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Winter rec committees stay busy in summer

While summer is in high gear, certain Washington agency committees are gathering recommendations this week that will affect winter sports such as cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, as well as the public lands available for activities such as hunting.

The state winter recreation advisory committees are holding public meetings to review funding requests for snowmobile and non-motorized Sno-Park programs.

The committees make funding recommendations to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission for programs such as trail grooming, snow removal, safety and purchasing equipment, such as groomers.

State Parks manages 3,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, 300 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails and more than 100 Sno-Parks for plowed winter recreation access.

•The Winter Recreation Advisory Committee (non-motorized) will meet Friday, 7 p.m. at the Washington State Parks Eastern Region Headquarters in East Wenatchee. Lew Persons of Spokane is the committee chairman.

•The Snowmobile Advisory Committee will meet at 7 p.m. July 24 at the Chelan Public Utility District in Wenatchee. Doug Fase of Deer Park is the northeastern Washington representative on the panel.

Land exchange proposals involving two Washington agencies – the Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Natural Resources – will be presented at a public meeting in Ellensburg tonight, at the Hal Holmes Community Center in Ellensburg.

After years of discussions, up to 84,000 acres of state trust lands managed by DNR would be exchanged for up to 38,000 acres of WDFW-managed land. The exchange would consolidate both agencies’ ownerships, the DNR getting the forest lands while WDFW gets the lower shrub-steppe lands.

In some cases, timber land that’s been left alone by Fish and Wildlife would be turned over to DNR for timber harvest. This isn’t necessarily harmful to wildlife. Modern timber harvest practices can improve habitat for species such as elk.

The process is worth monitoring by people who have pet public land hunting and recreation areas. The exchange may involve properties in Asotin, Chelan, Columbia, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Lincoln, Okanogan, Thurston, Whatcom and Yakima counties.

Details: . Go to the “Leasing & Land Transactions” area.

Colville National Forest management plan revisions will be the topic at the Eastern Washington Resource Advisory Council meeting July 30 starting at 10 a.m. at the forest headquarters in Colville.

The agenda includes a briefing on potential wilderness areas.

Info: Deborah Kelly (509) 826-3396; .

Steelheaders also should not be napping during the dog-days of summer.

Steelhead already are sneaking up the Snake River and over Lower Granite Dam.

Anglers in Lewiston had a pool going to see when the first metalhead would be caught, and last week, with more than 1,000 of the fish passing through the last dam before reaching Idaho, the anglers were expecting the payoff to be any day.

Note that the number of fish over Lower Granite was about 200 – 20 percent – higher than the 10-year average. It’s too early for that to be statistically significant, but it’s worth watching to see if the run continues to come in bigger or earlier.

The overall run into the Columbia River system is expected to be about the same as last year.

The number of bigger “B-run” steelhead running primarily to the Clearwater River is forecast to be down about 40 percent.

The number of smaller “A-run” fish heading to a variety of tributaries including the Grand Ronde and Salmon rivers, is forecast to be 24 percent bigger than last year.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began releasing cold water from Dworshak Reservoir last week to cool lower Snake River temperatures for the benefit of migrating fall chinook salmon.

According to a report in the Lewiston Tribune:

“The cold water also entices steelhead to hold in the lower section of the Clearwater River as well as the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers. Many anglers concentrate early season fishing on both spots.”

The steelhead catch-and-release season on the Snake and Clearwater rivers started July 1. A catch-and-keep season opens Aug. 1 between the mouth of the Clearwater and Memorial Bridge.

Contact Rich Landers by voice mail at 459-5577, extension 5508, or e-mail to

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