STATE PARKS – Winter is making the transition to spring at Mount Spokane State Park.
•The downhill ski area will close for the season next Sunday, at the conclusion of spring break for local schools.
•Cross-country ski trail grooming ended last weekend, although the snowmobile groomer might go out if a significant snow fall occurs this week.
•Reservations for renting the Quartz Mountain Lookout during the summer camping season are being handled by the state parks reservation service. Call (888) 226-7688.
•Good snow coverage continues on the mountain for self-service skiers and snowshoers seeking solitude.
Rule proposals open to comment
FISHING – The Idaho Fish and Game Department has scheduled a first round of public meetings in April to gather input on changes in fishing rules and seasons for 2011-2012.
Comments from the early meetings will help compile the formal proposals to be considered this summer.
The agency is attempting to simplify fishing rules so they’re easier to understand, said Jim Fredericks, regional fisheries manager in Coeur d’Alene.
For example, as a general statewide rule, Idaho waters, including streams, would be open year-round. Exceptions to that rule would be specifically listed in the rules pamphlet.
That would allow many tributary streams to remain open year round rather being under a blanket season structure for all streams, Fredericks said.
The meetings begin at 7 p.m. as follows:
•April 7, St. Maries, Elks Lodge, 628 Main St.
•April 8, Sandpoint, Panhandle Health District, 1020 Michigan St.
•April 14, Coeur d’Alene, IDFG Regional Office, 2885 W. Kathleen Ave.
Regional forester prioritizes water
NATIONAL FORESTS – The new forester for the U.S. Forest Service’s northern region headquartered in Missoula says the agency is facing several challenges, including beetle-killed pine trees and snow-free watersheds.
Leslie Weldon was named to succeed Thomas Tidwell in the post last year, overseeing 15 national forests and four national grasslands in Montana, Idaho and North Dakota.
Tidwell became Forest Service chief last June.
Weldon said the pine-bark beetle epidemic that’s damaged thousands of acres will change firefighting tactics and forest harvest priorities. Far-reaching ramifications of the infestation include possible closure of cross-country ski trails near MacDonald Pass to protect skiers from falling dead trees.