Lookout is star attraction
The Quartz Mountain fire lookout has been a hit with Mount Spokane State Park visitors since it was opened for public overnight use in July.
“I think we only had 5 days in August that it wasn’t booked,” said Steve Christensen, park manager.
The fire lookout, removed in 2001 from Mount Spokane’s 5,851-foot summit, has been restored and reassembled nearby on 5,160-foot Quartz Mountain, which is accessible by muscle power on the park’s cross-country skiing and mountain biking trails.
The lookout sleeps four comfortably and is available to rent for $40 a night plus tax. Starting next spring, the price will increase to $50 a night, tax included, he said.
The lookout is the park’s only public overnight lodging, and all four walls are banked with windows to take advantage of its priceless view. The catwalk that surrounds the cabin on the 12-foot tower is perfect for star gazing.
Potable water is available, also a two-burner propane stove for cooking. There’s a vault toilet and firewood is stacked for the fire pit.
Quartz Mountain is in a non-motorized portion of the park, so visitors must hike or bike on the ski trails 2.2 miles in from Selkirk Lodge. They also have to schlep in their own food, pots and utensils, headlamps and sleeping bags.
“It’s worked very smoothly with people making reservations and picking up the key,” Christensen said. “All of the weekends are booked well into October even though it could be chilly up there, but it’s still available on weekdays.”
The lookout likely will be closed in late October and reopened when the snow retreats in the spring.
“We’ll start taking reservations for next season starting March 1,” he said.
For reservations, contact the park office, 238-4258.
Q’emiln cleanup set
The rock-climbing area at Q’emiln Park in Post Falls will get spruced up by volunteers on Saturday for an “adopt-a-crag” project sponsored by North Idaho College’s Outdoor Pursuits along with the Kootenai Klimbers and the Spokane Mountaineers.
Volunteers will pick up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with climbing, a barbecue and prize drawings to follow. Sign up for a free bus ride from NIC to Post Fall.
Adopt-A-Crag is a series of national events organized by the Access Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving climbing environments.
Last year, Access Fund presented the Western U.S. Adopt-a-Crag of the Year Award to NIC for organizing more than 50 volunteers to clean the popular Post Falls climbing area.
Info: (208) 769-7809.
Koocanusa fish kill
Thousands of kokanee turned belly up at Lake Koocanusa recently in an event that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials have noticed at least twice in past years, said Jim Vashro, the department’s regional fisheries manager.
This time, however, biologists were able to get specimens before they decomposed and they might be able to identify the cause.
Vashro stressed that the fish kill, which appeared to be concentrated in an 11-mile stretch within the lower third of the lake, amounted to an extremely small percentage of the overall population on the lake. He predicted it would also have very little influence on kokanee reproduction this year.
Because it did not impact young kokanee or other species, “that tells us it’s not likely a chemical or bacterial” problem, he said. “There could be a stress factor for the maturing fish, for the onset of spawning,” he said.
Biologists will try to determine if weather events could have played a part. “There are no signs of trauma or infection,” Vashro said.
Staff and wire reports
TrailFest Sept. 25
Sign up by Saturday to get all the perks and avoid a late charge for participation on the 2005 TrailFest to celebrate the Spokane River Centennial Trail.
Most of the activities will be based out of the Centennial Trail’s Mirabeau Meadows area from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept 25.
Major events will include a 21-mile bicycle scavenger hunt ride to the State Line and back sponsored by the Spokane Bicycle Club, an in-line poker skate sponsored by Fitness Fanatics, a 5k run/walk sponsored by Bloomsday Roadrunners.
All events offer prizes.
Early registration: Adults $20 and children $15 with $5 discount for Friends of the Centennial Tail members. Families of four enter for $45. Fees include events, barbecue lunch, T-shirt, prize drawing entry, gifts, Centennial Trail map and Live Music by Dead Man’s Pants.
Proceeds benefith the trail.
Info: 624-7188 or sport shops.
New hatchery proposed
A salmon hatchery on the Columbia River at Chief Joseph Dam is being proposed by the Colville Confederated Tribes and the Bonneville Power Administration. Scoping meetings were held last week in Bridgeport, Okanogan and Wenatchee.
The plan is to boost summer and fall chinook stocks above Wells Dam by building the hatchery as well as acclimation ponds in the Okanogan River basin.
BPA is preparing an environmental impact statement. Public comment for this phase is being accepted to Sept. 19. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council approved the plan in March. More than $430,000 has been spent on planning since the project was conceived in 2001.
Construction estimates are about $28 million, more than $1.5 million in annual operations, maintenance and monitoring costs.
UPDATED with local reaction 2:05 p.m. PUBLIC LANDS -- Acting quickly after Monday's committee approval, the U.S. Senate today unanimously approved a bill to officially designate the Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness ...