppers if you have them.

RSVP: Brian Hawkins at

Painters needed
Over the past month, volunteers have power-washed and caulked the outside of the Selkirk Lodge, and it's ready for stain. Spokane Nordic needs helpers willing to spray new stain on the logs and brush it in. Sprayer, brushes and stain will be provided.

Contact Brian Hawkins at to work out a date.

Author revives art of naturally finding your way

NAVIGATION — Long before GPS, Google Earth, and global transit, humans traveled vast distances using only environmental clues and simple instruments.

John Huth, Harvard physics professor and author of The Lost Art of Finding Our Way, says we can still do it.

Anyone who ventures outdoors should at least check out this book and ponder the consequences of allowing modern technology to substitute for our innate capacity to find our way. 

  • The Vikings navigated using the sunstone to detect polarization of sunlight.
  • Arab traders learned to read the wind for direction.
  • Pacific Islanders used underwater lightning and “read” waves to guide their explorations. 

 Even today, careful observation of the sun and moon, tides and ocean currents, moss on trees, weather and atmospheric effects can be all we need to find our way.

Hikers, berry pickers sharing woods with hunters this month

HUNTING/HIKING — August is a prime month for backpacking in the Inland Northwest and it's also the month in which some hunting seasons open, luring sportsmen with bows or rifles into the same mountains.

Danger levels are very low, but safety-minded hikers wear some bright clothing this time of year.

In Washington:

Black bear hunting seasons opened Aug. 1 in Western Washington and much of the Casdades and Columbia Basin zones. The Northeastern B and Okanogan zones will open Aug. 15.

More seasons, including forest grouse and morning dove, will open Sept. 1.

In Idaho:

Archery seasons for mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk open Aug. 30 and run through September.

In the warm weather of summer, hunters should consider hunting in the higher country. Hunters have an ethical and legal obligation to salvage the edible portions of their kill. But meat spoilage is an important concern during hot weather.

The key to preserving meat is starting the cooling process quickly. Game animals should be skinned immediately and quartered in most cases and transported quickly to cold storage facilities. Early season hunters may consider using large ice chests to keep game meat cool and clean. Removing meat from the bones also helps speed cooling. 

Volunteers building new trail to Star Peak lookout

TRAILS — Volunteers are helping the Kootenai National Forest build a new trail to a stunning view from a forest fire lookout overlooking the Clark Fork River and the proposed Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.

The Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness already has put in multiple days of routing, brushing, log cutting and carving the tread to the Star Peak Lookout over the past two years.  

The peak where an historic lookout is located formerly was known as Squaw Peak.

  • The next work party is set for Friday ( Aug. 9).   Meet at the trailhead (see map) at 9 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (10 a.m. Mountain). 

Following work days are Aug. 23 plus the weekend of Sept. 21-22.

The group also has set work days on the South Fork of Ross Creek on Aug. 16 and  Morris Creek in the Lightning Creek drainage on National Public Lands Day, Sept. 28.

“We are getting close, and I am very confident we will finish this trail this summer,” said Sandy Compton, FSPW program coordinator. The Forest Service trail crew cut the rest of the trail out last week. If it's really warm, we will hike up to where the the new trail meets the old single track and work down the hill in the shade.

The friends group isn't all work and no play.   See the FSPW list of guided hikes designed to familiarize the public with the official wilderness in waiting.

To sign-up and help with the trail projects, contact Sandy Compton, (208) 290-1281.

Colockum Tarps Fire threatens elk winter range

HUNTING — The wildfire — considred human-caused — that's already burned 80,000 acres near Ellensburg, is scorching the winter range of one of the state's most important elk herds.

The extent of the impacts is yet unknown, but the Colockum herd almost surely will be impacted this winter.  Beyond that, there's room for hope that the fire could be a net gain.  Assessments will come after the fire's out.

Read details in this story by Scott Sandsberry of the  Yakima Herald-Republic.

Remington asks judge to dismiss Montanans’ lawsuit over rifle

SHOOTING  — Gun manufacturer Remington has asked a judge to dismiss a proposed class-action lawsuit by Montanans who bought a type of rifle that can reportedly misfire without the trigger being pulled.

According to the Associated Press, Allen Bowker and Eric Huleatt filed their lawsuit in June on behalf of thousands of Montana residents who purchased a Remington Model 700.

They allege the manufacturer’s parent companies knew the rifle’s trigger assembly was defective and did nothing to warn customers or fix the problem.

They are seeking a judge’s ruling that Remington owes them for their economic loss for overpaying for the defective rifles.

Attorneys for the manufacturer said Monday time has run out on the warranties for the two named plaintiffs who filed the complaint.

They say only one of the plaintiffs claims his gun actually misfired. 

More national forests ban exploding shooting targets

PUBLIC LANDS –  Led by a ban on exploding targets issued by Northwest national forests on July 9 and bans by other public land managers, a similar ban was issued on Monday by Rocky Mountain Region Forest Service officials who cited the products enjoyed by target shooters as a major cause of wildfires.

Shooters who use exploding targets have ignited 16 wildfires since last year, including seven in the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain region that includes Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, the officials said.

The ban extends to all national forests and grasslands in those five states.

The public should understand that exploding targets can cause fires, said John Walsh, the U.S. Attorney for Colorado, said in this story by the Durango  Herald.

Exploding targets are legal to buy. They are made in a small canister by mixing dry chemicals that become volatile in each other’s presence. When struck by a bullet, they emit a brief flame and puff of smoke.

  • One manufacturer says its product is different and should not have been included in the bans.
  • But the tests shown in the video with the Durango Herald story prove that some exploding targets cause fires.

On a national level, the U.S. Forest Service says this:

“Exploding targets pose a very real safety threat to visitors and our employees” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “In the past year alone, at least 16 wildfires on national forests have been associated with exploding targets, causing millions of dollars in suppression costs while threatening the safety and well-being of surrounding communities.”

Wildfire closes several trails in Alpine Lakes Wilderness

PUBLIC LANDS — The 30 acre lightning-caused Granite Mountain Fire, burning 19 miles west of Leavenworth, as prompted trail and area closures around Klonaqua Lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, U.S. Forest Service officials said today in a media release.

These closures have been enacted for public and firefighter safety.

An area of about 7 square miles is closed to public entry around the fire zone. 

Trail closures in this area include Klonaqua Lakes Trail No. 1563 and French Creek Trail No. 1595 from its intersection with Snowall Creek Trail No. 1560 to its intersection with Paddy-Go-Easy Trail. 

Signs advising recreationists of the fire and area and trail closures will be posted at trailheads leading into the closed area.

The smell and haze of smoke may be noticeable in the Icicle drainage and also in the town of Leavenworth depending upon weather conditions and wind direction.  Fire managers do not anticipate that smoke will affect any tourism activities in and around Leavenworth.

The fire was started by a lightning storm that passed through North Central Washington on Sunday, August 4.

Local cyclists pedaling for organ transplant awareness

BICYCLING — They're pedaling from Spokane to Sun Valley in five days starting this weekend in memory of a sister who died at 17 but donated parts of her body so others may live.

Bravo to the Lebsacks for putting meaning into a bicycle tour.

Top 10 shoreline fishing spots for pink salmon

SALMON FISHING — With a whopping 6.2 million pink salmon flooding into the Puget Sound saltwater this month en route to river spawning areas, anglers can catch their four-fish limits from a boat or from shore.

Seattle Times fishing writer Mark Yuasa compiled his list of top 10 shoreline fishing spots for pink salmon:

1. Lincoln Park in West Seattle (best is starting in mid-August)

2. Browns Point Lighthouse Park in Tacoma (mid-to-late August)

3. Dash Point Pier (mid-to-late August)

4. Picnic Point in Edmonds (early August to September)

5. Deception Pass shoreline (now through September)

6. Bush Point and Fort Casey off west side of Whidbey Island (now through September)

7. Point Wilson north of Port Townsend (end of this month through August)

8. Bait Box Hole off the south east side of Whidbey Island (early August through September)

9. Redondo Pier (mid-to-late August)

10. Pier 86 Terminal Pier and Spokane Street Bridge in Elliott Bay (mid-August through September)

Alaska fishing guides tie knot in salmon stream

FISHING — Whether you're talking to the bride or the groom, in this case, it's appropriate to say, “Nice catch.”

Alaska fishing guides Kadie Walsh and Dake Schmidt exchanged vows Saturday in the middle of Kodiak Island's Buskin River.

The fishing-themed ceremony included rings carried in the mouths of king salmon, a wedding party carrying fly fishing rods, and the married couple catching a pair of pink salmon together. 

A wedding during the humpy run:  perfect timing!

Click “continue reading,” and see the captions with a great selection of photos by James Brooks of the Kodiak Daily Mirror for more details, none of which answer the compelling question:

When you have a wedding in a place like like this, how do you top it for a honeymoon? 

Montana tests dogs for deterring wolves, bears from livestock

PREDATORS — Defending livestock from wolves and grizzly bears appears to be going to the dogs in Montana.

Study in Montana tests effectiveness of dogs to deter wolves, grizzlies
The National Wildlife Research Center, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in Utah, has provided $80,000 to study the use of different breeds of dogs to keep wolves and grizzly bears away from livestock in Montana, including Kangals, a long-legged Turkish breed.

—Great Falls Tribune

Washington men arrested; international fish poaching ring suspected

FISHING — State Department of Fish and Wildlife agents say they’ve arrested two men with suspected ties to an international fish-poaching ring.

The Daily Herald newspaper reports that 38-year-old Igor Stepchuk, of Lynnwood, and Oleg Morozov, of Kent, sold an undercover agent more than $4,500 worth of poached salmon, steelhead and caviar. They’re expected to answer to the charges later this month in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Agents say the men are believed to be connected to a fish-poaching ring that was operating out of several other states. Earlier this year, eight men were indicted in Missouri on federal charges for poaching and trafficking in American paddlefish and their eggs. More than 100 other people were arrested or cited for their part in illegally selling Missouri paddlefish to national and international caviar markets.

Paddlefish roe is sometimes mislabeled as caviar from highly prized sturgeon, which has been on the decline.

Stepchuk is accused of selling the agent five jars of American paddlefish eggs for $500.

Detectives sent samples of the caviar and fish to the department’s molecular genetics laboratory to confirm the species. 

On a more local level, four Western Washington men recently were sentenced for illegally gillnetting 242 trout at Lake Lenore in central Washington. The market for their catch has not been determined.

Volunteers target trail to West Fork Lakes in Selkirks

TRAILS — The Idaho Trails Association is partnering with the Bonners Ferry Ranger District to conduct trail maintenance work on Trail 21 to Hidden and West Fork Lakes in the northern Selkirk Mountains.

Volunteers are needed for the effort on Aug. 11-16

The group will meet at the Bonners Ferry Ranger Station. Potential volunteers are asked to commit to a minimum of two days trail work, but may continue volunteering with the group until Friday, August 16.

The Forest Service will provide tools and food.

Volunteers are asked to supply their own backcountry camping gear.

Info: Idaho Trails Association, look for the project listing under the “Events” section of the website. 

Contact:  Alisha Pena, Volunteer Coordinator, (208) 761-7520 or

August features bicycling events, but September is top month

BICYCLING —  Hundreds of cyclists are resting their legs this week after Saturday’s Eight Lakes Leg Aches ride west of Spokane. But there’s plenty of events remaining in August, such as:

Le Tour de Koocanusa on Aug. 10 out of Libby, Tour de Lentil metric century on Aug. 17 out of Pullman, White Pine Pedal Mettle on Aug. 17 out of St. Maries, and the Conquer Schweitzer hill climb on Aug. 18.

However, SEPTEMBER is jam-packed with cycling events, including some of the best of the season, such as SpokeFest and the Coeur de Fondo.

See details on these and dozens of other rides through October in The Spokesman-Review’s 2013 Northwest Bicycling Events Expanded List.

Sporting clays shoot benefits wounded CdA soldier

SHOOTING – A Guns and Grub shotgun target shooting event set for Sept. 28 at Landt Farms Sporting Clays will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and the family of Coeur d’Alene Army Reservist Daniel Guerrero, who was wounded in Afghanistan in May.

Limited to 75 shooters. Cost: $65 includes barbecue.

Pre-register: 279-8125, email 

Spokane Junior Rifle Team sets open house for new shooters

SHOOTING – The Spokane Junior Rifle Team, which has produced several Olympic team shooters over the years — including Amanda Furrer in the 2012 London Games — is having an open house for youths interested in the shooting program, 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at the Spokane Rifle Club, 6411 Aubrey L. White Parkway at the end of Rifle Club Road. 
Coach Mike Furrer has helped develop an air rifle program to introduce youths to competitive marksmanship. 
Info: (208) 819-6904, email

EWU bass fishing team holds on to finish fourth in college nationals

TOURNAMENT FISHING — The Eastern Washington University bass fishing team placed fourth in today's finals of the 2013 Carhartt College Series National Championship, missing first place by more than 8 pounds of fish, but earning a berth to another select national fishing tournament.

Nick Barr and Jarred Walker of EWUcaught five fish totaling 9 pounds 4 ounces today at Lake Chatuge near Young Harris, Ga., to end the event with a three-day total of 14 fish weighing 34 pounds 8 ounces.

Jacob Nummy and Tom Frink of Auburn University-Montgomery won the championship with a total of 15 fish weighing 43 pounds 3 ounces.

The team from EWU was the farthest from home at Chatuge, adding to the amazement locals with their first-day performance to take the lead among 64 teams with 19 pounds, 4 ounces of fish  — almost 6 pounds ahead of the field. 

On Day 2, Barr and Walker had a drought, catching only four fish totaling 6 pounds.  Competing with the five finalist teams on Day 3, EWU did only slightly better, but held on to fourth place overall.

The top four teams qualify for the Carhartt Bassmaster College Bracket Championship, the winner of which will earn a spot in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic set for February on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville.

Commission sets waterfowl seasons, protects octopus

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission during its meeting in Olympia today set 2013-14 waterfowl seasons, extended protections for octopus in Puget  Sound, approved land transactions and heard testimony on rules for interactions with wildlife including wolves.

Specifically, the commission:

  • Established the 2013-14 hunting seasons for migratory waterfowl.  The general duck season will be open for 107 days – from Oct. 12 through 16 and from Oct. 19 through Jan. 26. A special youth hunting weekend will take place Sept. 21 and 22.  WDFW Wildlife Program staff members said surveys in the Pacific Flyway show duck populations are near long-term averages, while goose populations are generally at or above management goals.
  • Approved seven land acquisitions – five purchases and two conservations easements – for parcels ranging from 1.3 to 191.4 acres in Pacific and Okanogan counties.  Each parcel is either adjacent to existing state wildlife lands or surrounded by other publicly owned land, said WDFW Director Phil Anderson.  The Pacific County acquisitions will help WDFW preserve and restore salmon habitat.  The Okanogan transactions will protect shrub-steppe habitat, mule deer winter range, and migration corridors used by deer, bighorn sheep and other wildlife.
  • Took public testimony on several proposed amendments to wildlife interaction rules that are designed to implement actions by the 2013 Legislature and to ensure the WDFW administrative rules are consistent with the department’s 2011 Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.  The amendments include a proposal that would make permanent an emergency rule adopted earlier this year, which permits ranchers, farmers, and other pet and livestock owners in the eastern third of the state to kill a wolf that is attacking their animals.  The commission will accept written public comments through Friday, Sept. 20, and is scheduled to adopt the regulations later in the fall.
  • Extended protections for giant Pacific octopuses in Puget Sound  by prohibiting the recreational harvest of the species at seven popular scuba diving sites from Whidbey Island to Tacoma.


EWU bass team fishing for top spot in national championship

TOURNAMENT FISHING — Nick Barr and Jarred Walker of Eastern Washington University are in third place among 64 teams after the second day of fishing in the 2013 Carhartt College Series National Championship at Chatuge Reservoir near Young Harris, Ga.

Barr and Walker had jumped to a commanding lead on Day 1, tanking five fish for 19 pounds 4 ounces — almost six pounds ahead of the field.  

Today the EWU anglers had a drought, catching only four fish totaling 6 pounds.

But they're solidly in third place, 6 pounds behind the leaders and local favorites from Auburn University-Montgomery, and they've made the cut for the top five teams heading into the final day of fishing to determine the championship on Saturday.

Read on for a BASS report from the tournament quoting Barr and Walker after EWU's first-day performance, which left locals stunned.

Westport anglers allowed 2 chinook starting Sunday

SALMON FISHING — Starting Sunday, Aug. 4, anglers fishing in ocean waters off Westport can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

With that change, anglers will be allowed to keep two chinook per day in ocean waters off Westport (Marine Area 2), LaPush (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4). Those fishing Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will continue to be limited to one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

All ocean areas are open to salmon fishing seven days a week. Wild coho must be released in all four areas.

Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the department previously limited anglers off Westport to one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit to ensure that the fisheries would remain open for the entire season.

“Fishing for chinook out of Westport has been really good recently, and we’re keeping a close watch on the pace of the catch.  It appears now that enough of the quota for the Westport area remains to allow anglers two chinook per day,” Pattillo said.

Ocean salmon fisheries are currently scheduled to continue through Sept. 30 in marine areas 1 and 2, and through Sept. 22 in marine areas 3 and 4.

Pattillo said fishery managers will continue to monitor the ocean salmon fishery throughout the season and will announce any other changes on WDFW’s website.

Additional information on the ocean fishery, including minimum size limits and area catch guidelines, is available in the WDFW Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.

Ilwaco-caught dorado possible Washington record

FISHING — Normally associated with warmer Pacific waters such as near Baja California, dorado are a rare catch in the Pacific Northwest — so rare, none has been registered as a record sportfish catch in Washington.

That may change today.

Albert DaSilva of Kelso caught this 16-pound dorado while fishing for tuna 35 miles out of Ilwaco on Thursday.  

It was caught on a purple/black clone while trolling.  

See a video of the action as the angler made the catch.

Yellowstone’s tallest geyser blows for first time in 8 years

PARKS — It's not the most faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park, but on the rare occasion that it blows, it's the world's tallest.

Steamboat Geyser erupted on Wednesday for the first time in more than eight years.

The nine-minute blast sent steaming hot water an estimated 200 to 300 feet in the air, park geologist Hank Heasler said.

Unlike the park’s popular and famous Old Faithful geyser, which spews water like clockwork every hour-and-a-half, no one knows when Steamboat will erupt next.

In the past, it’s gone as long as 50 years without a major event. In 1964, it erupted a record 29 times. The last blast came in 2005.

Steamboat is one of more than 500 geysers at Yellowstone, which boasts the largest collection of hydrothermal features in the world.

The geyser is in a popular viewing area known as the Norris Geyser Basin. According to the Associated Press, its eruption at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday drew dozens of excited onlookers who were at the right place at the right time, said Robb Long, a freelance photographer from Sioux Falls, S.D., who was visiting the park with his fiance and her family.

“It was an amazing experience. This thing sounded like a locomotive,” Long told AP. “Everybody was frantic, taking pictures. People were running down there trying to get to it before it went away, and park rangers were running around trying to gather up people so they didn’t get too close.”

Yellowstone’s geysers are fueled by cold water that feeds into a natural underground plumbing network, where heat from the park’s volcano forces chemical-laden water to the surface and causes the periodic eruptions, Heasler said.

Early accounts of Steamboats eruptions came from first-hand observations, with the first recorded in 1878. 

Hit a trail this weekend; no Discover Pass needed Sunday

TRAILS — Saturday is Washington Trails Day, with groups organizing to give a little TLC to popular paths across the state.

But Sunday is another enticing day to hit a trail especially in Riverside and Mount Spokane state parks, since Aug. 4 is one of the 12 days a year designated for fee-free access to Washington State Parks.  Vehicles will not be required to have a Discover Pass for access to state parks on Sunday.

The Washington Trails Association has organized volunteers to repair and improve 140 trails across the state this year, including a backpacking group that will be out this weekend on the Shedroof Divide Trail in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness of northeastern Washington.

The association's website offers a hiking guide and trip reports about current conditions that are submitted by hikers – more than 4,500 submitted in 2013 alone. WTA also offers many hiking suggestions for hikers of all abilities

Campers find creative ways to feed hummingbirds

WILDLIFE WATCHING — People camping and fishing in North Idaho are taking note and enjoying what appears to be a good population of colorful hummingbirds in the region.

The photos above where shot and compiled by Hal Blegen of Spokane, who was in the field for fishing last week, but equally fascinated by the creative ways campers were tending to the hummers.  Here's his report:

The hummingbird population up and down the North Fork of the Clearwater and Kelly Creek was thriving (during my recent fishing trip).  I found that a number of campsites had make-shift feeders. They were made from whiskey bottles,  plastic drink containers, empty fruit trays, and bottle caps,  patched together with tie wraps, duct tape and coat hangers. 

The curious thing was that they all seemed to work just fine.  There was no shortage of ideas or hummers, but finding enough sugar to keep them filled was a challenge. 

Burrowing owl quick as cricket to feed baby

BIRDING — A burrowing owl chick knows when it's feeding time; knows when the meal's only half finished; and knows when the cricket is consumed and it's time to quickly retreat into the vacated prairie dog burrow that's become its nursery.

Check out this short video by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson for a ground-dwelling bird's eye view of the action.

Sen. Cantwell supports Green Mountain Lookout in wilderness

PUBLIC LANDS – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) urged a key Senate subcommittee today to move forward on a bill to preserve the historic Green Mountain Lookout in the Glacier Peak Wilderness near Darrington, Wash.

Wilderness advocates have pressed the Forest Service to remove the historic lookout, in part because its precarious location requires helicopter maintenance in violation of wilderness rules.

Darrington-area groups are trying to keep the lookout intact for visitors.

Cantwell advocated for the passage of the Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act (S. 404) on Tuesday, during a hearing in the Public Lands, Forestry and Mining Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

A representative of the U.S. Forest Service voiced the department’s support for S. 404 during the hearing, and said that local residents wanted the lookout to remain at Green Mountain.

Read on for more details and links to Cantwell's statements.

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

News, field reports and insights on the Great Outdoors.

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

Follow Rich on Twitter

Send Rich an email

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Outdoors blog.

About Rich

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

Recent work by Rich

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Advertise Here