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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.

Roosevelt cedar grove reopens, but only for day use

CAMPING — The Forest Service has re-opened Stagger Inn, the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars and Granite Falls, but visitors will be allowed in the area only during daytime. Camping will not be allowed this season.

The sites were closed last summer for removing hazardous trees after a camper in a tent was killed by a tree that came crashing down in a severe wind storm.

Although hazardous trees have been removed, forest officials say they're still concerned about the stability of some trees in the area.

“We recognize the importance and value of the site to generations of campers and will do our best to deem the site safe for camping in the future” said Matt Davis, Priest Lake District Ranger.

“Over the course of the next year the Forest Service will be monitoring other trees and soil conditions on the site determining if additional tress need to be removed and whether to open the site for camping in the future.”

High winds on the night of August 25th, 2013 caused several trees to become weakened and damaged in the Stagger Inn Campground, resulting in several fallen trees and causing one fatality at the campground.

Info: Priest Lake Ranger District, (208) 443-6839.

Lightning: flashy way to die outdoors

OUTDOOR SAFETY — Name the safest place to seek refuge if you are outdoors and a lighting storm moves in?

  • Answer: An automobile — totally safe, unless a tree blows down on top of you.

This is Lightning Awareness Week, so be aware.  Sure, you can't bail out of the wilderness every time a thunder storm rolls in, but you can minimize risk by checking weather reports and getting very early starts on ventures into the high ridges so you can return to safer areas or your car by the time thunder activity begins, usually in the afternoon.

Check the attached document for some solid background on lighting safety.


Documents:

Geocaching 101 class offered Wednesday

NAVIGATION — A free Geocaching 101 Class is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The class is geared to people who want to learn the basics of the engaging high-tech hide-and-seek game using GPS devices and a  World Wide Web full of clues and challenges.

The class will be held at the Cache Cave, 2324 E. Euclid Ave., Suite 204, in Spokane and conducted by shop owner Lisa Breitenfeldt.

Info: (509) 720-8382,  lisa@cache-advance.com.

Groups highlight trail projects past and future

PUBLIC LANDS – Volunteer trail projects past and future will be highlighted in a program by the Spokane Mountaineers and Washington Trails Association on Monday, June 17, at 7 p.m., at the Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield.

“The Mountaineers have a long history of giving back to our local trails,” said Lynn Smith, the club’s trail-maintenance program coordinator. “Whether working on our own or in conjunction with other organizations, we understand that stewardship goes hand-in-hand with recreation, and volunteers are a crucial part of the process – especially in this era of shrinking budgets.”

More projects are planned this year in Eastern Washington and North Idaho, he said.

Fish survey: good news for Dworshak kokanee, bass anglers

FISHING — Fishing for kokanee and bass at Dworshak Reservoir is excellent, as confirmed by this fishing report received late Friday from Joe Duont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager:

Dworshak Reservoir Kokanee Report (6/13/14)

In late April we completed our spring trawl survey, and the time for an update on the kokanee fishery is overdue.  The ‘catchable’ size kokanee we caught in the trawl averaged 9 ¼ inches long, which is about a half inch shorter than the same time last year.  However, there are a lot more fish out there this year.  In fact it appears we have about twice as many 2-year old kokanee (the larger kokanee we like to catch) this year as we did last year.

We have also been busy talking to fishermen at the ramps this spring.  While not everyone is coming in with fish this year, most anglers are.  We are also seeing more limits of kokanee than empty coolers.  In April, catch rates averaged 7.6 fish kept per fisherman and 2.8 fish per hour of kokanee fishing.  In May, it picked up to 10.3 fish per person and 3.9 fish per hour.  We don’t have many interviews so far for June, but right now catch rates are 12.3 fish per person and 3.5 fish per hour.  These are great catch rates for Kokanee fishing.  The Kokanee we’ve seen in the creel recently are around 10 inches long, but there are occasional fish over 13 inches long.  Right now most people are fishing between Canyon Creek and Dent Bridge, but we have marked good densities of kokanee farther up the reservoir during our research work.

Not a kokanee fisherman?  We also interviewed 38 bass anglers over the past month who spent 117 hours to catch 463 smallmouth bass and kept 45. This works out to a little over 12 bass caught per person and four fish per hour.  Harvested bass have averaged about 13 inches, but a couple larger fish have been brought in, with the largest right at 20 inches.  Recent surface temperatures are in the mid to upper 60’s with a thermocline at 10 to 15 feet.  As the water has warmed and spawning has wrapped up, larger bass are moving into deeper water.  Some bass anglers I spoke with over the weekend reported that smaller bass were plentiful, but larger bass were down 40 to 50 feet and tough to come by.

Stagger Inn Campground closed for tree removal

PUBLIC LANDS — The Forest Service has begun removing hazardous trees at the Stagger Inn Campground on the Priest Lake Ranger District and work will continue  through June 30, says Panhandle National Forests spokesman Jason Kirchner.

Stagger Inn and the adjacent Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars and Granite Falls will remain closed during the operations.

“We ask that people remain patient as we work to make the Stagger Inn Campground safe for the public,” said Priest Lake District Ranger Matt Davis. “We recognize the importance of these sites to the Priest Lake area.  Our crews are working hard to reduce the hazards and reopen the site.”

High winds on Aug. 25, 2013, weakened and damaged several trees in the Stagger Inn Campground. A man was killed as a tree fell on his tent, prompting closure of the area.

Info: Priest Lake Ranger District at (208) 443-6839.

Lifejackets aren’t for sissies

WATERSPORTS — The season's barely begun and already two drownings have been reported from private rafting trips on Idaho's Salmon River.

Neither victim was wearing a lifejacket on the RIVER OF NO RETURN, which, forgive me for being honest, is inexcusable.

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 Get Outdoors 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.

Geocaching game launched on region’s forests

GEOCACHING — The Colville National Forest and partners in the Upper Columbia region are setting up a summer geocaching game geared to families.

From Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day,  a number of easy to access geocaches will be located throughout the Colville National Forest and other participating adjacent lands designated as part of the Upper Columbia Children’s Forest.  .

Geocaching is like a treasure hunt using a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit.  You input the coordinates and the GPS unit leads you to the geocache. 

While the activities are geared to youths ages 8-12, all of the geocaches require driving to the recreation site followed by a short walk.  Navigating to and from the sites, helping out with reading maps and working the GPS is a great opportunity for everyone in the family.  There are opportunities to learn about how to read maps, how GPS works, and learning about wildlife, trees, plants and cultural history you will encounter along the way.

The geocaches are 6” x 6” plastic boxes that contain a card with information and a short activity specific to the recreation site.  Any child who can collect all of the cards and present them at the Kettle Falls Information Center will be able to claim a small prize. 

The Colville National Forest encourages visitors to practice the Leave No Trace Principals while exploring the Forest.  

Some GPS units are available to borrow at the Kettle Falls Information Center,  255 West 3rd, Kettle Falls, WA.  99141.  To ensure a unit is available, call (509) 738-2300.

If you want to play - go to www.geocaching.com and search “Upper Columbia Children’s Forest geocaches” and get the coordinates to input into your GPS Unit. 

For more Information on geocaching on the Colville National Forest,  visit www.fs.usda.gov/colville/ and look for geocaching under Quick Links, or call (509) 684-7000.