Posts tagged: Priest Lake
CAMPING — Beaver Creek Campground at the northwest end of Priest Lake has been closed today and visitors are being evacuated after Forest Service inspectors discovered more than 40 hazardous trees that must be removed for visitor safety.
The Beaver Creek boat launch and canoe portage areas northeast of Nordman are outside of the campground and will remain open, officials said, but the campground closure will continue through one of the most popular camping weekends of the year.
The agency ordered inspections of national forest sites in North Idaho after a Sandpoint man was killed by a 200-foot-tall tree that fell on his tent in Stagger Inn Campground during a severe thunderstorm on Sunday night.
Kyle L. Garrett, 48, was killed by the uprooted tree northwest of Priest Lake. A 52-year-old woman was injured and treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Forest Service officials and local law enforcement are evacuating the Beaver Creek Campground today and suggesting alternate camping sites, said Jason Kirchner, Idaho Panhandle National Forests spokesman in Coeur d'Alene.
Campers with reservations through the Labor Day holiday weekend will be notified by email and given a refund for their advance fees through a federal reservation website, he said.
“Closing a popular campground before a holiday weekend is a terribly difficult decision but, in this case there are too many dangerous trees to remove before the weekend, so closure is our only option to ensure a safe environment,” said Mary Farnsworth, forest supervisor.
Crews have been assessing the conditions of developed recreation sites throughout the Idaho Panhandle National Forest since Monday, Kirchner said. In many sites crews have already identified and removed dozens of hazardous trees from campgrounds, picnic areas and trailheads.
Beaver Creek Campground, which is northeast of Nordman, is the only site where danger is extensive enough to require a temporary closure for tree removal, he said.
tHowever, a handful of smaller recreation sites are still being assessed today.
For the latest status of the ongoing storm damage assessment visit Inciweb.org.
A number of alternate campgrounds are available in the Priest Lake area, including Outlet Campground, Luby Bay Campground, Reeder Bay Campground and Osprey Campground. These sites all include “first come, first served” sites and reservation sites.
Check Recreation.gov for reservations and status of these and other Forest Service campgrounds or call (877) 444-6777.
No survey of sites outside campgrounds
The current assessment of hazardous trees does not include areas outside of developed recreation sites so it is vitally important for forest visitors to understand that hazardous trees may be present anywhere on the national forest. Visitors are encouraged to take a hard look at their surroundings when recreating throughout the forest, and especially when selecting a campsite. Hazardous trees are not always readily apparent, but some obvious indicators of dangerous trees include damage to roots, branches or trunk; insect infestations; leaning trees; or dead trees. These types of trees are especially hazardous when the wind is blowing. For more information of identifying and avoiding dangerous trees please download the Idaho Panhandle National Forest’s Hazard Tree Safety Flyer.
For more information on recreation opportunities on your National Forest please contact your local US Forest Service Office.
WILDLIFE — Relax and enjoy yourself if you vist Bartoo Island at Priest Lake. Rumors of a cougar roaming the island have been dispelled. Here's the report just issued by the Idaho Fish and Game Department.
On Monday, August 12, 2013, campers on Bartoo Island reported hearing and seeing what appeared to be a mountain lion to the US Forest Service (USFS). Bartoo Island, located on the Priest Lake Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (IPNF), is one of seven islands on Priest Lake. The island consists of USFS campgrounds and privately owned land.
To ensure public safety, personnel from the IPNF partnered with Idaho Department of Fish and Game and responded to the report. The agencies coordinated with the Priest Lake Sportsman’s Association and volunteers to search the island early on the morning of August 14. The group used hounds to search for the mountain lion, but did not find any evidence that one had been on the island.
While no mountain lion was found, visitors to Bartoo Island are reminded that proper storage of food and beverages can reduce the likelihood of unwanted visitors to their campsites. A mandatory food storage order, covering the Priest Lake Ranger District, is in effect annually from April 1 through December 31. For more information on proper food storage, members of the public are encouraged to visit the Idaho Panhandle National Forest’s food storage web site.
For more information, please contact the Priest Lake Ranger District at (208) 443-2152 or visit the Idaho Panhandle National Forests Website Idaho Panhandle National Forests - Home.
CAMPING – Idaho State Parks has partnered with The North Face to loan camping equipment at no charge to first-time campers through September.
The Explore Your Parks program is underway at two North Idaho state parks:
The offer’s also good at Lake Cascade State Park south of McCall.
New campers can check out tents, tarps, chairs, cooking equipment, lanterns and other gear – everything needed except sleeping bags and food.
The only costs are the normal campsite and reservation fees.
Participants are greeted by staff who will assist with campsite setup and offer tips on camping basics.
Often the state parks also have activities, such as staff-led nature hikes and family activities.
PADDLING — Spokane kayaker Brian Jamieson and some friends had a hoot paddling the slick granite slides of Lion Creek near Priest Lake on Saturday, as you can see in his helmet-cam video above.
Lion Creek is a popular destination for Priest Lake visitors, who have worn out the bottoms of many swimsuits slipping down the slides on their butts in lower water.
This is why some people don't sleep after dark. Says Goodwin:
I was surprised to find so few shots of iconic Priest Lake under the stars so I went up last night to see if I could find a good location. I also wanted to try out star pictures on a lake.
The stars were stunning the sky was more colorful than I expected. I'm not sure what the green and purple are. Perhaps aurora borealis. They ebbed and flowed while I was out, with the pink in the lower left disappearing quickly.
I know it looks like I just cranked the saturation but this is pretty close to what came out of the camera at f2.8, 3200 ISO, and 30 seconds exposure.
See this photo bigger and in higher resolution.
See forecasts for auroa borealis activity.
FISHING — More than 4,000 lake trout were caught and handled — most of them released — during the first phase of a Priest Lake fisheries assessment that ended May 17, the Idaho Fish and Game Department reports.
Most of those lake trout were tagged and released, but 27 percent were killed.
Here are the numbers pertaining to lake trout:
In addition, the project captured 3 bull trout, 1 kokanee, 95 suckers, 11 whitefish, and 22 pikeminnow—all of which were released alive, said Jim Fredericks, IFG regional fisheries manager.
RIVERS – The best time to float the Priest River comes and goes, but the next couple of weeks will be worth checking out.
At its extremes – up to 10,500 cubic feet per second and down to 165 cfs – the river is basically too high for safe passage except for experts or too low to float without dragging a vessel over the rocks.
During summer through early fall, when most people would be lured to portions of the river downstream from Priest Lake, the water generally is too low to float without bouncing and scraping along the rocks.
However, inexperienced paddlers running inflatable boats can have a safer, enjoyable float at flows in the 600-1,000 cfs range in the Eight Mile Rapids stretch from McAbee Falls downstream. (See description below.)
Prime times for experienced paddlers farther upstream are:
Read on for more details and notes on flows from Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club diaries.
BOATING — Idaho boaters may want to upgrade their vessels to the equivalent of old Iron Sides if a court ruling on negligent boat driving holds.
Bonner County is appealing a North Idaho magistrate court judge’s ruling that the state’s statute regarding the negligent operation of a vessel is unconstitutionally vague.
That's good news for the boaters who crashed into anchored boats at Priest Lake last summer.
Read on for details from the Associated Press.
FISHING – As a divisive debate on managing nonnative lake trout with native cutthroats and popular kokanee at Priest Lake continues, Idaho Fish and Game officials will hold a public meeting Thursday (Feb. 28) in Priest River.
Biologists will present their evaluation of the fisheries and the results of opinion surveys starting at 7 p.m. at the Priest River Senior Center, 339 W. Jackson Center.
Agency researchers already have contracted with commercial boats to survey lake trout populations using gillnets this spring.
Lake trout, also called mackinaw, have dominated the Priest Lake fishery since they overpopulated the lake in the 1980s, collapsing the kokanee and bull trout populations, IFG biologists say.
While the lake trout fishery has become popular with many anglers, other fishermen would prefer restoration of a kokanee, bull trout and cutthroat fishery, said Jim Fredericks, IFG regional fishery manager.
Bringing back kokanee and native fisheries would require gillnetting and angler incentives to significantly reduce the lake trout population, similar to what’s been done in recent years at Lake Pend Oreille.
Anglers are almost equally polarized in the debate, Fredericks said.
Lake trout are prolific, inexpensive to manage and provide a steady fishing opportunity, he said.
On the other hand, lake trout tend to dominate systems at the expense of other species, and they’re not as valuable to the recreation economy as kokanee, he said.
Top recent outdoors-related stories in The Spokesman-Review include:
FISHING – Coinciding with a debate about future management of the Priest Lake mackinaw fishery, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is joining a comprehensive study of the lake trout population.
The University of Idaho College of Natural Resources and the Kalispel Tribe will help in estimating the number of lake trout in Priest Lake and identifying growth and survival rates and food habits.
Large-scale commercial netting equipment will be used, similar to that being used in Lake Pend Oreille. From March through May, deepwater trapnets and short-duration set gillnets will be used to capture, measure, and mark lake trout with an individually numbered tag.
A portion of the fish will be killed for age and stomach analysis but many fish will be marked and released in the lake so more data can be obtained from the anglers who catch them.
Public meetings on managing Priest Lake mackinaw are planned for late February, IFG officials said.
Read on for more details from an IDFG media release.
WINTER SPORTS — Sled dog racing hits high gear in the Inland Northwest starting this week — and skiers should note that skijoring is a category insome sled dog racing events nowadays.
The Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog Race starts today (Jan. 23) and runs through Jan. 26 in the Wallowa Mountains based out of Joseph, Ore. Known for its challenging elevation gain, the event includes a full-scale 200-mile race for teams of 12 dogs — a Yukon Quest qualifying race. Also scheduled is a 100-mile race for 8-dog teams, a new 62-mile, 2-day mid-distance “pot” race.
The Cascade Quest Sled Dog Race runs Feb. 1-3 based out of Lake Wenatchee. It includes four events: an 8-12 dog 100-mile stage race, a 6-dog 75-mile stage race, a 2 to 6-dog 24-mile recreation-class race and a purebred race.
WINTER SPORTS — Special events, such as guided snowshoe hike and ski touring, are planned for Saturday's Park-n-Ski day at winter hot spots such as Priest Lake State Park and Fourth of July Pass while fees are being waived for parking.
A winter fat-biking demostration is being planned by Greasy Fingers Bikes at the Indian Creek Unit of Priest Lake State Park from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Info: (208) 443-2200.
The 20th annual Best Hand Fun Ski/Snowshoe is being sponsored with prizes and trail grooming by the Panhandle Nordic Club at Fourth of July Pass from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Look for updates here. The Idaho Parks and Recreation Department website appears to be down. I'll be looking for more infor about activities at Farragut State Park.
FISHING — For the first time since 1999, anglers will be allowed to harvest kokanee in Lake Pend Oreille starting in 2013 under a fishing regulations adopted Thursday by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.
The popular fishery has rebounded enough under a fisheries recovery program to allow anglers to keep up to six kokanee a day.
The kokanee increase will allow a move back toward trophy rainbow trout management. A size and bag limit will be reinstated for rainbows: six rainbow trout, only one more than 20 inches long.
The $15 per rainbow angler incentive will no longer be in effect, but the $15 bounty remains in place for lake trout.
The new rules will go into effec Jan. 1.
Elsewhere in the Panhandle Region, the kokanee limit was lowered to six fish in Priest and Upper Priest lakes. In Lake Pend Oreille anglers are allowed to harvest six kokanee and six rainbow trout – only one more than 20 inches long.
Clark Fork river and tributaries; Pack River and tributaries; and Grouse Creek and tributaries will be closed to trout harvest from December 1 to the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend.
FISHING — Good fishermen always check the stomach contents of their fish to see what they've been eating, but few have had to drop the task at hand, go to the police and have the contents FINGER PRINTED to find out the source of the feed!
Read S-R reporter Scott Maben's story from Priest Lake, Idaho.
FORAGING – The Spokane Mushroom Club’s annual fall foray is set for Oct. 5-7 at the Priest River Experimental Forest based in Priest River.
Experts lead daily group hikes to identify mushrooms collect specimens for educating the groups when they convene.
Participants who can’t spend the entire weekend can join the Saturday foray, which leaves promptly at 9 a.m., and attend Saturday’s Pot Luck set for 6 p.m.
Pre-registration is required by today (Sept. 24). Cost: $25.
Lodging arrangements can be made.
Contact Lynda Foreman, (509) 368-9969, email firstname.lastname@example.org
PADDLING — The drawdown of Priest Lake to its winter level will begin Oct. 8.
The drawdown generally is complete by early November and brings the lake down three feet from a summer elevation of 3,427.64 feet to the winter level of 3,424.64, said Karl Duncan, the dam operator.
The lake’s drawdown also launches the unofficial beginning of the paddling season on Priest River. Generally too low for canoes during the summer season, Priest River takes on new life as flows are increased.
NATIONAL FORESTS — A week after a storm and brief surge of hurricane-force winds swept through the region, areas around Priest Lake and especially the Colville National Forest are still clogged with downed trees.
The good news is that powerline crews, government agencies and private citizens have been working their butts off with chain saws and equipment to make progress. The bad news is that some areas are a big mess and still unaccessible.
Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area reports all campgrounds and facilities are open. Priest Lake Range Station reported that some trails got “hammered” with blowdowns, but no specific reports were available. Forest trail crews and volunteers had just finished a logging out 192 miles of trails on the Priest Lake District the week before the storm struck, killing a man in his pickup in the Priest Lake area.
Generally, the Panhandle National Forests came out of the dangerous storm fairly well, said Jason Kirchner, forest spokesman in Coeur d'Alene.
But the Colville Forest's Republic Ranger District and portions of the Collville Indian Reservation, where assistance is still being requested, are a different story.
Here's the word from Colville Forest spokesman Franklin Pemberton:
The impact to recreation specific to the Republic R.D. from this event is severe.
Crews have made significant progress on getting all of the main forest service (FS) roads open and “passible”. All of the main FS roads are passible for a full-size pickup truck, but motorhomes, camp trailers and horse trailers are not recommended. Work continues to open all of the main FS roads completely to larger size vehicles such as ambulances and fire engines and is expected to be completed by this Friday. Many secondary FS roads remain blocked by down timber and will be opened once all the main roads are completed.
Many roads to trailheads remain blocked and trail conditions are being reported as being blocked by down timber. All campgrounds are open with the exception of Ten Mile Campground. Crews will continue to work to open secondary roads that lead to recreation sites and trailheads, but there is no estimate of when this work will be completed.
Forest officials are still recommending that visitors to the Republic R.D. stay in the developed campgrounds and limit their travel on the forest as much as possible.
Contact the Republic Ranger District Office, (509) 775-7400 for specific recreation questions.
ROCK CLIMBING — Climbers were humbled earlier this month to find a massive rock fall had wiped out a generation of climbing routes on the east face of Chimney Rock, a landmark on the skyline east of Priest Lake.
And the danger lingers.
The collapse of rock from the near-vertical face erased rock flakes used in many pioneering climbs on the iconic granite pillar in the Selkirk Mountains.
Classic lines now gone include Magnum Force, a route first free-climbed in 1967 by Spokane Mountaineers John Roskelley and Chris Kopczynski.
“Many tons of Inland Northwest climbing history are now part of the boulder field at the base,” said Dane Burns, one of the rock’s pioneering climbers.
“From the splitter crack line of Yahoody left all the routes are now gone. That includes but not limited to the Beckey/Cooper South Nose route, later freed by Roskelley and Kopczynski and renamed Magnum Force, Kimmie, named after our friend Kim Momb and UNI the first trad 5.12 crack done in the inland NW.”
Zach Turner, who reported the rockfall on July 5, noted the east face has a swath of new routes to be pioneered, but warned climbers more unstable rock appears to be hanging on the wall.
See Turner's post with before and after photos of the Chimney Rock east face and a list of the climbing routes affected.
WINTER SPORTS — Technology has made it easier than ever to monitor snow conditions at the region's mountain passes and winter sports resorts.
Click on the following links for web cam views of your favorite Inland Northwest ski area or the road to get there.