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Field reports: Canoeists reach Source of Columbia

Sun., Nov. 3, 2013

PADDLING – The “ Sea to the Source” canoe expedition that left Astoria, Ore., on Aug. 2 in hand-made crafts reached the end of its voyage Monday at Canal Flats, the source of the Columbia River in British Columbia.

An expedition of canoeists and Native American students led the upstream effort to advocate construction of a fish ladder to reintroduce chinook salmon runs in the Columbia River above Grand Coulee Dam.

The expedition coincided with the beginning of  discussions to renew the Columbia River Treaty, which involves the U.S., Canada and Indian tribes.

The paddlers were strong at the end, going as far as 75 kilometers a day near Revelstoke.

“It is clear we need more education along the river,” said expedition member Adam Wicks-Arshack. “There is a great disconnect between the upper and lower basin.”

In Spokane:  Expedition members plan to participate in the Roundtable discussion on the Columbia River Treaty Perspectives at the annual  Lake Roosevelt Forum, Nov. 19-20 at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane. Info: 535-7084.

Montana man founds Goat Alliance

WILDLIFE – A “(mountain) goat crazy” hunter, Peter Muennich witnessed the record-breaking $480,000 bid for the Montana Governor’s bighorn sheep tag in Nevada earlier this year. When he returned to Bozeman, Muennich went to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks office.

He learned that unlike elk, bighorn sheep and pheasants, mountain goats did not have an associated nonprofit that helped fund research and conservation efforts. “Goat hunting has taken nothing short of a backseat from public interest and state management,” Muennich said.

Officials he spoke with were enthusiastic about a grassroots group forming to help improve institutional knowledge of Montana’s mountain goat populations. The conversation led Muennich to form the Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance.

The group is traveling to areas with unknown mountain goat populations, taking censuses and reporting to the FWP.

Efforts will go into adding hunting tags to areas, as well as eventually providing financial support for goat conservation efforts once the group is ready to branch into fundraising, Muennich said.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle

10K reward targets Illegal fish plants

FISHING – Montana Trout Unlimited is working with the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to supplement rewards in cases where people illegally plant non-native fish into important trout waters.

The organization has said it would add up to $10,000 to a reward for information leading to the prosecution and conviction of a so-called “bucket biologist.”

Montana TU Conservation Director Mark Aagenes said $10,000 is a lot of money, but it would be well spent to deter illegal introductions, considering the cost of lost fishing opportunities and the removing an invasive species.

Introduced fish can compete with, breed with or prey on established species; spread disease and impair water quality.

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