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Out & About: Off-roaders trash wet forest meadows

SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2013

OUTLAWS – Off-road vehicle users in recent weeks have trashed wetlands and meadows in several notable areas of the Okanogan, Colville, Idaho Panhandle and Nez Perce-Clearwater national forests, officials say.

Much of the damage occurred over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, when the small scattering of Forest Service enforcement agents wrote plenty of tickets, but couldn’t keep up with the abuse.

About 1.5 acres of a wet meadow in the Middle Fork Calispell Creek area of the Colville National Forest was devastated by four-wheel drive rigs, said Franklin Pemberton, Colville forest spokesman.

“Wet meadows … provide foraging opportunities for big-game and essential habitats for native amphibian and invertebrate species,” he said.  “They also provide habitat for most of the rare plant species found on the forest.”

Other damage occurred to a wetland near Big Meadow Lake, disturbing soils that will reduce the water quality of a popular fishing lake, he said.

Cross-country travel on national forests is prohibited unless specifically authorized by forest travel maps.

The forests are investigating some of the damage incidents. Violators can be fined and required to pay the hefty cost of restoring the sites.

Bike to Work riders log 14,382 miles

OUTPEDAL – The 624 bicyclists who officially registered and logged their rides online during the May Bike To Work Week activities in Spokane totaled 14,382 miles from May 13-18.

For the month of May, these riders accumulated more than 44,000 miles and 6,700 commute trips, averaging more than 23 miles a day, traveling gas- and pollution-free and leaving parking spots for other folks. 

Car break-ins at local trailheads

OUTBREAK – Vehicle break-ins have been common at Spokane-area trailheads, especially along the Centennial Trail, according to local hiking groups.

The Inland Northwest Hikers report thieves broke into two vehicles at the Fort Wright Cemetery parking area for the Centennial Trail on Wednesday evening.

Spokane Police recommend leaving nothing of value in cars parked at trailheads.

Better yet, leave nothing visible at all. Don’t even leave a jacket or anything that looks as though it’s covering valuables in your vehicle.

Thieves will be discouraged only when there’s no profit in their risk.

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