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Outdoors blog

Archive for May 2014

State offers fishing license upgrade deal

FISHING — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is offering current freshwater or saltwater fishing license holders the opportunity — before July 20 — to upgrade to a combination license for under $27.

The upgrade will give those anglers all the fishing privileges of a combination license at the cost they would have paid if they had purchased one in the first place, said Bill Joplin, WDFW licensing manager.           

Freshwater fishing license holders can purchase an upgrade to a combination license for $26.75 and current saltwater fishing license holders can upgrade to a combination license for $26.20. 

 

By purchasing the upgrade:

  • Current freshwater license holders will gain access to saltwater fish, shellfish and seaweed. 
  • Current saltwater license holders will gain access to fishing in lakes and rivers as summer draws near, as well as opportunities for shellfish and seaweed.

Here are a few of the exciting fishing opportunities the WDFW is spotlighting this year:

  • Salmon — 2014 is shaping up as the year for salmon, with a forecasted return of more than 1.6 million Columbia River chinook salmon returning this fall – which would be the largest since record keeping began in 1938. The ocean abundance of Columbia River coho salmon is also forecast to be about 964,000 fish — three times as many fish as last year's actual abundance. And, summer and fall chinook salmon returns to Puget Sound are expected to total nearly 283,000 fish.
  • Razor Clams — Razor clam digs are listed through June 1, 2014. Additional digs are expected in the fall.
  • Trout and Kokanee — WDFW fish hatchery crews have stocked nearly 16.5 million trout and kokanee in lakes on both sides of the Cascades.

To purchase an upgrade online, visit WDFW’s licensing website  at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wa/license, check with your local license vendor, or call WDFW licensing at (360) 902-2464. 

Washington delivers hunting rules to your smartphone

HUNTING — Washington hunters have the option to download the state's 2014 hunting regulations into their smartphones.

The cool thing is that the application will zero in on the unit from which the phone is being used, if you desire. 

The cautious reminder:  you need to be in a cell phone coverage area for the app to work — and your batteries must be charged!

Cost: $5.99.

 

How do fishermen double their pleasure?

FISHING — A friend just sent me this photo of and invited me to come out to this “hot spot”  and go fishing with him, indicating timing was right if I could break away.

Would you accept?

Newman Lake boat access closing for weed control

BOATING — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife public access site at Newman Lake will be closed June 3-5 to allow treatment of the lake with herbicide to control Eurasian milfoil and other aquatic invasive weeds. 

The Newman Lake Flood Control Zone District, under permit from the Washington Department of Ecology, has hired Aqua Technex to treat milfoil infestations on about 80 acres throughout  the 1,200-acre lake with 2-4-D (dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, dimethylamine salt).  

 A swimming restriction will be in force during treatment and for 24 hours after treatment.  Boating and swimming will be discouraged the day of treatment and for two days after.  Signs with that information will be posted. The boating restriction is needed because wave action reduces the herbicide’s effectiveness.

 Karen Kruger, Spokane County Water Resources Technician, says last summer’s aquatic weed treatment at Newman Lake went well, thanks in part to volunteer efforts to help keep boaters out of the herbicide application area.

 Aquatic herbicide application permits authorized by Ecology include requirements and restrictions to protect fish and wildlife.

 WDFW lands manager Brian Trickel said the gates to the area will be closed early on Tuesday, June 3, and re-opened early on Friday, June 6.

 Newman Lake is about 20 miles northeast of Spokane, about two miles west of the Idaho border, and is open year-round for fishing. 

Long-range shooting events at new Rock Lake range

SHOOTING — Long-range shooting enthusiasts can push away from the reloading table and test their skills in a four-event series that start Saturday, May 31, at the new Rock Lake Rifle Range, 2356 Glorfield Rd., St. John, Washington

A Fun Shoot to introduce others to the range will be held on Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

The Northwest Precision Steel Series Challenge has divisions for tactical and hunting class shooters, says organizer Doug Glorfield.

Tactical competitors will engage targets at distances of 175-1,250 yards in seven stations.  Hunting and youth shooters will do five stations at 150-600 yards.

Shooters will compete for cash prizes on Saturday and in the other series shoots set for June 28, July 26 and Aug. 30. 

“My dad and I built the range last year, Rock Lake Rifle Range LLC,” he said, noting that the site is west of the south end of  Rock Lake. “We built it to host long-range rifle shoots to bang away at steel.”

Info: (509) 939-7855.

Washington to offer free entry at state parks

PUBLIC LANDS — Washington State Parks have a fee-free access day coming up.

Here's the list of 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for vehicle entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Federal land fee-free entry days also are scheduled in 2014 to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged. 

Spring chinook fishing to open in Columbia above Bonneville

FISHING – Starting Saturday, May 31, anglers will get two more weeks to catch hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon and steelhead in waters of the Columbia River stretching more than 160 miles upriver from Bonneville Dam.

Recreational fishing closed in that area May 9, but fishery managers from Washington and Oregon have just announced an extension through June 15 after transferring a portion of the upriver spring chinook allocation from the ongoing fishery below Bonneville Dam.

That reallocation of 750 harvestable salmon will allow anglers to fish for spring chinook above the dam right up until the summer salmon season starts June 16, said Ron Roler, a fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

As before, anglers are limited to one adult hatchery chinook salmon as part of their daily catch limit of two adult fish. All sockeye salmon must be released, along with wild salmon and wild steelhead identifiable by an intact adipose fin.

For boat anglers, the fishing area above Bonneville Dam extends from the Tower Island power lines upriver to the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank anglers can also fish in that area, plus along the bank between Bonneville Dam and the power lines.

Based on the latest run projection, state fishery managers expect 230,000 upriver spring chinook to return to the Columbia River this year. That projection – based on a combination of catch figures and the count of fish passing the dams – is up slightly from the 227,000 expected before the season began.

For more information on updates to state fishing rules, see WDFW’s Fishing Rule Change website.

Montana rivers surge; access flooded

FISHING — Be patient.

High water closes more fishing access sites, stretches of rivers in Montana
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has closed a number of fishing access sites along the Clark Fork, Bitterroot and Blackfoot rivers in Western Montana due to high water.
—Missoulian

Idaho draws names for moose, bighorn, goat hunts

Updated 2:50 p.m. — IFG corrects itself and says there will be no second drawing. — RL

HUNTING — Sportsmen who have applied for Idaho controlled hunts for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat tags can see if they were chosen by going to the Fish and Game web page, the agency just announced.

All of the available tags were drawn in the first drawing. There are no leftover tags.

 Click here for more information on hunts for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats.

Idaho won’t kill ravens to save sage grouse, yet

WILDLIFE — Decisions, decisions.

Idaho delays plan to kill ravens to save sage grouse for a year
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services missed its deadline to complete an environmental review of Idaho's plan to kill up to 4,000 ravens to help increase the number of sage grouse in the state, and for that reason, the state cannot implement the plan until next year.
—Twin Falls Times-News

Moose-Palooza at Twin Lakes

WILDLIFE WATCHING —  Ed Cairns had a great critter-watching experience at the upstream end of Twin Lakes near the Washington-Idaho border.

“Five moose eating and swimming in the video.
“Lots of birds, even a couple of Great Blue Herons…..one is sitting on the fence line at about 14 seconds into the video.
“I saw nine moose (one baby), three rabbits, one elk and several deer.”
  

Birding festival at Lake Pend Oreille Saturday

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Check out this nature experience near Sandpoint on May 31.

Spokane County Parks has plan for Antoine Peak

PUBLIC LANDS — Spokane County Parks Department has created an access and management plan for the 1,066-acre Antoine Peak Conservation Area in Spokane Valley. The plan will be presented in an open house meeting tonight, May 28, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., at Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6012 E. Mansfield. 

Antoine Peak was purchased in three phases, 2007 - 2012, with half of the funding coming from the county Conservation Futures Program and half from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (Urban Wildlife Habitat Category).

So far, a small trailhead has been developed on the east side of the property off of Lincoln Road. Other access points are undeveloped.

Although unauthorized motor vehicles are not allowed on Antoine Peak, about 20 miles of road, trail, and ATV tracks have been built or formed over several decades before the land was secured by the county. This network has created erosion and encouraged illegal motorized access and disturbance to wildlife, said Paul Knowles, county parks planner. 

The proposed access and trail plan strives to balance recreation and wildlife needs as much as possible, Knowles said, noting that it calls for:

  • Creation or preserving several loop trails
  • Creating larger areas of undisturbed habitat
  • Developing adequate off-street parking on the west side of the park
  • Preserving several routes necessary to maintain access for stewardship and emergency response
  • Cosuring roads and trails that are little used by the public, fragment habitat unnecessarily, are steep and facilitate erosion, and/or serve little to no maintenance function.

Next Steps: After receiving public input and finalized, Knowles says Spokane County Parks will pursue grant funding to implement the trail plan. Once finished, Antoine Peak will become a destination for hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and many other passive recreation uses.


Documents:

Mountain bikers conquer 24-Hour course mostly unscathed

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BICYCLING — Riverside State Park was bustling with bicycles over the holiday weekend for the annual 24 Hours Round the Clock Mountain Bike Race. The event attracted 720 riders including 123 teams and 34 solos, plus a big crowd of supporters camped out for the Saturday-Sunday event.

Most of the more than riders survived fairly unscathed.

S-R photographer Jesse Tinsley has this nice, short video that offers a flavor of the event.

But he didn't include one key ingredient:  blood

Frank Johnson bit the dust, literally, on his first lap in the team event.   He wasn't the only one that's sporting some scabs and raspberries today. But like most of them, Johnson kept riding.

“Our six-man team took third in the 10-man team category,” he said. “I got a medal, a bottle of wine and a black eye!”

He gets a big high five for courage.  

Say's his daughter, Megan, on Facebook:

Go dad! Now when people ask how you got that black eye you can simply say 'by being a bad ass.'”

Can Sprague Lake steelhead windfall result in trout?

FISHING — We'll know by fall if the attempt to salvage court-settlement-doomed steelhead smolts by stocking them in Sprague Lake will be good for fishermen — or whether the 369,000 million smolts being stocked will simply be dying and feeding bass, gulls, cormorants and pelicans.

It's a million-dollar question. Keep your fingers crossed.

Washington launches app for boaters

WATERSPORTS – Boaters can find out where to launch their boats or tie up for a weekend on the water with Washington Water Cruiser, a new FREE app launched by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO).

The app maps all state-owned boat launches and moorage sites open to the public, along with amenities for boaters at each site.

“This app brings together information from three state agencies,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office. “It has information on boat launches, moorage slips and pumpout locations, in both eastern and western Washington, from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the Recreation and Conservation Office.”

The map-based app was created by SmartMine, the technology development team at GeoEngineers, using a grant RCO received from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It provides aerial, street map and nautical chart views for boaters throughout the state.

“This app will be really helpful to a lot of boaters,” said George Harris, president of the Northwest Marine Trade Association, the nation’s largest regional marine association. “In the past, you’d have to carry a couple of cruising manuals or visit several Web sites to plan an outing. Now, you can see the information you need on your smart phone or tablet while you’re on the water.”

Payette River train serves whitewater rafters, paddlers

RIVER RUNNING — Rafters and paddlers soon will be riding the rails to a popular floating and whitewater  stretch of Idaho's North Fork Payette River.

On Saturday, May 31, the Idaho Northern and Pacific Railroad, also known as the Thunder Mountain Line, will debut the Payette River Flyer with runs between Smiths Ferry and Cascade on Saturdays and Sundays this summer.

Riders are able to bring their own rafts and kayaks onboard or opt for a guided raft trip provided by Bear Valley Rafting Company.

The train ride is not only convenient, it's also scenic. Park in one spot and let the railroad do the 17-mile shuttle to the top of the seven-mile river run.

The train travels along the North Fork of the Payette River, also known as the North Fork Carbarton, and features Class II-III rapids. The following rapids are part of the float:

  • Trestle Rapids-Class III
  • Smoothie Rapids-Class II-III
  • Wet Spot Rapids-Class III
  • Francois Rapids-Class III
  • Howard's Plunge Rapids-Class III

The Smiths Ferry loading location is across the river from the Cougar Mountain Lodge on Highway 55, with free parking available on-site. The Smiths Ferry site will be the only location where rafts and kayaks can be loaded.

The Cascade loading site is behind the Ashley Inn, 500 N. Main St. Parking is free.

Rail enthusiasts can stay off the water and enjoy a scenic roundtrip train ride from either loading sites.

The Payette River Flyer will run May 31 - Aug. 31, with Smiths Ferry departures at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day, and Cascade departures at 12:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.payetteriverflyer.com or by calling the ticket office at (208) 331-1184. One-way tickets for river drop-off are $20 for all age groups, while round-trip train rides start at $25/person. All guided raft trips will be provided by Bear Valley Rafting Company and start at $60/person. One-way trips are approximately 45 minutes to one hour in length, with the round trip train ride taking three hours. Food will be available for purchase on the train.

Enter contest for week of Los Cabos tuna fishing

FISHING —  Anglers who long for a reel-screaming tug on their lines should take a minute to put their names in the hat of a contest for  $7,500 expense-paid slots on a team in the Western Outdoor News Los Cabos 2014 Tuna Jackpot.

Of course, if you win, I'm available. The trip is for two!

Read on for details and links for entry form.

Geologists detail discoveries on Wind River backpack trek

PUBLIC LANDS — See the rugged Wind River Range of Wyoming from the perspective of backpacking geologists in a free program Tuesday, 7 p.m. at Jack & Dan's Bar and Grille, 1226 N. Hamilton St. in Spokane.

Geologists Andy Buddington of Spokane Community College and Nigel Davies of Eastern Washington University will discuss the hard rock geology of the northern winds and discuss the lake sediment coring research.  The scenery will be excellent.

 

Tribes selling spring chinook this weekend

FISHING – If you haven’t been able to catch your own spring chinook in this year’s run, Columbia River tribes are selling them fresh from their nets this weekend for the first time in four years.

 A two-night commercial gillnet fishery is tapping the largest run in four years. 

 Fish will be sold at locations along the Columbia, including Marine Park at Cascade Locks, Lone Pine at The Dalles,  the boat launch near Roosevelt, Washington, and Columbia Point Marina in Richland.

Information on where the day’s catch is being sold is available at (888) 289-1855 or online. 

Price is determined at the point of sale and sales are cash only.

Geocaching game launched on region’s forests

GEOCACHING — The Colville National Forest and partners in the Upper Columbia region are setting up a summer geocaching game geared to families.

From Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day,  a number of easy to access geocaches will be located throughout the Colville National Forest and other participating adjacent lands designated as part of the Upper Columbia Children’s Forest.  .

Geocaching is like a treasure hunt using a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit.  You input the coordinates and the GPS unit leads you to the geocache. 

While the activities are geared to youths ages 8-12, all of the geocaches require driving to the recreation site followed by a short walk.  Navigating to and from the sites, helping out with reading maps and working the GPS is a great opportunity for everyone in the family.  There are opportunities to learn about how to read maps, how GPS works, and learning about wildlife, trees, plants and cultural history you will encounter along the way.

The geocaches are 6” x 6” plastic boxes that contain a card with information and a short activity specific to the recreation site.  Any child who can collect all of the cards and present them at the Kettle Falls Information Center will be able to claim a small prize. 

The Colville National Forest encourages visitors to practice the Leave No Trace Principals while exploring the Forest.  

Some GPS units are available to borrow at the Kettle Falls Information Center,  255 West 3rd, Kettle Falls, WA.  99141.  To ensure a unit is available, call (509) 738-2300.

If you want to play - go to www.geocaching.com and search “Upper Columbia Children’s Forest geocaches” and get the coordinates to input into your GPS Unit. 

For more Information on geocaching on the Colville National Forest,  visit www.fs.usda.gov/colville/ and look for geocaching under Quick Links, or call (509) 684-7000.

Lake Roosevelt continues to fill; watch for debris

BOATING — Columbia River runoff is pouring into Lake Roosevelt,raising water levels and bringing more boat launches into operation.

Boaters must be aware that rising water levels pick up logs and debris on the shoreline and cast it afloat where it can be a hazard to boats.

The level, which had been drawn down to an elevation of 1231 feet this month to accommodate the runoff, has now risen to 1248 feet. 

“The spring runoff continues and the level of Lake Roosevelt is expected to rise between 1-2 feet per day,” said Lynne Brougher of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.  “The end of May target elevation is expected to be 1267.8 feet above sea level.  During the spring runoff, expect rapid rates of refill at times.”

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

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

Grizzly bear dies in fall in Glacier National Park

WILDLIFE WATCHING  — The death of a grizzly bear in Glacier National Park is a reminder to hikers and climbers that spring and summer trekking across steep snowfields can be hazardous.

 A member of the Glacier Park road crew found a male grizzly bear dead on Going-to-the-Sun Road on Thursday morning.

An initial investigation by the National Park Service indicated the bear, one of about 300 grizzlies in the park, probably fell onto the road from a steep snowbank.

A necropsy revealed the 190-pound bear suffered head injuries, broken ribs and other internal injuries consistent with a fall. Park officials say the terrain above where the bear fell includes a steep snowbank, some steep cliffs and a drop of approximately 12 feet.

Best fly fishing options for Memorial Day weekend

FLY FISHING — Spring runoff came relatively early last year and fly fishers were already finding good stream conditions by Memorial Day weekend.  This year you'll need to be careful not to get swept away.

Sean Visintainer of Silver Bow Fly Shop has these observations for anglers looking to cast a line over the holiday:

My first choice this weekend and over the next week will be the North Fork Coeur d'Alene. For those not up to speed, the NF CdA has been pretty darn good fishing lately. This week the water levels dropped again and the PMD's really started to pop getting Mr. Cutthroat up pretty consistently. There have also been hatches of salmonflies (mostly up high now), brown drakes, yellow sallies, caddis, etc… I'm sure I missed a few bugs on that list. The snow from most of the peaks has been long gone now and I don't foresee anymore major bumps in the river levels, probably just a nice steady decline starting early next week. The Little North Fork is also worth checking out this time of the year. 

The St. Joe River being a little more rugged country still has some snow to melt on the high peaks. There has been small windows to fish the runoff the last couple weeks, however, with warm temps in the forecast this river is looking like it will be on the higher side for another week. What's a good level you ask? When I look at the USGS Streamflow Gauge I like to see it in the 7kcfs +/- . Now I have caught fish in the neighborhood of 10kcfs… it's just super limited. Don't live by the gauges though, sometimes you just need to go out and find a little pocket along the bank and you can do just fine. 

The Spokane River opens June 1 on the lower river and June 7 on the upper. This river is probably not going to be fishable until mid June is my guess. For the low-down on fishing the “Kan” you should come to my Spokane River Presentation on June 3rd at the shop. 

Local lake fishing has been good too lately. Chironomids and callibaetis have been going pretty consistent and the damsel / dragonfly nymph fishing is getting good now that the temps are warming up. Fishing the weedy areas and drop offs should produce well on medium sink rate lines. Amber, Medical, and West Medical are all my top picks. 

Spokane River fly fishing class a hit: more scheduled

FLY FISHING — Silver Bow Fly Shop guide Sean Visintainer offered a class on fly fishing the Spokane River last month and it filled in a heartbeat.

He scheduled another class and it filled quickly, too.

So he's offering another session on June 3 to meet demand from local anglers wanting insight on fishing the “Kan.”

The two-hour program will start at 6 p.m. at Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley.

Visintainer will cover gear, the fish, where to go, techniques, hatches and fishing the seasons.

Cost:  $20. Must Prepay to enroll; (509) 924-9998

Floods, Flowers, Feathers festival at Turnbull Refuge May 31

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A windfall of local nature expertise is converging at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge on May 31 to give programs and lead tours on everything from bugs to wildflowers. This is the perfect antedote for nature deficit syndrome or simply for filling gaps in your natural knowledge, regardless of your age.
The annual Floods, Flowers and Feathers Festival, 8 a.m-3 p.m., helps the public experience and learn about the exceptional wildlife, habitats and geology of the unique Channeled Scablands landscape. 
Activities and programs cover aquatic invertebrates, songbird banding, exploring soils, birding scavenger hunt, nature photography, geology tour, a rangeland fire demonstration, refuge management tour and several guided walks to focus on wildflowers, birds and other wildlife.
The leaders for all of these activities, such as photographer Chuck Kerkering, know their stuff. Other groups participating include wildlife biologist, the Spokane Conservation District, Spokane Audubon, Eastern Washington University, Spokane Audubon, Inland Northwest Land Trust, Ice Age Floods Institute and Friends of Turnbull.
See Activity and Booth Descriptions

Glacier’s ‘Sun Road’ open to hikers, bikers

NATIONAL PARKS — Bikers and hikers heading to Glacier National Park are lucky dogs this holiday weekend: The Going to the Sun Road as far as it is plowed toward Logan Pass is all yours; no motor vehicles allowed.

Check the park's website for more information.

Check the park's Flickr website for updated photos of the plowing work on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.  

 

 

Spring chinook fishing poised to close on Snake

FISHING – Spring chinook salmon fisheries on two sections of the Snake River will close for the season after four more days of fishing in each area, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has announced.

Fishing for spring chinook in the Clarkston area continues today (May 22) and will close an hour past sunset on Sunday (May 25).

Below Lower Granite Dam, fishing for spring chinook will be open from Saturday (May 24) until an hour past sunset on Tuesday (May 27).

By then, the catch of spring chinook salmon is expected to reach the harvest allocation limit for the Snake River based on monitored harvest and the most recent estimate of the run size, said John Whalen, WDFW’s eastern region fish program manager.

“These closures will effectively mark the end of the fishing season for spring chinook on the Snake River,” Whalen said.

The section of the river set to close an hour past sunset May 25 is:

  • Clarkston area: Snake River from the downstream edge of the large power lines crossing the Snake River (just upstream from West Evans Road on the south shore) upstream about 3.5 miles to the Washington state line. (The state line extends from the east levee of the Greenbelt boat launch in Clarkston northwest across the Snake River to the boundary waters marker on the Whitman County shore).

The section of the river set to close an hour past sunset May 27 is:

  • Below Lower Granite Dam: Snake River from the Ilia Boat Launch on the south across to the mouth of Almota Creek upstream about four miles to the restricted fishing area below Lower Granite Dam.

Two other areas of the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam and Little Goose Dam closed for spring chinook fishing May 14.

When the fishery is open, anglers have a daily catch limit of one hatchery adult chinook – marked with a clipped adipose fin – and five hatchery jacks measuring less than 24 inches.

Barbless hooks are required, and anglers must stop fishing for the day when they reach their daily limit of adult chinook salmon. All chinook with an adipose fin, and all steelhead, must immediately be released unharmed.

For more details, check the rule change on WDFW’s website

Missing pet pigeon flies to school of young owner

CRITTER WATCH — Here's my favorite birding story of the day, courtesy of the Associated Press in Montana:

Everyone has heard of homing pigeons, but Montana fifth-grader Tara Atkins apparently has a “schooling pigeon.”

The pet bird named Foresta had disappeared Tuesday from Tara’s home in the Elkhorn Mountains near Montana City, but it was back in her arms Wednesday after it showed up at her school about 5 air miles away in Helena.

“This pigeon has never been to town before,” Atkins’ mother, Krys Holmes, said. “We got her as a baby, and she just hangs out at home.”

The bird caused a ruckus when it arrived at Central-Linc Elementary, first sitting on teacher Rob Freistadt’s head, the Independent Record reported.

Staff members and a police officer tried for an hour to corral the bird that Principal Vanessa Nasset said was just “sky-bombing everyone.”

Nasset asked Tara for help catching the bird after a parent remembered she had a pet pigeon.

Tara recognized Foresta by her distinct coloration and the blue band around her leg.

But as Tara tried to catch her pigeon, the school bell rang and students poured outside, delaying the capture again.

Fellow fifth-grader Owen Cleary finally caught the bird by throwing a blanket over it while it sat on his head.

Holmes said she doesn’t know how the bird ended up at her daughter’s school.

Grizzlies isolated in Cabinet Mountains

THREATENED SPECIES — Our big bears  need lots of room to roam, something that's in short supply in our ever-more-developed world.

 Grizzly bears in NW Montana face trio of obstacles
An estimated 45 grizzly bears reside in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem in the northwest corner of Montana. In most cases, their lineage traces back to a female grizzly from British Columbia that was trapped and released to the area in 1993 to boost the population. The effort continues as the species struggles with isolation from other populations, conflicts with humans and habitat.
—Missoula Independent

Time’s running out for Coffee Pot fly anglers

FISHING — A veteran Spokane fly fisher said he had Coffee Pot Lake virtually to himself on Tuesday and the fishing for rainbow trout was very good. He fished chironomids and was hitting big trout in water as shallow as 8 feet on the far end of the lake from the boat launch.

“But you don't want to wait too long,” he said about the Lincoln County lake west of Harrington. “The chunks of crud that form in the water every year are starting to show.”

National monument tally increases under Obama

PUBLIC LANDS — President Obama is using his presidential power to end-around the gridlock in Washington to give better protection to choice public lands.

President Obama designates national monument in New Mexico
At a press conference Wednesday, President Obama designated 500,000 acres in New Mexico along the state's border with Mexico the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, the 12th time he has used the Antiquities Act to protect lands, and he said he's not done yet.
—Salt Lake Tribune

Here's a list of top-choice areas for President Obama to consider designating as national monuments, including the Alpine Lakes region of Washington, Idaho's Boulder-White Clouds, Montana's Rocky Mountain Front, and several classic areas in Utah.

Campground hosts have insight on choosing an RV

CAMPING — Choosing an RV for camping is intensely personal. “You'll get a different answer from almost everyone you talk to,” said Larry Dach, a Spokane natives who retired and became a full-time RVer with his wife, Susan.

The Dachs have a lifestyle that involves regular stints as campground hosts. This summer, they're at the Dragoon Creek Campground just north of Spokane so they can be close to family.

Their constant connection to RV enthusiasts have given them insights on tailoring RVs to their lifestyle.

“Cost is a major consideration for people like us, of course,” Larry said. “But when you’re living in an RV full time you have to make choices that are more expensive than people who simply recreate in them on weekends.  

“Everlube axles are a must when you're on the road all the time. Less expensive fifth wheels have axles that need lubing every 3000 miles. I'd be pulling the hubs all the time.”

Susan and Larry chose a Discover America Luxury Suite fifth wheel they bought used along with a diesel pickup. Their initial investment was far lower than someone who buys a motor home.

They also not that size of a rig can limit where they apply as campground hosts.

“Ours is 33 feet, but at some of the more remote campgrounds, the spaces available are limited to 25-28 feet,” Larry said.

They have friends who love their 42 foot motor home. “They cost more initially and to operate… and have smaller windows for less light inside the living space than our fifth wheel. But they can be easier to park – a motorhome can park where I can’t.

“They have more underneath storage and you can tow a small car for getting around. They have advantages.”

“Room inside the fifth wheel isn’t a problem because we move to stay with the warmer weather so we can be outside most of the time,” Susan said.

“My sister remarked, “Oh, you’re getting to Spokane just when the weather’s getting nice,'” Susan said. “I answered, 'Yeah, that’s the plan.'”

Spokane Olympian gets to the roots of good shooting

SHOOTING — Amanda Furrer, 23, flew into town this week to be with family and celebrate her silver medal from last weekend — a performance that won her a berth on the U.S.Women's World Championship Shooting Team.

Furrer's dad, Michael, who still coaches the Spokane Junior Rifle Team where Amanda got her start, snapped this photo of Amanda giving her niece and nephews a few pointers with the ol' Daisy BB gun in the family's back yard.

I'll bet that Michael has taken the little kids over to the garage in the background to show them the two dimples in the door where Amanda missed the target and backstop by two feet with her first two shots with a pellet gun when she was their age.

I'm also betting that Michael Furrer NEVER repairs those dents.

Dragoon Campground reopening north of Spokane

CAMPING — The closure sign for Dragoon Creek Campground was removed Wednesday after this photo was snapped and the campground is scheduled to open Friday in time for the Memorial Day weekend. The campground, managed by the state Department of Natural Resources, has been closed five of the past six years.

The campground is unusual in that:

  • It's 15 minutes from Spokane.
  • No fee is charged.
  • Washington Discover Passes are required on vehicles
  • No pets are allowed.
  • The campground gate is locked at 8 p.m. and remains locked until 7 a.m. 

See my story about the campground reopening and my column about the new campground hosts, which had to be secured before the campground could reopen.

Fawn photo: Big-game birthing season underway

WILDLIFE WATCHING — “This is the first fawn we’ve seen this year – we took a couple quick images and moved on – mom was still working on having another one!” says Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.

Wildlife officials in Washington, Idaho and Montana all are issuing reminders to leave fawns alone if you find one.  Even though they may seem abandoned, it's normal for whitetail or mule deer does to stash their fawns motionless in a hiding spot for up to 8 hours before returning to feed.

Cayuse Pass, Mount Rainier ready for travelers

PARKS — Cayuse Pass, the scenic route to Mount Rainier, is open and ready for traffic.  And the park is ready, too, as the Paradise area opened on Wednesday.

If you've never driven Highway 410 over Cayuse Pass you're in for a treat: Mount Rainier looks like it's going to smack you on the lips.

Click here for updates on current conditions at Mount Rainier National Park or go to the Visit Rainier tourist information site.

24 Hour bikers good at team name game

BICYCLING — As of today, 716 riders have registered (limit is 900) for the annual 24-Hours Round the Clock mountain bike race and camping extravaganza at the Seven Mile area of Riverside State Park this Memorial Day Weekend.

Take a quick look at the team names and you get the idea that this is a great event and an even greater party. For example:

2 Person Open Teams

  • Four Nuts in a Sack

​4 Person Open Teams

  • Bacon Strippers
  • Bike Masters of the Universe

5 Person All Female

  • Coal Valley Cougars
  • Bombin' Betties
  • Flying Buttress
  • Whiskey MD

5 Person Coed

  • That's Gonna Hurt
  • Ubermenches + Uberwench 

5 Person Open Age Combined Ages of 150-199

  • Ride it Like You Stole it
  • Afghanistan Banana Stand 
  • Midnight Yard Sale

5 Person Open Age Combined Ages of 200-249

  • We're Not Dead Yet
  • Coal Valley Casanova's 
  • Team Crutch
  • The Good, The Sad and the Butt Ugly

5 Person Open Age Combined Ages of 250+

  • Return of the Poo Flinging Monkeys
  • Nine and One-Half Legs
  • The Boy-Toyz of Wendy Z 

Corporate Teams 10 Person

  • Holy Shift
  • Chuck Norris Rode a Single Speed, ONCE!
  • Tender Nads
  • Social Insecurity

Blackwell Island boat launch opening on Lake CdA

BOATING — Blackwell Island boat launch, a popular Bureau of Land Management recreation site on Lake Coeur d'Alene, will open for the season on Thursday for the season, the Coeur d'Alene BLM office reports. The site will be open daily from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The site offers four launch lanes and 135 parking spots for vehicles with trailers. Picnic tables with grills are available, and a large group picnic pavilion is available for rental through the Coeur d'Alene District Office for $30 a day.

Daily rates at Blackwell Island are $6 and fee envelopes are available on-site. 

Season passes are $40 and cover use at both the Blackwell Island Recreation Site and the Mineral Ridge Boat Launch.

Passes can be purchased at BLM's Coeur d'Alene District Office located at 3815 Schreiber Way in Coeur d'Alene or by calling the office at (208) 769-5000.

Season passes are not available for purchase on-site at Blackwell Island.

  • Spokane residents can purchase season passes Monday-Friday at the Bureau of Land Management's Spokane District Office, 1103 N. Francher Rd.

Info: (208) 769-5000

Exploding targets banned on national forests

SHOOTING — Exploding targets are officially a no-no on national forests throughout the West.

Citing public safety concerns and the potential for igniting wildfires, Northern Region Forester Faye Krueger has signed a regional closure order prohibiting unpermitted explosives on national forest system lands, specifically to prohibit the use of exploding targets.

This closure for national forests in Idaho, Montana and the Dakotas follows last year's closures by some other Western national forest and the entire the Pacific Northwest Region.

“National Forest System Lands are ideal for a wide range of recreational activities that include hunting and sport shooting,” Krueger said. “We must also ensure that recreational users are safe in their pursuits, and that we eliminate the risk of wildfires from explosive targets.”

In the past two years, exploding targets have been identified as the cause of at least 16 wildfires in the western states, costing taxpayers more than $33 million in fire suppression costs. The closure order includes all 12 national forests and grasslands in the Northern Region, covering northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and remaining portions of South Dakota not already under a closure order by the Rocky Mountain region.

Read on for more from the Forest Service:

Route of the Hiawatha opens to bikes on Saturday

BICYCLING — The Route of The Hiawatha rail-trail near Lookout Pass is set to open for the 2014 summer season on Friday, May 24.

The 15-mile route for mountain biking or hiking follows a portion of the abandoned Milwaukee Railroad on a mostly downhill grade between the old town site of Taft, Mont., (off Interstate 90) and the North Fork of the St. Joe River near Avery, Idaho.

Top attractions include seven trestles towering up to 230 feet over the creeks and forest and 10 tunnels, including the 1.7-mile St. Paul Pass Tunnel  (Taft Tunnel) at the Montana-Idaho border.  

Pedal the route down and back on your own for a 30-miler or ride the downhill route and board a shuttle bus for a lift back to the start.

Trail passes ($6-$10), shuttle bus tickets ($6-$9) and mountain bike rentals ($20-$30) are available at Lookout Pass Ski Area 12 miles east of Wallace.

  • By the way, the bike rentals they provide are GREAT smooth-riding fat-tire bikes, complete with helmets and EXTRA-BRIGHT headlights.  You will be very glad you had the sense to have a VERY BRIGHT headlight for going through the St. Paul Pass Tunnel.  Trust me.

The trail will be open daily, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., through Sept. 28.

Catching some air off the South Hill bluff

FLYING — My bicycle commute up the South Hill and along High Drive is never dull. The bluff trails invite all sorts of people and recreation, such as hikers, dog walkers, mountain bikers, runners, families, people on the verge of making families….

Last night I was treated to the flying spectacle of paraglider Jonathan Woodruff launching off High Drive.

“I parked by car below and I have time for one quick flight this evening,” he said…. and he was off.

Spokane’s Furrer shoots way to world stage, again

SHOOTING — Amanda Furrer, a product of the Spokane Junior Rifle Team who shot her way to the 2012 London Olympics, continues to be on the world stage.

On Saturday, Furrer, 23, won a silver medal in the U.S. Championships at Fort Benning, Georgia, to claim a coveted slot on the 2014 U.S. World Championships Women's Three Position Rifle Team.

“It was a big try out for us,” she said. “The medalists are the only ones that qualified for the world team. I shot well enough that I didn’t even need to shoot the last final to make the team.”

In her sights now is the International Shooting Sports Federation World Championships in Grenada, Spain, Sept. 6-10.  

But first she'll represent the United States in the World Cup matches in Germany June 4-12 and in Slovenia June 13-21 followed by the Grand Prix in Spain July 11-21, and the Championships of the Americas in Mexico Oct. 11-20.

Furrer will compete in Women’s three position rifle which is comprised of Prone 20 shots, Kneeling 20 shots and standing 20 shots. All three positions are fired at 50 meters. 

Furrer began her shooting career at the Spokane Junior Rifle Club and graduated in the Mead High School class of 2009. She won a shooting scholarship at Ohio State University where she trained before winning her 2012 U.S. Olympic Team berth.

South Hill Bluff trails cleanup nets tons of trash

PUBLIC LANDS — While volunteers are signing up for major efforts to spiff up trails during the upcoming  national trails week, groups already have been sprucing up the South Hill slopes and trails below High Drive.

John Schram of the Friends of the Bluff sums up the most recent effort:

 A hearty and humble 'Thank You!' goes out to all who were involved in the bluff cleanup on Saturday May 3rd. It was a perfect overcast day for the nearly 50 volunteers to help pull up the piles of metal and trash to our staging area at 57th and Hatch.

A special thank you goes out to the 29th and Pittsburg LDS church members for providing a very large contingent of volunteers. The main effort focused on the bluff slope extending down to the Rocket Market and a smaller section near the river below High Drive between 33rd and 37th.

Pacific Recycling, our platinum sponsor, donated a 30 yard metal bin which we filled to the top. 2.63 tons of metal was hauled away which will net the Friends of the Bluff just over $420! Another half ton of garbage (including 27 tires) was carted off to the dump. All of this was accomplished two minutes shy of our 9am-12pm goal time frame.

After surveying the group's accomplishments, Schram seemed to think the sky's the limit for what volunteers can do:

Our next clean up effort will be focused on removal of the three vehicles at the bottom of the hill down from 37th/High. Does anyone have access to a helicopter?

Montana may curtail hunting of sage grouse

HUNTING — Here's some disturbing news from Montana, which we might have considered to be the “last best place” for sage grouse:

With preliminary results from Montana’s spring surveys showing a continued population decline of the state’s largest native upland game bird, wildlife officials will seek to close sage grouse hunting for the 2014 season.

Read on for the details that will be presented to the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission meeting in Fort Peck on Thursday, May 22.

Video: Moose gives birth to twins in backyard

WILDLIFE WATCHING — “Only in Alaska,” says Levi Perry in posting a YouTube video of a cow moose giving birth to twins —  in the backyard of his girlfriend's home on the east-side of Anchorage.

The video captured Sunday by Victoria Hickey and Sarah Lochner recaps the birth of one calf and the loving attention of the mother to clean up the youngster. Minutes later you realize that while she was tending to the first-born, she was nonchalantly giving birth to the second calf.

It only takes minutes for her to get them looking clean. The little ones waste no time testing their legs and moving in for dinner.

Tiz the season of renewal! Wildlife watching at its best.

Colville Forest names Republic ranger

PUBLIC LANDS — Tinelle Bustam, Public Services Staff Officer on the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, is heading to Washington to become the Republic District ranger on the Colville National Forest starting June 5.

Bustam, has been with the Forest Service for four years. She has worked in recreation and social services in various capacities both within and outside the Forest Service, forest officials say. 

She has a B.S. degree in wildlife biology from the University of Montana, an M.S. in environmental and outdoor education from the State University of New York at Cortland, and a PhD in natural resource recreation management from the University of Florida.

Bustam succeeds Robert Sanchez, Republic District Ranger from 2011 to 2014. 

Bustam will be joined in Republic by her husband Sean Whitman. Bustam enjoys traveling, whitewater paddling and the outdoors in general.  Bustam has also lived and worked in Puerto Rico and Kenya, as well as having recently visited Aruba, Belize and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Columbia Basin fisheries ideas due May 30

FISHING — People with ideas about how to improve state sportfishing rules in the Columbia River Basin have until May 30 to submit their proposals to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

State fish managers will consider proposed rules submitted by the public for any fish species except salmon, so long as they apply specifically to the mainstem Columbia River, its tributaries, or lakes within the basin.

To propose a fishing rule change:

This year’s focus on a specific geographical area – the Columbia River Basin – marks a change from WDFW’s past practice of considering fishing rules proposed for waters anywhere in the state each year.

Craig Burley, WDFW fish program manager, said the department will consider only those public proposals affecting fisheries in the Columbia River Basin this year. WDFW will focus on proposals for freshwater fisheries in Puget Sound and coastal areas in 2015, then saltwater fisheries in 2016, Burley said.

“This approach will allow fishery managers and the public to focus on specific proposals and their potential effects in specific watersheds,” he said. “That’s difficult to do if you’re looking at hundreds of proposals affecting waters all over the state.”

The new process was recently approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Sportfishing rule changes developed through this process will be available for public review and comment in August.

The commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposed rule changes in November, and take final action on the 2014-15 sportfishing rule changes at a public meeting in December.

Bird photo: The blues that will brighten your day

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Perhaps only a bluebird could sing the blues on a spring morning like a Lazuli bunting.

Thanks for getting our day off on the right note, Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.

Big-game hunting permit application deadlines loom

HUNTING — Special big-game hunting permit applications for 2014 seasons are coming due in the Inland Northwest.

University high student state’s top junior bass angler

FISHING — Nathan Portch of Spokane Valley is on a roll in the world of competitive bass fishing.

The University High School student captured the Big Fish award with a  5.31-pound largemouth and went on to land a five-fish total of 15.02 pounds on May 3 to win the Washington State Junior Bass Fishing title, age 15-18 division, at lake Sammamish.

On May 12, he came back to take second place in the two-angler team competition in the  Washington High School Bass Tournament competition at Moses Lake.

But it's the state junior championship, sponsored by the Washington State Bass Federation, that qualifies Portch to represent the state at the TBF/FLW Junior World Championship for bass fishing in August in South Carolina. He'll compete against 50 other state champions for bass fishing’s junior world title.

Read on for play-by-play details about Portch's win at Lake Sammamish.

Idaho treats novices to fishing, complete with gear

FISHING – An Idaho “Take Me Fishing” trailer is geared up for another season of introducing people to the sport of fishing at Panhandle lakes.

The trailer is filled with rigged up fishing gear and bait the Idaho Fish and Game Department loans for free. The trailer already has been at several lakes, including Fernan Lake on Saturday.

Next stop: Fernan Lake on Saturday, May 17, 10 a.m.- 3 p.m.

Kids and adults, residents and non-residents, can fish without a license during the hours of the events if they sign in at the trailer.  All other rules such as size limits and daily bag limits apply.

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

Info: (208) 769-1414.

Other dates, running 3 p.m.-6 p.m. unless otherwise indicated, include:

  • May 21, Rose Lake
  • May 28, Perkins Lake.
  • May 31, Steamboat Pond, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • June 3, Dawson Lake.
  • June 5, Hayden Lake Sportsman Park.
  • June 7, Hauser Lake, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • June 10, Smith Lake.
  • June 12, Jewel Lake.
  • June 14, Rathdrum City Park, 9 a.m.-noon.
  • June 17, Kelso Lake.
  • June 19, Fernan Lake.

Program tackles Spokane River fly fishing

FISHING — A Spokane River fly fishing guide will give insights to fly fishing the Spokane River during a two-hour program starting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20, at Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley.

Shop owner and guide Sean Visintainer will cover gear, the fish, where to go, techniques, hatches and fishing the seasons.

Cost:  $20. Must Prepay to enroll; (509) 924-9998.

Wyoming least tolerant of wolves among managing states

PREDATORS — Wyoming's bottom line is at the bottom.

Wyoming manages wolves to keep number near allowable level
Of the five states that are managing wolves—Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Michigan and Wisconsin, Wyoming has set its sights on keeping the number of wolves in the state at the bare minimum required to comply with federal rules.
—Jackson Hole News & Guide

Ocean salmon fishing opens May 31, time to book a trip

FISHING — Although charterboats are fishing daily for bottomfish out of Washington ports, many anglers are eagerly anticipating the May 31 ocean opening for king salmon.

“Fishermen will be able to keep two hatchery kings,” said  Steve Burress of Pacific Salmon Charters in Ilwaco. “The forecasts are excellent. We're expecting good things.”

 

Kokanee limit increased to 15 at Lake Pend Oreille

FISHING – The limit of kokanee anglers can catch at Lake Pend Oreille has been increased from 8 to 15.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved the increase at a meeting in Lewiston Thursday, effective immediately.

Increasing the catch limit is a signal that fish managers believe the kokanee have made a remarkable recovery from near collapse 14 years ago. Costly efforts to reduce the invasion of lake trout starting in 2006 allowed the kokanee to make a comeback.

Kokanee fishing on the lake was closed in 1999 and reopened in 2013.

Spring chinook fishing closures announced for Idaho, Washington

FISHING — The bad news is that Ice Harbor and Little Goose dam areas on the Snake River met were closed to fishing for spring chinook on Wednesday, with virtually no notice. Harvest quotas had been met.

The good news is that Lower Granite and Clarkston areas will remain open on their normally scheduled days of the week, plus they will get a weekend day bonus, each week. Lower Granite is open Saturday through Tuesday, and Clarkston is open Thursday through Sunday each week.

Check  the emergency fishing regulation section of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website under Snake River.

In Idaho, harvest of adult chinook (24 inches or greater) will end at the close of fishing hours on Friday, May 16.  

Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials just announced the closure to take effect on the Clearwater River from Camas Prairie Railroad Bridge in Lewiston upstream to Cherrylane Bridge. 

Says Joe Dupont, IFG regional fisheries manager:

This closure is being implemented because the harvest quota for adult Chinook Salmon has been met in this section of river.  As you may recall, our goal is to allow 25% of the adult harvest to occur in this reach of river.  Harvest quotas for adult Chinook Salmon in different reaches within the Clearwater River drainage were developed using input from the public to help insure all communities in the watershed have opportunities to harvest salmon (refer to the map below for the different harvest quotas). 

Anglers may continue to fish for adipose clipped Jack Chinook Salmon between Camas Prairie Railroad Bridge and Cherrylane Bridge.  Jack salmon are defined at less than 24 inches in length.  Any adult salmon (24 inches or longer) caught in this river section must be immediately released.  Chinook Salmon seasons will remain unchanged upstream from the Cherry Lane Bridge.

 

Mount Shuksan avalanche kills skier

WINTERSPORTS — The National Parks Service says one skier was killed Wednesday in a North Cascades National Park peak after getting swept by an avalanche.

An avalanche triggered on Mount Shuksan Wednesday morning as two skiers were descending the peak. One skier narrowly avoided the slide, but the other was caught, falling over 2,000 feet. The uninjured skier called for help using his cell phone.

Climbing rangers were able to find the body during an aerial search, but unstable snow conditions prevented them from retrieving the body.

The two skiers, both men, were from Seattle. No further details were immediately available.

Park staff says they’ll attempt to retrieve the body using a helicopter today.

Snow still plugs Mount Spokane summit road

STATE PARKS — Roads and trails are clearing at Mount Spokane, but there's still plenty of snow in the upper elevations and timber.

Warren Walker rode his bike Thursday and was able to accumulate 8,000 feet of climbing — but he wasn't able to pedal all the way to the top of the mountain.

“The Summit Road is still snowed in,” he said in a post with the photo above.

Learn to distinguish Eurasian collared-dove from mourning dove

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The Eurasian collared-dove is an exotic species that's unprotected in Washington and Idaho and can be shot by licensed hunters year-round where hunting/shooting is allowed. They're delicious, too.

But it's important to be able to distinguish the collared-dove from the similar mourning dove, which can be hunted only during designated September seasons.

Eurasian collared-doves are larger than mourning doves and slightly lighter in color. Aside from the diagnostic black collar on the backs of their necks, they also have a squared tail as opposed to the pointed tails on mourning doves.

See more diagnostic features and listen to recordings that distinguish their different calls at the following Websites:

  • Eurasian collared-dove, click here.
  • Mourning dove, click here.

PCT trail record setter checks out Sandpoint

HIKING — The woman who set the 60-day, self-supported, speed-hiking record for the 2700-mile Pacific Crest Trail in 2013 was in Sandpoint Wednesday to give a presentation for the annual meeting of the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

The crowd that came for the show was not disappointed — especially with her animated description of an 11 p.m. on-the-trail. face-to-face encounter with a cougar. (Anish dominated!)

But Heather “Anish” Anderson needed to stretch her legs, before the program.  After an early morning radio interview, she headed out on the Gold Hill Trail with her boyfriend, Kevin Douglas, and Phil Hough of the FSPW.

“I don't walk fast,” she said. “I'm a 3 mph hiker. What set me apart on the PCT was that I could do it all day, day after day, for 60 days without a rest day averaging only 5 hours of sleep a night.”

Sandpoint in the mood for Bike to Work Week

BICYCLING — Cyclists gathered on 1st St. in Sandpoint on Wednesday for a free breakfast sponsored by the Outdoor Experience shop to celebrate BIke to Work and School Day.

Afghanistan skiing slide show at Magic Lantern

WINTERSPORTS — In case you missed it first time around when we first wrote about a skier's week in Afghanistan, a FREE slide program “Ski Boots on the Ground: Bamiyan Province of Afghanistan” will be shown Thursday, 7:15 p.m., at the Magic Lantern Theatre, 25 W. Main Ave. in Spokane.

Nick Pontarolo, a Cheney resident and graduate of the Spokane Mountaineers Mountain School, will speak and share a slideshow from his recent seven-day ski and sightseeing adventure in an amazingly unlikely destination. 

ATV protesters leave ruts in public opinion

PUBLIC LANDS — The recent Nevada ATV armed protest onto U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands closed to motor vehicle travel is a sham and a shame.

It's no more worthy of public sympathy than the related gun and flag-waving protest over a deadbeat Nevada rancher's claim that he should be able to graze cattle on public lands without paying a fee, despite what the courts say.

Imagine how history might have turned out if Rosa Parks had been brandishing an automatic weapon when she boarded that bus in Montgomery, Ala., all those years ago,” starts a Salt Lake Tribune editorial.  The piece is headlined, “ATV riders do damage to a bad cause.”

“The cause of those who carried automatic weapons, protest signs, Don’t Tread On Me flags and, worst of all, their own children Saturday on a clearly illegal ATV ride through Recapture Canyon near Blanding does not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the Civil Rights Movement.

“Except to point out how the tactics of those who demand the right to play with their expensive toys on land that they have absolutely no legal right to traverse are clearly destructive of a goal that was utterly without merit to begin with….

“In the eyes of most of the American people — and their members of Congress — who really own all that land, Saturday’s ride was accurately discerned as a childish snit fit that should only confirm BLM policy to keep such folks out of environmentally or historically sensitive lands.”

See a detailed story on the ATV rebellion by High Country News.

Lower Columbia spring chinook fishing season extended

FISHING — Starting Thursday, May 15, anglers will have another full month to catch hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon and steelhead on the lower Columbia River under an agreement reached today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.

Fish managers have more confidence in the run after getting new projections this week. Changes, if any, in quotas for the Snake River portion of the run have not been announced,  yet.

Under the agreement for the lower Columbia, anglers can catch and keep one marked, hatchery chinook salmon daily through June 15 as part of their catch limit from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upriver to Bonneville Dam.

In all, they may retain up to two adult salmon or steelhead – or one of each – but no more than one adult chinook salmon per day. Anglers must release all sockeye salmon and any wild salmon or wild steelhead, which can be identified by an intact adipose fin.

According to an updated run projection, 224,000 upriver spring chinook will return to the Columbia River this year, said Ron Roler, a fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The pre-season projection anticipated a return of 227,000 upriver fish.

The new projection reflects greater confidence in the run since last week, when fishery managers projected a minimum return of 185,000 upriver fish this year, Roler said.

“We’ve taken a conservative approach to the season so far, but the count of spring chinook past Bonneville Dam indicates our pre-season projection was on target,” he said. “Under this extension, anglers should be able to keep fishing in the lower river right up to the start of the summer chinook season June 16.”

Anglers fishing the Columbia River below the dam caught 10,084 upriver spring chinook through May 10, when the previous two-day extension ended. The extension through mid-June is projected to boost the annual catch in those waters by 3,864, Roler said.

  • For more information about the fishing extension approved today, see the Fishing Rule Notice on WDFW’s website.

Audubon program explores electronic tools for birding

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Though not as essential as binoculars and a scope for birding, computers and other devices are becoming handy to have at home and in the field to enhance birding efforts.

The Spokane Audubon Society will explore electronic birding from apps to the Web during it's monthly meeting, 7:30 p.m.  on Wednesday, May 14, at Riverview Community Building, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave.

Bring your devices and questions. Alan McCoy, who's participated in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count for 30 years, will help participants explore the possibilities.

Snowboarder lawsuit could put chill on liability releases at ski resorts

WINTERSPORTS — The Oregon Supreme Court heard arguments in Astoria last week in a lawsuit filed by a snowboarder paralyzed from the waist down after a jump at a popular Bend resort. The snowboarder says the waiver he signed does not release the resort from liability for his injuries.

According to the Associated Press coverage of the hearing last Wednesday, the arguments centered on the difference between the assumed risk that skiers and snowboarders take on dangerous jumps and the responsibility of a snow park operator to make sure its jumps and moguls are safe.

Myles Bagley was 18 when he was injured at the Mt. Bachelor ski resort in 2006 on a jump. Bagley’s attorneys argued his injuries could have been avoided if the jump were designed differently.

Mt. Bachelor’s attorney says a mandatory waiver signed with a lift pass sale exempts the resort.

Bagley’s case could have broad ramifications for release agreements that must be signed in order to take part in an activity. Some state legislatures have made specific rules for amusement parks, which include ski lifts, but the issue of broader recreational activity has not yet been defined.

Bagley sought $21.5 million in Deschutes County Circuit Court in 2008. A judge threw out the lawsuit, and the court of appeals affirmed.

 

Grizzly killed by Idaho black bear hunters

HUNTING — An 11-year old male grizzly bear was killed by black bear hunters near Yellowstone National Park on Wednesday, May 7, according to the Idaho Fish and Game Department.

The incident occurred on the Caribou-Targhee Forest, just off of the Cave Falls Road in Idaho.  Both black bears and grizzly bears are known to frequent the area just outside of the southwest corner of Yellowstone National Park.

The incident is under investigation and information will be released as it becomes available, said IDFG, which is assisting the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service with the investigation.

Hunters are responsible for sharpening their bear ID skills.

Educational info and a bear ID quiz — this can be humbling — is available on the Idaho Fish and Game website.  

 

Yakima River salmon fishing opens Saturday

FISHING — The upper section of the Yakima River will open for hatchery spring chinook fishing on Saturday, May 17.

 With the spring chinook fishery in the lower Yakima River just getting under way, a section of the river farther upstream will open to fishing from the Interstate 82 Bridge at Union Gap to the railroad bridge below Roza Dam.

Spring chinook have been moving into the lower river in increasing numbers, and should provide fishing opportunities in the upper river when that area opens for fishing, said John Easterbrooks, regional fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Read on for all the detail from the the WDFW:

Remington recall rifles with trigger issue

SHOOTING — In April the Remington Arms Co. issued a nationwide recall of its Model 700 and Model Seven rifles equipped with the X-Mark Pro trigger saying that some may have “excess bonding agent” that could cause the rifles to accidentally fire.

The recall applies to all of the rifles that were manufactured between May 1, 2006, and April 9, 2014. Rifles manufactured after April 9 have already been repaired, according to a Billings Gazette story by outdoor writer Brett French.

“Remington has determined that some Model 700 and Model Seven rifles with XMP triggers could, under certain circumstances, unintentionally discharge,” reads a recall notification on the company’s website.

To participate in the recall, Remington Arms Co. recommends the following:

Step 1: Visit xmprecall.remington.com or call 1-800-243-9700 (Prompt #3 then Prompt #1) Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT. You will be asked to provide your name, address, telephone number, and rifle(s) serial number.

Step 2: Upon receipt of the information requested in Step 1, Remington will send you pre-paid shipping tags, boxes and written instructions. Remington will cover all related shipping, inspection and cleaning charges. Please ONLY return your rifle with the designated shipping tags and boxes, as they are marked to expedite the rifle to a dedicated Remington facility. 

Upon return of your rifle, you will note a punch mark on the bolt release. This mark confirms your rifle has been inspected and specialty cleaned under this recall program.

 

Spokane paddlers offer canoe, kayak classes

PADDLING – The Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club is launching its annual series of paddling classes for canoeists as well as whitewater and sea kayakers starting next weekend.

The classes are taught by qualified instructors as follows:

May  18 ­– Flatwater solo and tandem canoeing.

June 21-22Beginning whitewater kayaking.

June 28-29Moving water canoeing.

July 16, 19, 20Sea kayaking.

Cost for each class is $55 per paddler and participants must become club members.

Sign up: 448-9214, or email dianecadams@asisna.com.

OR-7 may have found a wolf mate

ENDANGERED SPECIES — OR-7, a wolf originally from northeast Oregon, may have found a mate in southwest Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reports.

In early May, remote cameras on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest captured several images of what appears to be a black female wolf in the same area where OR-7 is currently located.  The images were found by wildlife biologists when they checked cameras on May 7. 

The remote cameras were set up by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of ongoing cooperative wolf monitoring efforts.  New images of OR-7 were also captured on the same cameras and can be accessed and viewed at ODFW’s wolf photo gallery (see first three images).

“This information is not definitive, but it is likely that this new wolf and OR-7 have paired up.  More localized GPS collar data from OR-7 is an indicator that they may have denned,” said John Stephenson, Service wolf biologist. “If that is correct, they would be rearing pups at this time of year.” 

The Service and ODFW probably won’t be able to confirm the presence of pups until June or later, the earliest pup surveys are conducted, so as not to disturb them at such a young age.  Wolf pups are generally born in mid-April, so any pups would be less than a month old at this time.

If confirmed, the pups would mark the first known wolf breeding in the Oregon Cascades since the early 20th century.

Wolf OR7 is already well-known due to his long trek and his search for a mate—normal behavior for a wolf, which will leave a pack to look for new territory and for a chance to mate.  “This latest development is another twist in OR-7’s interesting story,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator.

The Service and ODFW will continue to monitor the area to gather additional information on the pair and possible pups. That monitoring will include the use of remote cameras, DNA sample collection from scats found, and pup surveys when appropriate.

Wolves throughout Oregon are protected by the state Endangered Species Act.  Wolves west of Oregon Highways 395-78-95, including OR-7 and the female wolf, are also protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, with the Service as the lead management agency.

At the end of last year, there were 64 known wolves in Oregon.  Except for OR-7, most known wolves are in the northeast corner of the state.

About OR-7

OR-7 was born into northeast Oregon’s Imnaha wolf pack in April 2009 and collared by ODFW on Feb. 25, 2011.  He left the pack in September 2011, traveled across Oregon and into California on Dec. 28, 2011, becoming the first known wolf in that state since 1924. 

Other wolves have traveled further, and other uncollared wolves may have made it to California.  But OR-7’s GPS collar, which transmits his location data several times a day, enabled wildlife managers to track him closely.

Since March 2013, OR-7 has spent the majority of his time in the southwest Cascades in an area mapped on ODFW’s website.

Endangered species issues stacking up in West

WILDLIFE — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a heaping plate of critter issues to consider across the country, with some very high-profile portions centered in the West:

Western states worry that sage-grouse listing could curb economy
As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mulls protection of sage grouse, western states have put in place their own plans to protect the species as there are concerns that federal measures could halt grazing, mining and energy development on sage-grouse habitat.
—Washington Post

A four-year study done by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks of sage grouse in Powder and Carter counties found that the species is doing well in the southeastern counties in areas well-used for grazing.
—Associated Press

USFWS mines public comments on wolf delisting for new data
Idaho U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson said he believed that if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decides not to remove wolves from the endangered species list, Congress will step in and give states more authority to manage wolves, while Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, who said he does not believe the federal agency relied on the best science when proposing to delist the species, said he said if Congress does decide to give states more management authority, it will be a political, not a scientific decision.
—Portland Oregonian

Federal judge in Montana orders USFWS to write Canada lynx plan
Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 30 days to submit its proposed recovery plan for the Canada lynx.
 —Missoulian

Washington seeks ideas on transforming outdoor recreation

The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation is accepting comments and ideas on how to engage and transform outdoor recreation throughout Washington. 

This effort, launched by Gov. Jay Inslee, involves state parks as well as other state lands, including wildlife areas.

Best to pay attention here. Your input is important.  

Please comment here. 

 

Lake Roosevelt water levels heading up

BOATING — Spring runoff has kicked into gear in the Columbia Basin, reversing the drawdown at Lake Roosevelt. The water level behind Grand Coulee Dam is going up.

“We are beginning refill of the lake,” said Lynne Brougher of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The level had been drawn down to an elevation of 1231 feet to accommodate the runoff.

The level of Lake Roosevelt was 1237 feet above sea level today, having come up 4 feet since Friday. 

“It is anticipated the lake level will be in the 1240 -1245 range by the end of the week,” she said this morning.

The rising levels will gradually allow more boat launches to be opened.

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

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

 

Biologist: Lake Lenore still has fish to catch

FISHING — I've been hearing the rumors of the demise of Lahontan trout at Lake Lenore.

Is the illegal fishing to blame? 

Chad Jackson, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist said they're actually seeing more fish in the spawning area trap this year, not less.

He says that's anecdotal evidence and a full lake fishery survey is needed.

But he has other ideas on why the fishing isn't the same as it was before the net-poaching case came to light last year.

See details in my Sunday story: Lahontan cutthroats still thrive at Lake Lenore despite poaching.

KPBX leader can toot his horn in Bike to Work Week

BICYCLING — As a boy, KPBX program director Verne Windham may have had longings to play tuba, but he instinctively knew a French horn would be a more toteable package during Spokane's annual Bike to Work Week.

Good choice, Verne!

The annual event to promote non-polluter two-wheel commuter transportation kicked off this morning with a free pancake breakfast in Riverfront Park provided by Mountain Gear

How many miles will you rack up on a bike instead of a car this week?

  • By the way, the background music for the breakfast provided by Madeline McNeill and her guitar was sensational. If you're looking for an entertainer for a gathering from the South Hill to the concert hall, check this lady out. 

 

Protection proposed for Spokane River minimum flow

FISHING — The Spokane River could get “water rights” to maintaining minimum flows that would be especially beneficial to fish under a proposal that will be discussed in Spokane this week.

In an effort to protect and preserve water levels in the Spokane River, the Washington Department of Ecology is proposing a preliminary draft rule for the main stem of the river in Spokane County and a small portion of Stevens County.

The purpose of an instream flow rule is to give the river a water right, much like those granted to individuals, farms and municipalities. In order to issue the river a water right, the state has to go through the process of adopting a rule.

Ecology approaches instream flow rules differently in each watershed basin. Each rule area has unique needs due to geography, geology, population, and local water management.

The rule adoption process includes a robust public process and collaboration with the communities impacted by the rule. The public can provide input on the preliminary draft rule through an online feedback system. These comments may be incorporated into proposed rule language but will not be addressed formally.

A formal public comment period and hearing will be held later in the process.

If an instream flow rule is adopted, Ecology will use the rule as a regulatory flow threshold to determine whether there is water available for new uses while still protecting fish and other instream resources.

Mother’s Bad Day: Moose loses fight with wolves for calf

WILDLIFE WATCHING — I hope everyone had a great Sunday honoring the mothers in your family. But in the world of wildlife, it may not have been flowers and breakfast in bed.

Don't watch this video if you don't want to see one of the most sobering lessons in the natural order. 

I'm posting this video because it shows a wild side of motherhood: A cow moose fighting bravely for the life of her calf against impossible odds: a pack of five wolves. A pack's efficiency and teamwork is at once fascinating and terrifying

This is simply educational: not pro-wolf or anti-wolf.

It's just the way nature is in all its rawness.

Enjoy a cold one to boost the Centennial Trail

TRAILS — Time to drink a local brew and boost our favorite trail along the Spokane River.

The Friends of the Centennial Trail is the charity of the month of May at the No-Li Brewhouse, 1003 E. Trent Ave. in Spokane.

For every Taster Tray (six 4-oz beer samples) a No-Li guest purchases, you will receive one token. The token can be used for $2 off merchandise at the pub, or the guest can choose to put the token in the Charity of the Month box up at the bar. 

At the end of the month, $2 for every token will be donated to Friends of the Centennial Trail!

Rider takes bicycling to incredible heights

BICYCLING — So you think you know how to ride a bicycle?  Think again.

Be sure to watch this Martyn Ashton film to the end to see some of what it takes to be this good.

  • Meanwhile, you don't have to be this good to partake in Spokane's Bike to Work Week. Check out the website with details. The kickoff free breakfast is tomorrow morning, May 12, at Riverfront Park.

Riverside State Park opens novice ORV area today

POWERSPORTS – A 20-acre site for novice ATV and motorcycle riders will be dedicated today, 11 a.m., at Riverside State Park’s ORV Park.

Dirt bikes and ATVs will be available for new riders, youths and adults, to try out, park officials say.

The novice area, for riders with less than a year of experience, is fenced off from the rest of the 600-acre site that’s open to all riders.

From SR 291, turn south on Seven Mile Road. Go to Inland Road and turn left to the ORV area.

Today is a free day in Washington State Parks. No Discover Pass is required on vehicles. 

Pacific Crest Trail speed-record holder to address Scotchman Peaks group

WILDERNESS — Heather “Anish” Anderson, who set the speed record for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail last summer, will keynote the annual meeting of the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness on Wednesday, May 14, in Sandpoint.

The 2014 State of the Scotchmans event will start at 6 p.m. at Forrest M. Bird Charter Middle School auditorium, 621 Madison St. 

Anderson will speak at 7 p.m.

The program deals with her mind- and body-challenging trek — 2,655-miles from Mexico to Canada in 60 days — to set a PCT record for self-supported through-hiking.

Scotchman Peaks Wilderness advocates will present a progress report of their 10-year-effort in getting an 88,000-acre roadless area northeast of Lake Pend Oreille considered for wilderness designation. 

The group also will announce summer events including work parties and guided treks open to the public in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness and proposed Scotchman Peak Wilderness area.

Directions:

Forrest M. Bird Charter Middle School auditorium, 621 Madison in Sandpoint.

  • From U.S. Highway 2, turn south on Division  (marked by the big Mountain West Bank at the west edge of Sandpoint).
  • Go past the first stop sign and look for a sign on the right pointing the way to the Charter School.
  • A sign marking the entrance to the auditorium building. 

Nine Mile boat launch improvements complete

BOATING – Boat launch renovations at Nine Mile Recreation Area, 11226 W. Charles Rd., on Lake Spokane (Long Lake) have been completed and the site is open for the season.

Riverside State Park officials say the access road has been repaved and new docks have been installed. A new concrete ramp has been poured that reaches deeper into the lake at a more gradual grade.

Opening the site was delayed because of late delivery of the docks. The launch fee is $7.

Fish on! for Snake River spring chinook anglers

FISHING —  Now's the time to head to the Snake River for spring chinook.

Counts of chinook passing lower Snake River dams are on the rise and water conditions are more than respectable, according to a Lewiston Tribune update story by Eric Barker.

“Flows are also looking good, so those fish should spread upriver fast,”  Joe DuPont, regional fisheries manager from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston, said in my earlier blog postExpect the fishing to really pick up from here on out,” 

Through Thursday, 35,894 spring chinook adults had passed over Ice Harbor Dam, the first on the Snake, and the fish are marching upstream:

  • 28,824 over Lower Monumental Dam.
  • 16,632 over Little Goose Dam.
  • 13,383 over Lower Granite Dam, the last dam the fish negotiate before heading up the Snake River into Idaho bound for the Clearwater and Salmon rivers.

Read on for more details from Barker's story:

 

Volunteers invited to Turnbull Refuge planting party

PUBLIC LANDS — Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge and Spokane Audubon Society will host a community work party 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday, May 10. This is part of an ongoing community effort to restore native riparian habitat to benefit birds and other wildlife species.

Hundreds of native saplings will be ready to plant, and fencing to build at the project site to protect the trees from deer, elk, and moose browsing. Everyone is welcome!

The Refuge will also host a potluck lunch.
  • Where: Turnbull NWR Headquarters, 5 miles south of Cheney on Cheney-Plaza Road: turn left on Smith Road and drive 2 miles on gravel road to headquarters.
  • Clothing: Long-sleeved shirt, work pants, sturdy boots or shoes, gloves.
  • Equipment: (If you can) shovels and pliers.

Wyoming wolf quota increase fires up debate

PREDATORS — Few of the dozens of outfitters and conservationists who showed up for a Wyoming Game and Fish Department wolf meeting Wednesday saw eye to eye, or approved of the status of the hunt, according to a report in the Jackson Hole Daily.

Wyoming Game and Fish is proposing to target 46 wolves this fall — 20 more than last year — in the state’s trophy game management area. Managers aim to bring the population of wolves in Wyoming’s jurisdiction down to near 160, wolf program biologist Ken Mills said.

Big-game hunting outfitters want more wolves killed. Wildlife-watching outfitters want more restrictions on hunting wolves that venture out of  Yellowstone Park.

Great horned owlets most vulnerable now

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Great horned owlets are huge-bodied birds for their age, and they don't often make graceful first flights from their nests.

Tome Kearney of Spokane snapped a photo of this owlet in his backyard this week as it was fledging.  For perspective, each of the landscaping blocks it's standing on are 4-inches high.

The birds often will spend a day or more hopping around the ground and up to fences, rooftops and low branches as they gain strength and confidence to fly.

They are most vulnerable to dogs, cats and other predators at this time.

Feathers are flying on the grouse prairies

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Dancing and strutting isn't enough for sharp-tailed grouse during the spring mating season that's underway. The males duke it out pretty good to show dominance for breeding the females that are walking around nonchalantly watching the show.

Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson captured this action this week from a bind in Montana.

 

Spring chinook marching up Snake River

FISHING — Angling success for spring chinook picked up at Ice Harbor and Little Goose dams, the first fisheries the salmon encounter as they head up the Snake River.  The big spike of springers over Bonneville Dam last week is entering the Snake system, with 8,200 coming over Ice Harbor on Wednesday, according to counts from the Fish Passage Center.

Glen Mendel, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist says the number of fish allotted for Snake River fishermen could go quickly if fish managers don't increase the quotas.

“No harvest has been documented at Clarkston area yet, but numbers of fish are just beginning to really pick up in that area and angler effort has therefore been light,” Mendel said.  

“The total Snake River harvest allotment based on the preseason prediction is 1,309 hatchery adults (904 prior to the preseason update, and 405 after), but by Tuesday next week, we may have an updated run prediction (that might be higher than originally predicted).  We will all have to wait for that run prediction update to see how it affects the Snake River fisheries.

“We are predicting approximately 300 fish will be harvested at IHR during May 11-13, and approximately another 200 fish at LGO during the May 8-10 period, which could put us at nearly 1,000 adult salmon harvested in those two zones by the end of May 13. 

“So, this is a heads up that we will be considering closing those areas, possibly sometime next week.

Any closure would be  posted on the emergency fishing regulation section of the WDFW website at under Snake River.

Outdoor gear fixer offers tips on zipper issues

CAMPING — The Gear Gods have smiled on Spokanites who need outdoor technical clothing and gear repaired or personalized.

Since 1997, Penny Schwyn has been humming away on her sewing machines customizing Gore-Text apparel, making ski clothing fit, fixing the holes dogs put in tents — you name it.

In addition to running her business, Specialty Outdoors, out of her South Side home, she also blogs occasionally with helpful tips about gear.

 

 

Scoot-n-shoot turkey hunting raises issues of ethics, safety

HUNTING — Promotion of a controversial turkey hunting technique that involves hiding or sneaking behind a fanned out gobbler decoy has caught my attention this season.

As you can see in the video above by Mojo Outdoors, this “scoot-n-shoot” method, also known as “fanning,” poses major issues with hunter safety as well as ethics.

In today's Outdoors column I write about on these tactics, featuring the viewpoint of five experts in the field, from the International Hunter Education Association to the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Check out the video first and then the reactions from the experts. Then let me know what YOU think.

Should the state enact a rule that prohibits a hunter from being closer than 5 or 10 feet from a turkey decoy while in the act of hunting?

  • To show how the basics of hunter education are deteriorating behind this mentality, the photo with this post shows TV crews and men who call themselves turkey hunting experts setting up an outdoors show filming featuring Miss Kansas shooting from behind a gobbler decoy.

Woodland caribou endangered status protections upheld

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A petition seeking to drop woodland caribou as a lost cause for endangered species protections was turned down by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today, the Associated Press reports.

However, the Fish and Wildlife Service downlisted the caribou from endangered to threatened status based on a larger area of Canada being included in the protected population. 

The petition had been filed by Pacific Legal Foundation (a law firm that specializes in challenging environmental causes) along with Bonner County and the Idaho State Snowmobile Association, which sought to remove protections and habitat restrictions that would open more federal land for development and motorized recreation.

 

Idaho should see good spring chinook fishing any day

FISHING — Big numbers of spring chinook are coming and river flows are ideal — that's a recipe for success in Idaho waters, says Joe Dupont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston.  

Although only 21 fish were estimated to have been harvested in the Clearwater drainage as of last week, Dupont points to dam counts  indicating that the fishing will pick up — any day.

“Last week we had some exciting times when over a three day period over 40,000 chinook passed over Bonneville Dam,” he said.

Since then the counts have dropped back down, but that spike in numbers caused the agency's projected non-tribal harvest share to increase to about 4,000 adult fish in the Clearwater drainage and about 6,3000 adult fish for the Rapid River run — up from earlier projections of 3,400 for the Clearwater drainage and 4,500 for the Rapid River run.   

This share of fish is similar to what Idaho saw in the Clearwater River basin in 2008 and 2009-2012, Dupont said, but last year the harvest share in the Clearwater Basin dropped to only 640 fish. 

“So this will be a marked improvement over that,” Dupont said.  “For the Rapid River run, last year the harvest share was 2,100 fish and the year before that  it was  4,500 fish.  As such this year will be an improvement over the previous two years.  All in all, I think we are in store for a very good season.

“Counts over Lower Granite Dam the last couple days were around 1,300 and 3,000 fish which is good.  Flows are also looking good, so those fish should spread upriver fast.  Expect the fishing to really pick up from here on out.”

Hear sounds under night sky at Steamboat Rock

CAMPING — In case you've forgotten what it's like to camp out under the stars, Spokane photographer Craig Goodwin reminds us by devoting a sleepless night using his camera and recording night sounds at Steamboat Rock State Park.

On a recent night-photography outing I made a short audio recording of the amazing sounds the animals were making. I wanted to share the recording to give a sense of why these all-night shoots are so magical, so I added it to some of the pictures I took that night and created a short 1:30 video. Bonus points for anyone who can identify all the calls, cackles, and chirps. The most interesting sound is right near the end. The photos follow the sequence in which I took them. What's interesting to me is you can see how the tonal quality of the light changes from 1:00 a.m. (the first shot) to 4:00 a.m. (the last shot).

Starfish disease found on Oregon coast

MARINE LIFE — A disease that has been killing starfish on the West Coast has been found in Oregon.

Oregon Coast Aquarium divers at the entrance to Yaquina Bay on April 27 found starfish with “sea star wasting disease” that causes their arms to fall off and turn to goo.

Divers will survey coastal waters through October to monitor the disease and perhaps help determine the cause.

Others can report sick or healthy starfish online at inaturalist.org and sickstarfish.com.

Alaska bear largest to be killed by hunters

HUNTING — The largest grizzly bear killed and recorded by a hunter has been entered into the Boone and Crockett record book.

The big bruin, taken in 2013 near Fairbanks, Alaska, by Larry Fitzgerald of Fairbanks scores 27-6/16. It missed the world's record mark by seven-sixteenths of an inch but landed a spot as the second-largest grizzly ever recorded. The reigning World's Record is a skull found in Alaska in 1976.

Bears are scored based on skull length and width measurements.

Conservationists use Boone and Crockett trophy data to gauge outstanding habitat, strong recruitment of game animals into older age classes, sustainable harvest objectives and other elements of sound wildlife management and fair-chase hunting.

“One would think that a relatively accessible area, with liberal bear hunting regulations to keep populations in line with available habitat and food, would be the last place to find one of the largest grizzly bears on record,” said Richard Hale, chairman of the Boone and Crockett Club's Records of North American Big Game committee.

Hale said the area is being managed for an overpopulation of grizzlies. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game liberalized hunting regulations to help balance and control bear predation on moose. Baiting is allowed although Fitzgerald stalked his trophy.

Hale added that Boone and Crockett Club recognizes found or picked-up trophies, like the reigning world's record grizzly which scores 27 13/16, alongside hunter-taken trophies because all are useful for documenting historic conservation successes.

Researchers play chicken with sage grouse radios

WILDLIFE — My Sunday Outdoors stories about the fascinating grouse species of the West were packed with information about these novel birds, but a ton of details litter the editing room floor, so to speak.

For example, before they placed GPS transmitters on valuable sage grouse released in Washington last month, Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists practiced and fine-tuned the fitting process on a chicken at the Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area shop (photo above).

“The group learned how to place the GPS transmitter/harness assembly onto a bird, and adjust for proper transmitter location and harness tension,” said Juli Anderson, Northeastern Washington Wildlife Area Complex manager.

North Cascades Highway to open Thursday

NATIONAL PARKS — The party's almost over for bicyclists who've had long stretches of the North Cascades Highway all to themselves as road crews have been clearing snow from State Route 20 west of Winthrop.

The Washington Department of Transportation plans to reopen the North Cascades Highway to traffic at noon on Thursday.

That’s just in time for Winthrop’s ’49er Days, an annual celebration that includes a parade and rendezvous of packers who guide visitors using horses and mules, said Jeff Adamson, spokesman for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The stretch of Highway 20 from Mazama to Newhalem closes every winter due to avalanche danger. This winter, it closed for the season on Dec. 3. It generally reopens sometime in April or May, although it has opened a few years in March, and once as late as June 14.

Adamson said even if weather conditions veer from the forecast and avalanche conditions arise, only the Liberty Bell avalanche chutes still pose any danger. A helicopter crew used explosives last week to send most of the snow down 10 slides, he said.

Crews still have about 3.5 miles of highway to plow and are fixing guardrails and widening the shoulders, he said.

Snow at the summit of Washington Pass measured almost 10 feet. Snow at the Liberty Bell avalanche chute averaged 35 feet deep.

Spring chinook fishing to reopen on lower Columbia

UPDATED 5:20 p.m. with more information from WDFW.

FISHING — Spring chinook will reopen Friday, May 9, through Saturday, May 10, on the Lower Columbia River from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upstream to Rooster Rock, plus bank-angling only from Rooster Rock to Bonneville Dam. Shad fishing also will be open.

Spring chinook surged into the Columbia and over Bonneville Dam last week with one daily count topping 17,000 fish, giving fish managers the go-ahead for more lower Columbia fishing. 

  • Bonneville Dam passage through May 5 totals 119,758 adult chinook.  Based on the 10-year average the 50% passage date is May 7, ranging from April 27 to May 12.  

​Current Columbia River regulations for salmon, steelhead, shad and sturgeon can be found at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Sport Fishing Regulation Update page.

Click “continued reading” for more details from WDFW media releases.

Wanapum reservoir area won’t open for Memorial Day

BOATING — Wanapum reservoir and shoreline will remain closed to the public through the Memorial Day weekend and beyond because of the drawdown and work being done on the damaged Wanapum Dams. 

The Grant County PUD and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have closed the shoreline, beaches, boat launches and all shoreline access points to the reservoir, which runs about 37 river miles between Wanapum Dam and Rock Island Dam on the Columbia River in central Washington.

PUD sites that are closed include Vantage Recreation Area, Kittitas County Boat Launch, Rocky Coulee, Sand Hollow, The Cove, Apricot Orchard, Crescent Bar Boat Launch and shoreline area, Wanapum Upper Boat Launch and Wanapum Heritage Center.

WDFW shoreline sites that are closed include Yo Yo Rock, Old Vantage Highway, Sunland Estates Boat Launch and Frenchman Coulee/Climbing Rocks water access sites

WDFW also has closed the lower ends of roads that lead into the reservoir at the Colockum and L.T. Murray wildlife areas in Kittitas and Chelan counties, and at the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area in Grant County. The upland portions of the wildlife areas above the ordinary high-water level remain open to the public.

Washington State Parks has closed the Wanapum State Park near Vantage.

The shoreline was closed after the reservoir was drawn down in response to a fracture found Feb. 27 on the Wanapum Dam spillway. The shoreline is expected to be closed at least through the July 4th weekend.

Open recreation sites on the Priest Rapids reservoir on the Columbia River downstream of Wanapum Dam include Priest Rapids Recreation Area, and the Wanapum Lower Boat Launch. The utility also plans to open the Huntzinger Boat Launch on Friday, May 23, which will provide access to the Priest Rapids reservoir.

A full list of sites that are open and closed, along with directions and information, can be found on Grant PUD’s website.

  • See a map showing open and closed areas is available

Avalanches delay Glacier Park plowing progress

PUBLIC LANDS — Although hikers and walkers can advance farther beyond gates, snow-plowing crews have been able to open only 12.5 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. The process of opening the famous road over Logan Pass is being slowed by numerous avalanches.

 Visitors can drive 11.5 miles from the West Entrance to Lake McDonald Lodge, and 1.0 miles from the St. Mary Entrance to Foot of St. Mary Lake.

From McDonald Lodge, hikers and bikers can access another 10 miles of road, depending on where the plow crews are working. On weekends there are no restrictions for hikers and bikers. Plow crews are currently working 10-hour shifts Tuesday through Friday. There is currently no vehicle or hiker and biker access on the east side.  

See daily updates and photos at the Glacier Park Website.

Plow crews on Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road are slowly clawing their way to Logan Pass in their annual effort to open Northwest Montana’s most notable summer attraction. As of Monday, the west side plow crew had advanced to Russ’ Slide, just past The Loop, about six miles short of Logan Pass. Meanwhile, on the east side, plow crews were wrapping up their work in the Two Medicine Valley and expected to start plowing the Sun Road east from St. Mary this week.

Park spokesperson Denise Germann said while snow depths have been below the record setting amounts in 2011, plow crews are contending with another danger: avalanches. There are more than 70 avalanche chutes along the Sun Road.

“They’re seeing a lot of snow and a lot of slides this year,” Germann said. “But we’ve seen a lot of avalanche activity all across western Montana this year.”
                                                

Elk Foundation funds Washington habitat projects

WILDLIFE – Nine counties in Washington have been granted nearly $180,000 for habitat projects and research from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. 

The 2014 grants will affect nearly 1,600 acres in Asotin, Cowlitz, Jefferson, King, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Pierce, Skamania and Yakima Counties.

 The money will boost local, state and federal programs for prescribed burns, forest thinning, meadow restoration, noxious weed treatments and other projects, said David Allen, RMEF president.

“We also committed considerable resources toward three different elk studies including one focused on determining the cause of hoof rot,” he said.

RMEF volunteers in Washington raised the money through banquets and activities.

 Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 521 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Washington.

Read on for the specific projects funded by the 2014 grants.

Moose in the garden? It happens

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A few years ago, I'd get several photos a week from readers sharing the sight of moose in their yards or on their walks or adventures.

Nowadays I get very few. The reason: moose sightings are almost common.

Phil Cooper of Idaho Fish and Game's Panhandle Region has a column this week with all sorts of details about moose and why the department sometimes will respond and remove a moose that's wandered into town — and why the staff sometimes just leaves them be.

Summary:  Don't be fooled by their calm demeanor — keep your distance!  And never provide food for moose.

Read on for the details from Cooper.

Researchers finding more wolverines

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Remote cameras, GPS monitoring and DNA testing continues to reveal more about one of the most secretive of North American carnivores.

Montana, Alberta researchers report result of wolverine study
A $1.7-million study begun in 2009 by Parks Canada, the Miistakis Institute in Calgary and the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University to survey the wolverine populations in mountain parks has been completed, with 64 different wolverines identified.
—Calgary Herald

North Cascades Highway almost cleared, but for now it’s for bikes

BICYCLING — Bicyclsts are the first to get access to bare pavement on the North Cascades Highway west of Winthrop each spring as snow plows clear Highway 20 for the summer season.

The road crews are over Washington Pass and the road could be cleared in days. But over the weekend, cyclists were having a ball, reports the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association.

Fishing Kids set their hooks Saturday

FISHING — Saturday was a great time at Clear Lake for the hundreds of youngsters who got a chance to try out fishing in the annual Fishing Kids event.  Volunteers from local sportsmen's groups rigged up more than 1,000 rods and supervised the action.

The kids were scheduled for half-hour slots throughout the day to prevent crowding and waiting. Each kid got to keep a rod-reel combo and up to three trout that were released by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife into huge net pens for the event.

“My Grandson and I had a great time out at Clear Lake for the Youth Fishing Event,” writes Scott Weiler, who posted this photo of the activity. “Thanks to all the volunteers; they all did a great job.”
 
Jim Kujala, one of the many volunteers, staffed the fish cleaning station to prepare the fish for taking home or donation. While most of the kids kept their fish for a family dinner, 193 pounds of fish were donated to local food banks, he said. 

Dandelion: The weed that feeds

WILDLIFE WATCHING — I was driving through Canada's Kootenay National Park in spring early in the morning one year when I spotted a black bear paralleling the highway in the vegetation along the road.  I stopped and watched. The bear walked for a quarter mile eating the blossoms off dandelions like a kid in a candy store.

A few days ago, I filled my second tag in Washington's spring gobbler hunt.  When I checked the crop of my tom, it was full of dandelion blossoms.  He'd been taking advantage of the spring bloom.

Dandelion's are the weed that feeds wildlife.

Panhandle National Forests raise camping fees

PUBLIC LANDS — The cost of camping or using pay-for-use recreation sites on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests will increase this season, generally $1 to $2 per use.  

Read on for specifics from the Forest Service:

Video: sharp-tailed grouse mating dance inspired Native Americans

WILDLIFE WATCHING — In paying tribute to Washington's seven grouse species in my Sunday Outdoors feature stories, I mention that the mating display of the sharp-tailed grouse inspired some traditional dances of Native Americans.

See for yourself above.

Observe other grouse that inhabit Washington in the following videos:

Grand Coulee police cite angler near dam

FISHING – A Grand Coulee man has been cited by city police for fishing in an area that’s closed to public access immediately downstream from Grand Coulee Dam.

Water below the dam (flowing into the reservoir called Lake Rufus Woods) was opened to fishing last month for the first time since the 9-11 terrorist attacks, but a stretch of shore below the dam, marked by signs, remains closed for dam security.

Tyler Mellick was warned for trespassing in the closed area, but returned the next day to make a case for public access and was cited, said Capt. Chris Anderson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police supervisor.

“Working with the Colville Tribe, we opened this stretch of water for fishing, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t restrictions to the land and around structures,” he said.

“Mr. Mellick is a Bureau of Reclamation employee who, for some reason, is making this his cause. He’s gone to the sheriff, to WDFW, the media and last I heard he’s going to the U.S. Attorney General’s office. He’s on a mission.”

Anderson said the restricted area is clearly posted.

  • See the video Mellick's friends filmed from a distance of the arrest. 

Goodbye fish: Roosevelt levels plunging to elevation 1231 feet

FISHING/BOATING — Lake Roosevelt’s water elevation will be down to 1231 feet by Sunday to make room for heavy runoff expected in May, the Bureau of Reclamation reports today.

There have been worse years for spring drawdowns at Lake Roosevelt in the past decade, but as my recent story explains, anglers can expect a high percentage of the trout and kokanee to be flushed through Grande Coulee Dam when the drawdown goes below 1,240 feet.

Fish are going bye-bye. The amount of fish left for next  winter's fishing for carryovers will depend on how quickly the runoff comes and the reservoir refills.  

It's important at this point to compare the lake level with the levels at which boat ramps are dewatered.  At 1231 feet, only four ramps will still reach the water: Spring Canyon, Seven Bays, Keller Ferry and Hunters Camp.

Spring Canyon near Grand Coulee and Seven Bays downstream on the Columbia from the Spokane Arm are the deepest launches on the 125-mile long reservoir.

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

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

Sportsman’s club treats disabled to Shooting Day

SHOOTING — The Northwest Sportsman's Club has set June 1 for its annual shooting event for people with disabilities.

The club treats its guests to a day of .22 target shooting, long range shooting, muzzleloader shooting and even shotgun shooting with live birds at the Miller Ranch hunting preserve. To top it off, the day features a barbecue lunch and door prizes plus two firearms that will be raffled off to participants.

Participation is limited and participants must pre-register with an enrollment form available on the Northwest Sportsman's Club website.

Rose Lake access to close for construction

BOATING — The public boat access site at Rose Lake, a popular North Idaho panfish and catfish lake southeast of Fourth of July Pass, will be closed for for about 60 days starting Saturday, May 5.

Fish and Game Department officials say major improvements to the boating-fishing site require the closure for public safety during construction.

The project involves converting the Rose Lake boat launch from a primitive site to a modern facility with expanded and closer parking, a new access road to the ramp, and a larger boat loading area, says department spokesman Phil Cooper. 

New, paved ADA accessible parking will be built near the docks and ramps. Boaters will benefit from a new double lane launch surface, a new boarding dock system, and a boat preparation area.

For temporary small boat launching, the old gravel ramp at the Watson Road fishing access site will be open.

Spring chinook bite coming to the Snake

FISHING — With a big pulse of spring chinook headed upstream past Bonneville Dam, fish managers are expecting good things for upstream fishermen.

Weather was generally poor through the weekend and fishing has been slow in the Snake River since the season opened last week, with the fish being caught near Ice Harbor (first dam the hit in the Snake) and Little Goose dams.  But Glen Mendel, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist for the Snake, said it's time to get your salmon gear ready:

We have a very large pulse of fish passing Bonneville Dam (over 17,000 on one day on April 30) headed upstream, and we already have generally more than 1,000 per day passing Ice Harbor Dam.  Counts at Little Goose are nearly 1,000 per day, and there are over 2,000 fish stacked up so far between Lower Monumental and Little Goose dams. 

Lower Granite counts have been over 200 per day for a few days.  The wind and rain are over for now, river flow levels are moderate, and fish numbers are good and getting better, so fishing conditions are looking good for the next several days or more.

Surge of spring chinook crosses Bonneville Dam

FISHING — What appears to be the biggest one-day tally of spring chinook since 2002 passed over Bonneville Dam on Wednesday, prompting more enthusiasm for the possibility of another lower Columbia River season. The announcement could come after a recalculation of the forecast in the next week or so.

The surge of 17,409 spring chinook counted over Bonneville on Wednesday was more than double the number counted the previous day and the biggest number of the 2014 run.

Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman reports that the only recent higher number was the 18,436 springers over Bonneville on May 9, 2012, “which was the sixth best day recorded going back to the late 1930s:”

This can be peak timing for fishing at Wind River and Drano Lake, just 10 and 21 miles above the plug. PIT tag data shows 384 tagged springers going through the dam over the past week, with 30 and 12 headed to those two Gorge tribs, but most to Idaho.

See our feature on fishing this run of chinook  from the S-R Sunday Outdoors section.

Hydrologist: Ski now, paddle whitewater later

WINTERSPORTS — Hold on to your spray skirts, kayakers.  The ski-snowshoe-snowboard season is not yet over.

This week's weather foray into 70-degree temperatures isn't enough to trigger the big spring runoff events whitewater enthusiasts relish.

“It's still getting below freezing at night in the upper Selkirks, and that means the snowpack is holding on,” said Kevin Davis, Idaho Panhandle National Forests hydrologist who also heads the  Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center out of Sandpoint.

Sunny days and freezing night temperatures add up to prime corn-snow skiing conditions in the high country for backcountry enthusiasts, he said. But kayakers and rafters waiting for the rush of water down their favorite streams must be patient even though its sandal weather.

Harris was on Lightning Creek near Hope, Idaho, on Wednesday, pointing out the creek was low and clear and the high mountains were still white with snow despite the shirt-sleeve weather locals were enjoying around Lake Pend Oreille.

“Basically it takes 70-degree temperatures up in the mountains — that's about the trigger point that sets off the spring runoff,” he said. “So far, it hasn't been getting that warm up high.”

Neighbors plan South Hill Bluff cleanup Saturday

TRAILS — The Friends of the Bluff are coordinating a trash cleanup day along the popular South Hill Bluff trails below High Drive on Saturday, May 3, from 9 a.m.-noon.

Groups will stage at the dirt parking area at 57th and Hatch.

Gloves, water, wheel barrows, and dollies along with tie down ropes will be crucial items needed for the day. 

“If you have been in the down slope area recently you might have noticed growing piles of metal, tires, and assorted trash,” said John Schram, a friends group board member and cleanup coordinator. He invited trail users to pick up and add trash to these piles, which will be picked up by the cleanup crews.

Info: Diana Roberts, 477-2167

Steptoe Butte view captures changes in scenery

LANDSCAPES — Hugh Imhoff drove to the top of Steptoe Butte Wednesday morning to take advantage of the cool, clear weather for scenic photography.

The Palouse Hills that stretch out like waves in a stormy sea provide scenic camera fodder that changes with the seasons and even in the hour as clouds and sun sweep across the sky.

But Imhof's eye was attracted to the foothills of the Blue Mountains in the distance near Pomeroy, where wind turbines have dramatically changed the view in just the past few years.

Learn to fly fish North Idaho streams

FISHING — Learn what you need to know to catch fish with a fly rod in the Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers during a 2 hour presentation, starting at 6 p.m. on May 14 at Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley.

The seminar by fly fishing guide Sean Visintainer will cover: 

  • What gear to bring
  • The Fish
  • Where to go
  • Seasonal changes
  • Hatches
  • Patterns
  • Techniques

Cost:  $20. Must Prepay to enroll; (509) 924-9998.
  

Washington to offer free entry at state parks

PUBLIC LANDS — Washington State Parks have a fee-free access day coming up. 

Here's the list of 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for vehicle entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Federal land fee-free entry days also are scheduled in 2014 to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged. 

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News, field reports and insights on the Great Outdoors.

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

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Rich Landers 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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