Field Reports: Lookout Pass expansion proposals presented

SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2014

A snowboard slams through the deep powder deposited from a storm at Lookout Pass Ski Area on Jan. 18, 2012. (Bill Jennings)
A snowboard slams through the deep powder deposited from a storm at Lookout Pass Ski Area on Jan. 18, 2012. (Bill Jennings)

SKIING – An open house meeting to present proposals for expanding Lookout Pass Ski Area is set for 5-7 p.m. on Thursday at the Idaho Panhandle National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 3815 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene. 

Proposals call for 15 new ski trails extending into an additional 653 acres of national forest lands.

Two additional lifts would be built.

Ski area officials say the expansion is necessary for the resort to remain economically viable and competitive by offering terrain for a wider range and number of skiers.

A group of backcountry skiers and snowshoers says the Forest Service should prepare a recreation plan for the entire Lookout Pass and Stevens Peak backcountry area before authorizing the expansion.

John Latta of the Inland Northwest Backcountry Association said the expansion will displace snowmobiling which may have a domino effect of diverting motorized traffic into the rare backcountry ski areas that are accessible in a day.

‘DamNation’ pegs river revivals

RIVERS – A new documentary about the impact of dams on rivers will be screened at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Lincoln Center, 1316 N. Lincoln St. in Spokane.

“DamNation,” by Patagonia, follows the movement that started two decades ago with the removal of a dam in Maine to the more recent projects to remove dams on Washington’s Elwha and White Salmon rivers.

Filmmakers will speak after the show sponsored by Save Our Wild Salmon and Trout Unlimited.

Curlew Lake trestle re-decked

TRAILS – The Ferry County Rail Trail’s Curlew Lake Trestle across the north end of the fishing lake has been re-decked and is being opened for public use.

Ferry County Rail Trail Partners and county officials will dedicate the bridge at 1 p.m. Saturday at the east end of the trestle.

The Ferry County Rail Trail runs 28.5 miles on an abandoned railway from the U.S.-Canada border to an existing trail at Republic, the county seat. Some portions of the trail are in good condition for mountain biking; others are still rough.  

The ceremony will be followed by a group hike on the trail 2.5 miles to Black’s Beach.

Mica Bay Boater Park closed

BOATING – The Mica Bay Boater Park on Lake Coeur d’Alene has been closed until hazardous trees can be removed, the Bureau of Land Management Coeur d’Alene Field Office says.

Closure of the popular lake-access site will continue while operators remove at-risk trees. The park is expected to be reopened by mid-May.

Mercury in national park fish

FISHING – Mercury has been found in fish sampled in 21 national parks in the Western United States and Alaska, according to a four-year study report released this week by the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service.

Although 96 percent of the affected fish had low levels of contamination and are considered safe for human consumption, scientists are concerned about finding mercury in some of the continent’s cleanest and most remote waters.

Mercury levels exceeded EPA’s human health criterion in fish from several parks, including Glacier Park, Mont., and two parks in Alaska.

Hunters protest cougar quotas

HUNTING – Even though a new study indicates that mountain lions kill more elk than suspected in the Bitterroot Mountains – more than wolves and bears combined – there’s opposition to reducing the cougar population.

Northwestern Montana cougar hunters criticized Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ proposed increase of lion quotas for the next two seasons at the Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Helena last week.

The hunters disputed the research findings, saying cougar numbers are low.

Escure Ranch road opened

TRAILS – The gate has been opened at Escure Ranch to allow motor vehicles to drive the road less than 3 miles into Towell Falls, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Spokane office says. 

The 14,000-acre BLM Rock Creek Recreation Area site south of Sprague is the realm of hikers and mountain bikers for most of the year, but the road is opened to the scenic falls in the window between the winter and spring mud season and the fire-danger season, which starts sometime in June.

Snake River chinook seasons set

FISHING – Two sections of the Snake River will open to fishing for spring chinook salmon Thursday. Two other sections of the river below Ice Harbor Dam near Pasco and below Lower Granite Dam will open April 27.

Each section will be open three days a week.

The Little Goose Dam and Clarkston sections will be open Thursday through Saturday. The river sections below Ice Harbor Dam and Lower Granite Dam will be open Sunday through Tuesday.

St. Joe campground host sought

CAMPING – A campground host is being sought for the Huckleberry Campground along the St. Joe River 30 miles east of St. Maries.

A campsite and utilities are provided.

Info: (208) 769-5041.

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