Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Upper Priest Lake paddlers get cold reception

PADDLING — In case you think winter's over, check out this field report from a pair of canoeists who thought they'd take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and lack of snow last weekend to beat the boating crowd to Upper Priest Lake.

"OK, sooooo… We were really keen on canoeing into Upper Priest, but Old Man Winter is still in full control there," writes Mike Wootton, who posted a photo of Kristina Kripaitis posed along the ice-covered north end of the the main Priest Lake.

Kripaitis and Wootton had set out to paddle their gear and camp at the Upper on Saturday and Sunday. But they found main Priest Lake  completely frozen over at the Beaver Creek put-in.

"We were thinking run-off and wind would have been our challenge through The Thorofare, but finding ice really caught us by surprise," Kripaitis said.

"What a difference a couple miles on the lake can make," she added, noting that most of Priest Lake has been ice-free.

Not to be deterred….

"We drove back to Reeder Bay and launched there to paddle out to Kalispell Island," she said. "Had the entire Island to ourselves over the weekend so that was pretty awesome."

Kripaitis and Wootton, by the way, are experienced paddlers and that was a good thing as the couple launched their canoe into the open waters of Priest Lake. Even with their skills, they still wore dry suits, which would have been essential to survival in the cold water on the chance that they would capsize.

"We were sitting pretty low with the extra dry firewood we opted to haul over," Kripaitis said, noting that the wind picked up and whitecaps formed. "We were happy when we reached the shore!

"Our paddle back on Sunday afternoon was smooth as glass…just the sparkling rain droplets decorating the surface!"

Despite the blustery weather, "We had a great weekend and stayed dry and warm with the right gear!" she said. 

"A rainy day camping on Priest is better than a sunny day in town."

Montana’s Smith River float more coveted than ever

WATERSPORTS — Demand is growing for natural scenic value and good fishing, as indicated by crowd attempting to be among the chosen ones to float a famous Central Montana River this season.

Less than 15 percent of applicants seeking to float the scenic Smith River were issued permits through a lottery run by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Parks officials says 8,096 applications were received for permits in 2015 and 1,175 were issued.

The river is popular for its remote location, multi-day float trips, scenic campsites and trout fishing.

Applicants who were denied a permit can request any remaining launch dates or cancelled permits by contacting the Smith River Reservation and Information line, (406) 454-5861.

Yellowstone to charge backcountry permit fee

NATIONAL PARKS — Yellowstone National Park will require an overnight backcountry permit fee starting May 1.

The National Park Service says the money raised from the new fee will help pay the costs of running the park’s backcountry program.

Under the new fee, anyone obtaining a permit to stay overnight in the backcountry between Memorial Day and Sept. 10 will have to pay a per-person, per night permit fee for all individuals 9 years of age or older.

Backpackers and boaters will pay $3.00 per-person, per night, with groups of 5 or more paying a total of $15 per night. Stock users will be charged $5.00 per-person, per night.

Visitors may purchase an annual backcountry pass for $25.

Washington lawmakers join federal land transfer bandwagon

PUBLIC LANDS — A bill has been introduced in Washington — SB 5405 — that would form a task force to look into federal land ownership in Washington, with an eye to “to study the risks, options, and benefits of transferring certain federal lands in the state to an alternative ownership.”

Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman fleshes out the state Senate perps involved in this waste of time and money.

Read a few recent stories on these efforts in several other western states:

News of the Washington bill comes shortly after national sportsmen's groups and businesses launched a campaign to oppose state movements to take over federal lands, with the high likelihood that they would later become privatized in some way.

Within Washington are 12.7 million acres of federal land, including 9.3 million acres of national forests, 1.8 million acres of national parks, 429,000 acres of BLM ground, and 182,000 acres of national wildlife refuges. This is land we can't afford to be vulnerable to special interests.

“America’s 640 million acres of federal public lands provide irreplaceable fish and wildlife habitat and public access for hunting and fishing,” said Joel Webster, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “More than 72 percent of Western sportsmen depend on these lands for access to hunting."

BLM opens Yakima Canyon camping to online reservations

CAMPING — Camping reservations for BLM sites in the Yakima River Canyon Recreation Area have moved to the national online and telephone system that allows visitors to book a spot up to six months in advance.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s this week moved the Umtanum, Lmuma Creek, Big Pines and Roza sites in the Yakima River Canyon the the national public lands reservation system at www.recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777.

The reservations apply to the regular fee season, May 15 - Sept. 15.

Reservations can be made up to six months in advance but no less than 48 hours of the desired arrival date. During the off-season (Sept. 16-May 14), camping is free and no reservations are necessary. Camping rates are $15 per night. 

Day-use permits will continue to be purchased at onsite self-pay registration stations. A seasonal day-use permit sticker is also available for purchase from the BLM Wenatchee Field Office, the Ellensburg and Yakima Chambers of Commerce and at Red’s Fly Shop in the Yakima River Canyon. Day-use rates are $5 per vehicle.

The www.recreation.gov website is managed by the National Recreation Reservation Service, a partnership between federal land management agencies to provide reservation services for facilities and activities on public lands.

IDAHO RIVER RUNNERS NOTE:

Idaho whitewater river trip reservations applications are due SATURDAY, Jan. 31, for the Salmon, Middle Fork Salmon, Selway and Hells Canyon Snake Rivers.

 

Lake Roosevelt camping, boating fees to increase Feb. 9

PUBLIC LANDS — Camping and boat-launching fees will increase starting Feb. 9 at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.

The area is among numerous National Park Service units where fees will be increased this year to help maintain facilities.

The camping fee from May 1 to Sept. 30 will be $18 a night; group site use will be $55 per night for 1-25 people, $80 per night for 26-50 people, and $105 per night for 51-75 people.

The off-season camping rate (Oct. 1-April 30) will be $9.

The boat launching fee will be $8 for a week

The boat launch annual permit will be a single yearly fee of $45.  The discounts are being dropped for buying the permit at different times of the year. 

Holders of federal America the Beautiful passes for seniors and disabled will continue to get discounts on nightly camping and weekly boat launch permit fees, but regulations do not allow discounts on already discounted items such as yearly boat launch permits.

  • Annual boat launching permits can still be purchased for $30 if purchased before Feb. 9 at pay.gov  or at Coulee Hardware in Grand Coulee, Forth Spokane Store or Kettle Falls Harvest Foods.

The current fees at Lake Roosevelt were established in 1995.  Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area is permitted to retain and utilize fees collected for improvements to visitor services, officials said.

Planned projects include continued improvements to comfort stations, enlarging the parking lot at Fort Spokane boat launch, improving the Crescent Bay launch and day use areas, and improving the Fort Spokane water system.

Sportsmen rally against public land transfers

Updated with note about new Washington legislation.

PUBLIC LANDS — Sportsman's groups are organizing a voice against efforts in Western states to eliminate federal control of public land.

Lawmakers in Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming — and most recently, Washington — are spending considerable money and effort in attempts to get state control of federal public lands within their borders.

Read a few recent stories on these efforts:

I've contended this movement is more about political gain and corporate greed than it is about doing what's best for the wildlife, the land and the public. State governments are much more vulnerable to succumbing to special interests than federal land managers.

Last week at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas, a campaign was launched against efforts by special interests to transfer or sell America’s federal public lands.

The growing coalition of groups and businesses includes the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, National Wild Turkey Federation, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Trout Unlimited, Dallas Safari Club, Mystery Ranch Backpacks, Sitka Gear, First Lite, Costa, Simms Fishing Products and Sage.

The coalition supports a grassroots effort by sportsmen to urge lawmakers to reject any actions that would deprive citizens of their public lands.

Most recently, a bill has been introduced in Washington — SB 5405 — that would form a task force to look into federal land ownership in Washington, with an eye to “to study the risks, options, and benefits of transferring certain federal lands in the state to an alternative ownership.”

Within Washington are 12.7 million acres of federal land, including 9.3 million acres of national forests, 1.8 million acres of national parks, 429,000 acres of BLM ground, and 182,000 acres of national wildlife refuges.

A new report, “Locked Out: Public Lands Transfers Threaten Sportsmen’s Access,” released by the campaign, details takeover attempts in some Western states that would jeopardize public access to the rich hunting, fishing and outdoor traditions provided by the nation’s public lands.

“America’s 640 million acres of federal public lands provide irreplaceable fish and wildlife habitat and public access for hunting and fishing,” said Joel Webster, director of the TRCP Center for Western Lands. “More than 72 percent of Western sportsmen depend on these lands for access to hunting."

The management of America’s vast system of public lands carries an enormous price tag, and state budgets could be stretched beyond their ability should they take over their ownership, with widespread industrial development and the eventual sale of these lands to private interests being the expected result, the campaign outlines. "If privatized, millions of acres of the nation’s most valuable lands and waters would be closed to public access, and an American birthright would be lost."  

Time to apply for volunteer campground host positions

CAMPING — State and federal agencies are beginning to solicit applications for volunteer campground host positions in some choice spots to park an RV for the summer.  Here's a notice from an national forest in Idaho as an example of the offerings available in state parks, national forests and other public lands across the country.

The Nez Perce–Clearwater National Forests are looking for energetic, good-natured people to serve as campground hosts for the 2015 season at at two campgrounds.  The most important job of a Campground Host is to provide an enjoyable camping experience for the public.  Hosts are expected to assist visitors with information about the campground and local recreation opportunities.  They must work well with people, be personable and neat in appearance, and be physically able to perform the following tasks:

  • Clean and stock restrooms
  • Clean fire rings, picnic tables and pick up litter
  • Mow and weed-eat campsites and roadways
  • Maintain a Daily Visitor Log

Hosts are needed generally Memorial Day through Labor Day with a weekly schedule of Thursday through Monday, including holidays.  The season length and work week may vary by site.  Volunteers must provide their own self-contained trailer and generator.  The Forest Service will provide a campsite with water,  propane,  gas and a subsistence allowance (may vary by site). Host campsite at the sites below do not have electric hook up (must supply own generator) . 

Host positions are open at the following sites:  Red River Campground  near Elk City and Spring Bar Campground on the main Salmon River.

Please contact Samuel Manifold at 208-983-4018.

Smith River floaters not ready to be bear savvy

CAMPING — Just about every outdoor park  and forest in North America that has bears requires bear-resistant camping methods. 

But even in the wake of having to kill eight bears that had become camp robbers, Montana lags…

Montana Parks Board won't require bear-proof food containers on Smith River
Over the past two years, eight black bears were killed along the Smith River corridor due to conflicts with people floating the river, prompting the staff of the agency to recommend that campers and boaters use bear-proof containers, a recommendation the Montana State Parks and Recreation Board rejected. Instead the board ordered parks staff to come up with other recommendations to keep bears from being attracted to camps and stops along the river. The board will take up before permits to float the river are issued next spring.

Congress finally gives wilderness a nod

PUBLIC LANDS — Congress shook its inability to work across the aisle this week and passed public lands legislation that's been years in the making. 

The U.S. House on Thursday passed a defense spending bill containing a broad public lands package for the West.

In Montana, it provides new wilderness on the Rocky Mountain Front, a ban on mining near Glacier National Park and changes supporting oil exploration and grazing on federal land.

The bill adds 67,000 acres to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and designating 208,000 acres along the Front as a conservation management area.

In Washington, the bill expands the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area by 22,000 acres.

It also creates a Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which includes the B Reactor at Hanford.

It's not all perfect from anyone's point of view.  But many experts say it's better than stalemate.

The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration, where a vote is expected next week.

Value of getting together

The Missoulian has a story — Report tracks successes of conservation collaboration in Montana — indicating that collaborative groups have helped shake the shackles of a do-nothing Congress in public lands issues.

The story cites the "Collaboration at a Crossroads" report from the Wilderness Society, which examines 15 of the 37 active roundtables on land-use in Montana. Among them is the Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front, which worked on the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act passed Thursday by the House.

Plan ahead for free entry to federal lands Nov. 9-11

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal and state land managers offer fee-free entry days to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.

  • The last big freebie of the year is Nov. 8-11 — Veterans Day Weekend — with free entry to virtually all the federal public lands.  NOTE: National Parks are offering free entry only on Nov. 11.
  • Washington State Parks will waive the Discover Pass requirement on Nov. 11.

The fee waivers do not cover expanded amenity or user fees for things such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours.

N. Fork Clearwater road closed for repairs

FISHING — The North Fork of Clearwater River Road 247 will be closed starting tomorrow, Oct. 21, at milepost 39.3, at Flat Creek for the removal of an aquatic organism barrier culvert, the Clearwater-Nez Perce National Forests announced today.

The road closure will run no later than Nov. 11. 

Info: (208) 582-4203.

Raise a cold one to youth outdoor education

OUTDOORS — Join the North Idaho folks from Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education (SOLE) and NoLi Brewhouse for the kick-off of a community fund-raiser for youth outdoor education programs. 

The event is set for 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, at Idaho Pour Authority, 203 Cedar St. in Sandpoint

This fun after-hours event will include great raffle prizes, a seasonal beer line-up from No-Li and the opportunity for to support a great cause!
  

Plan ahead for free entry at federal, state lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.  

  • Washington State Parks also sets dates for fee-free entry. 

The first freebie date of the year links to National Wildlife Refuge Week.

Following is a list of other free-entry dates and participating federal agencies, which vary by holiday: 

  • Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 15-17 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Park Week opening weekend, April 19-20 — National Park Service.
  • National Get Outdoors Day, June 14 — national forests.
  • National Park Service Birthday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service.
  • National Public Lands Day, Sept. 27 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Wildlife Refuge Week, first day, Oct 12 — National wildlife refuges. 
  • Veterans Day, Nov. 11 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests.

Washington State Parks also offer 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Read on for details about year-round free or discounted passes for military, disabled and seniors.

Long-distance hikers gathering at Stampede Pass

HIKING — Backpackers who've walked the walk are giving programs of enduring value this weekend during the 21st annual gathering of the American Long-Distance Hiking Association-West at Stampede Pass, Wash.

Openings are still available for the Saturday programs by hikers who've accomplished incredible "feets"  and possibly for the full Friday-Sunday event to be held at The Mountaineers Meany Lodge

The site is a unique ski lodge on a private ski mountain. Camping is available as well as a main lodge that sleeps 90 people, a great room that can fit 130 people for the presentations, forums, meals and awards. 

The is the group that presents the Triple Crown Awards to hikers who have completed the Appalachian, Continental Divide and Pacific Crest Trails.

 

Plan ahead for free entry at federal, state lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.  

  • Washington State Parks also sets dates for fee-free entry. 

The first freebie date of the year is National Public Lands Day.

Following is a list of other free-entry dates and participating federal agencies, which vary by holiday: 

  • Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 15-17 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Park Week opening weekend, April 19-20 — National Park Service.
  • National Get Outdoors Day, June 14 — national forests.
  • National Park Service Birthday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service.
  • National Public Lands Day, Sept. 27 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Wildlife Refuge Week, first day, Oct 12 — National wildlife refuges. 
  • Veterans Day, Nov. 11 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests.

Washington State Parks also offer 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Read on for details about year-round free or discounted passes for military, disabled and seniors.

What’s the best way to celebrate 50 years of Wilderness Act?

PUBLIC LANDS — The editorial writers of the Missoulian offered this opinion:

Montana should celebrate Wilderness Act anniversary with more wilderness
Montanans enjoy access to 16 wilderness areas within their state, and with the 50th anniversary of the federal Wilderness Act that allowed for the protection of those areas, they should push for approval of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act and the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act to protect additional acres of the Big Sky State for perpetuity.
—Missoulian

Mosquitoes thick at Lake Roosevelt, officials warn

WATERSPORTS — No need to travel to Alaska for a good dose of pesky biting insects.

The National Park Service has issued a media release warning visitors heading to Lake Roosevelt for the holiday weekend to be ready for mosquitoes at the campgrounds, boat launches and day use facilities.

Conditions this summer at the reservoir that stretches up to 150-miles behind Grand Coulee Dam have been optimal for mosquitoes, officials say. 

"Visitors, park staff, our neighbors, and our partners have been dealing with an extraordinarily large mosquito population, especially in the north district near Kettle Falls," says the release.

The National Park Service encourages visitors to plan to protect themselves from mosquitoes during their stay, especially at dawn and dusk.  Loose fitting long-sleeved shirts and pants that provide ‘depth’ combined with a mosquito repellant will offer good protection.  When using mosquito repellants look for products registered with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, always follow label instructions, and take special care when applying to children.  Also, make sure screens to windows and doors on recreational vehicles and tents are in good working order.

While park staff understands from personal experience the desire to control the mosquito population, National Park Service regulations, policies, and guidance protecting natural resources of this area do not allow for spraying programs unless mosquitoes are found to be carrying diseases, such as West Nile. 

The National Park Service at Lake Roosevelt relies on monitoring information from the surrounding health districts, Washington State Department of Health, and the mosquito control districts of eastern Washington in determining the level of risk to human health from mosquito borne viral diseases.  

To date, the National Park Service is unaware of infected mosquitos found in the immediate vicinity of Lake Roosevelt.

Enterprise boat-in campground reopens on Lake Roosevelt

WATERSPORTS —  The Enterprise Boat-in Campground has been re-opened as the Enterprise fire has been controlled on Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.

The popular campground for boaters southwest of Hunters is open on a first-come, first-served basis.

"For your safety, we request that you stay out of the burned area and at least 100 yards from the burned area even on the water," National Park Service officials say in a media release.

The Enterprise Fire will continue to produce smoke as scattered pockets of brush, stumps, and downed logs continue to smolder and burn. This is normal and will decrease over time. If you see brush and or trees fully engulfed by active flame within the burned area, please don’t hesitate to call the NE Interagency Dispatch Center at 509-685-6900.

Plan ahead for free entry at federal, state lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.  

  • Washington State Parks also sets dates for fee-free entry. 

The first freebie date of the year links to the National Park Service birthday.

Following is a list of other free-entry dates and participating federal agencies, which vary by holiday: 

  • Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 15-17 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Park Week opening weekend, April 19-20 — National Park Service.
  • National Get Outdoors Day, June 14 — national forests.
  • National Park Service Birthday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service.
  • National Public Lands Day, Sept. 27 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Wildlife Refuge Week, first day, Oct 12 — National wildlife refuges. 
  • Veterans Day, Nov. 11 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests.

Washington State Parks also offer 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Read on for details about year-round free or discounted passes for military, disabled and seniors.

BLM bans campfires on its Eastern Washington lands

PUBLIC LANDS —  Extreme fire danger has prompted the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to join Washington state agencies in prohibiting campfires in Eastern Washington, including in developed recreation areas.

The federal agency's fire managers enacted initial fire restrictions in mid-July. Today they updated the restrictions to prohibit the building, maintaining, attending or using a fire of any type, including charcoal briquette fires on lands administered by the BLM’s Spokane District.

An exemption is made for liquefied and bottled gas stoves and heaters provided they are used within an area at least 10 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.

The updated fire restriction will be effective beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, August 14, 2014.

The fire restrictions apply to all BLM managed lands in the following Eastern Washington counties: Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman, and Yakima counties. Restrictions are in place until further notice.

In addition to prohibiting campfires, restrictions on the use of off-road vehicles, smoking, shooting of exploding targets and the use of fireworks is still in effect. A complete, signed fire restriction order can be found at the following websites: 

Lyons Ferry water clears; beach reopened

CAMPING —The  swimming area and beach at Lyons Ferry Park has been reopened today after test results received this afternoon showed the water was again safe for in-water recreation.

The Walla Walla District of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed the park's beach at the confluence of the Palouse and Snake Rivers on Aug. 1, when tests showed that fecal bacteria exceeded levels considered safe for people.

“The reduction in those bacteria levels this week is likely because of recent cooler temperatures and increased wind through the Snake River gorge,” said Darren Opp, assistant natural resources manager at the Corps’ office in Clarkston, Wash. “That’s all it needed to get the water moving better through the swimming area and flush out the fecal bacteria contamination. We’ll continue to test our designated swimming areas throughout the warm-weather season to help ensure public safety for our visitors.”

Lyons Ferry, formerly a Washington state park, is one of several outdoor recreation areas managed by the Corps of Engineers along the Snake River drainage.

Marshmallows optional for s’mores at Priest Lake

CAMPING — Priest Lake blogger Pecky Cox offers this observation from her post at As the Lake Churns.

National forests enacting restrictions on fires, smoking, chain saws

PUBLIC LANDS — National Forest officials in Washington are are restricting activities that could accidentally spark wildfires as the state continues to be tinder dry and in a pall of smoke from other fires.

Starting Tuesday, Aug. 12, campfires will only be allowed only in approved campgrounds on the 1.1 million acre Colville Forest and smoking will be prohibited outside of a vehicle.  These restrictions apply to all areas, roads and trails.

 Liquid gas stoves are exempt from this restriction.

  • Similar restrictions are set to begin Friday, Aug. 8, on the Umatilla National Forest.

The forests will enact "Hoot Owl" wood cutting restrictions, which prohibit use of chainsaws in the woods after 1 p.m. when fire danger increases.

A long handled shovel and a pressurized chemical fire extinguisher not less than 8 oz. in capacity is required by all wood-cutting permit holders.

Motorists should also exercise caution when driving on Forest roads and trails by avoiding dry grass and vegetation; hot exhaust systems can easily ignite dry grasses, said Franklin Pemberton, forest spokesman.

Fireworks are never allowed on national forests.     

Plan a campout for Perseid meteor showers

SKYWATCHING — Camping high in the mountains away from lights— perhaps in forest fire lookout rental — is a peak way to enjoy the free light show in the sky, which will peak this year between Aug. 10 and 13.

The annual Perseid meteor shower is gearing up.
This may not be the best year for viewing the Perseids because of bright moonlight and the smoke from wildfires in the region. But at peak levels the Perseids can produce a show of more than 50 meteors an hour to keep you up late.
Actually, sleep tight and get up early.  Astronomers say the best viewing is in the dark hours before dawn.
  • Some of the action will be washed out this year by a bright supermoon in the sky on the night of August 10 (morning of August 11). It’s not just any supermoon but the closest and brightest supermoon of 2014. According to NASA, this August 10 moon will be 30% brighter than most full moons of 2014.
Although the meteors appear to come from Perseus, they actually are part of a debris trail left by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which the Earth encounters every August.
See more info on the EarthSky website.

Device helps women stand up when nature calls

CAMPING — The females in my family have never had a problem squatting in the woods to relieve themselves — this video seems to suggest it's a problem for some outdoorswomen.

But the Pee Pocket device the video promotes has real value in outdoor applications.

For instance, by being able to stand a pee like a man, a woman can urinate more easily into a bottle in a tent, for instance, so the urine can be disposed of in an outhouse or away from camp the next morning.  This would be a big advantage in a storm or when in grizzly country  — or for simply keeping pesky deer away from camp that are otherwise lured by the salt.

While floating the Grand Canyon this winter, several gals on the trip were envious of my "pee bottle,"  which I used at camp rather than having to hike to the river from the tents — sometimes a long way — every time the urge struck, day or night.

I'll let you outdoor women size this up for yourselves, but I'll bet you'll be able to find a few good uses for it.

Lightning storms start fires in Washington forests

PUBLIC LANDS —Monday's afternoon thunderstorms led to many lightning strikes across the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and surrounding lands starting several new fires, the Forest Service reports.  Response crews were dispatched immediately.

See the report on small fires also reported on the Colville National Forest.

In northcentral Washington, the Stokes Road Fire is being managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources near Carlton and the Gold Creek area and is around 600 acres. Four Rappellers were dispatched up Foggy Dew Creek for a 0.75 acre fire around 4:00 p.m. yesterday. Other small fires reported:

  • South Ridge Methow, Piper Creek, tenth of an acre reported
  • West Buck Mountain, Methow RD, tenth of an acre, contained at 10:00 pm
  • Miner’s Ridge, Entiat RD, tenth of an acre, contained at 10:30 pm
  • French Cabin Junction, Cle Elum RD, quarter acre

Along with these reported fires were numerous smoke reports which fire suppression resources attempted to find in the field. These often can lay undetected in deep litter and duff layers on the ground or within trees undetected for days after a lightning event only to pop up later and spread as wildfires.  People should be aware of these conditions and report wildfires as noted below.

  • For general forest fire information on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, call 664-9314
  • To report a wildfire, call 911 or 1-800-258-5990. 

 

Lake Spokane Campground closed during wildfire

CAMPING — The Lake Spokane Campground, formerly operated by the Washington Department of Natural Resources, has been closed by state officials as they fight a nearby wildfire in Stevens County.

Other Riverside State Park facilities remain open.

See the story.

See more details on where to go here.

Hanging around at a backcountry camp

HIKING — This may be the ultimate low impact campsite. Comfy, too.

Fire, fireworks restricted or banned from public lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Campfires, fireworks and exploding targets are prohibited outside of designated sites on state and federal lands. Agencies are emphasizing those rules in a large-scale fire prevention effort on the eve of the Fourth of July holiday.

Generally speaking, campfires are allowed only in fire pits at developed campgrounds in national parks, most national forests and all state lands. 

Fireworks and exploding targets enjoyed by shooters are banned.

Even shooting at normal targets is banned on some state wildlife areas in Central Washington.