Field reports: Mount Spokane land classifications affect ski area expansion

SUNDAY, JULY 20, 2014

PARKS – Land classification proposals that could make or break plans to expand the Mount Spokane alpine ski area will be presented at the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission meeting Thursday in Bellingham.

In 2010, Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park proposed expanding its ski area within the state park to provide more intermediate terrain. Conservation groups have contested the expansion.

The ski area concession encompasses 1,425 acres of the 14,000-acre state park. In 1999, park land classifications were adopted, but 850 acres were left unclassified for ski area expansion.

The resort has proposed installing a lift, which already has been purchased, and expanding skiing with seven new runs over nearly 280 acres.

State Parks staff is releasing a report this week that proposes four land classification options. One of the options would designate the land a “natural forest area,” which would preclude development.

An environmental impact statement on the land classifications is to be released this week. Public comments will be taken through mid-August. The commission is scheduled to choose an option on Nov. 20.

The Lands Council based in Spokane contends the report has flaws, including the stance that the area does not include old-growth forest.

• See the complete State Parks report and options online on Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog, spokesman.com/outdoors.

Fishery rehab proposed for McDowell Lake

FISHING – McDowell Lake, prized fly-fishing water in Stevens County, is among 11 lakes in Eastern Washington proposed for treatment to optimize the waters for trout.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials want to treat three lake systems with rotenone, a naturally occurring pesticide commonly used to remove undesirable fish species from lakes and streams.

McDowell Lake, a standout trout fishery on the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, has gone downhill as non-game fish have increased.

Other trout-management waters proposed for treatment this fall include the Hampton Lake chain and Sago, Hourglass, and Widgeon lakes in Grant County.

Public meetings to discuss the proposed treatments are set for Wednesday at two locations starting at 6 p.m.:

• Ephrata, at the WDFW Region 2 Office.

• Colville, at the WDFW District 1 Office, 755 S. Main St.

The decision on whether to go ahead with the treatments will be made in September. 

WDFW has used rotenone in lake and stream rehabilitations for more than 70 years.

FISHING – The upper Columbia River sockeye fishing season in the Brewster area is set to run through Aug. 31. The season will continue through Oct. 15 for waters above Highway 173. The dates were incorrect in a Thursday Outdoors story.

More than 600,000 sockeye have climbed over Bonneville Dam so far during this year’s record run and 130,000 of those fish have journeyed upstream and over Wells Dam so far.

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