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Field reports: Forest leaders change over vehicle use issue

Sun., Aug. 26, 2012

PUBLIC LANDS – The new supervisor of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in Oregon is touring Wallowa, Union and Baker counties this week to meet the public he will be serving in the wake of a flap over restricting motorized use on the forest.

Kevin Martin succeeds Monica Schwalbach, who has taken a new assignment with the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Portland.

She left less than 18 months after assuming responsibility for the Baker City-based forest.

The Wallowa-Whitman has been embroiled in controversy regarding its proposed travel management plan, which would have closed almost 4,000 miles of roads and trails to motor vehicle use.

Schwalbach withdrew the plan in April amid public protests, and it is being revised.

REI helps fund Beacon Hill upgrade

TRAILS – Trail rehabilitation and restoration projects around Beacon Hill and Camp Sekani are getting a boost from the REI store in Spokane.

The store presented $4,464 to the Spokane Parks & Recreation board for use in the popular mountain biking and hiking area.

This is the last of three community grant park checks REI has awarded for 2012, a year of record giving through the program, said Carol Christensen, REI outreach specialist in Spokane.

In addition to the Parks & Rec Foundation, REI awarded $10,000 to the Friends of the Centennial Trail and $10,000 to the Riverside State Park Foundation.

That’s a total $24,464 boost to popular local outdoor recreation destinations.

Hound hunting targeted by California lawmakers

HUNTING – Sparked by a California wildlife commissioner’s legal cougar hunt in Idaho, a hotly contested bill that would ban the use of dogs to hunt bears and bobcats in California moved a step closer to becoming law last week.

The state Assembly approved SB12212 on a party-line vote, sending it back to the Senate.

On Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers called the use of hounds inhumane and unsportsmanlike, while Republican lawmakers representing rural areas framed the ban as an attack on the right of Californians to hunt.

The legislation arose after a California fish and game commissioner used dogs to legally hunt and kill a mountain lion in Idaho.

State takes nominations for game panel

HUNTING – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking nominations through Friday for its Game Management Advisory Council, which advises the department on issues including hunter-access opportunities, resource allocation, funding options and research projects.


States land federal grants for rare species inventories

WILDLIFE – Idaho and Washington landed big shares of the $5.7 million the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is distributing this year for states conserving species of special concern.

Idaho’s Fish and Game Department has received a $950,000 competitive State Wildlife Grant to launch the Multi-Species Baseline Initiative for surveying the Idaho Panhandle and northeastern Washington for 20 species of concern.

About 20 partner organizations are matching the Idaho grant with $1.2 million, Fish and Game officials said.

Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife will receive $974,664 to conserve species in the Pacific Northwest’s prairie and oak habitats and improve the populations of 21 rare or declining species associated with prairie-oak habitats of the Willamette Valley and Puget Trough regions of Oregon and Washington.

Species to be monitored include Oregon vesper sparrows, Mazama pocket gophers and reintroduced western bluebirds.

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