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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Latest poop on wildfire: cyclist burning TP started blaze

WILDFIRES — A mountain biker who answered the call in the wild is responsible for starting the 73-acre Hull Fire that scorched more than 73 acres in the Boise foothills, according to U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials, who confirmed:

A man was cycling in the foothills when he stopped to defecate in a ravine. Afterwards, the man tried to get rid of the waste by lighting his toilet paper on fire. The man apparently tried to bury the burning waste to extinguish it, but an ember spread to nearby dry grass.

"I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go," BLM spokeswoman Carrie Bilbao told KTVB.com.

"We've had this before, actually - it doesn't happen very often - but when people have to go, um, they will often burn their toilet paper just as kind of an environmental concern, to not litter, basically, but in these fuel types, it's not a good idea," she said.

In other words, burning TP in fire-prone areas stinks.

Bilbao said the man came forward and told the BLM he might be responsible for the blaze. The man's story matched "evidence" found at the scene, according to investigators.

Police have not yet decided whether to charge the man with a crime or hold him financially responsible for fire-fighting costs. He received a citation for starting a fire. The man's name has not been released.

 

Glacier Park fire reminds hikers, campers to have a Plan B

WILDFIRES — An expanding fire that recently broke out in Glacier National Park is a prime example of why hikers and campers need to call ahead, browse the Web and stay tuned in to the impact wildfires might have on their plans.

Heck, just getting to the North Cascades on Interstate 90 has been a hassle this week because of wildfire-caused highway closures near George.

The Newby Lake Fire in the Pasayten Wilderness of northcentral Washington has been blocking access to the popular Horseshoe Basin area for weeks. Although that closure could end soon, firefighters have responded to 14 fires after some 150 lightning strikes blanketed the area northeast of Tonasket Sunday night.

Fires are burning in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and other notable areas.  And in this drought year, more are sure to come.

The Blue Creek Fire in the Blue Mountains has prompted trail closures on the Walla Walla Ranger District for public and firefighter safety. Forest Road 6400 (Skyline Road) from the junction of Forest Road 4600 to the junction of Forest Road 6500 is temporarily closed.

But Glacier Park is the most notable hot spot this week.  Here's the latest information, just received:

The Reynolds Creek Wildland Fire on the east side of Glacier National Park is estimated at 2,000 acres.  

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed between the St. Mary entrance on the east side and Big Bend on the west side. 

The St. Mary Campground is being evacuated.  The campground has approximately 148 sites.   

The Rising Sun Motor Inn, operated by Glacier National Park Lodges, and the Rising Sun Campground were evacuated Tuesday evening. 

The St. Mary Visitor Center will close to the public at 12 p.m. today, July 22.  It will be used as a fire staging area.  The duration of the closure is unknown at this time. 

Park rangers and personnel are searching for backcountry hikers in the area to evacuate them and direct them to safety.   The parking areas of the St. Mary Visitor Center and the Apgar Visitor Center have been established as gathering areas for park visitors that may have been separated from their group.  

The park is assisting visitors retrieve their vehicles that were left along the Going-to-the-Sun Road yesterday due to fire activity in the area.  One vehicle was consumed by the fire.    

The fire is moving quickly in heavy timber with extreme spread potential.  The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning in effect from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. today for Glacier National Park.  This warning means that critical fire weather conditions are anticipated, including strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures.  These conditions may create explosive fire growth potential. 

Preplanning is being conducted for possible evacuation in the St. Mary area.   National Park Service personnel are working in cooperation with Glacier County Sheriff’s Office and Blackfeet Emergency Management. 

All interpretive programs in the St. Mary Valley are cancelled until further notice. There is a temporary flight restriction over the fire area. 

A fire information phone line has been established at 406-732-7791. 

Kettle River Campground reopens on Lake Roosevelt

PUBLIC LANDS — The Kettle River Campground on Lake Roosevelt reopened today after being closed because of a human-caused ground fire started on June 22.

The fire burned less than an acre. An investigation is underway, National Park Service officials said.

Fire closes Kettle River Campground on Lake Roosevelt

PUBLIC LANDS — The Kettle River Campground has been closed as a precaution because of a human-caused fire burning nearby, according to officials from the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.

A grass fire that was whipped up by winds on Monday forced evacuation of the campground.

Fire crews contained the fire today, officials said.  The campground closure remains in effect for fire monitoring.

The recreation area restricted fires to designated fire grates in developed campgrounds on June 17.  Investigators continue to look into the cause of Monday's fire.

 

Landers: Camping is an educational event worth the misery

“If God wanted us to sleep on the ground, he wouldn’t have invented beds,” a man wrote.

Clearly this is a sickness that needs to be addressed, starting with education on the religious foundation of camping: God did not create furniture. God did create the ground, where campers sleep in order to fully appreciate a bed.

I would never put down people who don’t enjoy camping. It’s understandable that some consider a poison ivy rash unattractive while others may be too selfish to share their jelly sandwiches with ants.

Good campsites would be hard to find if everybody was looking for a place to pitch a tent.

But I feel sorry for people who dislike camping, especially if they have kids or grandkids. More here, Rich Landers, SR

I do  not have the words to tell you how much I LOATHE camping. How about you? Are you a happy camper?

Educational benefits of camping are free for all

CAMPING — TV weather reporter Kris Crocker, full of honesty and good humor, says she's lost the itch to go camping.  We forgive you, Kris.

But as I explain in today's outdoors column, the occasional misery involved in tenting under the stars is worth the educational benefits, especially when you have kids.

I like a warm shower as much as anyone, but our daughters also LOVED to go skinny dipping in mountain lakes and streams.  It's a life skill every kid should learn before being booted out of the nest.

From what I hear, the girls, in their 20s, still LOVE to go skinny dipping. That worked out to the educational benefit of a Boy Scout pack that hiked by at the most opportune time in the Glacier Peak Wilderness a couple of years ago.

Question: Do Boy Scouts have an app that helps them navigate toward skinny dipping girls in the wilderness?

National forest announces campfire restrictions — already!

PUBLIC LANDS — The Wenatchee Ranger District will begin campfire restrictions starting Friday, noting that limiting fires to designated campgrounds in the first half of June is far earlier than normal.

A campfire restriction means that wood and charcoal fires are allowed only in designated campgrounds with fire rings, some classified Wilderness areas and specially designated sites.  Pressurized liquid gas stoves are still allowed.  Briquette fires are not allowed in the restricted area.

The campfire restrictions do not include developed campgrounds on the Wenatchee River Ranger District, according to the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest website.

 “The hot and windy conditions have cured many of the fire fuels in our area,” said Michelle Ellis, Fire Management Division Chief for Wenatchee River. “We try to avoid implementing campfire restrictions until absolutely necessary, but we’re there and we want to keep people and communities safe.”

Info: Wenatchee River Ranger District, (509) 548-2550.  

St. Joe National Forest Avery Office reopening for season

PUBLIC LANDS — The Avery office on the St. Joe Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests is opening Monday, May 18 after being closed for the winter.  The office has a range of information and resources available for visitors.

The office is along the scenic St. Joe River, a popular fishing and camping destination upstream from St. Maries, Idaho.

Firewood permits are available for $5 a cord (minimum purchase is 4 cords and maximum is 12 cords) and are valid on all public lands managed by the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management. 

Interagency Annual Access and Senior Passes are also available.  These passes cover entrance and standard amenity fees at a variety of Federal recreation sites.  Persons 62 years or older can purchase a Senior Pass for $10 and persons with a permanent disability can acquire an Access Pass with proof of required documentation.

Brochures detailing recreation opportunities on the St. Joe Ranger District are available, covering hiking, horseback riding, or riding a motorcycle on the district's trail system. 

Access is nearby for the world-famous 15 mile long Route of the Hiawatha Trail and the Emerald Creek Garnet Area. 

A cabin rental program includes the Arid Peak or Surveyors Ridge historic fire lookout towers. 

The Avery office is open Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is closed from noon to 12:30. 

Info: St. Joe Ranger District Avery Office, 208-245-4517 or the St. Maries office,208-245-2531.

Glacier Park’s “Sun Road” plowing weeks ahead 2014

PARKS — Glacier National Park plowing crews are weeks ahead of last year in their annual effort to clear snow off the Going to the Sun road over Logan Pass.

The snowpack is significantly less this year, but it's too soon to plan an opening date.

So far, 15.5 miles of the scenic road that have been cleared and open for motorized travel from the West Entrance to Avalanche

Hiker/Biker access extends 8 miles past the vehicle closure to The Loop while the road crew is working.

Here are a few more details from a longer Missoulian story by Vince Devlin:

The annual opening of this iconic two-lane highway through the heart of Glacier National Park signals the full-bore start of tourist season in this part of Montana, and so the date Going-to-the-Sun is ready for traffic is an important one to lots of people.

And we don’t know it.

Not yet.

What we do know is that when snowplow crews on the west side reach Oberlin Bend near Logan Pass, Glacier officials escort a gaggle of reporters up to watch them work.

That happened Monday, as machinery labored its way through a winter’s worth of snow, even as more snow fell.

A year ago – with significantly more snowfall for crews to deal with – the annual journalists’ trek to Oberlin Bend didn’t happen until June 5. The road went on to open on July 3.

This year, they’ve reached Oberlin Bend almost four weeks earlier than last year, but, as is always the case, Mother Nature will have the biggest say in how work progresses from here.

“We’ve had blizzards in June, and it’s not even mid-May yet,” explained Glacier spokeswoman Denise Germann.

Diablo Lake access restricted during maintenance drawdown

WATERSPORTS —  Diablo Lake, the boater access to Ross Lake in North Cascades National Park, will be off limits to normal public access until early June and again in late summer and fall for dam maintenance.

Diablo will be drawn down as low as 1192 feet above sea level or 10 feet below normal operating conditions to accommodate  maintenance by Seattle City Light of the Ross Dam barge landing and ferry facilities. 

Low lake levels will occur Tuesday, May 12, through June 15, and again Sept 15-Oct. 31.

During these times, Diablo Lake and the Colonial Creek Campground boat ramp will be inaccessible to motorboats and it will be difficult for paddlecraft to launch.

Lake levels will fluctuate during the draw down, but boaters should be aware that Seattle City Light may rapidly vary the lake level without notice.  It is therefore recommended that boaters refrain from using their vessels on Diablo Lake from May 12-June 15 and again from September 15 through October 31 so as not to be stranded. While lake levels are low, National Park Service staff will clean sediment off the public boat ramp at Colonial Creek Campground. Normal lake levels will resume June 16 through September 14, and again on approximately November 1, 2015.

Seattle City Light will also complete work on the docks located on the east side of Diablo Lake near the Ross Haul Road. These facilities will be open to visitors on June 12, 2015. 

The Ross Haul Road between Ross Powerhouse and the tunnel, as well as the Diablo Lake Trail Bridge, will be closed through June 20 and again Sept. 7-Nov. 4, 2015. 

Ross Lake can be accessed via a gravel road from Hope, British Columbia on the north. Two graded-cement boat ramps at Hozomeen are normally usable from mid-June through September. There is no direct road access from the south, but canoes, kayaks and other portable craft can be launched on Diablo Lake at Colonial Creek Campground and boated five miles to the end of Diablo Lake. Boats and gear must be portaged around Ross Dam over a mile long gravel road with switchbacks (520 foot gain/120 foot loss).

Ross Lake Resort, which is open June-September,  also provides portage service for portable boats, rents out small power boats, canoes, and kayaks, and provides water taxi service on the lake.

See a map of Ross Lakejpeg (393K), pdf (11MB) — showing the many boat access campgrounds and other recreational opportunities that are available.

Ross Lake is a reservoir with changing water levels. The lake is generally at full pool from July - September. Docks are not usable at low water levels. For an elevational chart that shows when docks and ramps are usable, check out the Ross Lake Elevations for Dock Use handout (pdf 112K).

Glacier Park lowland camp sites beginning to open

PUBLIC LANDS — Services remain limited at Glacier National Park, but access is gradually opening earlier than normal as snow recedes.

The road to Two Medicine and a loop of the Two Medicine Campground near East Glacier should be opening this weekend. 

Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow said, “We are pleased to have the Two Medicine area accessible to the public this early in the year.”  Mow said snow conditions across the park are varied and park personnel are busily working to provide public access.

The St. Mary Campground, located on the east side of the park, is open for walk-in campers only and closed to vehicle traffic, through June 4, 2015.  The campground will remain in primitive status, with no flush toilets and no water during this time. 

Primitive camping is available in the Apgar Picnic Area through April 30 on the west side of the park. 

The Apgar Visitor Center is open weekends, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  

Going-to-the-Sun Road snow plowing continues with the west-side road crew approaching the Big Bend area.   Road crews on the east-side have reached the Siyeh Bend area, and are also working in the Many Glacier and Two Medicine areas on projects.

Hiker and bikers can access the Going-to-the-Sun Road past the vehicle closures when plow and rehabilitation crews are finished for the day and on weekends, or as posted.

Find more info here.

Lake Roosevelt water levels holding steady into May

BOATING — The level of Lake Roosevelt is likely to remain pretty much as it is with no significant further drawdown required to handle runoff, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says.

The level was 1253.10 feet above sea level at 9 a.m. today, April 10, and the reservoir elevation is expected to remain in the range of 1252 -1255 until May 10, the agency that manages Grand Coulee Dam reports.

That's about 20 feet higher than the 2014 drawdown to handle spring runoff down the Columbia River.

Lake Roosevelt is currently being operated to meet power demand and to complete required maintenance at the dam.

The April – August Water Forecast is 82.5 percent of normal.

Lake level forecasts are updated by 3 p.m. each day. Call (800) 824-4916 for the updated 24-hour forecast.

Check out this post with a link to a NOAA site with Roosevelt levels, which includes a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Boat Launch host needed at Bead Lake

CAMPING — A summer host for the Bead Lake Boat Launch is being sought by Colville National Forest officials.

The volunteer position involves greeting boaters and campers and tending the public sites at the mountain lake nine miles northeast of Newport.

The hosts are given use of a full-service campsite but have their own self-contained RV or trailer.

For more details and applications, contact Nan Berger, Newport Ranger District (509) 447-7311 or email nberger@fs.fed.us.

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