Field reports: Elk Foundation boosts state habitat

CONSERVATION – Wildlife conservation projects in 17 Washington counties have been selected to receive grants totaling $186,270 from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation this year.

Asotin, Chelan, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Jefferson, King, Kittitas, Lincoln, Pacific, Pierce, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Whitman and Yakima counties will benefit.

“These grants are possible because of the successful banquets and fundraisers staged over the past year by our Washington volunteers – most of whom are elk hunters as well as devoted conservationists,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.

Many of the grants assist state or federal agencies with controlled burns, weed control and re-seeding projects.

A project in Pend Oreille County will enhance meadow habitat for elk by thinning 96 acres of encroaching forest and installing fencing to protect aspen stands in the Colville National Forest.

In Spokane County, funds will boost state and federal efforts to radio-collar 20 elk for a research project to study elk movement patterns and habitat use after hunting is allowed at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in a limited season that will debut this fall.

Rich Landers

Bear buffer zone set in Missoula

WILDLIFE –The Missoula City Council recently approved a “bear buffer zone” requiring residents living in certain areas to use bear-resistant containers or limit the times their garbage is outside and accessible to bears.

The Missoulian

Dam removal nears for Elwha River

PARKS – Olympic National Park is ready to hire a contractor to remove the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams on the Olympic Peninsula.

Work is scheduled to start in 2011 and finish in 2014.

The cost of removing the 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam and the 105-foot Elwha dam is estimated at up to $60 million.

The Park Service has three projects to help restore the river’s historic run of salmon that once ranged to more than 90 pounds: a $16 million fish hatchery, a $24 million water treatment facility in Port Angeles and a $70 million Elwha water facilities project.

Associated Press

Scientist challenge salmon barging

FISH – An independent panel of scientists does not like the Obama administration’s plan to rely on barges, rather than spilling water over dams, to carry young salmon making their spring migration down the Snake River in Eastern Washington.

Their review of the NOAA Fisheries Service plan to rely exclusively on barges due to low water conditions says the best course is still a mix of carrying fish in barges and spilling water.

The question is important as a federal judge continues to control federal dam operations in the Columbia Basin. Spilling water for fish means less water for generating electricity.

NOAA Fisheries had no comment, but salmon advocates suing the agency over dam operations applauded the review.

Associated Press

Agency agreement boosts sage grouse

WILDLIFE – Farmers and ranchers in 11 western states can help protect both their operations and sage grouse thanks to an agreement between two federal agencies.

The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday they will work together to help landowners protect the sage grouse and its habitat.

The effort should put landowners in better position to avoid potentially stifling regulations if the bird is judged endangered.

Sage grouse numbers have been reduced severely, mainly from loss of habitat.

Staff and wire reports

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Rich Landers

Rich Landers

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