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Idaho’s invasive species sticker not transferrable from boat to boat

BOATING — Idaho’s $7 invasive species sticker, which is required on all boats and inflatables longer than 10 feet, cannot be transferred from one vessel to another, Idaho Parks and Recreation officials say.

A story in the Sunday Outdoors section (Aug. 7) suggested otherwise, noting that some boaters were laminating the stickers for more practical attachment such as a cord or zip tie, especially in the case of their rafts.

“Vendors that offer convenient solutions to affixing them to inflatable rafts with rope rigging are doing just that – providing a convenient solution to affixing them to a designated vessel,” said Jennifer Blazek, department spokeswoman in Boise.

But she advised, “The rules are still the rules. The sticker is non-transferrable.” Here's the Idaho Code to prove it.

She acknowledged that nothing on the sticker says it can’t be transferred, but said it’s stated in the rules.

Beyond that, she said the fee is for a good cause dear to the hearts of all boaters.

“Contributions to the Idaho Invasive Species Fund are put to service protecting our coveted waters from invasive species that can devastate a recreational hotspot in a year or less,” she said. “It’s an important program that should be taken seriously.”

Kettle River Gorge photos have kayaker in stitches

PADDLING — As Bob Whittaker of Republic ran his kayak down the Kettler River Gorge between Orient and Barstow, last weekend, Andy McConnell shot a series of photos. 

Then McConnell "stitched" them together with a photo software program to create this fascinating panorama that lets you look up and down the river in one shot.

The finished product shows Whittaker three times — at the top, middle and bottom of the falls —  as he made a single pass.

Incidentally:

  • The Kettle's flows have dropped down to the boney flows of summer.
  • The river private-property-rights tyrant, Mr. Honeycutt, is still hassling paddlers as the put-in their boats in some areas, regardless of whether or not they're on the public right of way.

Cast your opinion on Pend Oreille River Water Trail plan

BOATING — Officials pondering the Pend Oreille River Water Trail Concept Plan are seeking comments through the month in an online survey.

The plan would help develop and promote water access, activities and tourism on a 70-mile stretch of the river from the Newport area downstream to Boundary Dam.

The PORTA website  includes a summary of the plan along with an interesting map and description of the Water Trail. 

Public comments and suggestions about the project can be directed to Mike Lithgow, Pend Oreille County Community Development Department or Susan Harris, Executive Director, Pend Oreille River Tourism Alliance (PORTA) until Sept. 1.

The Water Trail has been a three-year project. 

Agencies and organizations participating in the Water Trail development currently include the USFS, BLM, National Park Service, Towns of Newport, Cusick, Metaline and Metaline Falls, Ione, WDFW, DNR, PUD, Pend Oreille County Community Development Department, WSU Extension Office, Map Metrics, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Kalispel Natural Resources Department, SCL Boundary Dam Project, and Pend Oreille River Tourism Alliance.

Saturday’s highlights

Spokane Valley kayaker Steve Bailey surfs the "Sullivan Hole" on the upper Spokane River on August 1, 2011. The wave is a Spokane low water play spot for whitewater enthusiasts. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

If you missed Saturday's Valley Voice you should go back and take a look. It's full of interesting news and stories this week. The picture in the middle of the front page of kayakers having fun on the Spokane River makes me want to run down, jump in and cool off. (My kingdom for a cold front!) Correspondent Steve Christilaw has an interesting story to go with the picture.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger wrote about the old East Trent Motor In sign that has found a new home at the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum. She also stopped in at an open house held last week at Spokane Valley Partners to celebrate the receipt of some grant funds.

The developer of the Coyote Rocks development on the Spokane River near Plantes Ferry Park has hit a stumbling block. The Spokane Valley Hearing Examiner recently ruled that the developer must redo a preliminary plat map for a new section of the development to take into account a new ordinary high water mark set by the Department of Ecology.

Correspondent Valerie Putnam wrote that the Millwood City Council just approved a real estate exise tax on all home sales in its jurisdiction. Apparently it was the only city or town in the state that didn't already charge the tax, which is one-half of one percent of the selling price and is paid by the seller. The money will be used to fund capital improvement projects as well as maintenance and operation costs.

There's more to read, but we would be here all day if I listed it all. Check out the Voice page here.

Chip in to help water plants at Barker Bridge river access

RIVERS — Paddlers are being asked to devote a few minutes to help thirsty plants when they visit the improved Barker Road bridge access to the north side of the Spokane River.

The new landscaping at the access to help prevent erosion and improve the aesthetics of the site has no watering system.

The Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club, which worked with the City of Spokane Valley to fund the project, has left five-gallon buckets tucked under the bridge beams.

"This can be a fun family event, or just a spontaneous, random act of kindness if you are driving through the Valley," the club says in its summer newsletter.

The bridge includes a pedestrian walkway and a parking lane, so you visitors can park vehicles on the bridge, or they can use the Centennial Trail parking lot on the south side.

"The little plants will love you and you will feel sooooo good afterwards," the club says.

PDO Water Trail to be unveiled at open house

BOATING — Three years in the making, a Pend Oreille River Water Trail plan covering 70 miles of the river in northeastern Washington will be served up — along with snacks and beverages — at an open house meeting Thursday (Aug. 4), 5 p.m.-7 p.m., at the Camas Center, 1821 N. LeClerc Rd., northeast of Usk, Wash. (See map.)

This the plan focuses on the Pend Oreille County stretch of the river, including Z Canyon and Peewee Falls. The entire river is 130 miles long originating from Lake Pend Oreille in the Idaho Panhandle flowing northwesterly — unusual for a major U.S. River — until it joins the Columbia River in southeastern British Columbia.  

Maps of the Water Trail will be on display and smaller maps will be shared.

Kayaks will be displayed by Bear Naked Adventures of Newport, Wash..

Other exhibitors include U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, PORTA, WSU Extension, Map Metrics, National Park Service, Kalispel Tribe and Pend Oreille PUD — all partners of interest to future Water Trail users.

The concept plan for the Pend Oreille River Water Trail will be available.

Take a survey during the August public comment period.

Info: Susan Harris of PORTA (509) 447-5286, email susan@porta-us.com.

Chelan Gorge whitewater kayaking flush is a go! Six sign up for Class V run

KAYAKING — They just barely made the 5 p.m. deadline! The six-kayaker minimum was met this afternoon to trigger the Chelan PUD to release water for kayakers out of Lake Chelan this weekend.

The kayakers signed up today for the rare chance to ride the flows shooting down the narrow gorge in a 3-mile series of Class V falls geared to EXPERT PADDLERS.

The Chelan River, although one of the shortest rivers in the northwest, offers some of the most challenging whitewater boating in the nation.  

This is the third year of a pilot program the PUD has established to test the safety and interest in the program.

Each year, during the study period, whitewater releases for kayakers are set to occur only on the second and fourth weekends in July and September.

Due to high flows, whitewater boating on the Chelan River on July 9 and 10 was cancelled.

More info from American Whitewater.

Read on for details and check out the video above compiled by Bellingham kayaker Matt Kuhrl during last year's weekend flush in the Chelan Gorge.

Dam gates closed; Spokane River open for recreation at Post Falls

RIVER RUNNING — Avista has lifted its recreation closure on the Spokane River at Post Falls.

With runoff subsiding, the utility has closed the gates on Post Falls Dam, which allows recreational use to resume in the water between the Spokane Street Bridge and the boat restraining systems just upstream of the dam.

The City of Post Falls boat launch at Q’emiln Park was opened to the public on Monday, weeks later than normal.

Typically, the boat launch is opened sometime between Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday, Avista officials said. The median date for closing the gates is June 22.

This year, cool spring temperatures and a lingering, heavy snowpackcaused longer than normal high water flows, which delayed the opening of the boat launch.

For current information on lake leve changes on Coeur d’ Alene Lake, Lake Spokane and the Spokane River, call:

Idaho, (208) 769-1357;

Washington, (509) 495-8043.

OR check online.

Pend Oreille Poker Paddle postponed

RIVER RUNNING — Due to high water and related health and safety issues, the 30th annual Pend Oreille County Poker Paddle has been rescheduled from July 16-17 to Aug. 27-28.

Info: Greater Newport Area Chamber and Visitors Bureau website.

St. Joe River wets rafters before as flows continue downward

St. Joe River Whitewater Rafting from Tanner Grant on Vimeo.

RIVER RUNNING — While fishermen have been chomping at their bits, whitewater rafters have been enjoying the prolonged high flows in Idaho's St. Joe River.

Tanner Grant of Spokane shot this video of a June 28 rafting trip on the Joe from Packsaddle Campground to Avery. The flows were around 7,900 cfs.

This week the flows are trending down below 5,000 cfs.

Little Spokane River moves paddlers along

PADDLING — The Little Spokane River's flows are still unseasonably high, but they've dropped to a pleasant level.  I joined a group of canoeists Sunday at flows of 300 cfs and we effortlessly floated from St. George's School to the takeout near the confluence of the Spokane River in 2.5 hours — that includes a little slough exploring.

Some trees were down on the water, but we found big gaps and easy maneuvered past them.

Remember, Washington's new Discover Pass is required for parking at facilities along the Little Spokane River and other state park facilities.

The Little Spokane River is a natural area with additional rules beyond those at most state parks.

1. All use of the river must be by a device that keeps passengers out of the water. In other words, canoes, kayaks, and rafts are acceptable; inner-tubes, air mattresses, or swimming are not.

2. No alcoholic beverages are allowed on the Little Spokane.

3. Keep your pets elsewhere. They do not belong in the Little Spokane Natural Area.

4. Of course, please take home whatever you bring. Do not litter. Isn't that obvious?

5. Because it is a natural area, please do not disturb the wildlife in any way. Fishing is allowed (guess they aren't considered wildlife…) but not from shore.

6. Wear your personal floatation device at all times.

Don't have your own canoe or kayak? Here are sources for renting them:

  • Mountain Gear, 325-9000.
  • REI, 328-9900.
  • Riverside State Park, (509) 465-5064.

Video: Rafters well washed after running upper Spokane River

Upper Spokane River Drift from Tanner Grant on Vimeo.

RIVER RUNNING — Tanner Grant of Spokane filmed his rafting trip Saturday as he and friends ran the unseasonably high flows from Harvard Road downstream through Flora and Sullivan rapids to Plante's Ferry Park.

He said the Spokane River was running about 10,700 cfs when he started.  The flows have been going down fairly steadily for the past three days.

Video: kayaker shares Dead Dog Hole experience

PADDLING — Local kayaker Brian Jamieson has produced a nifty video to give the rest of us a feel for the thrill of playing at Dead Dog Hole.

This accidental treasure of a wave is in the Spokane River on the state line. 

Kayakers were concerned that construction of the new stateline bridge would affect the wave. 

More recently, they've been rejoicing:  Not only has the construction had no effect, the water conditions have provided them great play paddling for five months, Jamieson says.

Check it out.

Whitewater rivers claim two more drowning victims

RIVER RUNNING — Two more deaths have been confirmed among whitewater river runners in the Inland Northwest, making 2011 one of the deadliest rafting and kayak seasons in memory.

  • In Montana, a woman in her 60s was killed in a rafting accident on the swollen Blackfoot River near Missoula on Tuesday.
  • In Washington, the body of a Kittitas River kayaker missing since Monday evening was found by authorities Tuesday afternoon.

AMONG THE OTHER recent drowning or major injury incidents:

Read on for details from the Associated Press about the latest two confirmed deaths.

Sign up for flatwater kayak trips to explore Spokane River

RIVER RUNNING — Don't delay to sign up for some or all of the remaining Meet Me at the River guided paddling trips organized by the Spokane River Forum to introduce the public to the great river running through us.

Since Meet Me at The River began in 2008, 430 community members have traveled all or part of the river with people who have expertise in everything from the wildlfie to the sewage treatment plant.

"Our goal is to have fun while introducing more and more people to this iconic community resource," said Andy Dunau, the Forum's executive director. Equipment and professional guides provided for all trips.

Read on for a list of remaining trips. Places are limited.

Detour starting for White Salmon River rafters

RIVER RUNNING — Boater passage under the Northwestern Lake bridge on the Washington's White Salmon River will be closed beginning Tuesday.

The White Salmon River, a popular whitewater rafting attraction, flows south from glaciers on Mount Adams, entering the Columbia River by the town of Hood River, Ore.  See map.

Condit Dam is 3.3 miles from the mouth and just inside the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

PacifiCorp is rebuilding the bridge as part of the removal of Condit Dam. During the work, a temporary take-out will be located at cabin 12 just upstream of the bridge on the Skamania County side. A boat barrier will direct boaters to the location.

The temporary site is not as easy as using the Northwestern Lake boat ramp. It will take multiple rafters to move the boat and the grade is uphill.

Info: PacifiCorp at (503) 331-4361.

Another rafter dies on Lochsa River

RIVER RUNNING — The Idaho County sheriff's office says a Missoula man died Wednesday in a rafting accident on the Lochsa River in north-central Idaho, according to the Lewiston Tribune.

Keegan Seth Ginther, 29, died after three or four people had been thrown from a raft around 2:30 p.m. CPR was performed on the river.

The accident reportedly happened in Lochsa Falls Rapid near milepost 112.5 off U.S. Highway 12.

The investigation revealed that Ginther was rafting with four friends from Missoula when the raft flipped in the Lochsa Falls Rapids and spilled all the occupants into the water.  Ginther was unable to get to shore and was swept downriver.  One of the rafters,  Bradley Applegate, 30, was able to get to shore and flagged down a passing vehicle to transport him down river where he pulled Ginther from the water. An EMT started CPR, the report said. 

All parties in the raft were wearing life jackets. 

This is the second drowning in the Lochsa this season and the third drowning in Idaho County in the past seven weeks. 

In addition to Wednesday's drowning, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, resident Randy Eroen drowned while kayaking on the Lochsa River May 28, and on May 11, Jerry Nelson of Kamiah drowned in Lolo Creek while trying to save his dog.

The river was running at about 15,000 cubic feet per second on Wednesday - high for this time of year, but not an unusual flow for the early rafting season.

The Lochsa is well-known for its continuous string of class III and IV rapids.

Read on for the reaction of a Lochsa rafting outfitter as quoted in a Missoulian online report.

Kayaker seriously injured in plunge of Bridal Veil Falls

EXTREME KAYAKING — Oregon's Multnomah County sheriff’s office says it took 14 emergency responders more than an hour to rescue a kayaker injured Sunday at the base of Bridal Veil Falls, according to an Associated Press report.

Robert McKenzie,19, of Eugene suffered a back injury and was taken to Oregon Health and Science University Hospital in Portland.

He was with a group of kayakers who took turns running the falls as they recorded video in the state park in the Columbia River Gorge. Two other kayakers from Eugene apparently suffered broken noses navigating the 120-foot, two-step drop.

All wore helmets and life vests. 

Local paddlers offer canoe-kayak clinics

Sea kayaking, July 13 evening indoor class followed by July 16-17 session at Medical Lake, for beginners as well as seasoned paddlers.

Whitewater kayaking, July 16-17 on Spokane River.

• Cost for all clinics: $55 per person per class, plus $20 club membership.

• Preregistration required: Diane Adams, 448-9214 or email dianecadams@asisna.com

Spokane whitewater park loses $500K state grant

PADDLING — A state board in charge of money for recreational projects rejected a plea from supporters of a whitewater park in the Spokane River and refused to extend a $500,000 grant. The project will probably take longer than supporters say, and the city should return when more prep work has been done, the board said, according to a report by S-R Capital Bureau reporter Jim Camden in Olympia.

In a 6-1 vote, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board refused the extension but said the project should complete an environmental impact statement and obtain needed permits, then return to the board to ask for the grant to be awarded a second time.

"We at Friends of the Falls are disappointed," said Steve Faust, leader of the Spokane group that's advocated the park. "But (we're) also encouraged that each RCO board member expressed support for the project and encouraged the city to apply for a new grant. We will be meeting with City Parks what happens next. We thank the City Parks Department for their efforts."

Read on for more of Camden's report from the Olympia meeting.

Video: Kayakers run upper Pack River whitewater

RIVER RUNNING — Spokane Whitewater enthusiast Brian Jamieson wore a helmet cam to document his recent run with other kayakers down the big runoff whitewater in Upper Pack River's "slide section." 

If the run at this point seems to be unusually clean of woody debris, it's no accident, Jamieson said.  Sandpoint-area paddlers had cleared out all but one of the logjams in this section when he ran the river.

Of course, conditions can change any time.

This is NOT amateur water… but they make it look easy.

Canoe Classic moves from Spokane River to flatwater

PADDLING — The annual Spokane River Canoe Classic, normally set on its namesake stream, has been moved to Liberty Lake this year because of the dangerously high river flows.
 
The event is set for Saturday, beginning with registration at 9 a.m. followed by the race start at 11 a.m. at Liberty Lake County Park. The race will be followed by a free post-race barbecue, said Phil Bridgers of Mountain Gear, which has sponsored the event for more than two decades.
 
Paddlers in canoe and kayaks will have a choice of paddling one or two loops on a course to be set up on the lake, Bridgers said.
 
Known for awarding plenty of ribbons in various divisions as well as for lottery prize drawings, the classic is a popular way for families to kick off their Fathers Day weekend.
 
Cost: $20 a person.
 
To preregister, download a form.
 
Info: Mountain Gear, 325-9000.
See a slide show from a few years ago when the event was held on its normal route from Corbin Park in Post Falls downstream to Plante's Ferry Park.

Whitewater groups to meet for ‘megaloads’ update

RIVERS — Idaho Rivers United and other groups are organizing a party and meeting to address the 'megaloads' industrial trucking operations using Highway 12 and the Lochsa-Clearwater river corridor.
  

When: 5 p.m., June 18.
Where: The Syringa Cafe at the River Dance Lodge on the banks of the Clearwater River. Click here for driving directions.
Cost: Free, appetizers and a no-host beer and wine bar provided. (Dinner available at the café for an extra charge.)

  

Kayakers head for more HydroTherapy at Dead Dog Hole

KAYAKING — An informal group of kayakers once again plans to share playboating fun and know-how in a HydroTherapy session, tonight starting about 5:30 p.m. at Dead Dog (below the bridge construction site on the Stateline).

 
HydroTherapy sessions are free, grassroots, learning events for kayakers of all skill levels and ages, structured and judged like a competition. Prizes.
 
Another session is scheduled for June 23.

Riverside State Park plans forest thinning

STATE PARKS — Preliminary plans to thin some forest areas in Riverside State Park to reduce fire danger and the spread of bark beetle infestations will be presented at a public meeting tonight, 6 p.m., at the Shadle Park Public Library. 

Park officials say the plans will be formalized before work would begin this fall and winter.

Stand up paddling opportunities coming this week

PADDLING — Catch the new wave of paddle sports with my Sunday Outdoors feature story about the sport than combines elements of canoeing and surfing.

Then consider signing up for one of the special presentations or classes to be offered in Spokane this week by Seattle Stand up paddling instructor Rob Casey.

Details:

Free stand up paddling presentation at REI

What: Free presentation on stand up paddle boarding, dealing with gear, launching and basic techniques.

Who: By Rob Casey, author of ‘Stand Up Paddling Flatwater to Rivers and Surf’ (pictured).

When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

Where: REI, 1125 N. Monroe St.

Sign-up:rei.com/event/22959/session/28402 (space limited)

On-water lessons offered

Author Rob Casey is offering three-hour stand up paddle boarding lessons on local waters Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during his book tour through Spokane.

Class size: five or less

Costs: $80-$100 depending on level

Sign-up: (206) 465-7167, salmonbaypaddle.com

Stand up resources

Spokane: Mountain Gear, 325-9000; moutaingear.com

Coeur d’Alene:Coeur d’Alene Paddle Board Co., (208) 292-4156; cdapaddleboard.com

Missoula: Strongwater, (406) 721-2437; strongwaterkayak.com

Video: Helmet cam gets wet look at Lochsa rapids

RIVER RUNNING — Recently I posted a video of the thrills, spills and flips as rafters and catarafters crashed into Lochsa Falls on Memorial Day Weekend.  The video was shot from the roadside pull-out off U.S. Highway 12 among the gallery of people on hand to cheer at the carnage at the famous Idaho whitewater river.

For an on-the-water perspective of three major Lochsa River rapids, check out this helmet cam video by Tony McDonald of Meridian, Idaho. He shot the rapids and the footage on May 14 with the water level at 6.5 feet at Lowell Bridge. 

If you've see the Memorial Day video, you'll know why McDonald "skirted" Lochsa Falls — and why he was on hand to rescue the hapless chaps who didn't. 

Video: Lochsa River delivers whitewater thrills

RIVER RUNNING — People lined up along Highway 12 over the Memorial Day weekend for a whitewater thrill show as rafters and kayakers challenged the big runoff waves on Idaho's Lochsa River.

This YouTube video captures the action, and believe me, there's plenty to see… ejected guides, bad breaks, you name it. 

There's a reason the specators in the background are hooting and hollering.

Rafter dies in Lochsa River whitewater

RIVER RUNNING — A Wisconsin man drowned while rafting on the Lochsa River on Saturday, according to a report filed today by S-R reporter Alison Boggs.

This is the second rafting fatality in the region this spring, following the death of a Hauser, Idaho, man last week on the Owyhee River in Oregon.

In the Lochsa incident, Randy A. Eroen, 35, of Sun Prairie, Wis., drowned after his raft hit a rapid and all four occupants fell out. Two were able to get back in, a third made it to shore, but Eroen was swept down river, a news release from the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office said. The sheriff’s office received the call at 1:41 p.m.

Eroen was unable to reach the life rope thrown to him by two kayakers accompanying the group, the release said. The kayakers went after Eroen, pulled him from the river and started CPR. They were joined by the rest of the rafting party, who continued CPR until medical assistance arrived.

For experienced rafters, the river is big with spring runoff but not what they would consider "huge." 

Read on for the rest of Boggs' story:

Photos capture Spokane River kayakers in HydroTherapy

PADDLING — Conditions were cold and wet and the Spokane River was running big for Thursday's HydroTherapy session at Dead Dog Wave and Cyclops.

The Stateline play spots attracted a hearty group of paddlers learning and practicing tricks. 

Photographer Michael Kinney captured the action with his camera in a series of shots you can view on his Facebook page