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2011 spotlight: Top S-R outdoors feature stories

Wrangler, horse charge grizzly

A trail-ride wrangler from Whitefish, Mont., rode a big, brave horse to the rescue of a young boy on a horse being chased by a grizzly bear last summer. After Outdoors editor Rich Landers detailed the heroism of Erin Bolster, 25, and her horse, Tonk, the story went viral on the Internet. Bolster and Tonk were transported to New York to appear Oct. 11 on “Late Show with David Letterman.”

Outdoor enthusiasts pay, play

Recreational fees continued to increase for outdoor pursuits.

Washington’s Discover Pass was introduced in July, requiring the $30 annual pass to enter state parks and most other state lands. Sales of the pass did not meet expectations, forcing the cash-strapped State Parks to issue pink slips at the end of December to eliminate 160 of the agency’s 516 full-time employees.

• The climbing fee at Mount Rainier increased $13 to $43.

• Most of Washington’s hunting and license fees increased an average of 16 percent.

One photo bags eight cougars

A trail cam put out by Wenatchee hunter Brad Thomas caught remarkable images of mountain lions in Douglas County. The photos show EIGHT cougars in one spot near Moses Coulee.

Wildlife biologists believe the photos – which went viral on Northwest websites – captured a rare moment in which a mother cougar and her adult daughter joined briefly with their offspring.

Otter skews wilderness facts

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter underestimated the number of people who visit wilderness when suggesting to Congress that wilderness means little to Idaho residents.

Speaking at a House committee hearing to an Obama plan to reverse a Bush-era policy and make large chunks of federal land eligible for wilderness protection, Otter said:

“There are more people in one day, probably, that play golf on the floating green in Coeur d’Alene than visit the Frank Church-River of No Return in a year.”

For the record, 10,222 river runners were issued 2010 wilderness permits on the Middle Fork Salmon and 8,769 on the Salmon River. Also, 1,229 hunters bought area elk tags, and officials counted 13,000 steelhead angler days.

That’s more than 33,000 documented wilderness visitors, not including the hikers, horse riders, pilots and other undocumented groups.

Rocker Ted Nugent opens fire in Spokane

Rocker and right-winger Ted Nugent sat with Outdoors editor Rich Landers at the Knitting Factory for a pre-concert interview about hunting, shooting and politics.