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Field reports: Spring chinook run strong, but not stellar

FISHING – State biologists are predicting a good spring chinook salmon run to the Columbia River, but down from the big run of 2010.

Adding to the excitement, the run should have 62,400 age 5 spring chinook fish that are slightly larger and return a bit earlier than the 4-year-old component of the Willamette-bound run that fuels the ultra-popular March-April fishery in the lower Columbia.

Early estimates call for 158,000 springers moving into the system, down from 307,348 counted over Bonneville Dam this year.

The Snake River portion of the forecast run is 91,100, down from nearly 170,000 that arrived this year.

While the 2011 run looks to be short of the 2010 run, it figures high among runs in the past 20 years or so, Oregon Fish and Wildlife fish managers say.

The 2011 run, if it comes in as forecast, would be the sixth-largest spring chinook run since 1979.

The upper Columbia summer steelhead return is expected to be similar to the 10-year average, which is not bad.

Shad returns have declined six consecutive years. The 1 million shad run of 2010 compares to a 10-year average of 3.1 million.

Staff and wire reports

IFG director fined for trespassing

HUNTING – Idaho’s top fish and game official pleaded guilty this week to trespassing during a hunting trip and a judge ordered him to pay a $500 fine.

Fish and Game Director Cal Groen told a judge Tuesday he wasn’t hunting on the property near Elk City on Oct. 13, but just assisting others tracking an elk. Groen said only after crossing on to the land did he realize it was private and closed to public hunting.

Groen, 63, was charged with three others for crossing on to the property without permission.

Groen has said his partners previously hunted the land but were unaware it changed ownership. Groen says the lesson is hunters can’t assume they have permission to hunt on private land.

Associated Press

Stevens County sets OHV laws hearing

OFF-ROADING – Stevens County Commissioners have scheduled a special hearing on amendments for a controversial ordinance that allows all-terrain vehicles and other off-highway rigs to travel on public roads.

OHV Ordinance 06-2009 is set for discussion Monday, 6:30 p.m., at the Loon Lake Old School House.

Rich Landers

Snowmobile parking changes at Lookout

WINTER SPORTS — A new additional parking area has been designated this season for snowmobilers heading out to ride areas near Lookout Pass and Mullan, Idaho.

The new parking area is along Mullan Road, behind the fish hatchery, approximately 3 miles east of Mullan.

The new lot, which fills a void created by trailer length restrictions at Lookout Pass, was coordinated between recreation groups and state and federal agencies.

The new location supplements parking that is available at Lookout Pass area and Shoshone Pavilions Park (Pottsville). It includes parking for large trailers, restrooms, picnic tables, a fire pit and a warming hut.

The new parking area is intended to provide better access to local trails, reduce congestion in the Lookout Pass area, and to provide a safer location for snowmobile riders hauling large trailers now that trailers longer than 16 feet are no longer permitted at the Lookout Pass Ski area.

Rich Landers