Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Methow forest areas reopen as fires reduced

PUBLIC LANDS — Methow Valley and Tonasket Ranger Districts on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest have reopened many of the areas that were closed because of the Carlton Complex wildfires. Areas reopened on Sunday include:

  • East Chewuch area
  • Upper West Chewuch area,  including Andrews Creek and 30-Mile trailheads
  • North Summit and South Summit areas
  • Buttermilk Creek area south to Pateros, including Black Pine Lake, Foggy Dew, Loup Loup and JR campgrounds. West Fork Buttermilk, East Fork Buttermilk, Libby Lake, Crater Creek, Foggy Dew and Eagle-Oval Lakes trailheads
  • Sawtooth Backcountry

Areas that remain closed include:

  • 8-mile and Falls Creek drainages, including: Honeymoon, Ruffed Grouse, Nice, Flat, Buck Lake, Falls Creek, Chewuch and Camp 4 campgrounds; and the Billy Goat and Lake Creek Trailheads
  • Little Bridge Creek and Twisp River drainages, including: War Creek, Mystery, Poplar Flat, South Creek roads and campgrounds, and the Twisp River Horse Camp; War Creek, Williams Creek, Reynolds Creek, South Creek, Gilbert, Scatter, Slate Creek and Wolf Creek trailheads.
  • Road Closures: Finley Road #4100300 and Pole Pick Mountain Roads #4100500 and 4100535 as they are impassable. Other short-term temporary road closures may occur in the burned area due to heavy equipment doing road repairs.

The North Cascades Scenic Highway Corridor and Harts Pass, as well as east and west portions of the Pasayten Wilderness, Tiffany Springs Campground, Long Swamp and Chewuch trailheads were not impacted by the fires and remain open.

Info:  Methow Valley Ranger District at (509) 996-4000 or go to http://www.fs.usda.gov/okawen/.

Group leading hikes into choice North Idaho destinations

TRAILS —  A North Idaho conservation organization has been leading group trips to acquaint the public with special backcountry areas this summer.  Some choice Inland Northwest destinations remain on the schedule in August and September.

Experienced leaders with the Idaho Conservation League have stepped up to organize the treks — mostly hikes but also some kayak paddles. The treks have ranged from easy to strenuous.

Visit the website, www.idahoconservation.org, or call (208) 265-9565, for contacting leaders prior to the trip. Assess your abilities accordingly as you check out these offerings. 

Sunday, Aug. 17,  West Fork Lake and Peak – A moderate 6- to 7-mile hike in the Selkirk Mountains, Bonner Ferry Ranger District.

Aug. 31, Snow Lake - A moderately strenuous hike of nearly 10 miles roundtrip in the Selkirk Mountains, Bonners Ferry Ranger District. Option to scramble to West Fork Peak for fantastic views of the Selkirk Crest.

Sept. 6, Chimney Rock – A moderately strenuous 11-mile roundtrip hike from the Pack River to the iconic granite spire of the Selkirk Crest.

Sept. 7, Upper Priest Lake kayak – Paddle up the “Thorofare” to Upper Priest Lake from Beaver Creek Campground area, at least six miles round trip.

Sept. 12, Trout-Big Fisher Lakes – A moderately strenuous 12-mile roundtrip hike to a pair of nifty mountain lakes.

Sept 14, Beehive Lakes scramble – A strenuous 12-mile hike involving trail walking and cross-country scrambling over granite talus slopes between Harrison and Beehive lakes at the head of the Pack River drainage.

Sept. 19-21, Lion’s Head Backpack – Six hardy backpackers will be allowed on this difficult, double overnight involving off-trail bushwhacking and boulder hopping to Lion’s Head Peak, an often seen but rarely visited Selkirk Crest granite icon beyond Priest Lake.

Video: Carlton fires leave table bare for wildlife

Carlton Complex Fire Devastation Part 2 from Chelan HD, Sy Stepanov on Vimeo.

WILDLIFE — The Carlton Complex wildfires in the Methow Valley region — 250,500 acres and still burning; the largest recorded in Washington history — have destroyed about 300 human-related homes and structures and countless homes and habitat areas for wildlife.

  • The video above by Chelan HD Productions illustrates the point.

State wildlife managers are already looking into reducing the region's mule deer herd to prevent starvation and heavy impacts on farmer crops as wildlife search for food this winter. 

  • More antlerless deer opportunity in the area will be given to youths, seniors and disabled hunters.
  • Winter feeding is being planned to help keep some of the 10,000 migratory deer that will be coming out of the Cascades to the Methow from devastating orchards and irrigated crops this winter.  Indeed, more than 100 miles of the fence built to keep deer out of these crop areas even in good times has been destroyed by the fires.
  • Habitat replanting is being planned.
  • Road closures are likely.

A web page has been created to help the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife post information regarding developments involving wildlife, landowners and hunting.

Greening Neighborhoods grant program now available


The City Of Spokane is launching an exciting new grant program called Greening Neighborhoods Grant Program, which will offer a $10,000 incentive as part of the Forest Spokane initiative.

Neighborhoods that want to participate are being asked to identify locations suitable for planting trees, shrubs, grasses and other native perennials. Through this effort, neighborhoods will contribute directly to the Forest Spokane goal of planting 10,000 trees in two years all the while working together to beautify their neighborhoods.

According to the City: Each neighborhood may apply for up to three grants at a maximum funding amount of $5,000 each. The grant program is open to all 27 Spokane neighborhoods.

Organizations such as churches, schools, community centers, nonprofits and others may apply for a Greening Neighborhoods Grant by working directly with their neighborhood councils. Signatures from the neighborhood council must be obtained for all applications to be considered for funding. Implementation of the project must include a neighborhood volunteering event.

City offers water conservation tips for summer lawn care

Is it hot enough for ya?

The City of Spokane Water Department is offering tips to citizens on how to keep a green lawn while holding down the cost of their water bills.

“Citizens can maintain their lawns and landscaping without extensive watering, even with temperatures in the 90s,” says Dan Kegley, the City’s Water Department Director. “We want to help our customers make decisions that keep their bills more affordable.”

From the City, here are some watering tips when the weather is hot:

Don’t sprinkle between noon and 6 p.m. Some experts estimate that 50 percent of the water evaporates when sprinkling in the heat of the day. Morning watering is considered best as the water doesn’t sit on the roots overnight, which can cause problems with root rot or fungal disease.

Don’t water on windy days. Again, much of the water will be lost to evaporation or blown away from your lawn.

Consider “grasscycling,” leaving your lawn clippings on your lawn to act as a natural mulch. The clippings will retain moisture and return nutrients to the soil, improving soil texture and water retention.

Groups help state acquire Plum Creek lands in Cascades

PUBLIC LANDS — The Nature Conservancy has purchased 1,280 acres of timberland from Plum Creek in the Manastash area west of Ellensburg, and transferred it to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to be managed as part of the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area.

This acquisition is the most recent in a decade-long project to eliminate a "checkerboard pattern" of public and private land and create large blocks of public lands in the Cascade Mountains.

Partnerships including the state agency, TNC, the Yakama Nation and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation have brought more than 25,000 acres of private timberlands into public ownership as part of the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative.

The program assures public access to these lands as it heads off the possibility of the timber company selling the properties to private interests that could install locked gates.

"These particular sections are full of streams and tributaries that flow into the Yakima River," TNC says in a media release. "Conserving this forest will protect valuable river habitat for wildlife as well as ensure water downstream for people, fish, and the rich agriculture of the Yakima Valley.

Plum Creek has played an important role in keeping these forests intact while the Conservancy brought together financing to bring them into public ownership.

  • “Protecting the streams and forests in this region supports the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Plan, assuring water for people, salmon, wildlife and farms into the future," said Mike Stevens, Washington state director for The Nature Conservancy.
  • "Plum Creek recognizes the public benefits of this project and is pleased to participate in the partnership that achieved this important conservation outcome,” said Jerry Sorensen, senior director of land management for Plum Creek.
  • “Together, we’re ensuring that the public will continue to have access to this land for fishing, hunting, hiking and camping,” said Mike Livingston, Southcentral Region director for WDFW. “This diverse habitat supports threatened and endangered species such as bull trout, steelhead, spotted owls and wolves, as well as big-game such as mule deer and elk.”

The Washington Department of Ecology provided funding for this project through its Office of Columbia River.

Sinlahekin wildlife celebration has eye on critters tiny to large

WILDLIFE — The 75th anniversary celebration for Washington’s first wildlife area – the Sinlahekin in northcentral Okanogan County near Loomis– continues with free public field trips and presentations on butterflies, bats, deer and more on Saturday and Sunday, July 5-6.

Sponsored by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the July 5-6 sessions are the second in the “Explore the Sinlahekin – Past and Present” summer weekend series on the area’s fauna, flora, geology and history.

Sessions are led by scientists, researchers, and experts from colleges and universities and other natural resource management agencies, along with WDFW staff.

Saturday's offerings include a butterfly tour and programs on grassland ecology, "Predators, Parasitoids, Pollinators and Pretty Insects,"  "Deer and Moose," and ending with an evening program on bats.

Sunday's activities include a butterfly tour and programs on "Restoring Altered Habitat," "Dragonflies and Damselflies," and "Deer and Moose."                    

The Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, which covers 14,314 acres west of U.S. Highway 97 between Loomis and Conconully, was established in 1939 to protect winter range for mule deer. The first parcels of mule deer winter range were purchased with revenue from a federal tax on hunting arms and ammunition. The area’s diversity of fish and wildlife today draws not just hunters and fishers, but also wildlife watchers, hikers, campers, and other outdoor recreationists.

Pull together against weeds at Iller Creek Saturday

PUBLIC LANDS — Local hikers are pulling together to reduce the noxious weed infestation at the Iller Creek unit of the Dishman Hills Conservation Area in Spokane Valley.

The Inland Northwest Hikers are recruiting volunteers for a spotted knapweed pulling party on Saturday.

“We’ll move up the east ridge trail and pull as we go to the Rocks of Sharon,” said co-organizer Bob Strong.

“Bring sturdy work gloves and a trowel if you have one. Bring lunch and at least two quarts of water — it's going to be sunny and warm.”

 Meet at 9 a.m. at Redeemer Lutheran Church to carpool to the trail head. Directions: From Sprague/Appleway in Spokane Valley, turn south on Dishman-Mica Road. Go past 32nd Avenue and turn right (at the traffic light) on Schafer Road to the church parking lot on the right.

Colville Forest starts planning ORV trail system

PUBLIC LANDS — The Colville National Forest is moving ahead with a 10- to 15-year project to plan off-road vehicle trails and relocate camping areas to serve the motorized trail groups while rehabilitating the impacts illegal OHV use has had on streams, meadows and wildlife habitat.

  • A timeline of documents regarding the South End Project has been posted on the forest website.

The Decision Notice describes the selected alternative (Alternative 3) and provides the rationale of why the Forest Service selected this alternative. The chosen alternative includes designation of new off-highway vehicle (OHV) routes, restoration of campsites currently causing resource damage, development of parking areas, and an adjustment of the boundaries of management areas in the Colville National Forest Plan. 

“This decision will designate a system of roads and trails that create quality loops, connects communities, and provides for better access and increased opportunities for off-highway vehicles, while protecting natural and cultural resources,”  said Laura Jo West, Colville National Forest Supervisor.  “Once the new routes are added to the Colville National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map they will be a great addition to ride and enjoy.”

The project area includes all or parts of Ruby, Cusick, Tacoma, Twelvemile, Monaghan, Indian, Addy, Leslie, Bayley, Chewelah, Thomason, Cottonwood, Smalle, Winchester and Calispell creek drainages on the Colville National Forest northwest of Newport. 

 "With such a large project area and a number of restoration efforts needed this project will be phased in over the next 15 years," said Franklin Pemberton, forest spokesman. "Each potential route requires a safety analysis and a one year monitoring period to ensure there is no unauthorized use before being officially designated as open on the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM).

  • Go here to see details of the forests travel management plan and view the MVUM and maps.

It is important to understand that until some important restoration and safety analysis work can be completed, the new routes will not be open to the public.  

An implementation team will meet twice each year.  In the spring, they will determine the roads to be added in the following year.  During the summer, each new route will undergo a safety evaluation and be surveyed for user created OHV routes.  In the fall, they will review monitoring, and roads that meet the criteria will be put on the MVUM for the following year.  To be put on the MVUM, a route must not have any new user-created OHV routes.  The first group of routes to be designated will connect the communities of Chewelah, Cusick, and Usk.  

 In addition to the new routes, an important restoration effort at Phillips Lake will help restore some previous damage.  During the restoration of Phillips Lake, there will be walk-in access only.  A gate will be placed on the road into the lake and limited parking available.  The restoration includes blocking all user created OHV trails, blocking the wetland areas with rocks, and defining parking and camping areas. 

 The Forest is working towards restoration of campsites to define parking and reduce compacted areas.  Work in Ruby, Tacoma, Cusick, and Calispell is expected to occur next summer with the goal of designated camping along high use areas.

 The OHV Ambassador program is being developed with interested parties.  Formal agreements are being developed.  The OHV Ambassador program involves volunteers riding through the area and interacting with visitors to keep the OHV experience enjoyable. 


Documents:

Spokane Riverkeeper float goes for the flow

RIVERS — The Spokane  Riverkeeper, which keeps a watchful eye on the health and other issues along Spokane's most precious resource, is planning a whitewater float trip that will leave participants smiling and raise a little money, too.

The Riverkeeper will join with ROW Adventures on June 26th at 4:30 p.m. for a fun and informative Happy Hour float down the river through Riverside State Park, the frothing Bowl and Pitcher rapids and the mischievous Devil's Toenail.

This trip costs $75, and ROW Adventures will be donating a major portion of the trip price back to Spokane Riverkeeper for its work for a Fishable and Swimmable Spokane River!

The fee includes a three hour trip and ALL equipment and transportation from the ROW Adventures office in downtown Spokane.

The plan calls for a short stop mid-way through the trip for some Happy Hour fun and to hear updates about the Riverkeeper program and Spokane River issues.

Seats on this trip are limited.  Book spots here. 

 

Go wild with family on Fathers Day

WILDLIFE — The topics for the Fathers Day weekend family-oriented programs at the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in northcentral Washington are delicious: Birds, bees, bears,  wildflowers, mosses, lichens, mollusks, geology, even a little history lesson.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife celebration of the Sinlahekin's 75th anniversary — the state’s first wildlife area – continues after the June 7 kick-off with these “Explore the Sinlahekin – Past and Present” free public field trips and presentations on Saturday, June 14, and Sunday, June 15.  They’re the first in our summer-long, six-weekend series on the area’s fauna, flora, geology and history.

These sessions are led by scientists, researchers, naturalists, authors and experts from colleges and universities, WDFW and other natural resource management agencies. Several presentations or field trips are conducted on both Saturday and Sunday, so that weekend visitors to the Sinlahekin can take in a variety of sessions that run concurrently.

Information about all “Explore the Sinlahekin – Past and Present” events through the summer is available on the WDFW website.

Elk group gives Idaho $276K for projects

WILDLIFE — Shoshone County is one of 10 Idaho counties that will be sharing a $276,584 Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation grant for wildlife habitat projects on nearly 76,000 acres in the state. 

Shoshone County's portion will be used in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to aerially ignite 1,200 acres to improve big game forage, stand conditions and reduce natural fuels on elk summer range within the Heller Creek and Wisdom Creek drainages on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.  

This project is part of a larger plan to treat 3,750 acres with prescribed fire resulting in up to 21 percent of the project area becoming forage openings, according to RMEF officials.  Prescribed burning also will be applied to 1,500 acres in the Lost Creek area of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains as part of a 5-10 year habitat enhancement project. 

The grant also will help fund statewide research in areas where elk are declining, especially in the Clearwater region.

The steady elk decline in the Clearwater Basin of north-central Idaho over the past three decades is attributed to substantial loss of habitat, human pressures and the reintroduction of wolves, RMEF officials said. Money in that county will be used for a multi-year elk nutrition study and developing habitat models.

Read on for details about the grant funding for other counties and statewide projects.

 

Survey: Sportsmen’s groups top list of wildlife habitat supporters

CONSERVATION — I write often about the contributions hunters and anglers make to preserving fish and wildlife habitat in contrast to animal rights and anti-hunting groups that have never made the commitment to help critters on the ground where it counts.

Here are the latest hard numbers. 

The chart above illustrates the response to just one of many questions on wildlife management posed last month in a rare random survey of 904 adult residents across the state commissioned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Department.

  • See all 190 pages of the the survey report as well as the summary.
  • See my column on the survey, which deals primarily with public opinion on wolf management in Washington.

Spokane County Parks has plan for Antoine Peak

PUBLIC LANDS — Spokane County Parks Department has created an access and management plan for the 1,066-acre Antoine Peak Conservation Area in Spokane Valley. The plan will be presented in an open house meeting tonight, May 28, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., at Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6012 E. Mansfield. 

Antoine Peak was purchased in three phases, 2007 - 2012, with half of the funding coming from the county Conservation Futures Program and half from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (Urban Wildlife Habitat Category).

So far, a small trailhead has been developed on the east side of the property off of Lincoln Road. Other access points are undeveloped.

Although unauthorized motor vehicles are not allowed on Antoine Peak, about 20 miles of road, trail, and ATV tracks have been built or formed over several decades before the land was secured by the county. This network has created erosion and encouraged illegal motorized access and disturbance to wildlife, said Paul Knowles, county parks planner. 

The proposed access and trail plan strives to balance recreation and wildlife needs as much as possible, Knowles said, noting that it calls for:

  • Creation or preserving several loop trails
  • Creating larger areas of undisturbed habitat
  • Developing adequate off-street parking on the west side of the park
  • Preserving several routes necessary to maintain access for stewardship and emergency response
  • Cosuring roads and trails that are little used by the public, fragment habitat unnecessarily, are steep and facilitate erosion, and/or serve little to no maintenance function.

Next Steps: After receiving public input and finalized, Knowles says Spokane County Parks will pursue grant funding to implement the trail plan. Once finished, Antoine Peak will become a destination for hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and many other passive recreation uses.


Documents:

Volunteers invited to Turnbull Refuge planting party

PUBLIC LANDS — Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge and Spokane Audubon Society will host a community work party 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday, May 10. This is part of an ongoing community effort to restore native riparian habitat to benefit birds and other wildlife species.

Hundreds of native saplings will be ready to plant, and fencing to build at the project site to protect the trees from deer, elk, and moose browsing. Everyone is welcome!

The Refuge will also host a potluck lunch.
  • Where: Turnbull NWR Headquarters, 5 miles south of Cheney on Cheney-Plaza Road: turn left on Smith Road and drive 2 miles on gravel road to headquarters.
  • Clothing: Long-sleeved shirt, work pants, sturdy boots or shoes, gloves.
  • Equipment: (If you can) shovels and pliers.

Elk Foundation funds Washington habitat projects

WILDLIFE – Nine counties in Washington have been granted nearly $180,000 for habitat projects and research from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. 

The 2014 grants will affect nearly 1,600 acres in Asotin, Cowlitz, Jefferson, King, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Pierce, Skamania and Yakima Counties.

 The money will boost local, state and federal programs for prescribed burns, forest thinning, meadow restoration, noxious weed treatments and other projects, said David Allen, RMEF president.

“We also committed considerable resources toward three different elk studies including one focused on determining the cause of hoof rot,” he said.

RMEF volunteers in Washington raised the money through banquets and activities.

 Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 521 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Washington.

Read on for the specific projects funded by the 2014 grants.

Mike Coyle stepped up for fish, wildlife, sportsmen

CONSERVATION – Spokane sportsmen lost one of their most enduring worker bees with the recent death of Mike Coyle.

For decades he led efforts to put a smiling face and a handshake on the good things sportsmen do with their money and volunteer energy.

His heart was into big-game hunting, but he stepped up when the tradition of Spokane Fish Hatchery tours was in jeopardy in 2006 for lack of funding and interest. Coyle pitched a plan, got support from the Inland Empire Chapter of Safari Club International, which he helped organize in 1978, and got the program rolling again.

Behind the scenes, Coyle’s efforts taught hundreds of kids about the life history of trout while helping the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department set up nets that spare fry from birds and save fish for anglers.

Three years ago, at 79, he stepped down from coordinating volunteers who guided up to 60 group tours a year through the hatchery.

In an age when hunting-related groups often get bogged down and divided in political bias, Coyle was a model for rising above it all and putting fish and wildlife first on the agenda.

What will North Dakota look like after the oil boom?

Quote of the day:

"Our economy is really looking good. But now it's time to turn around and start protecting our land, guys."

Mervin Packineau, a tribal councilman, speaking at the Three Affiliated Tribes' third annual oil and gas conference in North Dakota on Tuesday.
— Billings Gazette

Wyoming mule deer log longest migration

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A Wyoming herd of about 500 mule deer travels 50 miles from the Red Desert to the southern end of the Wind River Range, where it joins about 5,000 more deer to walk another 100 miles. It is the longest recorded mule deer migration in the world, according to the Wyoming Migration Initiative.

The research, presented today at the University of Wyoming in Laramie is more evidence to support the importance of migration corridors for the survival of our wildlife, a cause for future-wise wildlife and sportsmen's groups for years. 

“Migration corridors and habitats where big game animals rest and forage during migration are critical pieces in a complex habitat puzzle that is key to the health of populations of mule deer and other big game animals," said Ed Arnett, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Center for Responsible Energy Development. "If we do not safeguard all the pieces of that puzzle, including important habitats associated with migration, big game populations likely will decline and impact both our outdoor traditions and our hunting-based Western economy.”

The University of Wyoming's study and others like it will help point out the highest priority areas to target with conservation dollars for easements, habitat enhancement and other management  projects to best conserve these important areas for migration, he said.

  • The TRCP has proposed that the BLM should incorporate explicit language on big game migration corridors and associated habitats into its planning handbook to improve landscape planning and balance the needs of big game with energy development and other potential impacts

100 volunteers give spring cleanup to Spokane River

CONSERVATION — More that 100 volunteers turned out for the annual Spokane Riverkeeper Spring River Clean on April 12, with a big boost from students at Gonzaga University.  

"It was our biggest and best clean up by far, we had a record number of partners on board to make it so, and above all we left a part of the Spokane River MUCH cleaner than we found it," said Riverkeeper Bart Mihailovich.

See a full report from the Riverkeeper.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers rendezvous in Spokane

HUNTING/FISHING — Local members of the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers are inviting interested sportsmen to tip a cold one with them starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, at the Post Street Ale House, 1 N. Post St.

"This is an informal gathering and a great chance to drink some beers, meet other passionate outdoorsmen, share ideas about BHA and the world of hunting, fishing and conservation," the group says in a release.

Among other things, local members are laying the ground work for the 2015 Backcountry Hunters & Anglers National Rendezvous, which will be held in Spokane in February or March of 2015.

Group leaders attending the Wednesday gathering include Land Tawney, BHA executive director, Josh Kuntz, chapter  and events coordinator and Caitlin Twohig, executive assistant.

National Parks Subway Map

As visiting season approaches, check The Sierra Club's fun 'subway-style' map of U.S. national parks. It serves as a great reminder of how many national parks there are in this country. What is your favorite? Check this full list of all our national parks and get to plotting your next adventure! Click here for a bigger picture.

Snow geese make for cool visit to Slavin trails

WILDLIFE — Many hikers sense that this is prime time to hit the trails in the Slavin Conservation Area — one of the open spaces preserved through the Spokane Conservation Futures Program.   But they're not exactly sure why.

The trained eyes and ears of birder Jon Isacoff documented 45 species of birds this morning at Slavin, which is just south of Spokane off U.S. 195.

His observations and lists offer insight to the sights and sounds that tingle our senses during a visit.

Nice bright morning at Slavin Ranch.  All the usual waterfowl was there.  Highlight was 6 SNOW GEESE, generally tough to find in Spokane County.  Other noteworthy recent arrivals (at location): CINAMMON TEAL and RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER.  Was unable to locate the Northern Pygmy Owl reported at this location on eBird earlier this year. 

Full checklist below.

 

Dishman Hills trail project needs volunteers

TRAILS — There's still time to join group that's reworking a trail in the Dishman Hills Natural Area on Sunday, March 30.

The Washington Trails Association is teaming with the Dishman Hills Conservancy to get the job done

Get details and sign-up here.  

WTA will provide guidance and tools to the volunteers.

Workers will establish a designated trail between Camp Caro and Deep Ravine to the east of the Camp Caro Lodge. 

More WTA trail projects are planned for the Rocks of Sharon area in April and later at Mount Spokane and the Salmo-Priest Wilderness.  

Read on for details about the projects and how you can be involved.

Lessons from rafting the Canyon: pee bottle

CAMPING — Urine management is required on rivers, but it's also worth consideration on virtually any camping trip where a vault toilet isn't close by camp.

I thought about this several times a day — not to mention a few more times at night — during my recent rafting-hiking adventure in Grand Canyon National Park.

Rafters on heavily used rivers such as the Colorado through the Grand Canyon, as well as on Idaho's wilderness rivers such as the Salmon and Selway, are asked to pee in the river rather on shores.  

Dilution is the solution to pollution.

Peeing on shore ultimately stinks and makes the campsite less appealing to those who follow.  Urine also attracts critters who crave the salt. This can be cute at first but menacing to those who follow.

The pee bottle for men or a pee bucket with a lid for women is a highly recommended item I've used for years — during snow storms climbing Mount McKinley, during late night nature calls while sleeping in the back of my pickup at hunting camp, in my tent in campgrounds…. you get the idea.   

On river trips especially, you can store the pee in the bottle for an entire evening and through the night and make one trip to a flowing section of the current to dispose of the urine rather than making numerous trips during the course of a camp.

The best bottles are wide-mouth plastic bottles with tight-sealing lids.

My time-tested favorite is the 48-ounce (bigger is better)  Nalgene Canteen — a flexible wide-mouth container that collapses flat for storage while traveling. 

 There, I'm relieved to have shared this with you.

Local job openings: land trust, trails association looking to hire

OUTDOORS — Two outdoors/conservation groups — Inland Northwest Land Trust and Washington Trails Association — are advertising this week for job openings in the Spokane area.

Inland NW Land Trust: Executive Director Chris DeForest will transition into the role of Conservation Director by June. During the interim, our Board will conduct a search for his successor and Chris will occupy both positions until the right candidate is hired. Chris was hired in 1997 as the Land Trust’s first full-time staff member and he has been our sole Executive Director.

Staff transition will not affect the conservation work of the Land Trust or its responsibilities to monitor the 47 easements entrusted to it. The Board and staff are poised for a future as successful as its rich history with a transition team ready to invite the next Executive Director’s vision.
More information will be available by the end of March. Questions:  Chris at cdeforest@inlandnwlandtrust.org or  (509) 328-2939.

Washington Trails Association is hiring its first staff position in Spokane.  WTA’s Eastern Washington Regional Coordinator is a temporary, part-time position focused on growing WTA’s presence in the Spokane area. The coordinator will create regional content for WTA publications, develop partnerships, lead outreach and engagement efforts within communities and on the trails and oversee a high quality trail maintenance program in the region.

See the full job description here.
  

Photo contest focuses on fishing, climate change

ENVIRONMENT — A photo contest sponsored by Conservation Hawks is seeking photos of fish as well as shots related to climate change.  The reward for entering: a shot at $5,000 worth of cool gear from Patagonia that will be awarded to four winners.

Share your best outdoor photos! Every picture with at least 25 Likes goes to the judges, who will pick 1st & 2nd Place Winners for two different categories: “Fishing” and “Climate Change.” Angling photos should show your passion for fishing. Climate photos should focus on storms, wildfires, floods, droughts, etc. Four different prize packages include Patagonia waders, jackets, boots & packs. 

More looks at EPA stand on Alaska’s Pebble Mine

FISHING — The EPA announcement last week that it will be a force against the proposed Pebble Mine that threatens salmon stocks in Alaska's Bristol Bay shook some ground last week.

Here are some more looks at the situation.

EPA to fight proposed copper mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said the proposed open-pit copper mine in the Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska posed too much of a threat to the water and the salmon spawning grounds in one of the world's best fisheries.
—New York Times; February 28

Alaska's Bristol Bay through the lens of a National Geographic photographer
Photographer Michael Melford's photographs taken for a 2010 National Geographic feature on the dispute about the Pebble Mine project in the watershed for Alaska's Bristol Bay, an important salmon spawning area and fishery.
National Geographic Daily News; March 2

Idaho’s first elk preserve created in 1909

WILDLIFE — About 107,000 elk roam in Idaho today, a stark contrast to a century ago when elk numbers were so low officials had to declare a moratorium on elk hunting in parts of the state.

In 1909, concerned about the decline in elk, deer and game birds, Boise National Forest Supervisor Emile Grandjean asked the State Legislature to establish a 220,000-acre game preserve in the Payette River drainage west of the Sawtooth Mountains.

The Legislature approved the preserve on March 13, 1909, and it became the first of many game preserves especially designed to restore wildlife to Idaho.

It would be off-limits to hunting and trapping – except that cougars, lynx, wolves and coyotes could be killed by wardens. Forest rangers would act as deputy game wardens.  

Read more about game preserves and fish and wildlife management efforts in the series of stories marking the Idaho Fish and Game Department's 75th anniversary.

Spokane woman appointed to state Salmon Board

FISHERIES — Samantha Mace of Spokane has been appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the state Recreation and Conservation Office has announced.

The board  administers grants for projects that help return salmon from the brink of extinction.

Mace has extensive professional and volunteer experience in conservation policy and natural resource issues. She is the Inland Northwest director for the Save our Wild Salmon Coalition, where she is responsible for policy, media and outreach for Inland Northwest salmon issues for a coalition of sport fishing groups and businesses, commercial fishing associations, conservation groups and other organizations working to restore wild salmon and steelhead to the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

Before joining the coalition, Mace held a long list of other jobs in the conservation world, including working for Trout Unlimited, the Washington Wildlife Federation, the Idaho Wildlife Federation and the ForestWater Alliance in Washington, D.C. She also has been a volunteer on many conservation efforts.

“We are excited to welcome Samantha to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the funding board’s grants. “Her understanding of the issues surrounding the plight of salmon and the many businesses and families that rely on healthy salmon populations will be a great asset to the board. Her knowledge of eastern Washington also will bring a valuable perspective to our work.”

The Washington State Legislature created the Salmon Recovery Funding Board in 1999. Composed of five citizens appointed by the Governor, and five state agency directors, the board brings together the experiences and viewpoints of citizens and the major state natural resource agencies. The board provides grants to protect or restore salmon habitat and assist related activities. Since its start, the board has awarded $564 million for more than 2,280 projects statewide.