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Outdoors blog

Archive for June 2013

Legislature funds Spokane River Centennial Trail project

TRAILS — The state budget approved during the special session of the Washington Legislature provides strong funding — $65 million — for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which in turn funds grants to critically approved projects across the state.

Bids for projects involving the Spokane Centennial Trail and Spokane County Conservation Futures are among the 88 projects the WWRP has approved.  Now that fundng is in the budget, some excellent recreation and wildlife projects will be allowed to go forward. 

 In addition to providing funding for these critical projects, the legislature also maintained the WWRP’s integrity, continuing to fund projects using a merit based ranking system that has made the WWRP a successful and nationally recognized program.

“Preserving critical habitat through the WWRP means all sportsmen and women will continue to have access to the outdoors,” said Barry Nilson of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “Hunters, anglers, and others will continue to see healthy wildlife populations and recreational opportunities across our great state. We hope to bring public access to even more outdoor enthusiasts in the next biennium.”
 
Projects funded by the WWRP will protect wildlife habitat, create new opportunities for outdoor recreation, and keep farms working across the state.

Renewing WWRP funding is an essential investment in the state’s long-term economic prosperity because of the number of jobs that outdoor activities like fishing, hunting and hiking and more create and support. Annually, parks and recreation-based activities generate $22.5 billion in retail dollars and $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue, supporting 227,000 jobs statewide.
 
The Coalition’s members consist of a diverse group of about 280 organizations representing conservation, business, recreation, hunting, fishing, farming, and community interests. The breadth and diversity of the Coalition is the key to its success—no one member could secure such a high level of funding for parks and habitat on their own.

Striped bass moving over Bonneville Dam? See photo

FISHING — Is a new fishery moving up into the Columbia?

Last week a commercial fishing crew caught a 52-pound stripped bass in the Columbia Gorge.

A few days ago, counters photographed what appears to be a striped bass (see bottom of photo) going through Bradford Island count station at Bonneville Dam.

Striped bass are extremely rare in Washington waters, but occasionally turn up in the Columbia around this time of year, notes Northwest Sportsman magazine. They were introduced to San Francisco Bay waters in the late 1800s and migrated up to Coos Bay and environs, but in recent years, with changing salinity, haven’t fared as well as they once did.

  • The first pink salmon of the year was counted at Bonneville Dam on June 24th. Pinks run to Washington rivers on odd-numbered years.

Oregon Senate approves wolf settlement

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Oregon Senate passed a bill on Thursday that puts into law provisions of a settlement allowing the state to resume killing wolves that make a habit of attacking livestock.

The vote was 30-0.

The House has passed it, and Gov. John Kitzhaber is expected to sign it once the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approves other provisions of the settlement.

Oregon has been barred for the past year and a half from killing wolves while the Oregon Court of Appeals considered a lawsuit filed by conservationists.

A settlement was reached in May with the conservation groups, the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and the governor’s office.

It creates a new rulebook that makes killing wolves a last resort, and gives ranchers wider rights to kill wolves they catch attacking their herds.

Slip on snow kills Washington hiker in Glacier Park

HIKING — A Washington man hiking early season in Glacier National Park slipped on a snowfield and fell about 100 feet to his death on Wednesday.

Charles Fred Huseman of Packwood died from trauma suffered in the fall from the Highline Trail, which was still closed because of the snow patches leading to steep dropoffs.

Witnesses told park rangers that Huseman was hiking the trail when he slid on a snow field and fell, landing along the Going-to-the-Sun Road about a mile west of Logan Pass. Huseman died at the scene. 

Comment:  An ice ax is essential equipment for hiking high slopes and passes early in the season.

Woman, 8 months pregnant, wins Payette whitewater kayak competition

PADDLING — Emily Jackson, 23, — severely pregnant with her first child — conquered whitewater three weeks before she's due to have her water break.

Jackson, a two-time world champion from Rock Island, Tenn., won the women's freestyle whitewater kayaking title last weekend in the Payette River Games.

The event was held at Kelly's Whitewater Park in Cascade, Idaho.

Jackson's freestyle performance in the video above starts at 2:18 minutes.

Lake Roosevelt levels declining slightly

RESERVOIRS — The level of Lake Roosevelt had peaked and was at elevation 1287.50 feet this morning. The lake levels are expected to continue slowly decreasing over the next week into the 1285-1286 feet range by July 3.  

Over the holiday weekend, lake levels are expected to rise by up to 6 inches a day.  The lake is expected to come to near the full pool elevation during the week of July 8. Full pool is 1290 feet.

High levels at Lake Roosevelt reduce the beach area available for camping and picnicking. Levels drop in August for hydropower needs and providing flows for Columbia River salmon. This exposes more beaches making August prime time for campers on the 130-mile-long lake.

Meanwhile:

Dworshak Reservoir is at full pool. In this case, it provides the best access of the year to the mini-camps the Corps of Engineers has built along the rervoir near Orofino, Idaho.

Get links to river flows in this region at The Spokesman-Review Outdoors topics page.

Get daily Lake Roosevelt level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.

Check out this NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Volunteers installing bridges on Mount Spokane trails

STATE PARKS — Volunteers organized from local groups and organized by the Washington Trails Association are installing foot bridges for hikers and snowshoers over the creek crossed by popular trails, such as Trail 100. in Mount Spokane State Park.

Photo shows the crew after the first bridge was completed on Monday.

WTA is returning to the park July 20-22 to finish more bridges.

Join the group.

Sockeye season to open July 1 on upper Columbia

FISHING — Sockeye will be fair game in the upper Columbia River and some a portion of the Okanogan starting Monday, according to this anouncement posted today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Action:Allow retention of sockeye salmon from Priest Rapids Dam upstream to Chief Joseph Dam, including a portion of the lower Okanogan River

Effective dates and locations:

  • July 1, 2013 until further notice from Priest Rapids Dam to Wells Dam
  • July 16, 2013 until further notice from Wells Dam to Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster
  • July 1, 2013 until further notice from Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster to Chief Joseph Dam
  • July 1, 2013 until further notice from mouth of Okanogan River upstream to the first Highway 97 Bridge

Species affected:Sockeye salmon

Reason for action:Recent estimates of Okanogan sockeye are predicted to be adequate to allow for an anticipated low level (3,000-4,000) of angler harvest.

Other angler information:

  • Daily limit six (6) salmon.
  • No more than (2) adult hatchery chinook salmon and two (2) adult sockeye salmon may be retained in daily limit.
  • Minimum size for adult chinook salmon is 24 inches.
  • Minimum size for adult sockeye salmon is 12 inches.
  • Anglers must stop fishing once adult salmon limit has been harvested.
  • Barbless hooks required, bait is allowed.
  • Anglers may fish with two poles with two pole endorsement.
  • Anglers are reminded that salmon with floy tags and/or one or more holes (round, approximately ¼” in diameter) punched in the tail must be released.
  • Anglers must have a current Washington fishing license as well as a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement (CRSSE). Revenue from the CRSSE supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River basin.

Spring chinook fishing closes on Snake

FISHING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife commission has closed spring chinook salmon fishing on the Snake River.  Here's the announcement posted this afternoon:

Action: Closes spring chinook fishing on the Snake River.

Effective date: Immediately

Species affected: Spring chinook

Location:

Near Ice Harbor Dam: Below Ice Harbor Dam from the Highway 12 bridge near Pasco upstream about seven miles to about 400 feet below Ice Harbor Dam.

Near Little Goose Dam: Texas Rapids boat launch (south side of the river approximately 3.5 miles upstream of the mouth of Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam. This zone includes the area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility and the walkway area locally known as “the Wall” in front of the juvenile collection facility.

Near Clarkston: From the intersection of Steptoe Canyon Road with Highway 193 in Whitman County, upriver about 12 miles to the Idaho state line (identified as a line from the north end of the rock levee on the east side of the Greenbelt boat launch near the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office), northwest across the Snake River to the Washington border and boundary water marker on the north shore.

Reason for action: Based on the declining spring chinook run, catch rates and cumulative season harvest estimates in the three fishery zones on the Snake River through this past Tuesday, and fishery ESA impact limitations, this fishery will close. 

Dream on: RV’s for the ultra-rich top $3 million

VAGUELY CAMPING — How do the rich rough it?  

Check out this story about $3 million motorhomes for people who don't really want the status without the nature of venturing into the great outdoors.

They're calling this combo of glamor and camping “glamping.”

Oh please.

Field report: Trailheads becoming accessible in Selkirks

HIKING — Most of the popular trailheads in the Selkirk Mountains near Bonners Ferry are accessible by vehicle as of this week thanks to rain that erased much of the snowpack.

But hikers can still expect to find snow on the high and shaded trails.

Also expect blowdowns on many trails for awhile as trail crews are just getting  access, too.

Here's a summary by Bonners Ferry Ranger District trails coordinator Pat Hart:

Roman Nose-Trout Creek road open to trailheads, but snow remains on trails.

West Fork Smith Creek route is open but West Fork Lake Trail has considerable damage; not suitable for stock.

Two-Mouth and Myrtle Peak  access road is in bad condition, not even suitable for some high clearance vehicles. However, trail to Burton Peak is accessible and maintained.

Clifty Peak area is accessible but not maintained.

Boulder Creek area has just become accessible to vehicles, but has not been maintained.

Long Canyon-Parker Ridge may not be maintained for at least two weeks. Snow still clogs the high areas.

Snyder Creek ORV trails have been maintained.

New roadkill gifts and fashion line dead on arrival

WILDLIFE — Why didn't I think of this?  Roadkill gifts and fashions — they combine our love for wildlife with the applaudable theme of recycling.

Reid Peppard, an Ameican artist and fasion designer, working under the name RP/Encore, is creating taxidermy artworks and jewellery based on casts of teeth, bones, hides, feathers and organs of critters.

Reid claims that her work is entirely ethical, if not grotesque, as the animals she uses have already died of natural or unpreventable causes (they are often discovered and donated by friends).

Won't be long before women in high heels will be fighting wolves for elk carcasses.

Idaho women’s outdoor clinic fills; sign up for next time

Registration is closed for the August Panhandle Women's Outdoors Clinic as all slots are filled.

But Idaho Fish and Game Department officials say they're already starting a contact list for women who want to be notified when registration opens for next summer's clinic involving shooting, fishing, camping, survival and other outdoors skills.

Don't be left out. Contact Idaho Department of Fish and Game (208) 769-1414.

Sign up for Washington women’s fall outdoor weekend clinics

GETTING OUTDOORS — Women age 18 and older can learn the basics of fishing, hunting, and other outdoor skills at a weekend workshop Sept. 13-15 that includes sessions led by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) experts and other certified instructors.

The annual women outdoors workshop at Camp Waskowitz in North Bend, Wash., is coordinated by Washington Outdoor Women (WOW), a non-profit program dedicated to teaching women outdoor skills and natural resource stewardship. WOW, now in its 16th year, is an educational outreach program of the Washington Wildlife Federation.

Participants will choose from 20 different classes taught by 32 instructors on outdoor skills such as archery, freshwater fishing, fly fishing, kayaking, big-game hunting, wild edibles, map and compass reading, wilderness First Aid, survival skills, outdoor photography and more.

Cost: $250, includes lodging, meals and equipment. Participants also must have a Washington recreational fishing license to participate in the fishing and fly-fishing sessions.

Partial scholarships, provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, are available for first-time participants.

Download the registration form.

Contact Director Ronni McGlenn, (425) 455-1986.

Skiers will continue to see Jesus on Whitefish slopes

PUBLIC LANDS — God prevails in the courts.

Federal judge in Montana says ski-slope Jesus can stay
On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen issued a ruling clearing the way for the Flathead National Forest to reissue a permit to the Knights of Columbus to maintain a statue of Jesus on Big Mountain. — Kalispell Daily InterLake;

Wilderness groups rally volunteers for projects

TRAILS – Two friends groups are making it easy for volunteers to help improve access or restore habitat in three of the Inland Northwest's choice backcountry areas.

Friends of the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness have a full schedule ranging from guided hikes to trail building northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.  

The Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation works to connect people with wilderness through stewardship activities, including a long list of volunteer projects ranging from controlling weeds to hosting fire lookout.

Wolf hunting season set to open on Idaho Panhandle

HUNTING — Idaho's 2013-2014 wolf hunting seasons begin July 1 in the Panhandle Zone, but only on private land.

Actually, wolf hunting season is open year-round on private lands in the Panhandle, but seasons in the rest of the state take a hiatus during summer.

The wolf hunting seasons that are still open throughout the rest of the state close on June 30 and reopen on Aug. 30.

See details and exceptins in the new wolf hunting and trapping seasons and rules posted on the Fish and Game website.

The wolf trapping season opens Nov. 15 in eight wolf zones and Feb. 1 in one additional zone.

Wolf hunters may use five tags, with no overall harvest limit.

Wolf tags are available for $11.50 for Idaho residents and $31.75 for nonresidents. Wolf hunting tags are valid for a calendar year; trapping tags are valid July 1 through June 30.

The 2012-2013 wolf hunting season closes June 30. As of June 24, hunters had taken 200 wolves, and trappers 120, for a total of 320 wolves. 

Spokane County to consider no-shooting zone proposals today

SHOOTING — Shooters trashing state lands and terrorizing adjacent private property owners are blasting their way out of a place to shoot.

And they're forcing unwanted restrictions on hunters.

Spokane County Commissioners are scheduled to consider proposals for two new no-shooting zones during their 2 p.m. meeting today.

The problems stem from state Department of Natural Resources lands off Koth Road near Newman Lake and off Starr Road south of Mica Peak.

See the map and proposal for the Koth Road no-shooting zone.

See the map and proposal for the Starr Road no-shooting zone.

See the overall Spokane County no-shooting zones map.

Property owners are calling for the action on the two new proposals after more than a year of effort to curb the abuse and safety concerns. Despite increased enforcement and citations for littering, damaging trees, using motorized vehicles in closed areas and failure to have a Discover Pass, shooters continued to trash the public land, said DNR lands manager Loren Torgerson.

“Organized shooting clubs tried to help out; they even went out and cleaned things up,” Torgerson said, but new messes were soon created.

“We tried to make it work, but it’s overwhelming.”

Proposals would allow shotgun shooting during appropriate hunting seasons but no rifle or pistol shooting at any time, said Bob Brueggeman, county engineer. Archery is OK.

Fish and Wildlife officials said they’d prefer a rule that allowed use of rifles for hunting. But Brueggeman said county ordinances do not allow that option to be considered in a no-shooting zone.

“Most shooters are responsible, but a subset of that group isn’t being responsible,” Torgerson said, noting they use garbage as targets and leave the trash. Semi-automatic weapons are used to blast and “saw down” trees, he said.


Documents:

Snowy owl still clinging to Eastern Washington

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Spring reports of snowy owls postponing migration back to their arctic breeding areas to hang out in Eastern Washington have continued into summer.  Here's a notice from the Palouse just posted by Inland Northwest birder Bill Siems:

A Snowy Owl with a fair amount of dark mottling was spotted while driving by the Plaza exit on US195 at 9:30 AM today.  The bird was perched on the tall light pole over the N-bound entrance.  In surprise, I turned around and parked just under the pole to recheck and get a photo.

Pull together: volunteers needed to check weeds at Mount Spokane

STATE PARKS — A group of volunteers from various local groups  — more are needed! — are meeting Wednesday in an effort to curb the spread of knapweed in Mount Spokane State Park.

To join the group, wear good boots and meet at 10 a.m. at the hairpin turn parking lot inside the park at the Mount Kit Carson Loop Road trailhead.

Bags will be provided but bring gloves and whatever else you need to be comfortable working outdoors in the sun (water, hat, sun glasses, snacks/lunch, sun screen etc).  A small spade or old screwdriver might also help. 

The group plans to work for a couple hours, break for lunch and then perhaps hike the park trails in the afternoon.

Read on for details about spotted knapweed from from the Spokane County Weed Board:

Region’s new crop of fawns growing fast

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson caught this image of a whitetail fawn over the weekend. Check out the eyelashes…. and the whiskers!  They grow up fast.

When a fawn is born it is odorless so that predators are not attracted to its location. Oftent, the mother doe will stay away from the fawn for a few days so that her scent does not rub off on the fawn or attract predators to the area where the fawn is hiding while gaining strength. When a fawn detects danger it will remain perfectly still.

Fawns that live past the first week have a good chance of surviving to adulthood.

Three simple boating safety tips get to core hazards

BOATING — Following are boating safety tips based on the 30 years the Marine Insurance damage avoidance publication Seaworthy has combed through the BoatUS claims files to shed light on how boats are damaged and how boaters are injured, and to suggest research-based solutions to keep it’s readers from becoming a statistic. 

  1. Wiring faults are the No. 1 cause of boat fires.  DC wiring problems lead the pack in causes of boat fires, with shore power faults a close second. Every boater needs to make maintaining their boat’s electrical system a priority.
      
  2. Swimming in a marina is a leading cause of boating-related accidents. It's not just the potential for being over. Nearly a decade ago, Seaworthy first reported on “electric shock drowning” (ESD) in which leaking 110-volt electrical current was taking the lives of young swimmers in fresh water. The difficulty in distinguishing ESD from drowning kept the problem from being well understood or publicized until recently.
      
  3. Ethanol and boats don’t mix (very well): After BoatUS members in the Northeast began to complain of mysterious catastrophic engine failures and myriad fuel system problems such as rotted fuel lines, gunked carburetors and fuel tanks nearly a decade ago, investigations shed light on an issue.  Reseach the issue for your own boat use.

Boaters asked to stay off Newman Lake during milfoil treatment

BOATING — Boaters are being asked to stay off Newman Lake until Friday as Spokane County plans to treat Eurasian water milfoil infestations with 2,4-D herbicide during the week.

Milfoil clogs waterways for everything from fish to boats and poses the danger of entrapping  swimmers, the county's Newman Lake Milfoil Control Plan points out.

 

So you drew an elk tag: now what?

HUNTING — I'm feeling pretty smug this week after checking out the special hunting permit lottery results and seeing that I drew a coveted Blue Mountains antlerless elk tag.

Most years I wish calamities on camo-clad brethren who draw tags while I sulk in the huge pool of losers.

But the game is only begun.   Now it's time to be sure everything is planned out, from the camp sites to the scouting and most important — the physical conditioning for hunting day after day in the steep canyons of the Blues.

The last time my hunting partner, Jim, drew a bull tag, he started working out in June in a well-planned schedule with a backpack and increasingly longer distances and heavier loads.  

A hunter waits years to draw a tag for a special opportunity to harvest an elk. You don't want to waste the chance.

My workout program kicked in high gear last weekend as I helped my daughter move all her belongings out of a SECOND STORY apartment.

I commute to work on my bicycle, riding 14 miles round trip up and down the South Hill.

I'm planning at least four major backpacking trips and numerous dayhikes through the summer.

And that, in my experience, is just barely enough to get me on track for seriously hunting the Blues and being in shape for comfortably packing out the meat if I'm lucky enough to score.

What are you doing to prepare for elk season?

Field report: Kayaking Lion Creek near Priest Lake

PADDLING — Spokane kayaker Brian Jamieson and some friends had a hoot paddling the slick granite slides of Lion Creek near Priest Lake on Saturday, as you can see in his helmet-cam video above.

Lion Creek is a popular destination for Priest Lake visitors, who have worn out the bottoms of many swimsuits slipping down the slides on their butts in lower water.

Ski mountaineers set speed record for Rainier — 3:57:55

MOUNTAINEERING — Two ski mountaineers have set a speed record for climbing and descending Mount Rainier from the Paradise parking lot, scorching the icy slopes in 3 hours, 57 minutes and 55 seconds.

Andy and Jason Dorais of Salt Lake City set the record on June 5, a couple of weeks after another pair of mountaineers had erased the 4:50 records in a time of 4:19.  

Both of the Dorais brothers predict the record times will drop significantly as speed runners refine the routes and techniques and pick the perfect conditions.

Jason's food for the effort: 5 powergels mixed in 16oz gatorade plus 16 oz Red Bull.

DETAILS

  • Time: 3:57:55
  • Moving time: 3:24:34
  • Distance: 14.12 miles
  • Average moving speed: 4.1 mph
  • Maximum speed: 33.4 mph
  • Elevation gain: 9,103 feet

 

Field report: Stevens Lakes trail snow-free for hikers

HIKING — Here's a Saturday Field Report for hikers:

Spokane Mountaineers group led by Lynn Smith maintained and brushed the trail to Stevens Lakes near Lookout Pass. They also picked up and packed out ALL of the litter.

  • Snow is gone up to the lower lake, but snow patches linger at the upper lake, elev. 5,740 feet. 
  • East Fork Willow Creek can be crossed on logs. 
  • Still big cornices looming off Stevens Peak. 
  • Good huckleberry crop brewing.

Video field report: Paddling Lightning Creek at 3100 cfs

KAYAKING — Here's a wet glimpse of North Idaho's Lightning Creek at flows of 3,100 cfs on Thursday through the lens of Celene Olgeirsson, who was with a Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club group.

Hungry bear causes closure of Lake Chelan backcountry campsite

CAMPING — A backcountry campground near the head of Lake Chelan has been closed indefinitely because of a black bear that was lured by the taste of food and garbage left unsecured by visitors.

The National Park Service announced Thursday that Tumwater Campground, located about 12 miles from Stehekin Landing, is closed until further notice.

A bear received a “substantial food reward” when it got into a garbage can at the primitive campsite on Monday, the agency said. Though the can has been removed, the bear is expected to return to the campground to look for more food.

The nearby High Bridge Campground will also be monitored by park staff to make sure the bear does not go there in search of an easy meal.

The agency said that a camp closure of two to three weeks in generally enough to convince a bear that there is no more food there.

Two trumpeter swan broods hatch at Turnbull Refuge

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Trumpeter swans are doubling the fun Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge this summer with two nesting pairs, each of which has hatched a brood of cygnets in the past week.

Just seven years ago, only one trumpeter called Turnbull home. I named him Solo in a column documenting his lonely two decades of seeking a mate.

In 2009, Solo, by then a geriatric swan age 35-48, attracted a viable mate. He sired the first brood of trumpeters on the refuge since his first mate was killed on her nest by a predator in 1988

Solo disappeared two seasons later, but his mate bonded with another male to produce a brood last year.  This year, it appears that one of the birds produced by the swans also has returned with a mate.

Here's today's report from Mike Rule, refuge wildlife biologist:

Both nesting pairs of trumpeters at Turnbull NWR have hatched.  The pair on Cheever Lake  hatched 3 cygnets  on June 13 and the Middle Pine pair hatched 4 cygnets on June 19 or 20.   The female of the Middle Pine pair is likely Solo's (the really old swan) mate who started the ball rolling again in 2009.

High-mountain trails beginning to open for backpackers

UPDATED 1:55 P.M.

HIKING — Snow still clogs some high, shaded forest road and trail sections, but generally the backcountry is opening to high places for backpackers this week.

For example, I'll post below a scouting report from Coeur d'Alene hiker Lynn Smith who's leading a group of Spokane Mountaineers to Stevens Lakes in the Bitterroot Range near Lookout Pass on Saturday.

This is one of the club's annual volunteer trail maintenance treks to the popular North Idaho hiking destination.

Except for a couple small patches, the snow is off the trail all the way to the lake.  The snow melted sooner this year than during the last couple so there're some short trail sections we haven't seen bare before, therefore haven't brushed before, so they will be one of our main goals.

There's also a couple minor drainage problems we'll address as well as the usual things; some switchback shortcut blocking, removal of the small debris of winter, campground clean-up from winter/early spring campers, and maybe a couple small blowdowns.  Other than that its just a good hike in the mountains to Lower Stevens, 5 miles RT with 1700 feet of elevation gain.  Passage to the upper lake is still pretty snowy and not on the agenda (but I could be swayed).  The falls is in dynamic form, the lower part of the trail is in full bear grass bloom, and the meadow and headwall plants newly leafing out.  

However, recent rains have caused streams to swell and trees to topple on trails in some Inland Northwest mountains.  Here's a Friday afternoon note from Glacier National Park:

Back-country visitors should be aware that most creeks and streams are already running high from snowmelt and have spiked higher with recent rains.  Extreme caution or perhaps an alternate route should be exercised for foot or stock crossing of creeks and streams.  Some creeks and streams may be impassable at this time.  

Another study reduces blame on wolves for elk declines

PREDATORS — Wolve have had an impact on elk in Wyoming, forcing recuced elk hunting opportunity.  

But with elk herds stabilized, wolves aren't having as much impact on elk as other predators and habitat issues.

That's they gyst what researchers are finding in the latest study on elk herds in Wyoming.

Going to the Sun Road opens in Glacier Park

NATIONAL PARKS — The entire 50 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is open as of 8:30 a.m. this morning.

See map for highlights of the scenic route over Logan Pass.

Additional information on park roads, weather conditions, and visitor services can be found on Glacier National Park’s website, or by calling park headquarters at 406-888-7800. 

Road around Crater Lake open to non-motorized traffic this weekend

NATIONAL PARKS — Early snowmelt is allowing Crater Lake National Park to open East Rim Drive circling Crater Lake to non-motorized traffic, providing a rare experience for visitors to enjoy the park on foot or on bike this weekend, June 22 and 23.   

Under the plan, East Rim Drive Road will be open to non-motorized vehicles only (except for administrative and emergency vehicles) from North Junction around the East Rim of Crater Lake all the way to the intersection at Crater Lake National Park Headquarters and the Steel Visitors Center. Hwy 62 through the south end of the park, West Rim Drive and the North Entrance Road will be open to vehicles.  Regular parking areas will be open, but generally fill up quickly.  

Woman out to be first to trek Oregon Desert Trail

TRAILS — Aptly named Sage Clegg, 33, is attempting to become the first person to solo hike-and-bike the 750-mile Oregon Desert Trail.

Clegg has the credentials, having already proved to be among the country’s fastest ultralight female backpackers.

She left her home in Bend on June 5 and is en route to Idaho, hoping to finish by July 20 before the desert goes from hot to broiling. She's already encountered treeless stretches, arrowheads, bighorn sheep and this week entered some forested terrain, accordng to her desert trail blog.

The Oregon Natural Desert Association created the concept of the desert trail to raise awareness for desert protection.

The staff has worked two years mapping the route, which links trails, roads and corridors through Oregon desert jewels, including the Badlands, Hart Mountain, Steens Mountain and the Owyhee canyonlands.  (See a map of the route.) But Clegg will still have some dots to connect as she bicycles the flatter, most boring sections of trail and walks another 600 miles.

Her support team will mail food packages to spots along the way (Frenchglen, Fields, McDermitt, Rome), just as it did during the 18 months it took her to hike 8,000 miles of the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide and Appalachian national scenic trails.

Clegg carries about 12 pounds plus food and water. Her tent weighs 3.5 ounces. This is the perfect time for the wildlife biologist to go hiking because her work as a desert tortoise researcher in California’s Mojave Desert goes on hiatus while the reptiles spend summer underground.

Follow her desert journey online, onda.org.

Bear barks up wrong tree as hunter takes stand

HUNTING — A black bear gives a hunter a moment he'll never forget.  Check it out.

Rain forces closure of Post Falls boating access

BOATING —  Recent heavy rain in the region doubled the flows in the Spokane River within a 24 hour period and prompted Avista to open one of the spill gates at the Post Falls Dam.

The City of Post Falls boat launch and swim beach at Q’emiln Park was closed today. For public safety reasons, whenever any of the spill gates at the Post Falls Dam are open, river recreation is prohibited in the area between the Spokane Street Bridge and the Post Falls Dam.

With more rain in the forecast over the next several days, the boat launch is expected to be closed through the weekend. 

Just last week, the Post Falls Dam spill gates were all closed and the Q’emiln Park boat launch was opened on June 12. This typically occurs sometime between Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday, and on average about June 22. But this year’s below-normal spring precipitation and snow pack resulted in below normal river inflows into Coeur d’Alene Lake allowed Avista to close all the Post Falls Dam spill gates earlier than average. However, recent heavy rains have quickly changed the water levels.

For current information on anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’ Alene Lake, Lake Spokane and the Spokane River, call Avista’s 24-hour telephone information line. In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357; in Washington, call (509) 495-8043 or check the Avista Utilities website.

Colville Tribe opens $51 million salmon hatchery

FISHING — The new Chief Joseph fish hatchery that will release nearly 3 million salmon to the wild each year is being dedicated today along the Columbia River in north-central Washington new Brewster, marking the opening of the first hatchery designed and built under new scientific recommendations intended to boost fish survival rates in the Pacific Northwest.

Read on for the Associated Press report with more explanation on why this hatchery has benefits that override previous concerns over the impact of hatchery fish on native stocks.

Buffalo rifle shoot brings big guns to Montana

SHOOTING — The buffalo are mostly gone, but the interest in the rifles and the skills to shoot them at long distances lives on at the Matthew Quigley Buffalo Rifle Match near Forsyth, Mont.

The annual event attracts shooters from around the world, but even the best shooters can be humbled by the prairie wind as the heavy bullets arc their way to targets 800 yards in the distance.

The video above is from the 2012 shoot.

The Billings Gazette has a good story, as well as a video and photos from from the 2013 shoot, held on Fathers Day weekend. 

The Quigley shoot is the granddaddy of buffalo rifle matches, drawing shooters even from overseas. A Pole is seeking to export the match style and name to his country. Keith Lay, a two-time match winner, spends two days driving north from his home in Bay Springs, Miss., just to shoot the Quigley. They all come for the same reason: to shoot rifles based on designs first crafted in the 1800s — long-shooting, large-caliber, single-shot rifles favored by sharpshooters in the Civil War and later by buffalo hunters.

The past two Quigley events have attracted more than 600 competitors of all ages and abilities. Over two days, the men, women and children who pay the $20 entry fee fire eight shots in a row at six steel targets ranging in distance from 350 to 805 yards. A loud ping registers a hit, the sweet sound of success to a shooter’s muffled ears.

—Billings Gazette

Canadian backcountry ski lodge opening for hikers

HIKING — A backcountry ski lodge famous for launching skiers into acres of powder from a lofty, cozy base in the Canadian Selkirk Mountains is offering  package deals for summer backcountry hiking.

Mount Carlyle Lodge has three-day packages for hikers who want to trek at eye level with the sky-scraping peaks of the Kokanee Range north of Kokanee Glacier National Park.  Carry only a daypak and return each night to the comfort of the lodge.

I checked out this area for this 2005 story. The scenery was stunning, the mining history fascinating and the hospitality was at a very high level…. around 7,200 feet!

You should check out this offering: 

The SourDough Trail, a spectacular Kootenay Classic. 3 days / 2 nights of casual hiking along a high elevation, grassy ridgeline, overflowing with wildflowers. Camp beside alpine lakes while being surrounded by 5 different mtn ranges. A photographers dream.

Rarely are deer fawns abandoned; leave them be

WILDLIFE — “I found this fawn all by itself and want to know what to do with it?” 

It happens every spring and the calls are coming in to Washington Fish and Wildlife Department offices fast and furious this week, says Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman in Spokane.

“Please help us convey the usual messages about leaving baby wildlife, including fawns, in the wild where they belong because their mothers will be looking for them where they left them,” she said.

Does might leave their faws eight hours or more between feedings.

Some fawns already have been picked up and deposited with wildlife rehabbers, including Otis Orchards veterinarian Jerry Ponti, who tends to end up with a small “herd” each year. Even rehabilitated fawns have reduced chances of surviving well after being reintroduced to the wild.

The photo is from the WDFW online Image Gallery submitted by Laura Rogers, who made the shot a couple years ago at this time north of Colville. She calls it “I’m Not An Orphan!”

Icicle River to reopen for spring chinook fishing

FISHING — Wow, we barely got the notice out that the Icicle River was closing to spring chinook fishing before fish managers changed their mind.  Here's the notice just posted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Actions:   Anglers will again be able to fish for and retain adipose-fin-clipped adult and jack spring chinook salmon on the Icicle River (Chelan Co.).
Effective dates:   June 20, 2013 through July 31, 2013.
Daily limit:   Daily limit two adipose-fin-clipped spring chinook (adult or jack), minimum size 12 inches. 
Species affected:   Spring chinook salmon. 
Location: Icicle River, from the closure signs located 800 feet upstream of the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
Reason for action: The river was closed temporarily to ensure meeting broodstock needs.  Conditions over the past few days favored fish passage, and the remaining 400 adults needed for broodstock were obtained.  There are still 500-1,000 spring chinook forecast, mostly 3 year old jacks, available for harvest.
Other Information:   Night closure will be in effect. The regulation allowing two-pole angling on the Columbia River is not in effect on the Icicle River.  The Columbia River barbless hook requirement does not apply to the Icicle River.  

Washington big-game hunting permit drawing results available

HUNTING — Check in and cheer or cry:   The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife special permit drawings for 2013 have been conducted.  

To view your drawing results, visit the WDFW website.

Sockeye fishing opens Friday on Hanford Reach

FISHING — The Hanford Reach of the Columbia River will open to fishing for sockeye salmon on Friday, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has just announced.

Here are the details:

Action:  Open the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River to the retention of sockeye salmon.

Effective date:   12:01 a.m. June 21 through July 31, 2013.  

Species affected:  Sockeye salmon.

Locations:  From Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco to Priest Rapids Dam.

Reason for action:  The run of upper Columbia River sockeye returning to the Wenatchee River and the Okanogan River is sufficient to support the anticipated low level of harvest in the Hanford Reach below Priest Rapids Dam.

Other information:  The daily limit remains six (6) salmon, including sockeye and hatchery chinook only, but no more than two (2) adult hatchery chinook may be retained.

Anglers must have a current Washington fishing license. Check the current WDFW “Fishing in Washington” rules pamphlet or the Fishing section of the WDFW webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/  for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing regulations are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500; press 2 for recreational rules; call the Shellfish Rule Change hotline, (360) 796-3215, or toll free 1 (866) 880-5431.

Spring chinook fishing closes today on Icicle River

FISHING — The Icicle River's fishing season for spring chinook salmon closes today an hour after sunset.  

Read on for the details pertaining the closure of the Chelan County fishery from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Huge discounts offered for whitewater rafting on Clark Fork, Lochsa

RIVER RUNNING — Two Inland Northwest rafting companies are offering huge discounts on classic whitewater day trips, with emphasis on families or groups.

Wiley E. Waters rafting company is offering a 50 percent GROUPON discount for a group of six on the popular Clark Fork Alberton Gorge route.

ROW Adventures is offering 2013 high school grads an 80 percent discount for whitewater rafting trips on the thrilling Lochsa River. That's just $20 bucks for one of the best whitewater rapid rushes in the country!

Americans love their dogs; not so in Iran

HUNTING — I had some interesting conversations over meals with a professor from Iran a few years ago centered on our common love for hunting chukars. We don't hear much about that part of Middle Eastern culture, but he was a solid enthusiast for walking the steep river canyons and swinging a shotgun for sport.

I made my gaffe when I expressed dismay that he hunted alone without a bird dog.  He winced a bit but was polite.

Still clueless, I invited him to hunt with me and experience the excitement of hunting behind a pointing dog.

He respectfully declined and that was that.

Later I learned that buying and selling dogs is illegal in Iran. Iran’s parliament also passed a bill to criminalize dog ownership, declaring the phenomenon a sign of “vulgar Western values.” 

Pursuing birds without a dog would leave a huge hole in my experience, so I'll be hunting my chukars here in the United States of America, which has the highest dog population in the world.

YOO-ESS-AY! YOO-ESS-AY! 

France has the second highest and some South American countries may rival our country for dog populations, except  nobody seems to own all the strays that roam the streets.

Singles ad catches bird hunter’s attention

HUNTING — An Internet oldie from the singles ads. 

SINGLE BLACK FEMALE seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I'm a very good girl who LOVES to play. I love long walks in the woods, riding in your pickup truck, hunting, camping and fishing trips, cozy winter nights lying by the fire. Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. I'll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me.

Call (509) 467-5235 and ask for Annie, I'll be waiting….

Phone number is for the Spokane Humane Society in case you're interested in adopting a dog.

Mount Rainier tops for wildflowers

NATURE — Mount Rainier National Park is one of the region’s most gorgeous places to visit and hike during wildflower season.

Named the best wildflower spot in the U.S. by “Wildflower Wonders: The 50 Best Wildflower Sites in the World,” Mount Rainier National Park offers a bouquet of flowers in nearly every color of the spectrum.

The easiest “wildflower fix” in the park is day hiking the trails around Paradise Lodge in mid-July

See a photo slide show of what's to come in this feature by South Sound magazine.

Video: Visualize rafting lower Salmon River rapids

Lower Salmon River Drift 2011 from Tanner Grant on Vimeo.

WHITEWATER — This isn't one of those adrenaline rush whitewater videos. Instead it's an instructive video for rafters wanting to visualize the scenery and the water as you'd do a five-day float the Lower Salmon River into the Snake.

This video was shot by Spokane rafter Tanner Grant during a Sept. 16-20, 2011, drift of the Lower Salmon and Snake Rivers. They put in just above Hammer Creek on the Salmon and took out at Heller Bar on the Snake. Flows were around 4,700 cfs.

Music by Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Sublime.

Chief Joseph salmon hatchery to open June 20; tours offered

FISHING — The Chief Joseph Hatchery, designed to release up to 2.9 million chinook salmon into the Columbia River, will be dedicated and tours will be offered on Thursday (June 20) during a celebration organized by the Colville Confederated Tribes.

The $50 million state-of-the-art hatchery, between Bridgeport and Chief Joseph Dam, has been built with funding from the Bonneville Power Administration in cooperation with state and federal agencies. It will be managed by the tribe.

 The facility will provide chinook for the tribe, boost Columbia sport fishing and facilitate reintroduction of spring chinook to the Okanogan River.

Read on for more details and a schedule of events and tours for the Thursday ribbon-cutting celebration.

Montana fired up about Dragon Boat fest at Flathead

PADDLING — Although the event is still months away, it's not to soon to consider forming a team to paddle to fame in the 2013 Montana Dragon Boat Festival Sept. 6-8 at Flathead Lake.

Sponsored by the Flathead Community Foundation at Flathead Lake Lodge, the 2012 inaugural event drew so much interest that organizers were forced to turn away a number of teams.

Race competition was fierce, but friendly. Thousands of fans and spectators viewed the event.

Check it out.

Photos: Wolf chases BC motorcyclist

WILDLIFE — A Banff motorcyclist had the thrill of being chased by a gray wolf as he drove along British Columbia Highway 93 last week. He snapped a series of photos do document the romp. 

With a lot of horsepower at his disposal, this was a thrill.

What if he'd been on a bicycle?

BYOW for drinking to BLM sites at Lake CdA

PUBLIC LANDS — Drinking water systems are not operating at some popular Bureau of Land Management recreation areas on Lake Coeur d'Alene this summer, another victim of limited funding for federal agencies.

If you are planning to take in the views along the Mineral Ridge National Recreation Trail or enjoying a picnic at BLM’s Beauty Bay site, you’ll need to bring drinking water with you this summer.  The water systems at both locations are not functioning, and because of budget impacts from sequestration, funding to fix them is not available.

To further complicate getting the water systems operational, the BLM’s Coeur d’Alene Field Office is unable to conduct the necessary bi-weekly water sampling in order to meet the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) drinking water standards due to a lack of personnel, said BLM spokeswoman Suzanne Endsley.

The failure of Congress to act on the sequestration legislation resulted in a 50 percent reduction in staffing for BLM's recreation department in the Coeur d'Alene district.

Click here to see the recreational opportunites the district provides.

Finally! Plows make Logan Pass accessible in Glacier Park

NATIONAL PARKS – Access to Logan Pass on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park will be available to vehicle traffic from the east-side of the park the morning of Saturday, June 15, weather dependent.

Vehicles on the west-side of the park can travel as far as Avalanche Creek. All 50 miles of the road is anticipated to be open to vehicle travel by Friday, June 21 at the earliest.

Read on for details.

Lake Roosevelt rising; nearing full pool

RIVERS — The level of Lake Roosevelt rose to an elevation of more than 1286 feet today and lake levels are expected to continue slowly rising over the next week into the 1288-1289 feet range by June 22.  Full pool is 1290 feet.

High levels at Lake Roosevelt reduce the beach area available for camping and picnicking. Levels drop in August for hydropower needs and providing flows for Columbia River salmon. This exposes more beaches making August prime time for campers on the 145-mile-long lake.

Dworshak Reservoir is at full pool. In this case, it provides the best access of the year to the mini-camps the Corps of Engineers has built along the rervoir near Orofino, Idaho.

Get links to river flows in this region at The Spokesman-Review Outdoors topics page.

Get daily Lake Roosevelt level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.

Check out this NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

High School grads get 80 percent off on Lochsa whitewater rafting

RAFTING — Before you hit the cold, cruel world, high school graduates, hit face-first into some cold, thrilling whitwater with this screaming deal for a whitewater rafting trip.

ROW Adventures is offering 2013 high school grads an 80 percent discount for whitewater rafting trips on the thrilling Lochsa River. That's just $20 bucks for one of the best whitewater rapid rushes in the country!

  • Parents, siblings, guardians, and teachers may accompany a graduating senior on the trip at a 20 percent discount.

“The Lochsa River is considered the best whitewater on earth,” said ROW Marketing Director Brad Moss. “The students have worked hard, and now it’s time to play hard. Twenty mind-blowing miles of Class III-IV rapids are sure to provide some of the best memories of senior year.”

The Lochsa River delivers more than 40 major rapids as it runs from its headwaters in the Bitterroot Mountains to where it eventually meets up with the Selway and Clearwater rivers. Lochsa rafting features technical, fast and high volume water. This provides big hydraulics, dramatic waves, and paddler thrills. Accommodations are available at the nearby River Dance Lodge, with camping, glamping, and log cabin options.

The promotion is available on select days in June and July.

Info and booking: (866) 836-9340.

Boating facilities open early at Post Falls

BOATING – Below normal spring runoff has allowed Avista to stabilize Lake Coeur d’Alene at summer levels and expand boating opportunities about a week earlier than normal.

The Spokane River was opened Wednesday to recreation between the Spokane Street Bridge and the boater safety cables upstream of the Post Falls Dam.

The Post Falls boat launch and swim beach at Q’emiln Park also has opened.

 You can also check weather and water flow information on the Avista Utilities website.

Idaho’s new hunting, fishing rules, fees start July 1

HUNTING/FISHING — Idaho has a few new rules and fees going into effect July 1 affecting resident and nonresident licenses and the use of motorized vehicles by hunters in designated game management units.

Three-Year Licenses: Residents and nonresidents will be able to buy three-year hunting or fishing licenses. Buyers save the vendor fee for two years in addition to the convenience.  (Click continue reading below to see the fees.)

Junior Licenses: Youth small game hunting licenses will be discontinued. Youths 10 to 17 may buy the Resident Junior Hunting or Nonresident Junior Mentored Hunting license.

Motorized Hunting Rule: Idaho Fish and Game’s motorized hunting rules will apply only to hunting big game animals, including moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats, in designated units from Aug. 30-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.

Click continue reading for more details.

Holzmiller appointed to Fish and Wildlife Commission

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Jay Holzmiller, a longtime resident of Anatone in Asotin County, has been appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to an Eastern Washington position on the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Holzmiller will succeed Chuck Perry of Moses Lake, whose term expired.

The governor is looking into making two more appointments to fill vacancies on the nine-member citizen panel that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, a staff spokeswoman said.

Holzmiller, 56, is an equipment operator for the Asotin County Public Works Department who also raises livestock at his home in Anatone. For nearly two decades he has been involved in conservation, land use, and the preservation of fish and wildlife. He is a longtime hunter and a 1975 graduate of Anatone High School.

The commission is a  Members are appointed by the governor to six-year terms and are subject to state Senate confirmation. Three members must reside in Eastern Washington, three in Western Washington, and three may live anywhere in the state. No two members may live in the same county.

“Jay's knowledge and experience will enable him to make a significant contribution to the commission as it promotes the conservation of fish and wildlife and the economic vitality of local communities that depend on outdoor-related commerce and recreation,” Inslee said.

“We are very pleased to welcome Jay to the commission, and we look forward to benefitting from his skills and perspectives,” said Miranda Wecker, commission chair.

Holzmiller has been a member of the Asotin County Conservation District, the Snake River Salmon Recovery Board, and the Asotin County Shorelines Committee. He helped form the Blue Mountain Fire District and has served the district as a volunteer firefighter. In addition, he chaired the committee that developed the Community Wildfire Protection Plan for Asotin, Garfield and Columbia counties.

The commission's next meeting is scheduled Aug. 2-3 in Olympia.

Upland birds getting weather break for nesting

HUNTING — I don't want to jinx the odds, but a lot of upland bird hunters are noticing this is the driest weather we've had in several years for the peak period of the wild quail, chukar and pheasant hatching season. 

Upland bird chicks are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia if cool, wet weather persists in early June.  

Last year's season was boosted by a good second hatch of birds.

This could be the year the first hatch blossoms.  

Shhh.

Photographer captures doe, fawn at bath time

WILDLIFE — Fawns are all over the landscape, and does are as careful to keep them groomed as any other mom.

Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson caught this pair at bath time.

Remember, if you see a fawn along, leave it be, wildlife biologists say.   A doe can leave its fawn for as much as 8 hours between feedings during the day. They don't do this to be cruel, but rather to protect the fawn from predators. The doe won't return if it senses danger will follow her to the fawn.

Even the Washington State University Veterinary College recommends leaving seemingly abandoned fawns in the wild.  Read the school's recommendation.

Washington opening chinook fishing in 3 Snake River stretches

FISHING — Three sections of the Snake River will reopen to fishing for hatchery spring chinook salmon, beginning with a stretch of the river near Clarkston later this week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today. 
The Clarkston section of the river will be open Friday and Saturday each week beginning June 14-15.  
The two other sections of the river that will reopen to spring chinook salmon fishing include a section below Ice Harbor Dam that will be open Monday of each week beginning June 17, and a section near Little Goose Dam that will be open Tuesday of each week beginning June 18. 
All three sections will be open on their weekly schedule until further notice.
Read on for all the details.

Idaho approves spring chinook fishing on South Fork Salmon

FISHING — Chinook salmon fishing on the South Fork Salmon River will open July 5 under a season adopted this morning by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

Fishing will be open only Fridays, Saturday and Sundays until further notice. Managers anticipate a shorter fishery on the South Fork because fewer fish are returning to Idaho than in recent years.

The South Fork will be open from the bridge on Forest Service Road 48 (Lick Creek/ East Fork South Fork Road) where it crosses the South Fork Salmon River main stem just upstream of the confluence with the East Fork South Fork Salmon River, upstream about 35 river miles to a posted boundary about 100 yards downstream from the Idaho Fish and Game South Fork Salmon River weir and trap.

Fishing hours will be from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time.

The daily bag limit will be four Chinook salmon, only two of which may be adults; the possession limit is 12 Chinook salmon, only six of which may be adults.

Adult Chinook salmon are 24 or more inches in length, and jacks are less than 24 inches in length. Only adipose-fin-clipped salmon may be kept.

The season-statewide limit is 10 adult Chinook salmon during salmon seasons occurring before September 1, 2013.

Treat dad to an outdoor adventure this weekend

FATHERS DAY— Give dad what he really wants for Father's Day — some good, healthy outdoor time with the family.

Here are four suggestions:

FISHING — Most of the region's lakes and streams are in great fishing condition for the weekend, and some Spokane-area are getting a Fathers Day bonus with additional plants of triploid rainbows. Montana is sweetening the holiday attraction by offering Free Fishing Days on June 15-16.  Nobody needs a license to fish in Montana over the weekend, but you must follow all of Montana's other fishing regulations.

BIKING — The Spokane River Centennial Trail and the Fish Lake Trail offer excellent and safe family biking opportunities in Spokane. The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is a prized rail trail between Mullan and Plummer, Idaho. Or go for big adventure near Lookout Pass on the Route of the Hiawatha rail trail, featuring tunnels and towering trestles.  Shuttles, bike rentals and even lunches are available.

BOATING — It's hard to beat a family tradition of being on the water with Dad. I prefer paddling the Spokane River or, say, Horseshoe Lake in a canoe or kayak.  Maybe a whitewater rafting trip on the Spokane or Clark Fork rivers with Wiley E. Waters or ROW Adventures. Sailing or motorboating is has been bringing families together for generations, as you can vividly see in this heartwarming short video, Good Run, by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister. The film tells the story of one man’s experience on the water and shows why life is better with a boat. 

HIKING — Taking a walk to a nifty spot is a simple and rewarding family outing, whether it's close to home in Riverside State Park or off in the mountains of a nearby national forest.  Need some tips?   Check out my new guidebook, Day Hiking Eastern Washington, which details 125 trips, including a bunch of hikes within a short drive of Spokane. (The book is available at REI, Mountain Gear and local book stores.)

My suggestion:  If you're up for stretching your legs, give Dad the book with a note that says, “We want to make this your best Father's Day ever by taking you on one of the hikes described in this book.  We'll pack the picnic lunch!”

I heard from several families who reported that offer was a big hit on Mothers Day.

Idaho Fish and Game to chat online about fishing

FISHING — Do you have a question about fishing in Idaho?  Here's your chance for a direct answer.

Idaho Fish and Game Department fisheries managers and enforcement staff will be at their computers tonight (June 12) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (MDT) for a live chat about fishing across the state.

Go to Idaho Fish and Game website to learn how to join the online conversation.

Sizing up a hummingbird nest

WILDLIFE WATCHING — How big is a hummingbird nest that held two chicks until fledging?
 
The chicken egg in the photo above tells the story.
 
South Hill resident Bill Bender followed the growth of the hummingbird family that nested on a bicycle-parts wind chime off his porch.  Here's his final report:
22 days from hatch to leaving the nest. Just for some perspective, here are pictures of the empty nest. Yes, that is a standard, store bought chicken egg, so that is how big the nest is. And the picture of the empty nest lets you know that the final nest was actually spread out larger, as the chicks got bigger. The original nest into which the eggs were laid was more like a cup, than the final soup bowl shape.
The other photo shows the two hummers at 17 days, filling the nest to overflowing just two weeks after they were so small they could hide at the bottom of the nest. One chick fledged at 21 days; the other a day later.

Angler wins Sprague Lake derby with 6-pound rainbow

FISHING — Josh Williams of Spokane won $500 in gift cards and merchandise with the 6-pound 1-ounce rainbow he caught Saturday during the Sprague Lake Trout Derby. The fish measured 24.5 inches long.

Second, $250: Randy Williams of Spokane with a trout weighing 4 pounds 5 ounces and measuring 20.5 inches.

Third, $100: Kathy Armstrong of Bayview, Idaho, with a trout weighing 4 pounds  3 ounces and measuring  22.5 inches.

Spring chinook fishing may reopen in Snake, WDFW bio says

FISHING — Snake River spring chinook fishing is likely to reopen says Glen Mendel, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fish management biologist

Look for an official announcement today or tomorrow — and expect the fishing days to be different that in the original season.

Here's Mendel's update:

The Technical Advisory Committee updated the run size to 115,000 (from 107,500 when the Snake R fishery previously closed at Clarkston).   The increased run size means there are a few more spring Chinook (~70) that can be harvested in the revised allotment for the Snake River. 

A fishery proposal has been submitted for the Clarkston area to reopen for two days (this Friday and Saturday).  Ice Harbor would open for one day next week (on Monday), and Little Goose on Tuesday.  Mid next week, we would evaluate the results from those limited fisheries and determine whether they had to close, or whether they could continue on the same days as noted above the following week.  Bag limits would be as they were in May (1 adult adipose clipped, and 4 adipose clipped jacks).  Once the hatchery adult salmon has been retained the angler must stop fishing for salmon, regardless of whether any jacks have been kept.

Please watch for the emergency regulation and news release that announces the opening of these fisheries.  Hopefully, those will be available late today or tomorrow. 

Upper Klickitat opening to spring chinook fishing

FISHING — Spring chinook action is luring anglers to the Klickitat.  Here the WDFW announcement many have been waiting for.

Upper Klickitat River to open for hatchery adult spring chinook

Action: Up to two hatchery adult spring chinook may be kept as part of the salmon daily limit on the Klickitat River upstream to boundary markers below the salmon hatchery.  

Effective dates: June 13 through July 31, 2013.

Species affected: Chinook.

Location: The Klickitat River from 400 feet upstream from #5 fishway (located about one-half mile upstream from the Fisher Hill Bridge) to boundary markers below the Klickitat Salmon Hatchery.

Reasons for action: As of June 10, a total of 351 adult spring chinook have returned to the Klickitat Salmon Hatchery.  The Klickitat Salmon Hatchery is expected to meet its escapement goal of 500 fish, which will allow additional recreational opportunity.    

Other information: Daily limit 6 salmon of which no more than two may be adults.  Wild chinook must be released.   This will match rules already in effect below Fisher Hill Bridge (located about 2 miles upstream from the mouth). 

Anglers are reminded there are closed waters from Fisher Hill Bridge to 400 feet upstream from #5 fishway and from the boundary markers below Klickitat Salmon Hatchery to the boundary markers just upstream of the hatchery. The section upstream from the salmon hatchery remains closed to fishing for salmon.

A Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement is required to participate in this fishery.  Barbless hooks are required to fish for salmon and steelhead.

Information contact:   (360) 696-6211.  For latest information press *1010.  

Jennings too polarizing for wildlife commission, senator says

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — David Jennings, billed as a birder, scuba diver and environmental advocate when appointed by Gov. Chris Gregoire in 2009, apparently has been removed from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for lack of confirmation by the state Legislature.

“For the sportsmen of Washington, Jennings was too much of a polarizing figure, and we don’t need that on the Fish and Wildlife Commission,” Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, is quoted as saying in a report by Northwest Sportsman magazine.

Pearson is chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, which holds confirmation hearings on commission appointments. The committee apparently has let Jenning's confirmation die without a recommendation.

Polarized groups have lobbied senators to deny and approve Jennings' nomination.

As of this morning on the commission website, Jennings continues to be listed as a member of the nine-person citizen panel that sets policy for Washington fish and wildlife management. His term was supposed to run through 2014. The commisison office has not responded to a request on Jennings' status.

His commission bio says:

David has a Bachelor of Science in Forest Resources in Wildlife Management and a Masters of Public Health in Biostatistics. He works as an Environmental Public Health professional.

David volunteers with a number of conservation organizations including Black Hills Audubon Society and the Gifford Pinchot Task Force. He has served on several state and federal advisory boards addressing wildlife and habitat issues, including WDFW’s Wildlife Diversity Advisory Council, the U.S. Forest Service’s Southwest Washington Provincial Advisory Council, and the North Gifford Pinchot Resource Advisory Committee.

David is an avid birder, wildlife watcher, and scuba diver. He is a member of REEF’s Pacific Northwest Advanced Assessment Team and helps conduct underwater surveys of marine fish and invertebrates from the Salish Sea down to Monterey Bay. David lives in Olympia with his wife, Jan. 

Moose killed in Spokane Valley after vehicle collision

WILDLIFE — A moose was killed by law enforcement officers after being severely injured in a collision with a car early this morning near the Spokane Valley Mall.

The moose — described by wildlife officials as a yearling — was hit by a large sport utility vehicle in the area near Evergreen Road and Indiana Avenue. The driver was not injured.

A police officer shot the animal and the meat will be donated to the Union Gospel Mission.

Spokane conservationist Robbi Castleberry, dead at 80

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UPDATED WITH VIDEO 5:45 p.m. on June 11, 2013

CONSERVATION — Robbi Castleberry, a pillar of Spokane-area conservation efforts since the 1970s, died today of an apparent cardiac arrest in her home near Indian Canyon, her husband, Vic, has confirmed.

Castleberry, 80, was on the original city-county committee that spearheaded development of the Spokane River Centennial Trail.

Her many conservation leadership roles include her current committee services for the Spokane County Conservation Futures Program. She's been the energizer behind the improvements and additions to the city's Palisades Park and the closure of Rimrock Drive so it could be enjoyed by walkers and bicyclists.

“Robbi was involved with groups like the Backcountry Horsemen and the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club, and when it came to issues such as trails and river access she could be counted on as an absolute driving force to keep them open for all users,” said Julia McHugh, another original member of the Centennial Trail committee. 

Memorial service arrangements are pending.

Photographer captures star show over Priest Lake

SKYWATCHING — The Milky Way and the northern lights were putting on a light show over Priest Lake, Idaho, Friday night for Spokane photographer Craig Goodwin.

This is why some people don't sleep after dark. Says Goodwin:

I was surprised to find so few shots of iconic Priest Lake under the stars so I went up last night to see if I could find a good location. I also wanted to try out star pictures on a lake.

The stars were stunning the sky was more colorful than I expected. I'm not sure what the green and purple are. Perhaps aurora borealis. They ebbed and flowed while I was out, with the pink in the lower left disappearing quickly.

I know it looks like I just cranked the saturation but this is pretty close to what came out of the camera at f2.8, 3200 ISO, and 30 seconds exposure.

See this photo bigger and in higher resolution.

See forecasts for auroa borealis activity.

Lake Roosevelt levels continue rising, but more slowly

RIVERS — The level of Lake Roosevelt had risen to elevation 1282 feet this morning and lake levels are expected to continue rising, but more slowly, over the next week into the 1283-1285 range by June 15.

Get daily Lake Roosevelt level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.

Check out this NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Spring chinook fishing reopening above Bonneville Dam

FISHING —The sport fishery for hatchery spring chinook salmon on the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to the Washington/Oregon state line will reopen Saturday (June 8) under an agreement reached today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.

In addition, fishery managers also agreed to extend the current fishery for boat anglers fishing for salmon in the lower river up to the deadline below Bonneville Dam beginning June 8. That change removes a restriction on fishing for salmon from a boat from Beacon Rock upriver to Bonneville Dam. The lower river reopened to spring chinook fishing May 25.
 
 
Ron Roler, Columbia River policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said an updated run-size forecast indicates at least 115,000 upriver chinook are now expected to return to the Columbia River this year, up from the previous forecast of 107,500.
 
“The increase in the number of chinook salmon moving upriver allows us to make these changes,” said Roler. “These additional openings provide anglers an opportunity to fish for spring chinook from the mouth all the way upriver to the Washington/Oregon state line.”
 
Anglers fishing the Columbia River are allowed to retain one hatchery-raised adult chinook salmon per day as part of their daily catch limit. Barbless hooks are required, and anglers must release any chinook salmon not marked with a clipped adipose fin as a hatchery fish.
 
The Columbia River will be open for spring chinook fishing through June 15. Starting June 16, daily limits and fishing areas change on the Columbia River when the summer chinook fisherygets under way.
 
For details, check WDFW’s sportfishing pamphlet

Fly fisher hooks brown trout of your dreams

FLY FISHING — When everyone else hit the Missouri to “catch fish”, Ben Hahn floated upper Rock Creek east of Missoula and dredged a streamer.  It paid off with the brown trout of a lifetime, according to the MoldyChum “served fresh daily” blog.

Gray wolf declared ‘thriving;’ Feds propose de-listing

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this morning announced its proposal to lift most of the remaining federal protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states (with the exception of the Mexican wolf areas), a move that would end four decades of recovery efforts.

But in a draft proposal, federal scientists said the wolves in Washington and Oregon “constitute the expanding front of large, robust, and recovered wolf populations to the north and east.

Federal officials said in the draft, “We are confident that wolves will continue to recolonize the Pacific Northwest regardless of federal protection.”

The public has 90 days to comment period on the proposal. A final decision is expected next year.

Washington and Oregon will continue to protect wolves under their state gray wolf management plans until state endangered species criteria are met.

With more than 6,100 wolves roaming the Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe told The Associated Press that a species persecuted to near-extermination last century has successfully rebounded.

Prominent scientists and dozens of lawmakers in Congress want more. They say wolves need to be shielded so they can expand beyond the portions of 10 states they now occupy.

However, you won't find many lawmakers in districts occupied by wolves calling for more wolf protections, and 72 members of Congress representing both parties signed a letter to President Obama in March requesting the gray wolf be delisted from Engangered Species protections.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., issued this statement today, calling the delisting proposal “long overdue.”

Read this morning's AP report, which includes the range of opinions.

Mule deer buck already showing promise

WILDLIFE — Deer antlers are among the fastest types of tissue growth in mammals.

Each year, a buck's antlers typically begin growing in April in response to increasing day length. They develop fully in four months.

When the antlers are growing, they are full of nerves and blood vessels and are covered with a hairy skin covering tissue commonly called “velvet.” Antler growth is like building a skyscraper. What is first built is the structure or a frame or matrix. Think of pouring concrete; you must first build a form. That is what deer do. During the early summer, deer antlers are soft to the touch or spongy. Towards the middle of summer, as the form is being finished, the deer begins to “pour” the bone. — Izaak Walton League report

It's early in the antler growing season, but this buck  spotted by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson is showing a lot of potenti

See you this fall.

Evaluators needed for state recreation grant applications

CONSERVATION — Six volunteers are needed to work with the Recreation and Conservation Office in evaluating grant applications for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.

For more than 20 years, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) has been the state’s primary source of funding for parks, trails, and wildlife habitat and is the only source of state funding for working farms.  

Antoine Peak and many of the Spokane County Conservation Futures areas have been secured with help from these funds.

In a historic bipartisan effort by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition founded the WWRP in 1989 to address the need for preserving more land for outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat.

The Coalition continues to be the primary advocate and watch dog for the WWRP. In 24 years, the Coalition has leveraged more than $1 billion for projects in every county across the state.

The state Recreation and Conservation Office has released the following requirements for WWRP evaluators:

  • One volunteer should be from a recreational organization or parks board and three should be from local government. These volunteers will evaluate grant applications from state agencies and will serve on the State Lands Development and Renovation Advisory Committee.
  • Two volunteers should work for local government and have experience managing parks for a diverse range of recreational activities. These volunteers will evaluate grant applications to buy land, build or improve local parks and will serve on the Local Parks Advisory Committee.
  • One volunteer is also needed to evaluate trail requests.

Applications are available on the RCO’s website. The deadline is June 14, 2013. 

Contact: Frances Dinger, 509.590.8111 | frances@wildliferecreation.org

NC man drowns kayaking Idaho’s NF Payette

WHITEWATER —  A 22-year-old North Carolina man has died in a kayaking accident on the Payette River in Idaho, north of Boise, the Associated Press reports.

Boise County officials say Eric Weigel of Asheville, N.C., was kayaking the North Fork of the Payette with two friends on Wednesday afternoon when he apparently flipped over and hit his head, losing consciousness.

The sheriff’s department tells KBOI-TV that Weigel was upside down in his kayak for several minutes before friends could get him to shore. He died at the scene.

The sheriff’s office says Weigel and his friends were on the final day of a 21-day whitewater rafting trip when the accident happened.

The North Fork of the Payette is known for its challenging Class V rapids. 

Fly fishers rescue drowning moose calf on Big Hole

WILDLIFE — A Pennsylvania OB-GYN doc on a guided fishing trip in southwestern Montana went home with an amazing tale of hauling in a 25-pound lunker — a baby moose plucked from the rushing waters.

Karen Sciascia of Red Hill, Pa., and guide Seth McLean with Four Rivers Fishing Co. were fishing the Big Hole River on Saturday when they spotted a cow moose with a calf trying to cross the river.

Sciascia told the Missoulian that the mother moose struggled to cross and when her calf tried to follow, it was swept away.

They followed downstream, finally spotting the tiny moose’s nose just above the water.

Sciascia says she scooped the moose out of the water and McLean rowed the raft upriver so they could return the calf to her mother.

Harlequin duck, 17, returns to Glacier Park

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A male harlequin duck, known to be at least 17 years old, was recently identified in Glacier National Park by University of Montana researchers and Glacier National Park scientists.

  • The banded duck is believed to be the third oldest on record. The oldest known banded harlequin duck has a recorded age of 18 years and 10 months.

“Prior to these findings, harlequin ducks were reported to live up to only 10  years of age, which makes this finding a positive indicator of the health and longevity of harlequin breeding populations in Glacier National Park,” said Lisa Bate, Glacier Park biological science technician. “Research indicates harlequin ducks mate for life unless something happens to one member of the pair. This old male has returned the last three years with the same female.”

Researchers launched the study in 2011, using radio-telemetry and banding to learn more about the location of harlequin nests and factors affecting offspring survival.

Upper McDonald Creek is considered an important breeding stream for harlequin ducks, comprising 25 percent of known broods produced in Montana. The area also has the highest density of breeding harlequins in the lower 48 states.

About 40 pairs of harlequins in the park are known to be in Glacier Park.

Read on for more detals about the harlequins.

Dworshak Reservoir nearly full; camping at its best

BOATING — Dworshak Reservoir is just two feet shy of full pool, which puts boaters into the period of the best access to the campsites along the reservoir up the North Fork of the Clearwater River.

Remember, this is a banner year to fish for Dworshak's kokanee as well as smallmouth bass.

The water should reach full pool at 1,600 feet elevation next week, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Around July 8, the reservoir will gradually be drawn down to provide cool water for downstream salmon. That annual drawdown leaves many of the campsites vacant because of the long uphill walk from the water line.

Read on for details from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Dworshak Dam and the reservoir recreation sites.

Video: Dusky grouse strut their stuff this season

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Dusky grouse males seemed to be especially testy during mating season.  One of the feathered bruisers even took on a Washington Fish and Wildlife policeman.

Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson was glad he was safely inside his vehicle when a different dusky made sure he knew whose territory he was in.  

Check out his short video and live in FEAR of grouse.

We decided to head back to where we had the encounter with the crazed Dusky Grouse a week ago. Realizing that lightning doesn’t often strike twice in the same spot – it seemed worth a try.
This time, we were prepared. The GoPro video was ready.
 
As we rounded the corner where we had last seen the grouse, there to our surprise was our little friend standing in the middle of the road. I stopped the truck and shut it off. The grouse came running.
 
It was almost a complete replay from last week. He flew to the roof of the car and tried to get in the Sun roof and drivers window (see image of grouse on roof looking into drivers window from the roof).  The window was only rolled down about 2 inches.
 
He eventually flew back to the ground and continued to circle the truck. I got out and hand-held the tiny GoPro video camera. He attacked the camera with a vengeance. He did manage to draw blood twice during the encounter! He targeted the fingers holding the camera.
 
I returned to the truck and we drove away in defeat. This little guy is cranky…
 
He was still standing in the road as we left.

Washington wolf packs producing pups

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Half of Washington’s 10 confirmed wolf packs are believed to have had pups this spring, including those in the Lookout territory of western Okanogan County for the first time in three years, according to a report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman magazine.

Donny Martorello, WDFW’s wolf manager, told Walgamott the Teanaway pack in the Central Cascades, and Huckleberry, Smackout and Diamond packs in northeastern Washington are the other packs that appear to have litters, based on denning activity, GPS telemetry data clustering around one spot in a territory, and, in the case of the Lookout Pack, a photo of a lactating female.

That means the state's wolf population is suddenly increased by at least 20-30.

The reproductive status of the Salmo, Wenatchee and Wedge wolves and the Colville Tribes’ Nc’icn and Strawberry packs is unknown at this time, Martorello told NW Sportsman.

Five successful breeding pairs, including Teanaway, Huckleberry, Smackout, Diamond and Nc’icn, were reported in Washington in December in the 2012 state-tribal report to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Deer lice new concern for big-game herds

WILDLIFE — Scientists across the West are raising concerns about a growing infestation of exotic deer lice that appears to be killing Columbian black-tailed and mule deer and recently turned up in Nevada.

The infestation has been on the rise, especially in Oregon, Washington, California and New Mexico.

Researchers said the non-native lice first appeared in the mid-1990s. They apparently weaken the deer during the long winter months, causing hair loss and distracting them from threats posed by hungry predators like mountain lions.

See the Associated Press story.

Break in tradition: Good food in national parks

National Park Service to roll out healthy food standards
 
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and National Park Service Chief Jonathan Jarvis held an event on the Lincoln Mall to unveil new healthy food standards for national park concessionaires, with chefs offering free samples of such fare as bison tenderloin, free-range chicken breast, black bean sliders, sweet potato cakes, berry yogurt parfaits and rain forest coffee. — Washington Post
 
What? No hot dogs on a stale white bun?

Mud boggers leave mark of shame on forest meadows

PUBLIC LANDS — I don't care much if you drive onto your own land and rip it to shreds with your four-wheel drive vehicle as long as you're not polluting public waters downstream.

But the chronic spring problem of mudboggers ripping public lands to shreds is disgusting to the core.

Photos here show two recent abuses from the Colville National Forest and the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.  Memorial Day weekend was a free-for-all on portions of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, where Forest Service officers wrote ticket after ticket and never scratched the surface of the off-road riding abuse.

  • The Backcountry Hunters and Anglers group offers rewards for people who pass on information that leads to the arrest of these off-roading criminals who desecrate public lands.

Here's an observation from Franklin Pemberton, spokesman for the Colville:

Most of the truly obvious abuse (torn up meadows and giant mud holes next to or on roads) are from individuals in 4X4 vehicles that actively seek out a “mudding” experience in meadows or on fragile spring roads. In one instance we had a “mudder” completely destroy a beautiful meadow that once had a crystal clear small stream running through it by driving a circuit through the meadow and spinning their tires in order to create deeper mud.  They did this over and over again all the while digging deep ruts that diverted a once clear stream into a muddy series of pools and puddles.  (Pictures attached)  This was near Big Meadow Lake.

The sad thing is, many of these mudders have no idea that the stream they damage was feeding Big Meadow Lake and will degrade the water quality and reduce the number of fish the lake can support.  A few of the people we have caught in the past claimed to be avid hunters and anglers and were shocked at how this activity can impact fish and wildlife aside from water quality and the spread of noxious and invasive weeds.

Here's today's report about recent damage on the Nez Perce-Clearwater:

Forest Service officials have discovered evidence of extensive resource damage near Camp 60, a popular site for camping and off-highway vehicle use, on the North Fork Ranger District of the Nez-Perce Clearwater National Forests.

An area that was, until recently, a beautiful meadow, has now been transformed into a giant mud bog, covering approximately .25 acre of National Forest System Lands.  In addition, new illegal routes have been developed, crossing through area streams.

While an exact date of when the resource damage occurred has yet to be determined, Forest Service officials believe that the activity took place very recently, perhaps within the past two weeks.

If anyone has information pertaining to this incident, please contact Law Enforcement Officer Steve Bryant at (208) 875-1131.

Shooters welcome reopening of Farragut range

SHOOTING — There's clearly a demand for good-quality, safe shooting facilities, as demonstrated by the interest in last weekend's reopening of the range at Farragut State Park.

Here's a media release with details on using the facility from Idaho Fish and Game.

Farragut Hunters in the Idaho Panhandle are happy about the reopening of a local shooting range where they can safely sight in their hunting rifles. The 100-yard range at Farragut State Park reopened to the public on Saturday, June 1. The range is west of Bayview, Idaho between the cities of Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint.

The range is administered jointly by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) and the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR). Itis now open for public shooting the first and third Saturdays of each month through the summer on a first-come, first-served basis.  Hours are 10am until 5pm. 

There is a $5.00 range use fee in addition to the Farragut State Park entrance fee.  Firearms are limited to rifles including .22 caliber, centerfire rifles less than .50 caliber, and muzzleloaders up to .54 caliber. For now, no handgun shooting is allowed. 

The Farragut range was originally part of the Farragut Naval Training Station built in 1942.  After the second world war, the range was turned over to the state and opened for use as a public shooting range. 

The range was open to the public for about 60 years before being temporarily closed by court order over concerns about noise and safety when plans were announced to improve the range.

The IDFG has used $260,000 from hunting and fishing fines, timber sales and National Rifle Association grants to improve safety and reduce noise at the range. The work entailed lowering the range, building 12-foot berms to muffle noise and contain bullets, and installing overhead safety baffles.

During the time the range was closed, shooters were sighting in firearms in places where there were no specific safety rules, no established backstops, and no boundary fences or warning signs.  Many of these places were on national forest or nearby state lands. Used targets and empty casings were left behind in frequently used locations and the areas became littered eyesores.

The reopened range has strict safety rules with on-site supervision by IDFG, high berms and sand pit backstops, noise and bullet containment baffles, perimeter fencing, and facilities for disposal of used targets and casings.

“We’re certainly pleased to reopen the Range,” said Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore.  “Former range users will see a dramatic difference in the shooting venue, and neighbors can see the steps we’ve taken to improve safety and reduce noise,” Moore said.

The range is currently authorized for up to 500 shooter visits per year.  A hearing is scheduled for later in the year about possibly removing that limit.

In the future, Fish and Game plans to complete work to open a 50-yard and a 200-yard shooting area of the range.

Idaho sets kid-fishing events for Free Fishing Day

FISHING — No fishing license required — a huge savings for a family, especially out of state — is a perk coming up in the Inland Northwest as states observe Free Fishing Days.

Idaho is boosting the interest by organizing kid-fishing events for it's Free Fishing Day activities on Saturday (June 8).

While license requirements are suspended for this special day, all other rules, such as limits or tackle restrictions, remain in effect.

At the following special locations around the Panhandle, equipment will be available for use, and fishing experts will be on hand to help novice anglers learn the ins and outs of fishing. In addition, all these locations will be stocked with hatchery rainbow trout prior to Saturday.

Panhandle Region: For information 208-769-1414.

  • Bonners Ferry - Snow Creek Pond, 9 a.m. to noon. 
  • Calder - Calder Pond, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Clark Fork - Clark Fork Lodge, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Coeur d'Alene - Ponderosa Springs Golf Course, 7 to 11 a.m.
  • Enaville - Steamboat Ponds, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Mullan - Lucky Friday Pond, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Post Falls - Post Falls Park Pond, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Priest Lake - Priest Lake Golf Course, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Rathdrum - Rathdrum City Park,9 a.m. to noon.
  • Sandpoint - Round Lake State Park, 9 a.m. to noon.

Clearwater Region: For information 208-799-5010. All events 9 a.m. to noon.

  • Lewiston - Mann Lake.
  • Lewiston - Kiwanis Park Pond.
  • Moscow/Troy - Spring Valley Reservoir.

Triploids to sweeten fishing lakes for Fathers Day

FISHING — Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fish hatchery crews will be stocking 10,000 triploid rainbow trout in 20 lakes just before Father’s Day weekend, June 15-16.

“This is the second straight year we’ve stocked trout before Father’s Day, and this year we’ve doubled the number of fish and added six more lakes to the list,” said Chris Donley, WDFW Inland Fish Program manager.

Selected lakes in this region to be planted with the bright 1.5-pound trout include: 

  • West Medical in Spokane County, 1,250 triploids.
  • Williams Lake in Spokane County, 400 triploids.
  • Diamond Lake in Pend Oreille County, 600 triploids.
  • Park lake in Grant County, 400 triploids.
  • Alta Lake in Okanogan County, 350 triploids.
  • Conconully Reservoir in Okanogan County, 750 triploids.

Of course, previously stocke fish will be providing good fishing in other lakes. The triploids simply boost the excitement at the chosen lakes.

Fishing licenses can be purchased online.

See fish stocking details, by county and lake.

Idaho reopening Little Salmon for spring chinook

FISHING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission today voted to reopen the Little Salmon River to fishing for Chinook salmon effective Friday, June 7.

  • The Clearwater, North Fork Clearwater, Middle Fork Clearwater and South Fork Clearwater rivers are closed to Chinook salmon fishing, effective immediately.
The Little Salmon will open from a posted boundary about 50 yards upstream of the Little Salmon River mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.
 
The season is open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until further notice. Fishing hours are from 5:05 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Mountain Standard Time.
 
The daily limit is four Chinook salmon, only two of which may be adults; the possession limit is 12 Chinook salmon, only six of which may be adults. The statewide season limit is 10 adult Chinook during any salmon seasons occurring before September 1, 2013.
 
Any adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon 24 or more inches in total length is an adult. Jacks are less than 24 inches in length. Only adipose-fin-clipped Chinook may be kept.
 
For details about open areas and limits in these fisheries see the Fish and Game website.

IFG ends first round of lake trout sampling at Priest Lake

FISHING — More than 4,000 lake trout were caught and handled — most of them released — during the first phase of a Priest Lake fisheries assessment that ended May 17, the Idaho Fish and Game Department reports.

Most of those lake trout were tagged and released, but 27 percent were killed.

Here are the numbers pertaining to lake trout:

  • 4,071, total netted by commercial fishermen, including 88 recaptured trout.
  • 2957, tagged and released.
  • 1,114, killed:
    • 696, killed in netting or handling.
    • 418, sacrificed for age and diet research.

In addition, the project captured 3 bull trout, 1 kokanee, 95 suckers, 11 whitefish, and 22 pikeminnow—all of which were released alive, said Jim Fredericks, IFG regional fisheries manager.  

“I understand that the netting project is troubling to many people, but I’d like to stress three things,” he said.
  1. The number of fish handled and killed in the assessment is a very small portion of the overall population.  Annual angler harvest has ranged from 15-30 thousand, so an additional 1,100 fish is not a significant impact to the population.
  2. The netting effort this spring was an assessment, not a suppression effort.  Over the next five years we will continue biological and social assessments as we develop a long-term management plan for Priest and Upper Priest lakes.  This will not be done without extensive public involvement.
  3. This effort represents the first comprehensive assessment of the lake trout population on Priest Lake – ever!  Not only will this give us some understanding of population size, but it will provide a wealth of information regarding age, growth rates, angler harvest rates, along with age/size structure of the population.  These are extremely valuable pieces of information regardless of how the population will be managed in long term.  
Researchers from the University of Idaho this summer will analyze the data, including lab work to identify stomach contents.
 
“We’ve had several anglers turn in tags from lake trout they caught this spring,” Fredericks said. “These tag returns will help immensely with the population assessment, so if you do encounter one, please take the time to call the toll free telephone number and report your catch.” 

Rainier climbing rangers lax on safety in rescues, report shows

MOUNTAINEERING — The National Park Service says a climbing ranger who fell to his death during a rescue operation at Mount Rainier National Park last year was not roped for safety or equipped with an ice ax at the time of the accident.

Nick Hall, 33, was a four-year climbing ranger at the park. He fell roughly 2,400 feet while helping to rescue four injured climbers from Texas on June 21, 2012.

A review into the accident reported by the Associated Press today found a pervasive pattern of rangers being comfortable being unroped on the mountain and that they had become desensitized to the risks.

Park Superintendent Randy King says the park is establishing more stringent protocols for those who work on the mountain and improving training for its rangers.

Idaho seeks comments on cutthroat plan

FISHING — The Idaho Fish and Game Department is asking anglers to comment on a draft management plan for maintaining and restoring native westslope cutthroat trout — a prized fishery linked to pure forest watersheds.

These fish, characterized by spotting and distinctive red coloring near its gills, still occupy about 80 percent of historical range in Idaho. That includes streams like the Moyie River and Kootenai River in northern Idaho, and, of course, the prime headwaters of the Spokane River system — the Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe Rivers.

Westslope cutthroats still occupy roughly 80 percent of their historical range in Idaho, but fish managers seek to avoid petitions to list them as threatened.

This draft plan is good reading.  It discusses the population status of westslope cutthroat trout in major watershed groupings and the conservation actions the Department intends to pursue to protect and enhance populations and habitat across the species range in Idaho. 

Comment on the plan by July 26, 2013.

Billboards call for end of wolf hunting near Yellowstone

WILDLIFE — Wolf advocates are making their case against state-sanctioned wolf hunting in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho by booking billboards to take advantage of the summer tourist season ramping up near Yellowstone National Park.

A wolf pictured on the billboards will be asking a lot of families from all over the country, “Will you save me?”

See the story by the Bozeman Chronicle.

Bargain rate offered for Spokane River whitewater rafting

RIVERS — Wiley E. Waters rafting company is offering discounted three-hour whitewater river float trips for the Washington State Parks Centennial 2013 celebration on Saturday (June 8) at Riverside State Park.

Trips will start at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., with shuttles from Riverside Park's Bowl and Pitcher area to the launch site in Peaceful Valley and from the take-out at Plese Flats.

Cost: $49. Pre-register: (208) 457-1092 or on line, riverrafting.net.

Last-minute sign-up will be accepted by the outfitter’s booth at the Bowl and Pitcher if space is available. 

Check the  Riverside State ParksFoundation website for details and a schedule of events for the centennial celebration.

See the Sunday Outdoors story: Riverside good choice for Centennial Celebration.

Video: Trail cam catches mountain lion fishing

WILDLIFE — Mountain lions are resourceful in living off the land.  As the Missoulian reports, a remote camera tended by a homeowner's association outside of Missoula captured footage of a cougar fishing… and then succeeding — near the Blackfoot River, as you'll see in these two short video sequences:

Riverside State Park activities celebrate 100 years of Parks

PUBLIC LANDS — The Washington State Parks Centennial 2013 celebration at Riverside State Park will feature free activities on Saturday (June 8) from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. based at the Bowl and Pitcher day-use area and campground.

The Discover Pass requirement for vehicles will be waived for the day.

RAFT THE RIVER

Wiley E. Waters rafting company is offering discounted three-hour whitewater river float trips for the Centennial 2013 celebration on Saturday.

Trips will start at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., with shuttles from the Bowl and Pitcher area to the launch site in Peaceful Valley and from the take-out at Plese Flats.

Cost: $49. Pre-register: (208) 457-1092 or on line, riverrafting.net.

Last-minute sign-up will be accepted by the outfitter’s booth at the Bowl and Pitcher if space is available. 

SCHEDULE of Free events on June 8:

1:15 a.m. – Raptor program, West Valley Outdoor Learning Center.

Noon – Park blessing, Spokane Tribe, plus welcome from park manager, dignitaries. 

1:15 p.m. –Patrick McManus book signing.

2:15 p.m. – Live music by three bands through 6 p.m.

2:30 p.m. – Beginner Orienteering Course, Eastern Washington Orienteering Club.

2:30 p.m. – Arts and Crafts, Spokane Parks & Recreation.

3:30 p.m. – Bike Rodeo, Evergreen East Bike Club.

3:30 p.m. – Geocaching 101, Washington State Geocaching Association.

4:30 p.m. – River trail hike led by Rich Landers, Spokesman-Review outdoors editor and author of “Day Hiking Eastern Washington.” Meet at Bowl & Pitcher day-use parking area trailhead that leads to the swinging footbridge.

Check the  Riverside State Park Foundation website for more details about the centennial celebration.

Wenaha River beckons backpackers

HIKING — This photo is just a glimpse of the scenic value I enjoyed this weekend with other backpackers as we hiked up the Wenaha River from Troy, Oregon.

The Wenaha is a major trib to the Grande Ronde, a former steelhead and salmon fishing ground for Chief Joseph, and namesake for the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness. 

You have to hike in roughly six miles just to reach the wilderness boundary.

It's a sweet early-season trek, opening to backpackers sometime in March.

Kettle Crest areas closed as dangerous trees felled

PUBLIC LANDS — The Colville National Forest has temporarily closed the Kettle Crest Trailhead, Sherman Overlook Campground and the Sherman Overlook Day Use Area on Sherman Pass to ensure public safety and allow crews to remove a number of dead trees that could fall and pose a hazard to visitors.

The temporary closure will remain in effect until crews can safely remove the dead trees. This work is expected to be completed in the early summer.

The campground and trailhead are located approximately 26 miles west of Kettle Falls, Washington along Washington State Route 20 (WA-20).

The temporary closure will not close the popular Kettle Crest Trail, it only closes the trailhead. Visitors may park at the interpretive kiosk along the side of WA-20 and access the trail.

Info: Kettle Falls Regional Information Center: (509) 738-2300.

New Yellowstone fishing rules target non-native species

FISHING — Yellowstone National Park has enacted a few new fishing regulations aimed at protecting native fish species.

In some cases, anglers MUST KEEP certain species they catch.

The limit on non-native fish caught in the park's Native Trout Conservation Area has been eliminated. This includes all park waters except the Madison and Firehole rivers, the Gibbon River below Gibbon Falls, and Lewis and Shoshone lakes.

Rainbow or brook trout caught in the Lamar River drainage must be harvested in order to protect native cutthroat trout in the headwater reaches of the drainage. This includes Slough and Soda Butte Creeks.

All lake trout caught in Yellowstone Lake must be killed to help cutthroat trout restoration efforts.

All native fish including cutthroat trout, mountain whitefish and Arctic grayling must be released unharmed.

Photo: living in a whitetail fawn nursery

WIlDLIFE WATCHING — Rich and Faye Krenkel don't have to tell you why they live off the beaten path in the foothills of Mount Spokane. 

This photo gives you a hint. Here's Rich's observation from inside his house:

Mom was real nervous out in the field; I couldn’t figure out why. She walked towards us and was just about to the fence under our (living room) window when the fawn stood up and we saw it.

It was one happy, hungry fawn. It’s tail was going a mile a minute.

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About this blog

News, field reports and insights on the Great Outdoors.

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

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About Rich

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

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