Posts tagged: Methow Valley
POACHING — A Western Washington man has pleaded guilty to 14 counts of luring bears with doughnuts, salmon and other bait so they could be killed for fun by himself and family from the porch of his Methow Valley recreation cabin.
James Erickson, 52, of Eatonville, Wash., has been sentenced to six days in jail on top of a $12,000 fine and 20 days electronically monitored detention at his home. He'll also loose his state hunting privileges for five years. As part of the plea deal, charges against others were dropped.
The case was sealed after years of investigation after Fish and Wildlife police received a tip that led to a remote trail cam with photos that caught Erickson in the act.
See the story and photos from the investigation that led to the arrest.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — A trail-cam image of a pair of gray wolves in the Methow Valley is raising the possibility that the Lookout Pack may be regrouping — and possibly reproducing.
The wolves (above) were photographed in April by a motion-activated camera put out by the U.S. Forest Service southwest of Twisp.
Several sightings of the pair have been reported to the Washington Fish and Wildlfie Department, offering the possibility the pair may have mated and the Lookout Pack is rebuilding.
Poaching and other possible causes reduced the Lookout Pack from 10 wolves in 2008 to two or possibly three animals.
Three members of a Twisp family, whose ranch borders the area inhabited by the Lookout Pack, pleaded guilty in April to charges related to killing endangered wolves and attempting to smuggle a wolf hide to Canada.
Their fines total more than $70,000
The the photographed pair are a breeding male and female, pups could be born in early May.
“Without radio-collared animals, our next best chance of finding out more will be when the pups are old enough to leave the den and start responding to howling solicitations – probably not until mid-June,” Scott Fitkin, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, told the Methow Valley News.
Elsewhere in Washington
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to document whether wolves confirmed in about five new areas of the state have formed new packs.
WDFW biologists currently are attempting to trap and fix radio collars on wolves in the “wedge” area between the Columbia and Kettle rivers in northeast Washington.
Officials say that operation likely will move next to the Hozomeen area in northwest WA.
Efforts to put collars on wolves in the Touchet River area of the Blue Mountains likely won't begin until later this spring or early summer, officials say.
SKY WATCHING — The Northern lights put on a great show over Washington's Methow Valley last night, and the nordic ski trail operators where on the job to see the spectacle.
“Our groomer Ed got this incredible shot last night,” says the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association Facebook page.
“Last night was pretty epic,” the groomer operator said. “I didn't drive off the trail looking at the sky, but it would have been a fair excuse. Photo was taken on View Ridge Trail about 12:30 a.m. Unfortunately I didn't have my tripod so this is hand held… braced against a shut off Pisten Bully! It is a 1.6 second shot.”
Read more about the unusual solar storm bombarding the night sky today and continuing tonight.
Put away that garden seed catalog. Cross-country ski areas are enjoying the season’s best snow conditions.
Mount Spokane: New snow has accumulated every day this week with temperatures largely in the teens and 20s. XCers in most of the world would die for these conditions.
Tauber Angus Ranch: “We had 14 inches of new snow earlier this week and I’m wondering how to get word out to people that the skiing is fantastic,” said Cassie Tauber, operations manager of the working cattle ranch. Family members who love to ski groom miles of trails about 12 miles north of Sandpoint.
“Our trails are more gentle than a lot of areas, great for families, and we have a yurt,” she said.
Info: (208) 263-6400.
4th of July Pass: Enough snow has accumulated for gates to be closed, barring vehicles, and for groomers to pack miles of trails.
“I welcome a good late winter and early spring ski season, if only to make up for the deficit we suffered in December and most of January,” said Geoff Harvey, Panhandle Nordic Club.
Methow Valley: “So much snow, so much fun,” says the email from the Methow Valley Sports Trail Association. The area near Winthrop is bustling this weekend with a winter triathlon hot-air balloon festival.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The diminutive pygmy owl stands less than 7 inches tall, and it's easy to miss.
Birder Teri Pieper of Twisp used her eagle eyes to spot this little guy as she skinny-skied behind friends who had swooshed past the owl in the brush just above their heads without seeing it. She was skiing near Sun Mountain Lodge on the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association trails.
The pygmy owl is an aggressive little bird that preys on rodents and other birds as large as a mourning dove.
NORDIC SKIING — Time to brag: My visits to trout streams have ended weeks of good fishing; showing up at a campsites brought in hail storms.
But my Friday effort to ski with family 6 miles into the wood-heated Rendezvous Hut for a three-day overnight up in the Methow Valley lured in a near white-out snowfall. In less than two hours as we skied, the high country was smothered in 5 inches of beautiful new snow for our visit.
STEELHEAD anglers were hitting most of the hot spots on the Methow River while I was diving back to Spokane on Sunday.
NORDIC SKIING — If you have plans to visit the 120 miles of Methow Valley ski trails this season, check out this great Groupon deal: Pay $25 for a three-day trails pass that normally costs $51.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A woman scouting for deer during Washington's early deer hunt details her tense encounter with two wolves that apparently were defending their deer kill near Lake Chelan in this blog post by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.
No shots fired. I admire her poise.
OUTDOOR GEAR – The annual Sports Swap organized by the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association is set for Saturday at the Red Barn in Winthrop.
Here's a tip: Some great gear from bicycles to nordic skis and all the accessories changes hand at cheap prices during this event.
Read on for details:
BICYCLING — The annuam Methow Valley Fall Mountain Bike Festival is next weekend, packed with activities from ranging from races and good exercise sitting backto watch films.
Check out the entire schedule at the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association's festival website.
Read on for info from the festival press release.
TRAILS — For the first time in its 33 year history, the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association is hiring a new executive director to lead a group that's developed one of the nation's top cross-country and cycling trail systems and associated events and programs.
The job is being vacated by Jay Lucas, who's ruddered the organization for three decades.
Based in Winthrop, the northcentral Washington group is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and promoting environmentally sound recreation on or near the trails in the Methow Valley. The MVSTA trail system includes more than 120 miles of cross country ski trails in the winter months, and is recognized as one of the finest trail systems in North America for nordic skiing, mountain biking, trail running and hiking.
Compensation: $45,000 to $60,000 with benefits. Application deadline: July 15.
Read on for details.
NORDIC SKIING — Seeley Lake, Mont., citizens are slowly sliding into the next phase of a project to transform their small, rural community into a national nordic ski destination they say will rival the Methow Valley's sport trail system, which has around 120 MILES of trails, most of them groomed during winter.
Read the full story that appeared in the Missoulian.
Although Seeley Lake currently has only 15K of groomed trails, a feasibility study conducted by Vermont-based Morton Trails has set out a $4 million path toward nordic nirvana.
Seeley Lake's elevation north of Missoula features snowpack and rolling terrain rival some of the best nordic ski destinations in the country, the consultant said.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officials this week confirmed the killing of an adult male gray wolf, shot in Eastern Washington more than a year ago and dumped in eastern Skagit County.
Investigators believe the wolf was shot somewhere east of Rainy Pass just west of the Methow Valley, according to a Wenatchee World report.
Officials are releasing some information about the incident, hoping the public can help solve the case. Wolves are protected in Washington by state and federal endangered species laws.
The animal was shot and skinned, said Mike Cenci, WDFW deputy chief of enforcement.
State and federal authorities are investigating two other wolf poaching cases, one from 2008 in the same part of northern Washington and a September case in northeastern Oregon.
Cenci said a citizen reported the most recent wolf poaching.
Cenci would not say whether they believe the latest confirmed wolf poaching was from the Lookout Pack, the state’s first documented breeding wolf pack in 70 years. The pack makes its home in the Methow Valley and surrounding hills.
WILDLIFE — Washington wildlife biologist are keenly watching during the February wolf mating season to see if there's any breeding activity in the Methow Valley's Lookout Mountain pack. Two years ago, that pack became the first in Washington to have a confirmed breeding pair.
State Fish and Wildlife Department experts suggest the breeding female was killed last May and her radio collar destroyed, according to a story in the Methow Valley News.
The pack has fluctuated in size, numbering as many as 10 in the spring of 2008. Biologists estimate the pack has dwindled to perhaps just three wolves.
The Methow Valley News story also updates the area's pending wolf poaching case involving local landowners.
MEANWHILE IN IDAHO…
Federal wildlife officials on Thursday gave preliminary approval to a petition to kill up to 60 endangered gray wolves in Idaho’s Lolo area that have been preying heavily on big game herds.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to approve the hunt plan submitted last August by Idaho Fish and Game. A similar petition to remove wolves in the Bitterroot Range of Montana is pending.
Wolves in the Northern Rockies are listed as an endangered species under a federal court order, but state and federal officials have been looking for ways to curb their population.
WINTER SPORTS – Nordic ski races and advance skiing camps, a Doggie Dash, biathlon clinics, art shows, comedy theater – and that’s just a sampling of the activities scheduled for this year’s Methow Valley Winter Festival near Winthrop, Feb. 18-27.
See the entire schedule and pre-register for the popular activities online
Read on for more details and links.
CLOSER TO HOME
It's not too late to sign up for the Spokane Langlauf 10-kilometer cross-country citizen race, Feb. 13 at Mount Spokane. This is the largest nordic ski race in the region and a hoot whether you're a serious racer to more interested in the Woolies or Woodies divisions. Get infor and register online.
NORDIC SKIING — Waterbottles left against the windows froze overnight, and there was no dilly-dallying on the round-trip runs to the outhouse.
But zero-degree temps couldn't deter my annual New Year's Eve family ski trek that requires a six-mile uphill ski to overnight at one of the six Rendezvous Huts high in the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association's groomed trail system near Winthrop, Wash.
The Koeske family this year joined the Landers family for our 15th annual retreat from cell phone coverage, electricity and plumbing to bask in the warmth and comfort of a wood-heated cabin. The views are worth a million bucks, yet the cabins rent for $175 a night and sleep 8-10. The cabins are has accessed by meticulously groomed cross-country trails, which extend for as far as one could ski.
Quality family time in a bit of nordic heaven.
NATIONAL PARKS — It’s official. This week’s temporary closure of the North Cascades Highway will continue through the winter, according to avalanche experts who assessed the danger there Wednesday after a storm deposited 2 feet of snow high in North Cascades National Park. The scenic portion of State Highway 20 closes between Mazama and Newhalem ALMOST every winter because of deep snow and avalanche danger. In 2003, the pass closed on Oct. 17 for the winter — the earliest ever — due to flooding and mudslides that blocked the highway, the Wenatchee World reports. The latest closure was in 1989, when it closed temporarily on Jan. 3, and for the winter on Jan. 9. When was the last time motorists could drive the route over Rainy and Washington passes all winter long? The pass did not close during the winter of 1977-78, when there was not enough snow to cause avalanche concerns, the Wenatchee World says. Depending on conditions, the pass will reopen sometime between late March and early May.
NATIONAL PARKS — It’s official. This week’s temporary closure of the North Cascades Highway will continue through the winter, according to avalanche experts who assessed the danger there Wednesday after a storm deposited 2 feet of snow high in North Cascades National Park.
The scenic portion of State Highway 20 closes between Mazama and Newhalem ALMOST every winter because of deep snow and avalanche danger.
In 2003, the pass closed on Oct. 17 for the winter — the earliest ever — due to flooding and mudslides that blocked the highway, the Wenatchee World reports.
The latest closure was in 1989, when it closed temporarily on Jan. 3, and for the winter on Jan. 9.
When was the last time motorists could drive the route over Rainy and Washington passes all winter long?
The pass did not close during the winter of 1977-78, when there was not enough snow to cause avalanche concerns, the Wenatchee World says.
Depending on conditions, the pass will reopen sometime between late March and early May.
WINTER SPORTS — The cross-country ski trails in the Methow Valley near Winthrop are finally getting a good coating of snow, and new trails are opening to skiers.
The Washington Transportation Department has closed the North Cascades Highway because of heavy snow expected from this new storm, which could drop as much as 2 feet of new snow in the higher areas.
The highway closed Monday afternoon. DOT said it would assess the situation after the storm to determine if the highway will remain closed for the winter.
The North Cascades Highway is the term given to the 22 miles portion of Highway 20 between Newhalem and Mazama. This stretch — which includes 4,855-foot Rainy Pass and 5,477-foot Washington Pass — is usually closed by winter snow and avalanches.
NORDIC SKIING — Cross-country skiers aren’t being left out in the cold as early snowfall covers trails and allows downhill ski resorts to open. Here’s the latest report:
Mount Spokane: The temperature was minus 10 degrees this morning when the state park rangers show up at Selkirk Lodge. They found drifted snow and blow-down trees on the trails. They planned to be cutting out trees today, then grooming with the snowmobile to provide skiing for Thanksgiving day. The snowcat groomer isn’t scheduled to be out until Dec. 1. Sno-Park permits are required. Remember, you can get them online this year if you wish.
49 Degrees North: Nordic trails will be groomed for Thanksgiving day but the Nordic yurt and services will not be open for customers until Friday.
Schweitzer: At least two trails are scheduled to be groomed for the resorts season opener starting Friday.
Methow Valley: The big snow dump largely missed the Methow, although the groomers were out packing the half a foot or so that’s on the ground to be ready for the next storm, said Don Portman at Sun Mountain Lodge. Meantime, skiers have been traveling up the North Cascades Highway to find plenty of snow near Cutthroat and Rainy Pass.
Echo Ridge: This nordic area above Lake Chelan has 10 inches of snow that will be flat-pack groomed on about half of the trail system for Thanksgiving day.