In brief: Groups help state acquire elk habitat near Yakima

State agencies and conservation groups have closed a $1.55 million deal to secure 2,893 acres of wildlife habitat especially important to the Yakima elk herd.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Friday that the deal was made to purchase the private land 15 miles northwest of Yakima with help from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Cowiche Canyon Conservancy and Department of Ecology.

The two land parcels serve as habitat to a variety of wildlife and as an important connection between summer and winter range for the Yakima elk herd and have been used historically for grazing, said Mike Livingston, WDFW southcentral region director. The properties will be managed as part of WDFW’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area.

The Cowiche Canyon Conservancy will manage the grazing on the property through an easement.

DOE and the Kennewick Irrigation District provided the funding to acquire the land to mitigate for the loss of shrub-steppe habitat that was converted to agricultural land. Funds also came from the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan.

Sandpoint wild for wilderness

A combination of thought and exercise to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act is planned for Friday and Saturday and will be based out of Sandpoint and sponsored by the Idaho Conservation League, the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, and Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education.

The Wild Weekend for Wilderness includes a panel discussion about the historical and cultural significance of wilderness in America, the history of wilderness politics in North Idaho, the Forest Service’s role in identifying lands suitable for wilderness and the management of proposed and designated wilderness areas including the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness area northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.

Local backcountry experts will lead hikes on Saturday to North Idaho areas that qualify for wilderness designation.

Following is the schedule:

• Friday evening panel discussion, Why Wilderness, 5:30 p.m. at Panhandle State Bank, 414 Church St.

• Saturday guided hike to Chimney Rock. Sign up,  tinyurl.com/ChimRock, or call (208) 265-9565.

• Saturday guided hike to Scotchman Peak. Sign up, tinyurl.com/peakhike.

• Saturday guided hike to Harrison Lake with emphasis on Leave No Trace ethics. Sign up, soleexperiences.org/register.

• Saturday “ Wild Night,” 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m., includes food, music by The Yaaktastics at Evans Brothers Coffee, 524 Church St.

Freeriders win World Heli berth

A Hayden man’s 5-minute extreme-skiing video has won an online competition for viewer votes this week, launching him and two freeriding buddies from the training grounds of Schweitzer Mountain Resort to the slopes of New Zealand’s Mount Cook for the World Heli Challenge in September.

Essex Prescott and members of Team Vacation – Dylan Siggers and Leo Zukerman – received the most online votes in the World Heli Challenge Call Up competition.

The extreme skiers qualified to compete with one other team in the World Heli Challenge – a nine-day, freeride competition to produce another 5-minute video for fame and an $8,000 prize.

Adopt a Crag eyes Q’emiln Park

North Idaho College’s Outdoor Pursuits is hosting the annual Adopt a Crag climbing clean-up, 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday at Q’emiln Park in Post Falls.

Projects include trash removal, weed control, trail maintenance and cleanup. Volunteers will receive free food and giveaways from local recreational outfitters.

Adopt a Crag is organized nationwide by The Access Fund. Sign up: (208) 769-7809.

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