MINING – The U.S. Forest Service will challenge dozens of placer mining claims filed over the past year on the North Fork Clearwater River, the Lewiston Tribune reports.
Kathy Rodriguez, ranger of the North Fork District of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, said suction dredge mining is incompatible with a number of other uses of the river and she will ask an administrative law judge from the U.S. Department of Interior to prohibit mining there.
But miners say they followed federal laws and regulations when they filed their claims and the government is trying to take their private property without compensation.
The North Fork is a blue ribbon trout stream that is popular with campers and home to threatened bull trout and abundant cutthroat trout.
During the summer it attracts scores of anglers, campers and swimmers.
Last year a flurry of 36 mining claims, some as large as 160 acres, were filed on a 30-mile stretch of the river between Aquarius Bridge and Weitas Creek. Many of them have since been subdivided and sold on Internet auction sites like eBay.
Signs warning people not to interfere with private property or mining were posted at some of the more popular camping spots along the river, alarming forest visitors and forest managers.
Federal recreation fees waived on Monday
PUBLIC LANDS – Federal agencies will waive recreation user fees on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The forest pass, a day-use parking fee required on some federal lands, is waived at all U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation lands.
The waiver does not include Sno-Parks, even those on federal lands.
Other fee-free days on federal lands this year will be National Trails Day on June 1, National Get Outdoors Day on June 8, National Public Lands day on Sept. 28, and Veterans Day weekend on Nov. 9-10.
Panhandle trapper kills protected lynx
WILDLIFE – A North Idaho man told authorities he thought he was killing a bobcat when he dispatched a lynx in his trap in northeastern Boundary County earlier this month.
Lynx are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The Coeur d’Alene Press reported the unnamed man was fined $200 plus court costs and restitution totaling $185.
Lynx compare in size to bobcats but have longer legs and bigger paws for hunting in the deep snow of the boreal forests where they live.
Superintendent named for Lake Roosevelt
PARKS – Dan Foster, a 20-year National Park Service employee, has been named superintendent for Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area and Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.
Foster is replacing retiring Debbie Bird.
Foster will leave his position as superintendent at Niobrara National Scenic River in Nebraska and report in February for his assignment at Grand Coulee. He lists fly fishing as a favorite hobby.