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Go paperless and Credit Union will plant a tree

CONSERVATION — A local credit union is linking a promotion to the roots of conservation.

Starting today — Earth Day — Spokane Teachers Credit Union members who switch to paper-saving electronic account statements will be helping plant trees and educating studens about conservation.

For every member who makes the switch from paper statements to e-statements between April 22 and June 30, STCU will donate the money to plant one treealong Deep Creek, Coulee Creek and Hangman Creek (also called Latah Creek). Work will be done in North Idaho, as well, although exact locations have not been selected.

The work is being organized by The Lands Council, which plans on planting 5,000 trees through its Project SUSTAIN.

Up to 400 Inland Northwest high school students will help plant the trees, said Amanda Swan, Lands Council director of development and communications. Students from Mead Alternative School, The Community School, On Track Academy, Lewis and Clark High School, Coeur d’Alene High School and Post Falls High School and St. Maries High School will participate.

“The benefits are in reducing erosion in the watershed,” Swan said. “Tree planting helps stabilize stream banks, reducing sediments and toxics from entering our watersheds and eventually the Spokane River. There’s a public health benefit that goes beyond doing something great for the environment and planting trees.”

Overhaul begins on trails in Dishman Hills Natural Area

CONSERVATION — About 200 volunteers chipped in today to start a major revamping of the Dishman Hills Natural Area trail system.

Groups such as the Spokane Mountaineers and Gonzaga University student programs turned out in the Spokane Valley for the annual service day organized by the Dishman Hills Conservancy.

Regular trail users will soon notice a big difference as new trails are built to connect a series of four larger loops while some other trails, including sections of a few well-used ones, will be decommissioned.

The effort seeks to reduce the criss-crossing of trails and provide more resting areas for wildlife.

More signs will be posed as the project continues.

Other groups today planted hundreds of trees to reforest an area near the Camp Caro parking lot off Appleway and Sargent Road.

Volunteers to give key outdoor sites TLC this weekend

PUBLIC LANDS — Volunteers are planning to pick up and spruce up a couple of prized outdoors recreation features in the Spokane area this weekend.

Unveil the (Centennial) Trail, Saturday (April 20), 9 a.m.-noon

About 350 volunteers have pre-registered for the annual clean-up, working in sections to cover the entire 37.5-mile Centennial Trail from the stateline to Nine Mile Falls. The trail attracts two million visits a year.

Dishman Hills Service Day, Sunday (April 21), 9 a.m.-noon

Volunteers are signing up for the annual Earth Day cleanup and trail work in the Dishman Hills Natural Resource Conservation Area in Spokane Valley based out of Camp Caro. Organized by the Dishman Hills Conservancy, new signs and kiosks are set to be installed and trail projects are being planned.

Annual Washington coastal cleanup 30 tons of fun

PUBLIC LANDS – The annual volunteer cleanup of the Washington Coast, set for Saturday (April 20) is a remarkable success story.

Gov. Jay Inslee has proclaimed it Washington Coast Cleanup Day to help match last year's effort when more than 1,300 volunteers removed 30 tons of marine debris from Washington’s Pacific Ocean beaches.

Founding organizations for the annual Earth Day weekend cleanup include Washington State Parks and the Washington Clean Coast Alliance. The CoastSavers program of the Alliance organizes a major coastal cleanup each year around the time of Earth Day.

Last year, more than 1,300 volunteers removed 30 tons of marine debris from Washington’s Pacific Ocean beaches.

Looking for a beach party this weekend? Sign up on the CoastSavers web site.

Or just show up and sign in at state or national park ocean beach area.

Top recent outdoors stories from The Spokesman-Review

Following are some of the top recent regional outdoors stories in The Spokesman-Review:

2013 is 'year of the kokanee' for Inland NW anglers

Paddlers plead for river access in Convention Center expansion design

Palouse landowner honored for planting fields with wildlife in mind

Woman rescued from Cascades avalanche dies; man still missing

The Gear Junkie: Guides and multitools you can pack on a plane

Field Reports: Wolf levels high despite 2013 kills

  • Reserve hunting spot on new online site

  • Earth Day cleanup set at Dishman Hills

  • Hatchery proposed at Walla Walla

  • Forest rule changed on project protests

Out & About: North Idaho fly fishers cast for students

  • Raise pheasant chicks

  • Glacier Park distance hiker speaking in Spokane

  • Fly fishing film festival in Sandpoint

  • Bamboo rod and walking stick built for Parkinson's effort

  • Anglers aid in Casting for Recover cancer effort

Officers seize 242 trout at Lake Lenore, arrest suspected poachers

Weekly Hunting-Fishing Report for the Inland Northwest

County conservation fund wants to buy Mica Peak, Williams Lake sites

Efforts underway to remove northern pike

Conservation Futures could add two choice spots

PUBLIC LANDS — The Spokane County Conservation Futures Program is asking county commissioners to preserve 920 acres on the west flank of Mica Peak and15 acres at a geological site between Badger and Williams lakes south of Cheney.

If approved, the acquisitions would bring Conservation Futures Program holdings to more than 7,000 acres through 29 acquisitions.

To date through the program, Spokane County Parks and Recreation manages 14 properties and the City of Spokane Parks Department manages an additional 11 properties within city limits.

Ducks Unlimited to honor Whitman County landowner

CONSERVATION – The Spokane chapter of Ducks Unlimited will hold its annual fundraising banquet April 11 at the Lincoln Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Bob Zorb of Spokane and St. John, who was unable to travel for the national ceremony in Washington, D.C, will receive DU’s national private lands conservationist of the year award at this Spokane event.

Get tickets online at ducks.org/washington.

Editorial points to success of Wildlife & Recreation Program

CONSERVATION — If you use parks, trails or public open spaces in Spokane County, you have been a beneficiary of the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program. (Click on this link and check out the more than impressive projects list under "campaigns.")

It's a state program worth funding, as today's S-R editorial points out.

Quail Unlimited closes shop on long conservation history

CONSERVATTION — Quail Unlimited president Bill Bowles has announced on QU website that the nation's oldest quail advocacy group has folded .

Mismanagement in the national conservation group's operations has been charged for several years.

Bowles advised members to turn their allegiance to Quail Forever and related organization, Pheasants Forever, to continue the fundamental work of advocacy for upland bird habitat preservation and restoration.

That's a good recommendation.  Quail Forever/Pheasants Forever have a 4-star Charity Navigator rating.

National Park group honors Dicks for conservation

PUBLIC LANDS — Retiring Congressman Norm Dicks has receive a conservation award from a national parks group.

The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees has awarded its highest honor, The George B. Hartzog Award, to Rep. Norm Dicks, D-WA, for his career-long support of America’s national parks and the National Park Service.

Hartzog, Parks director from 1964 to 1972, expanded the National Park System and worked with Congress to achieve comprehensive funding of the national parks.     

Dicks has served on the Interior appropriations subcommittee since being elected to Congress in 1976. 

While he supported a wide range of parks from the Everglades to Yosemite, Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula is a notable gem in Dicks’ district.  He was an early supporter of removing the dams that significantly impacted the park ecosystem and blocked the passage of anadromous fish. 

The Congressman was a key player in securing the passage of the Elwha River Restoration Act in 1992.  After passage of this act, Dicks helped secure 15 consecutive appropriations to make dam removal a reality.

In a press release, the parks retiree group called that "an unheard of accomplishment."  

The Elwha Dam is gone, and the Glines Canyon Dam will be gone next year.  The Elwha River will be free flowing, and the restoration of a major ecosystem, within a nationally and internationally recognized park, is on its way.

Upon receiving the award, Congressman Dicks said, “this is a great honor and I deeply appreciate the recognition for one of the most enduring causes of my career on the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee — improving and expanding our National Parks. These are the ‘crown jewels’ of the American landscape and I am proud of what we did in Congress during my tenure to improve the visitor experience at all of our park units.”                                                                                                                                       

Why is the Clean Water Act only 40 years old?

ENVIRONMENT — I was in high school when the rivers were catching fire in Cleveland.

The  Clean Water Act, a series of amendments to a limp 1948 law, was approved by Congress 40 years ago and put into action by the Environmental Protection Agency. It helped put an end to such gross treatment of water resources, or at least make it illegal, and revive or protect fishing in many waters.

Environmentalists get a bad rap.  But in cases such as water pollution, the only regrets are that they weren't able to get the country's attention much sooner.

Read on for more benefits from a law that helps protect our most basic source of life.

Volunteers still needed for Reforest Spokane Day

The Lands Council is bringing back a favorite event and they need your support! Help them plant 5,000 trees for the second annual "Reforest Spokane Day" on Saturday, October 27th from 9 a.m. to noon.


This community event requires many volunteers of all ages to help plant. You can sign up for one of their five planting locations throughout town:

- Slavin Conservation area (located off Hwy 195) South

- Haynes Estate Conservation area (located near Wandermere Golf course) North

- Campion Park (located off Hwy 195 near Hangman Creek) South

- Whitworth University site North

- Dishman Hills Natural Area Valley

Conservationists sue over Salmon River dredge permit

RIVERS — An environmental group has filed a lawsuit against Idaho after officials including Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter approved a plan to dredge the Salmon River for gold, the Associated Press reports. 

The Idaho Conservation League on Tuesday asked a 4th District Court judge to require Idaho to approve a reclamation plan before signing off on any mining projects. 

In September, Grangeville miner Mike Conklin was awarded a five-year lease by the Idaho Land Board giving him sole access to a half-mile stretch about 13 miles downstream of Riggins. 

The Boise-based environmental group contends Otter and other board members ignored laws meant to protect Idaho’s water, arguing that miners who use gasoline-powered suction dredges often leave big holes in the riverbed that damage valuable habitat for salmon and steelhead.

Some anglers opposed Conklin’s permit, saying it will hurt fishing.

California artists wins 2012 Duck Stamp Contest

CONSERVATION — An image of a common goldeneye painted with uncommon talent by Robert Steiner, an artist from San Francisco, Calif., is the winner of the 2012 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. 

The artwork will be featured on the 80th federal migratory bird stamp, which will be purchased by collectors, waterfowlers and other wetlands conservationists next year.

The announcement was made today by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Director Rowan Gould at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, during the annual art contest – the only juried art competition sponsored by the federal government.

This is Steiner’s second Federal Duck Stamp Contest win.  His art previously appeared on the 1998-1999 Federal Duck Stamp.

Steiner’s acrylic painting of a common goldeneye will be made into the 2013-2014 Federal Duck Stamp, which will go on sale in late June 2013.  The Service produces the Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $15 and raises about $25 million each year to provide critical funds to conserve and protect wetland habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge system for the benefit of wildlife and the enjoyment of people.

Read on for more details.

Duck stamp art contest makes rare appearance in West

CONSERVATION — One of the country’s biggest wildlife art contests will be judged in Ogden this week as the annual Federal Duck Stamp Contest comes to Utah for the first time in its nearly 80-year history. The event has been to the West only one other time.

The work of nearly 200 artists from across the United States will be open for free viewing by the public at Weber State University, reports Brett Prettyman in the Salt Lake Tribune. Judges will pick one piece during the two-day event to serve as the 2013-14 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.

Organizers picked Ogden to host the 2012 event due in a large part to the Great Salt Lake and its surrounding marshlands. Waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors and other wildlife use the habitat throughout the year.

Interested in having a picnic with beavers on Sunday?


This Sunday, join The Lands Council for an afternoon of fun and hands-on learning activities focused on nature’s engineer:  The Beaver! This event is suitable for kids of all ages. They willl take you on an easy hike to some infamous beaver dams, making stops along the way for demonstrations and activities including a tree planting. 

But did you answer yes to the headline? Of course you did. They're excited to announce you'll have the opportunity to meet a live beaver. The Lands Council happens to be in the middle of a relocation and they are happy to introduce you their engineering friend.

The event is free and it's this Sunday, September 23rd from 1-4 p.m. at Liberty Lake County Park, 3707 S. Zephyr Rd. More details after the jump.

10th Annual Spokane River Clean Up set for September 29th

It seems so quick but one of my favorite events is upon us: The 10th Annual Spokane River Clean Up will be on Saturday, September 29th. This is your chance to join 800 to 1000 Spokane River lovers to help cart out the trash that accumulates annually.

Go to www.friendsofthefalls.org to register. Clean-up areas include Spokane Valley, the University District and the Spokane River Gorge below downtown. That’s over twenty miles of river you can help clean-up. A growing list of groups, clubs and organizations participate as a way to give back to the community and beautify the river. Examples include high schools, churches, rotary clubs and conservation groups. Whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced picker-upper, you’re invited to join the fun.

Duck stamps that boost wetlands, birds aren’t just for hunters

CONSERVATION — If you visit Turnbull Refuge or other national wildlife refuges, consider buying a federal Duck Stamp rather than paying the $3 vehicle entry fee.  The $15 stamp is good for entering any refuge for an entire year, and it helps fund a wildly successful wetlands conservation program.

Anyone who hunts waterfowl is required to buy a duck stamp, but many birders and other conservationists buy the stamps because they know the value of protecting wetlands for the benefit of a wide range of wildlife.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says 98 percent of proceeds from sales of the stamp are used to acquire and protect vital wetlands supports hundreds of species of migratory birds, wildlife and plants. The stamps can be purchased from the U.S. Postal Service, from some sporting goods shops and online.

Since the program’s inception in 1934, Federal Duck Stamp sales have raised more than $750 million to acquire and protect more than 5.3 million acres of habitat for hundreds of units of the National Wildlife Refuge System in all 50 states and U.S. territories.  These refuges benefit the public by providing access to outdoor recreational activities including hunting, fishing, birding, photography, environmental education, and interpretation.

This year’s Federal Duck Stamp features a single wood duck painted by Joseph Hautman of Plymouth, Minn.  The Junior Duck Stamp features a northern pintail painted by Christine Clayton, a 17 year old from Sidney, Ohio.

Outdoor retailers give Utah ultimatum on wilderness

PUBLIC LANDS —The outdoor recreation industry is flexing its economic muscle—some $640 billion spent annually by Americans on gear, travel and services—to push for wilderness protection in Utah, threatening to pull a lucrative biannual trade show if the state doesn't change course on environmental issues.

According to a story in the Denver Post, the industry last week gave Utah's governor an ultimatum: give up on a threat to take over federal land in the state or risk losing the Outdoor Retailer outdoor gear show that draws thousands of visitors and injects more than $40 million yearly into the state economy.

The outdoor industry and related services represent a sizeable chunk of Utah's income—roughly $4 billion a year, or 5 percent of the state's gross product, the Post article says.

It's not the first time the 4,000-member-strong Outdoor Industry Association has threatened to take its business elsewhere.

High Drive Park project receives $50,000 funding boost

The City of Spokane Urban Forestry program has received a $50,000 boost to its forest health project at High Drive Park. Hikers, mountain bikers, and home owners who value the High Drive bluff area will benefit from the project’s impact on fire risk reduction.

The City’s partnership with the local volunteer stewardship group, Friends of the Bluff, enabled the Urban Forestry department to access funding from a state jobs bill through the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“The money will be used for contract work on thinning and pruning the Bluff’s forest. This will reduce the risk of intense, uncontrollable fires that would threaten adjacent homes and neighborhoods as well as the trees themselves,” said Guy Gifford, a forester with DNR. “The thinning and pruning will also improve the forest health as the remaining trees will have more space, light, and moisture so they will be less susceptible to damage from pine bark beetles. We will start work this September, and will be able to treat up to 50 acres of the park.”

Washington Conservation Corps looking to fill 300 positions

Looking for some exciting work and money for school? The Department of Ecology’s Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) needs applicants to fill nearly 300 AmeriCorps service positions in 16 counties across the state.

The WCC was created in 1983 and has provided opportunities and training for more than 1,700 young adults. In 1994, WCC started received federal AmeriCorps funding, allowing crews to carry out on-the-ground projects across the state. Local communities rely on WCC to complete environmental projects by forming cost-share agreements with Ecology.

Typical WCC activities include planting trees and vegetation, repairing stream and streamside habitat, constructing and upgrading trails, building fencing and providing environmental education. The WCC also includes the Puget SoundCorps, formed in 2011, to complete projects on public lands designed to help carry out the Puget Sound Partnership’s Action Agenda – the single playbook for focusing efforts to recover and protect the Sound. Last year, WCC members planted 940,000 trees and shrubs, improved or restored 1,100 acres of new fish and wildlife habitat and constructed or improved 400 miles of recreational trails.

Millwood Community Energy Efficiency event with Sustainable Works tomorrow

Sustainable Works is inviting you to attend their Millwood Community Energy Efficiency tomorrow 6:30pm at The Crossing Millwood Community Youth Center at 8919 E Euclid. At the Energy Efficiency Kick-off Event, residents will have the opportunity to learn about the SustainableWorks program, ask questions of SustainableWorks’ building analysts, sign-up for a home energy audit, and meet the program’s partners. To learn more about the program, or to sign-up, please visit www.sustainableworks.com, or call the SustainableWorks office at 509-443-3471.

 SustainableWorks is a non-profit focused on creating quality jobs and improving the environment with residential and small commercial energy retrofit projects facilitated through community engagement and participation. SustainableWorks utilizes a $4 million Community Energy Efficiency Program Grant to retrofit up to 2,000 homes and small businesses in moderate-income neighborhoods in Spokane, Pierce, King, and Snohomish counties over the next 2 years. This activity should produce approximately 120 full-time jobs and $12 million in retrofit work, as well as reduce carbon emissions by 3,000 tons.

What does a “Sportsmen’s Act” have to do with hunters and anglers?

ENVIRONMENT — Can we expect a "Sportsmen's Act" introduced in Congress to actually be in the best interest of hunters and anglers?

A Missoulian opinion columnist is skeptical in this column.

"Those who watch Congress have surely noticed an alarming trend of putting misleading titles on bills and policies that actually do the opposite of what they say," writes George Ochenski.

President Bush’s “Healthy Forests Initiative” provided ways to clearcut national forests without environmental review or public oversight. Likewise, Bush’s “Clean Skies” legislation made it easier for corporations to pollute. The USA PATRIOT Act has nothing to do with patriots and everything to do with spying on citizens. And now we have H.R. 4089, the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 that, in reality, would undercut the 1964 Wilderness Act and destroy what remains of the nation’s once-great natural heritage.

DU saving wetlands with ’Guns, Gear and Beer’

CONSERVATION – Duck Unlimited will hold its annual Guns, Gear and Beer fundraising event starting at 6 p.m. June 16 at The Condon Barn, 4801 S. Coleman Lane in Spoakne.

Cost: $40, includes steak dinner, beverages and DU Membership

Info: Dave Cote 939-5351; Mike Condon 995-0707.

Conservation funders meet with local groups tonight

CONSERVATION — Local trail-user groups and conservationists are celebrating the major funding efforts of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program with a reception 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., TONIGHT (June 6) at the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council Auditorium, 6116 N Market.

The state-funded organization works to leverage public funds for parks, wildlife and working farms, performing a major role in funding outdoor recreation across the state.

In the Spokane area alone, WWRP has provided more than $16 million for conservation and recreation projects. Ranging from the Little Spokane River, Quartz Mountain, Antoine Peak, Mount Spokane and the Centennial Trail, WWRP grants have helped maintain a high quality of life in this area. 

Click here for a complete list of WWRP projects in Spokane County

RSVP for tonight's reception.

New WDFW site details potential wildlife land acquisitions

PUBLIC LANDS – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife unveiled a new web page this week that details a wish list of private properties the state is aiming to purchase to preserve fish and wildlife habitat.

The site includes a virtual tour of 21 proposed land acquisition projects that could take years to complete.

One proposal for Spokane County seeks $1.85 million to purchase 920 acres on Mica Peak adjacent to Inland Empire Paper Co. land to prevent subdividing and fragmenting wildlife habitat protected by adjacent Inland Empire Paper Co. land.

Some of the proposals cover more than 10,000 acres at costs of more than $8 million, including areas in Douglas County, Benton County and a group of areas along the Grande Ronde River in Asotin County.

The agency relies on state and federal grants and help from non-profit groups for most of its acquisitions.

 Among the top grant sources are the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Dishman Hills group invites public to ‘Dream’ on

PUBLIC LANDS — The Dishman Hills Alliance is inviting the public to celebrate their latest step toward securing conservation land or easements for a "Dream Trail" through the length of the Dishman Hills.

A dinner celebrating the recent 269-acre Glenrose-area Conservation Futures purchases will be held May 12 starting with socializing at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. at Moran Prairie Grange, 6106 S. Palouse Hwy.

The Dishman Hills Natural Area Association played an important role in securing the conservation land before it could be carved up for development.  Members of the alliance will toast their success in the decade-old effort to keep a corridor open through the hills for non-motorized travel as well as for wildlife migration.              

Then they'll talk about future plan to made the Dream Trail come true.

Part of the plan involves getting more friends to join the effort

Cost for the dinner celebration is $20 for members. The group is offering a special $10 membership online.