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Washington outdoor recreation plan needs public input

OUTDOOR REC — If you enjoy the outdoors, you owe it to yourselff to participate in the online Washington State Outdoor Recreation Survey.

So far, about 800 comments have been filed on the easy to navigate Town Hall website

In addition to the survey, which can help channel planning and funding in the future, the site is asking the publicv to post their stories and photos showing how outdoor recreation impacts you and your family.  The information will be used in the final report.

  • In the last statewide survey conducted in in 2005-2006, WALKING was rated the most popular outdoor recreation activity in Washington.

The state’s outdoor recreation strategic plan, called the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), needs to be updated every 5 years to maintain the state's ability to receive federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  The funding is used for grants to local communities to build parks and trails, and conserve wildlife habitat.

Paddle sports clubs reach out to disabled vets

WATER SPORTS – A program to create an environment of healthy adventure for healing active duty and veteran service members through paddle sports will be introduced in Spokane on Monday, Jan. 28.

The Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club is teaming with Team River Runner, a national non-profit group, to open canoeing and kayaking opportunities for disabled vets, said Celene Olgeirsson, SCKC spokeswoman.

The program starts at 7 p.m. at Mountain Gear Corporate Office, 6021 E. Mansfield Ave., in Spokane Valley.

Info: 509-209-3066

Missoula’s Wave needs emergency fix

PADDLING — The artificial wave that has become a fixture in downtown Missoula and attracted kayakers from across the nation needs emergency repairs.

Brennan’s Wave was completed in 2006 and has served as a site for the U.S. Kayak Team’s Olympic Trial and the Montana Whitewater Championships, according to a story in the Missoulian.

Trent Baker, the spokesman for the nonprofit organization that funded the wave’s construction and oversees an endowment for its maintenance, says the wave has a giant crack in its middle chute.

The Missoulian reports runoff flows in the Clark Fork River likely caused the erosion.

Baker’s nonprofit has $20,000 to put toward fixing the crack but the repairs are expected to cost $50,000.

The group is seeking donations.

Sullivan Bridge river access focus of meeting Wednesday

RIVERS — Proposals for providing public access to the Spokane River under the new Sullivan Road Bridge project will be revealed 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday (Jan. 16) in Council Chambers at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague Ave., Suite 101.

The updated Public Access Plan provisions of Spokane Valley's Shoreline Master Program also include details regarding Shelley Lake.

Public access to the river at Sullivan Road is critical to paddlers, including kayakers, canoeists and rafters as well as anglers.

Copies of the Public Access Plan section of the SMP are available on the city website at www.spokanevalley.org by selecting the Planning & Zoning link on the home page, and then the Long Range Planning link.

To sign up for email updates, contact LBarlow@spokanevalley.org or call (509) 720-5335.

Sullivan Bridge project should include river access for paddlers

RIVERS — Plans for replacing Sullivan Road's deteriorating west bridge over the Spokane River apparently include provision for recreational river access, according to canoe, kayaking and rafting groups that have been meeting with Spokane Valley planners.

"Had a very good meeting with engineers and City of the Valley officials last week and it looks like some new access is in the works when the project is done," said Paul Delaney in an email to members of Northwest Whitewater.

City planners will explain the project in detail during a public presentations at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Jan. 9 at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley. 

Waters sports enthusiasts should be involved with this process to lend their support to keeping river access on the agenda.

G-Prep wrestlers build cedar canoe with teamwork

PADDLING – Gonzaga Prep wresters are pinning their annual fundraising goals on a 17-foot cedar-strip canoe they built with their own hands.

“We started during summer and we’re just doing the hand-caned bamboo seas and putting the finishing touches on it,” team Coach Danny Pearson said last week.

The team is selling tickets to raffle the canoe in a drawing that will be held at the school on Tuesday (Dec. 13).

Click here to see the work in progress and raffle form

Assistant coach Dane Vulcan recruited his father, Doug, to teach the team how to build a Minnesota Canoe Association guide-model boat. Doug Vulcan, a retired wrestling coach in Montana, has been building canoes for 30 years and conducts workshops on the craft.

“Doug is a canoe guru and was really involved last year when we built our first cedar canoe,” Pearson said. “This year he came over to supervise, but we had students and coaches who’d been involved with the first canoe and we could do a lot more of the work.”

Vulcan helped the team build their own forms to shape the elegant canoe that requires a long series of steps to construct. The flat-bottom, no-keel tandem boat is made of Western red cedar strips with mahogany gunwales, thwarts and face plates. It weighs 70 pounds and has a 750-pound capacity.

“Caning the seats is the most tedious work,” Pearson said. “It requires sitting down for hours and weaving."

The coach went on to explain why they're taking the hands-on approach to fundraising:

“Team building a big part of why we do this. We could sell frozen pizzas to raise money for our travel and equipment, but there’s little benefit to the students other than the money.

“But in building the canoe, the kids come up, sp end a day or two working with each other, milling down the boards, running the table saw and route, troubleshooting and figuring out problems.

“It’s a way for the wrestling team to spend time together other than wrestling.

“This isn’t the easiest or most efficient way to make money, but we want to have a community aspect to our program, and this seems to be a winner.”

  • Canoe raffle tickets are $10, available at Gonzaga Preparatory School, 483-8511.

Hunters use muscle power to get out their game

HUNTING — Three of my friends this season showed how muscle power can be a workable alternative to horsepower when it's time to pack out big game from the  mountains. 

  • Click continue reading to check out all three photos:

Kyle Hanson and his father, Dan, use a canoe to paddle out a whitetail buck they bagged along a northeastern Washington stream.

Jim Kujala uses a game cart to help me haul out the elk I shot in early November in the Blue Mountains. We boned out the meat and loaded it into four bags along with the hide, proof of sex and spike antlers. We pulled the cart briefly cross-country to closed logging roads for two miles out to a main road.

Pat Behm has a new twist on a "bicycle rack" as he pedals out of the mountains on his  mountain bike.  Behm and his hunting partner, John Karpenko, boned out the meat, stuffed it into their packs and carried it all out down a gated road to a main road.

"The hunting area was open to all, you just have to work a little smarter to get there," Karpenko said.

Priest River prime for paddling starting Oct. 8

PADDLING — The drawdown of Priest Lake to its winter level will begin Oct. 8.

The drawdown generally is complete by early November and brings the lake down three feet from a summer elevation of 3,427.64 feet to the winter level of 3,424.64, said Karl Duncan, the dam operator.

The lake’s drawdown also launches the unofficial beginning of the paddling season on Priest River. Generally too low for canoes during the summer season, Priest River takes on new life as flows are increased.

Two Spokane River events introduce public to paddling sports

WATER SPORTS – Two events that promote paddling sports are scheduled this month along the Spokane River.

Spokane River Festival for paddlers, Saturday starting at 11 a.m., is being organized by local kayak and rafting groups Saturday at Glover Field in Peaceful Valley.

The event, an evolution of the former Corbin Kick-off, offers a chance to see new boats and gear, join river tours and meet local whitewater enthusiasts. The date was incorrect in an announcement last Sunday in Outdoors

Paddle, Splash and Play on Aug. 18, another free event to encourage families to try craft such as canoes, kayaks, sea kayaks, inflatables, and stand-up paddle boards, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at Nine Mile Recreation Area in Riverside State Park (Discover Pass required).

The event is sponsored by Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club, Mountain Gear, and Spokane Parks and Recreation.

Sign up: test drive an outdoor sport at Sekani Adventure Day

OUTDOOR SPORTS — Maybe you'd like to try a traditional sport, such as canoeing or kayaking, or maybe you're curious about more modern sports such as geocaching, slacklining or stand-up paddling.

Sekani Adventure Day — Saturday (July 21) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — at Camp Sekani Conservaton Area off Upriver Drive is the perfect opportunity. Try out a new sport while getting instruction and the chance to try a huge variety of outdoor equipment.

The event is sponsored by Spokane Parks and Recreation and boosted by volunteers from a variety of outdoor groups. Other sports covered include mountain biking, letterboxing, paddle rafting, archery, map and compass navigation, scrambling and maybe rock climbing this year

Nothing is sold at this event. It's strictly try it and see if you like it.

Where: Camp Sekani Conservation Area, 6707 E. Upriver Dr. See map.

Cost: $9 pre-registration or $15 at the gate.

Get more info and pre-register online, or call 625-6200.

Sekani Adventure Day offers chance to try 11 outdoor sports

OUTDOOR SPORTS — Maybe you'd like to try a traditional sport, such as canoeing or kayaking, or maybe you're curious about more modern sports such as geocaching, slacklining or stand-up paddling.

Sekani Adventure Day — July 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — at Camp Sekani Conservaton Area off Upriver Drive is the perfect opportunity. Try out a new sport while getting instruction and the chance to try a huge variety of outdoor equipment.

The event is sponsored by Spokane Parks and Recreation and boosted by volunteers from a variety of outdoor groups.  Other sports covered include mountain biking, letterboxing, paddle rafting, archery, map and compass navigation, scrambling and maybe rock climbing this year

Nothing is sold at this event. It's strictly try it and see if you like it.

Where: Camp Sekani Conservation Area, 6707 E. Upriver Dr. See map.

Cost: $9 pre-registration or $15 at the gate.

Get more info and pre-register online or call 625-6200.

Take a gamble on Tri-Town Float down Pend Oreille River

PADDLING – A two day floating festival of canoes, kayaks and other muscle-powered craft will be playing the odds on the Pend Oreille River July 14 and 15.

The Tri-Tow Float, formerly called the Poker Paddle, will have five stations giving out cards to participants as the float 16 miles from Ruby Creek to Ione the first day.

Camping and food options are available.

The second day features a 5-mile float from Box Canyon Dam to Metaline, followed by prize drawings.

Info: (509) 442-4577.

Sign-up by July 6 for discount.

 Entry forms online at the event's Facebook page.

Pend Oreille River’s Z Canyon a paddler’s hot spot

PADDLING — Kayaker David Crafton and friends have been exploring trips from my hiking and paddling guidebooks. Last weekend they packed their boats and  headed down the Pend Oreille River from Metaline downstream into the spectacular Z Canyon.

NOTE: The Metaline Falls and hydraulics downstream from the Highway 31 bridge near Metaline can be dangerous any time of year. Scout the waves and powerful eddies from the bridge BEFORE launching.  If they're over you head, pick a downstream launching point on the east side of the river just below the falls at Deadmans Eddy. 

Crafton's photo above show's what Peewee Falls looks like this week, still runnng pretty big.  It comes down to a trickle you can almost boat under in August of dry summers. You can reach the falls in an out-and-back trip from Boundary Dam Campground.

Here's Crafton's post-trip post on my Facebook wall with a notable observation and prompt for lingering at the trip's takeout

Rich, thanks again for another awesome weekend! We did paddle route #77 Pend Oreille River (Z Canyon) last weekend from your other guide book "Paddling Washington". What an amazing trip

You really should mention the Dam spillways during spring run off. Anyone going up there during the spring melt needs to do the dam tour. Spectacular!

Free paddling overview Thursday at REI

PADDLING — Get the basics of paddling gear — canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards — in a free presentation Thursday (June 21), 7 p.m., at REI in Spokane.

The presentation also will cover apparel, trip planning and transportation.

Spokane River Canoe (Kayak and SUB) Classic set for June 30

OUTPADDLE – Two new twists highlight the 2012 Spokane River Canoe Classic: a later date and a category for stand up paddle boards to go along with canoes and kayaks that run the river.

The annual event will launch a colorful flotilla in a mass start from Post Falls’ Corbin Park at 11 a.m. on June 30 – that’s two weeks later than normal to avoid high river flows that have forced Mountain Gear organizers to move the event to flatwater some years.

An added benefit: the weather and water will be warmer, said John Schwartz, Mountain Gear store manager.

Participants can enter the Citizens Division and paddle 7 miles to Harvard Road, or the Marathon Division to challenge Flora and Sullivan rapids on the 13-mile run to Plante’s Ferry Park.

Among the various categories for men and women in canoes or kayaks, is the slot for stand up paddle boards.

“SUP is the fastest growing part of paddle sports,” Schwartz said. “It needed to be included.”

Prize divisions include best costume, most swims, oldest boat, fastest and slowest participants.

Pre-register: Forms available at Mountain Gear, 2002 N. Division, or get details and download a registration form here.

Spokane River Canoe (and kayak) Classic June 30

PADDLING — The date for the Spokane River Canoe Classic is different this year — June 30 instead of Fathers Day weekend — to assure lower flows will keep the event on the river. 

In some recent years, the Mountain Gear organizers have had to move the event to flatwater venues for safety reasons.

Get details and download a registration form for this fun event that appeals to racers and families, canoeists and kayakers alike.

Debuting this year is a new category for stand up paddle boards!

Reel Paddling Film Festival in Sandpoint June 9

PADDLING —Edited highlights of 27 films will be presented Saturday (June 9) during the 7th annual Reel Paddling Film Festival at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint, sponsored by the Eureka Institute

The Reel Paddling Film Festival is an international film tour presenting some of the world’s best whitewater, sea kayaking, canoeing, SUP and kayak fishing action and paddling lifestyle films of the year on screens in 100-plus cities across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Europe.

The World Tour includes the 10 festival category winners (see clips above) involving stand-up paddle surfing, hairy whitewater action, sea kayakers exploring remote coastlines, headwaters canoe expeditions, international river travel films, motivating environmental documentaries, grueling kayak fishing battles and hilarious short films capturing the lighter side of paddling life.

Local guides will be at the showing, gear and prizes will be awarded, including a paddle board and a Eureka Institute full-day kayak trip for a group of 10 on Lake Pend Oreille.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m., shows at 7:30.

Advance tickets $12 at Eichardt’s, Evans Bros. & Outdoor Experience in Sandpoint.

Proceeds support the Eureka Institute’s Youth Recreation and Education Programs. 

Read on for details about some of the top flicks in the tour.

Clinic teaches basics, safety of flatwater canoeing

PADDLING — The annual Flatwater Canoeing Clinic conducted by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club is set for May 20 at Medical Lake.

The clinic, for solo and tandem canoeists, covers strokes, equipment, safety and rescue, hypothermia, transporting canoes, launching and canoe trim and paddler position.

Cost: $55 per person, plus club membership.

Sign up: Diane Adams, coordinator for all club clinics, 448-9214, email dianecadams@asisna.com

Flatwater Clinic is a pre-requisite for the Moving Water Canoeing Clinic set for July 7-8.

A three-day Sea Kayaking Clinic will be offered July 19, 21 and 22.

Whitewater Kayaking Clinic is June 2-3.

Hot weather, cold water dangerous combo on area waters

RIVERS — Water in area rivers and lakes may look tempting during warmer weather forecast for the weekend, but experts say rivers and lakes remain deadly cold.

Cold water immersion can render a person helpless in minutes regardless of sunny skies and warm air temps. Hypothermia can kill you in a few minutes more.

Experienced paddlers wear wet suits or dry suits in cold waters and launch in groups to help each other out in case of unplanned swims.

At least five non-motorized boating fatalities have been recorded by Washington State Parks since March 17, the highest in any year since 2002.

On April 1, a Gonzaga University student died from hypothermia suffered after his kayak capsized in Rock Lake. One man is dead after being swept away in the Spokane River this month; a capsized canoeist remains missing.

Useful links:

REI prompts flurry of volunteer work at recreation area sites

Popular recreation sites around Spokane will be getting a major spring facelift this weekend from volunteer efforts supported by grants totaling $20,000 from Recreational Equipment, Inc.

Projects the Spokane outdoor equipment store is supporting in partnership with local groups include:

Centennial Trail, Saturday 9 a.m. – The 20th annual Unveil the Trail event, supported by a $5,000 REI grant to the Friends of the Centennial Trail, taps volunteer groups to spruce up sections of the 39-mile paved trail along the Spokane River. Preregister to join a group and get a free lunch, 624-7188.

Mirabeau Point boat access, Saturday, 9 a.m. – A $10,000 REI grant to the Spokane River Forum funded an overhaul of the Spokane River access for rafts, canoes and kayaks fall. Volunters plan to finish the work and prepare the area for hydroseeding, which is being funded by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club.

Dishman Hills Natural Area, Sunday, 1 p.m. – Hundreds of volunteers already are signed up for the Earth Day work project to pick up litter, restore habitat, improve trails and other projects based out of Camp Caro in Spokane Valley.  The project is backed by a $5,000 grant to the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association. Preregister for t-shirt and food at www.rei.com/Spokane.

Canoe or kayak best way to see this waterfall

WATERFALLS — It's been a great, wet spring to experience the power waterfalls from the Spokane River in downtown Spokane to Palouse Falls near the Snake River and many more.

I've written about the some of the hiking possibilities for many of these falls, including those on BLM land at Hog Canyon (near Fishtrap Lake) and Rock Creek/Escure Ranch.

How about a canoe trip to visit the small but intimate Exley Falls at Horseshoe Lake in Pend Oreille County?

The lake's public access is managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, so a Discover Pass is required, or the Vehicle Access Pass that comes with a hunting and fishing license.

Paddlers put odds in their favor BEFORE dumping on Hangman Creek

CANOEING — Despite the bad news recently about paddlers on the area's swollen waters, some canoeists and kayakers are enjoying the season safely.

Going with a group of people with comparable skills, knowing the weather forecast and having the right gear on your body and in the canoe or kayak can make a big difference.

A Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club group was on Hangman Creek Saturday after the river had come down from veryhigh flows the previous week. While rafters like higher flows in the upper river for their thrills, canoests generally look for flows in the neighborhood of 1200 cfs to avoid too much big water and still have enough to float without banging their boats on rocks.

"Saturday's flow was900-940 cfs, which was nice for our group," said Dan Hansen.

"We ran into a kayaker who mentioned he would have liked bigger waves. I think it could have dropped another 100 cfs or so, and we still would have been happy.

"As it was, (Therese Wittman and I) took on a lot of water at the Big Rock Wave (in Vinegar Flats), bailed out the water, then went back to surf… that’s when we dumped my Dagger Legend.

"Luckily, I had bought a wetsuit … the day before our outing… the best $37 I’ve ever invested.

"I was also glad that I had an air bladder in the canoe (to make it easy to swim the boat to shore)."

Spokane pulmonologist, adventurer, Dick Byrd dies in Cuba

Dr. Richard Byrd, a Spokane pulmonary specialist and globetrotting adventurer, died on April 3 after suffering a blow to the head in a fall while hiking a rocky area on the coast of Cuba.

Byrd, 82, was traveling with his wife, Laurie, and a group led by National Geographic Expeditions. The adventure travel organization has clearance to lead Cuba cultural trips that include U.S. citizens, who are otherwise restricted from entering the nation.

Byrd was featured in a 2010 story in The Spokesman-Review for the inexhaustible energy that allowed him to continue a medical practice with the Rockwood Clinic while satisfying a world-class appetite for climbing mountains, paddling kayaks and hiking treacherous trails.

“The group was hiking and he was out in front, as usual,” Laurie said, describing his fatal accident. “He apparently slipped and hit his head. He never regained consciousness.”

She said she finds comfort in knowing he was out exploring new territories and doing what he loved.

“On the other hand, this was such an incredibly active and vital man who still saw patients – and he was gone in an instant. It takes some getting used to.”

Byrd, a former Air Force officer, launched most of his outdoor adventures after the age of 50. He was active in the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club and a veteran, along with Laurie, on wilderness trips in North America.

They paddled off the Galapagos Islands as well as northeastern Greenland, a trip that took 10 years to arrange with permission from the natives.

“It was worth it,” he said.

Byrd climbed peaks such as Kilimanjaro and hiked to the base camps of Mount Everest and K2.

He'd trekked in Nepal, India and Buton, an island in Indonesia. He’d canoed Alaska’s Noatak River into the Bering Sea, kayaked the Strait of Magellan in Chile and rode out 400 miles of whitewater in a canoe, along with Laurie, on the Nahanni River in Canada’s remote Northwest Territories. The Nahanni trip is epic in the paddling club’s history because the group nearly starved.

After trekking 200 miles across England, walking an average of 20 miles each day, Byrd wondered if he was in good enough shape to run a marathon. He proved he could by finishing the Portland Marathon, just before he turned 80.

Byrd’s ashes returned the United States with his wife. The family is planning a memorial on April 27, 11 a.m., at Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church.

Paddlers have eye on surging Hangman Creek

PADDLING — Spokane paddler and guidebook author Dan Hansen couldn't find a scouting report for a stretch of Hangman Creek at high water, so he set out by foot to find out for himself.

Hansen hiked the 10-mile stretch from the Qualchan Historical Monument site downstream to Valley Chapel Road and found excellent paddling water — with a few big rapids to be aware of — at a flow of about 1,000 cubic feet per second.

"At many times of year, Hangman Creek generally flows at less than 200 cubic feet per second. But rain on snow can make the water spike, presenting an opportunity for paddlers," Hansen said.
A rain-on-snow event can cause the creek's flow to more than double in 24 hours. It might be 4,000 cfs one day and dropping quickly two days later. And within a few days, the rush is over.

See Dan Hansen's Facebook page video report of Hangman Creek at 1,000 cfs.

Note:  Hansen previously reported that he floated the river at 3,500 cfs. Here's his retraction of that initial report:

"A group of us ran that section of the creek after I sent that…. It was 1,000 CFS, and it was actually just about perfect. I remember thinking at the time that my initial assessment of the creek was wrong. I’d be scared to death to run it at 3,500."

This week: On Tuesday, Hangman Creek peaked at almost 3,500 cfs. It's down to 1,700 today but likely will go back up considering the amount of rain in the weather forecast.

Directions to Qualchan Historial Monument:

Drive south from Spokane to Waverly, which is just southwest of Fairfield. From the main street tavern, go north and west on Spangle/Waverly Road 5.5 miles. Turn right and follow North Kentuck Trails Road just over 2 miles to Hangman Creek. Cross the bridge and start looking for the small monument on the left.

Loal paddler presents program on Bowron Lakes

PADDLING  – Dwight McCain of the Coeur d’Alene Canoe and Kayak Club will present a free program on paddling the 72-mile Bowron Lakes circuit in the Cariboo Mountains of British Columbia on Monday (March 26), 7 p.m., at Corbin Community Center, 827 W. Cleveland Ave., sponsored by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club.

Video: American Whitewater makes case for its cause

RIVERS — American Whitewater, a national river and river running advocacy group, needs support to continue standing up for free-flowing rivers that are always under pressure for water demands.

Last year, the group had a voice in taking down a few dams, protecting flows in rivers and representing paddler interests.

Since 2005, American Whitewater has been involved in the removal of 14 old and uneconomical hydropower dams, restored flows and improved access to 25 significant whitewater runs and supported designation of 1,118.75 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers. I

See a video report on the group's latest projects on this  highlight reel.

Join American Whitewater here or call (866) 262-8429.

Sandpoint paddler’s program crosses North America

PADDLING — Paddling Across the Continent, a free program set for Monday (Jan. 23), documents a series of trips spanning eight years by Bob Rust of Sandpoint and a group of Inland Northwest companions who kayaked, canoed and hiked across North America.

I detailed the journey in this 2008 Spokesman-Review feature story.

Rust paddled 2,900 miles from Astoria, Ore., to York Factory on the shore of Hudson Bay, following the overland and paddle routes of David Thompson, fur trader and cartographer.

The free program sponsored by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club starts at 7 p.m. Monday at the Corbin Community Center, 827 W. Cleveland Ave.

Spokane Parks looking for outdoor trip assistants

OUTDOOR RECREATION —  The Spokane Parks & Recreation Department's Outdoors Program is looking for outdoors lovers who would make good outdoor trip assistants for the great outings featured in the Outdoor program guide.

The main benefit:  Cool group outdoor trips at no cost.   Here's the job description:

In this volunteer position, you will learn to facilitate a safe and fun outdoor adventure such as snowshoeing, cross country skiing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, hiking, mountain biking, and bike tours.
Trip Assistants receive free training and discount outdoor merchandise!
To get started on this adventure, contact volunteer coordinator Catherine Lyle, 625-6216 or email clyle@spokanecity.org.
  • See more info on the Outdoors Program volunteer website.
  • See the Outdoor Trip Assistant description here.

Applications start today for floating Montana’s Smith River

RIVER RUNNING — Applications for permits to float Montana's popular Smith River this spring and summer are available starting today.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will accept applications for permits to float the Smith River State Park and River Corridor through Feb. 15, and Smith River Super Permit lottery chances will also be available starting today, with chances sold through March 15.

Here's a more detailed story on the applications from The Billings Gazette.

Here's a link on floating the Smith River from the Montana FWP website.

Here are photos and the story I wrote after floating and fishing the river — an experience that should be on every floater-flyfisher's bucket list.

Waterfowler’s best friend: Labs don’t balk at winter retrieves

WATERFOWLING — Tank, a bruiser black Lab, races back with a mallard drake before the ripples smooth out in the decoys on the Pend Oreille River Saturday.

Temperatures in the teens didn't even nick the the dog's enthusiam for rounding up all the ducks and geese Kent Contreras could bring down from his Avery Outdoors layout blind. 

After every retrieve he returned, settled down steady by Contreras and looked out as if to say, "Bring it on."

Very cool.

The original plan was to hunt a slough that had been luring ducks by the hundreds. But the cold temps sealed the slough in ice, forcing the Newport-area pair to hunt the open water of the river.