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Lessons from rafting the Grand Canyon: for anglers

ADVENTURING — My recent multi-week winter rafting-hiking adventure on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon (see story here) prompts a few hints to people planning similar river trips as well as to anglers planning multi-day trips to places such as Alaska:

CARE FOR YOUR HANDS.  River trips suck the moisture out of your skin, especially your hands. I've come home with cracked, bleeding hands after week-long float-fishing trips in Alaska, my fingers so sore it was difficult to stuff a sleeping bag in its sack.

Colorado River rafters emphasize this point and recommend preventive treatment.  

Based on a recommendation from an experienced Canyon boater, I started using ProKera lotion (available at RiteAid stores) twice a day several days before we launched.  

During the trip, I wore paddling gloves as much as possible while on the boat and especially while loading and tending bow lines.

And I applied the extreme-care ProKera lotion two or three times a day. This is the kind of lotion (Tiger Balm also works well) that takes several minutes of rubbing to absorb into your hands. The time is well spent. My hands came out of the desert river trip in excellent condition.

Lessons from rafting the Grand Canyon: for groups

ADVENTURING — My recent multi-week winter rafting-hiking adventure on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon (see story here) with a private group prompts me to share some observations to people planning similar group river trips. For example:

BAG THE GROUP KITCHEN: If your trip is long and the group is larger than about six members, rafting guide Brian Burns recommends letting every rafter, couple or family bring and prepare their own meals on their own cooking equipment.

“The group kitchen thing can cause problems on trips longer than a week or so,” he said. “People eat different quantities and have different food preferences and the chores can become a sense of friction if some people think others in the group are slacking.”

And it can be a big bummer to get up at 5 a.m. on a bad-weather day to get the group meal going so the coffee's ready by 7 — especially if several in the group want tea.  

The do-it-yourself method worked beautifully on our Grand Canyon trip. It gave people time to chill on their own and then mingle as they wished during breakfast and dinner, sometimes sharing with the group treats such as cocktails, chocolate, smoked oysters and wine before and after mealtime.

Even after a couple weeks, the only person you could blame for inadequate food was yourself.

Boulder-White Clouds proposal to go to from Idaho to Obama

PUBLIC LANDS —  Blaine County commissioners in central Idaho near Ketchum plan to finalize a resolution supporting a central Idaho national monument by Tuesday.  

The Idaho Mountain Express reports  that commissioners set that date so Commission Chair Larry Schoen can hand deliver the resolution backing a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument in person when he visits Washington, D.C., for a conference in early March.  
 
An effort to create three wilderness areas in the region while also releasing other lands from wilderness study areas have so far failed, prompting conservation groups to lobby the Obama administration to establish a national monument.  
 
Most of the proposed 571,000-acre monument would be in Custer County. Commissioners there oppose creating a monument, as do commissioners in nearby Lemhi County.

Rafting, hiking Grand Canyon in winter had high, low points

ADVENTURING — Before I write my stories about winter adventuring in the Grand Canyon, I have to decide which I enjoyed more, the view up from the river or the view down from the rim!

Public lands a starting point of intimate romance

PUBLIC LANDS —  National parks and other public lands have been the inspiring setting for “made in America” romances, as this Department of Interior video suggests.

Landers returns from wild time in Grand Canyon

About 50 hours ago I snapped this photo after hiking out 10 miles and nearly a mile in elevation to the Grand Canyon's  South Rim Village.

I'd been rafting the Colorado River and exploring the side canyons for two weeks. But I had to leave my rafting buddies and return to Spokane as they continue downstream on one of the greatest 30-day adventures one can have in the USA.

Two things motivated me to put the pedal to the metal for the 1,240-mile return drive from the Canyon:

  • Shop-stuff, such as catching up on the news, preparing the next Spokesman-Review Sunday Outdoors package and updating my blog.
  • Being on time for tonight's dinner date with my Valentine, the beauty I kissed good-by on Jan. 27.

Stories to come.  Stay tuned.

Plan ahead for free entry at federal, state lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.  

  • Washington State Parks also sets dates for fee-free entry. 

The next freebie date of the year is Presidents Day Weekend, with fee-free days at all federal lands that charge an entrance fee.

Following is a list of all the 2014 free-entry dates and participating federal agencies, which vary by holiday: 

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 20 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 15-17 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Park Week opening weekend, April 19-20 — National Park Service.
  • National Get Outdoors Day, June 14 — national forests.
  • National Park Service Birthday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service.
  • National Public Lands Day, Sept. 27 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Wildlife Refuge Week, first day, Oct 12 — National wildlife refuges. 
  • Veterans Day, Nov. 11 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests.

Washington State Parks also offer 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Read on for details about year-round free or discounted passes for military, disabled and seniors.

Gearing up for a hike in griz country? Read this first

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BACKPACKING — If you're thinking about packing a gun on your next hike into Yellowstone, Glacier Park or other areas of grizzly bear habitat, read this story first.

Then check out the video above on how to effectively use bear spray.

Trail Cam proves wildlife around when hikers aren’t

WILDLIFE WATCHING — In December, Parks Canada posted this time-lapse video from a trail camera in Waterton Lakes National Park spanning over a four-month period when the area was closed to hikers as a result of flood damage.

See how the animals took advantage of a human-free trail and used it for an easy travel route.

How many species do you count?  

Plan ahead for free entry at federal, state lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.  

  • Washington State Parks also sets dates for fee-free entry. 

The first freebie date of the year is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 20, a fee-free day at all federal lands that charge an entrance fee.

Following is a list of other free-entry dates and participating federal agencies, which vary by holiday: 

  • Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 15-17 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Park Week opening weekend, April 19-20 — National Park Service.
  • National Get Outdoors Day, June 14 — national forests.
  • National Park Service Birthday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service.
  • National Public Lands Day, Sept. 27 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Wildlife Refuge Week, first day, Oct 12 — National wildlife refuges. 
  • Veterans Day, Nov. 11 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests.

Washington State Parks also offer 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Read on for details about year-round free or discounted passes for military, disabled and seniors.

Snow closes North Cascades Highway for season

OUTDOOR TRAVEL — After finding a 12-foot deep avalanche along a 150-foot stretch of highway below Liberty Bell Mountain this morning, the state Department of Transportation has decided to keep the North Cascades Highway closed for the winter, according to the Associated Press.

The state temporarily closed the mountain pass between Mazama and Newhalem on Sunday afternoon due to heavy snow and high winds. Road crews went back to assess whether the road could be safely reopened today, and determined it could not, said DOT spokesman Jeff Adamson.

He said other avalanche chutes along the highway were filled with snow and unstable.

The highway closes every winter due to avalanche danger. Most years, the highway closes sometime in November, although it remained open into early December several years in its 40-year history. Last year, it closed for the season on Nov. 19.

This year the highway — a gateway to North Cascades National Park — reopened April 16, weeks earlier than last year because of a thinner snow pack. 

Jimmy Carter to share Alaska parks history with students

PUBLIC LANDS — On Monday, students and teachers will get a huge opportunity to hear Jimmy Carter explain an historic federal public lands deal that was big, big, big in every way.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter doubled the size of the National Park System when he signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). Students throughout the country can celebrate the anniversary of this landmark bill by joining President Carter on a live webchat on Monday, Dec. 2, from 2-3 p.m. EST.

ANILCA, often called the most significant land conservation measure in the nation's history, protected more than 100 million acres of federal lands in Alaska. It doubled the size of the country’s national park and refuge system and tripled the amount of land designated as wilderness. ANILCA expanded the National Park System by more than 43 million acres. 

Ultra-brief history of Alaska Lands Act:

In 1971, Congess passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), granting 44 million acres of land to the Native groups. In addition, ANCSA designated 80 million acres to study for possible conservation. ANCSA was largely in response to the discovery of oil on the north slope, concern about rampant development as well as the conflict arising over how much claim the indigenous people had to that oil and the other resources around Alasak.

With the completion of the trans-Alaska pipeline in 1977, the debate continued and oil was a bigger issue than ever.

During President Carter's last days as president, he accepted a compromise that ensured Alaska's status as the last frontier. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 provided the following:

  • 10 National Parks and Reserves
  • 2 National Monuments
  • 9 National Wildlife Refuges (Including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR)
  • 2 National Conservation Areas
  • 25 Wild and Scenic rivers

ANILCA expanded three other parks already in existence, including Denali. When all was said and done, 104 million acres were designated for conservation and protection - an area larger than the state of California.​

 The theme for Monday's special event, sponsored by Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, Georgia, is Celebrating President and Mrs. Carter and Their Contributions to the National Park Service. President Carter will speak on ANILCA then participate in a question-and-answer period.

About 90,000 students are likely to view the event through Internet2, the U.S. national research and education network.

President Carter will answer questions via video from high school students from Plains High School (Plains, Ga.), Southwest High School (El Centro, Calif.), Sugar Salem High School (Sugar City, Idaho) and Woodrow Wilson Junior High (Dayton, Texas). Schools may view the event via a live web stream or at http://idahoptv.org/INSESSION provided by Idaho Public Television.

Click here for more information about the Presidential Primary Sources Project, a collaborative program sponsored by the U.S. Presidential Libraries and Museums, the National Park Service, the Internet2 K20 Initiative.

Bozeman-to-Yellowstone shuttle service planned

NATIONAL PARKS — Making a winter visit to Yellowstone National Park will be easier this season with a new shuttle service between Bozeman and Mammoth Hot Springs.

Yellowstone National Park Lodges, operated by Xanterra, says the shuttle will start on Dec. 18 with the winter season opening of the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. The opening of the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is set for Dec. 20. The lodges provide the only wintertime accommodations within the park through March 2.

Except for the road from Gardiner, Mont. to Cooke City, Mont. via Mammoth Hot Springs, transportation within the park is limited to snowmobiles and enclosed heated snowcoaches during the winter. Snowcoach transportation is available daily to a variety of park locations. Xanterra also offers a wide range of half- and full-day snowcoach, ski and snowshoe tours and ski and snowshoe rentals as well as expert instruction and other services. 

The new shuttle will depart Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel daily at 9:15 a.m. and arrive at the airport at 11:15 a.m. For guests remaining in Bozeman, the shuttle will drop them off at a local hotel. Visitors who spent the previous night in Bozeman will board the shuttle at the Holiday Inn at 1 p.m. The shuttle will return to the airport to pick up arrivals for a 1:45 p.m. departure back to the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel in Yellowstone. 

Rates are $51.50, plus taxes and fees, each way for riders age three years and up.

Call toll-free: (866) 439-7375. 

Another human-fed wild creature bites the dust

WILDLIFE WATCHING — I don't have a crystal ball, but this one was an easy call.

The spike elk featured toying dangerously with a photographer in a video that went viral this month has been euthanized by Great Smoky National Park officials. The elk had become too accustomed to people and was posing a danger.

My blog post called it like it was — a death sentence.

Here's the latest update, which ends with the photographer whining that he's tired of being blamed.  

Whah! 

Bing homepage features North Cascades Highway

PUBLIC LANDS — The North Cascades  Scenic Highway (SR 20) is featured today on the Bing homepage, which is displaying an interactive photograph of headlights coming down the stunning highway through the national park.
 
The highway travels through 9 different regions across the state, from the Cascade mountains to the Columbia River Valley.
 
Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, presents unique images from around the world each day.
 
Viewers can click on hotspots throughout the picture to learn more about the highway and the surrounding area.
 
Bing For Schools will help teachers create lesson plans about Washington, in conjunction with the homepage image – check it out here. 

Elk teaches photographers a few points on safety

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Serious wildlife photographers are not amused by this latest viral video of a man who exposed himself to serious danger with a yearling “spike” elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

One lunge and the man could have lost an eye or been killed. This is stupid, and the people who sat and watched are equally stupid.

The man made the initial error by getting too far from a vehicle and leaving himself exposed to the elk's advance.

The videographer who posted the video on YouTube apparently doesn't like the criticism going out on the internet and he/she deleted it from this post.

  • See the ABC news story with footage from the video plus an interview with the photographer, James York.

We already posted the news of the spike elk that Western Montana wildlife officials dispatched this fall after it became too aggressive around people who tried to treat it like a pet.  

Comments from professional wildlife photographers include:

This is the kind of idiot that prompts excessive and overbearing rules for photographers in national parks, wildlife refuges, etc.The guy could have easily stood up, waved his hat and yelled at the bull, but no, he had to play with it.  I'm sure he thought that such behavior was cute. What would not have been cute is when the bull lowered one of those antlers (or both) and impaled him through the chest… 

  • The guy is not a nature photographer; he is an idiot…
  • Sadly if the guy had gotten killed or even seriously injured, the bull would have been killed…
  • I seriously hope that the park where this took place look long and hard at prosecuting the guy in any way they can…  

—Tim Christie, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Plan ahead for free entry to federal lands Nov. 9-11

 

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.

  • The last big freebie of the year is Nov. 9-11 — Veterans Day Weekend — with free entry to virtually all the federal public lands.

The 13 Fee-Free Days in 2013 include three  holidays that involve ALL federal lands such as national parks, forests, BLM lands and wildlife refuges — Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 21), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 28), and Veterans Day Weekend (Nov. 9-11).

The fee waiver does not cover expanded amenity or user fees for things such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.

Additionally, active duty military members and their dependents are eligible for a free annual pass that provides entrance to lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service.

The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program also offers a free lifetime pass for people with disabilities, a $10 lifetime senior pass for those age 62 and over, and an $80 annual pass for the general public.

Glacier among 401 national parks reopened today

PUBLIC LANDS — Glacier National Park in Montana is open and welcoming visitors today after a 16-day federal government shutdown that closed all national parks across the country. 

All 401 national parks that have been closed since Oct. 1 are being reopened today, including the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.

At Glacier, approximately 250 park employees were furloughed during the shutdown while 20-30 employees continued to work during the shutdown to manage the park closure and provide for protection of federal lands, waterways, buildings, equipment and other property owned within park.     

The park’s website and social media sites were reactivated today and barricades at park entrances and throughout the park were removed.   

Park road crews began monitoring roads, including conducting a sweep of the Going-to-the-Sun Road to clean debris/rocks from the road.   When the road is clear of debris, public access will be available to Big Bend through Sunday, Oct. 20. 

Apgar, Bowman Lake, Kintla Lake, Quartz Creek and St. Mary Campgrounds are open to primitive camping.

The Apgar Visitor Center is open every weekend, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Info: 406-888-7800.  

Shutdown ends: Lake Roosevelt launches to reopen Thursday

UPDATED 10-17-13 at 9:15 a.m.

FISHING — ŸA deal that ended the federal government shutdown tonight is reopening national wildlife refuges and parks sometime on Thursday.

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area boat launches are being reopened after Congress voted to end the shutdown, Superintendent Dan Foster said moments ago.
 
“Our people are on furlough but on short notice to be back to work as quickly as possible once we get the directive,” he said. “Our business is not to be closed.”
 
Nobody is happier than Foster to see the national parks reopened. Word has been spreading that some anglers were told they had to stay off water managed by the National Park Service.
 
All public boat launches on the reservoir had been closed since Oct. 1, but some anglers were legally launching at Two Rivers Marina, which is managed by the Spokane Tribe. 
 
A few boaters were told – it’s not clear by whom – that they had to remain on the half of the reservoir closest to the Spokane and Colville tribal lands as long as the national parks were closed. 
 
Technically, it would have  been a violation of the park closure to be on land or water managed by the Park Service, Foster confirmed.
 
It has nothing to do with the legal limbo over where state or tribal fishing licenses are required, he said, noting, “Fisheries are not our jurisdiction.” 
 
He said he hasn’t had the manpower during the shutdown to enforce the closure on land and on the water and that rangers weren’t directed to go out looking for boaters.
 
He said he was glad boaters haven't forced his agency to enforce the rule. “The shutdown reduced our staff from almost 70 down to eight,” he said. “We haf seven rangers patrolling 320 miles of lakeshore. 
 
“Closing the lake is a terrible stupid thing but it’s what we’ve had to do under our responsibility to protect the resources and the public. 
 
He said staff  would be reopening launches, visitor centers and other facilities for all visitors, including anglers eager to tap the popular Roosevelt trout fishery, as soon as possible on Thursday.
Here is a statement issued Thursday morning from Superintendent Foster:

“We are proud to be a part of this area and are happy to welcome visitors back to the park.  We express gratitude to the public as there are great people in this area that have displayed understanding and respect during this difficult time.”  

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area has a significant effect on the local economy. Together, the economic impacts from visitor spending, federal jobs created, and jobs created in the local market supporting local tourism are estimated to be over $40 million a year generated in the communities around Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.  The economic impact of closing Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area for 16 days has been extremely difficult on local communities, businesses, neighbors, and park partners.  We look forward to working with you on ways to lessen that impact.

Read on for the National Parks Conservation Association reaction to the government shutdown:

Federal shutdown still taking toll on recreation

PUBLIC LANDS — As the federal government shutdown advances to Day 11, I was buoyed by this headline and story today:

Utah loans federal gov't $1.7-million to open 5 national parks
On Saturday, the five national parks in Utah, as well as Natural Bridges, Glen Canyon and Cedar Breaks national monuments, will reopen after the state signed an agreement to loan $1.7-million to the federal government, enough to keep them open for 10 days.

But we can't get our hopes too high in Washington — where we're not even adequatley funding our STATE parks.

Maybe a caffeine high will be our salvation:

Starbucks launches petition drive to get government open again
On Friday, petitions seeking the reopening of the federal government will be available at all 11,000 Starbucks shops in the United States.

Although many people and businesses are suffering this week in all walks of life, my outdoors column on Thursday highlighted some high prices recreationists are paying for the budget impasse in Washington, D.C. Here's a summary as we head into the weekend:

All 401 national parks are closed, including Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area and the public boat launches for the Columbia River Reservoir. Note: Free boat launching is available at Two Rivers Marina, owned by the Spokane Tribe.

National Wildlife Refuges are closed. That means hunters with special elk permits for Turnbull Wildlife Refuge are out of luck, waterfowl hunter who would be using blinds at Columbia and Kootenai national wildlife refuges and locked out and fishermen who would by catching trout at Bayley and McDowell lakes are prohibited from entering the refuge until the shutdown is over.

Forest Service offices are closed, which means outfitters can't get permits for their seasonal activities and neither can woodcutters, all of whom are on a deadline delivered by the seasons regardless of what goes on in Washington, D.C.

Hunters are finding campgrounds closed as they head into the opening of deer and elk seasons.

Anglers are finding streamflow information on U.S. Geological Survey water websites and fish passage numbers from the Corps of Engineeers are not always up to date.

Hikers trying to finish the months they've devoted to completing the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail are being blocked at the national park boundaries, such as at North Cascades National Park, and told they have to stop or re-route.

Other stories to ponder as the arrogancen in D.C. continues:

Shutdown halts logging project in Idaho, puts sawmill in peril
Brad Jensen, the owner of Jensen Lumber Co., the sawmill in Ovid, is just one of a number of timber contractors who were told to stop logging in Idaho because of the federal government shutdown, and Jensen said the cessation of the work puts his entire business at risk.

Wyoming national forest sends its concessionaires packing
Grand Teton National Forest had kept its concessionaire-operated facilities operating despite the Oct. 1 government shutdown, but they were told to pack up and leave as the shutdown continued, which means Granite Hot Springs in the Wyoming forest closes today.

National wildlife refuges off-limits to hunters as federal shutdown continues
Upland bird hunters in South Dakota, duck hunters in Montana and antelope hunters in Colorado won't be able to hunt on national wildlife refuges this weekend as seasons open but the federal government remains closed.

Montana governor says state won't pay to open national parks
Gov. Steve Bullock said he would not use state funds to open state parks as he believes the federal government should re-open it its entirety, including the payment of death benefits to members of military families who lost loved ones.

National Parks, neighboring towns take financial beating from shutdown

PUBLIC LANDS — My outdoors column today highlights some personal stories of individual recreationists impacted in a big way by the continuing government shutdown that's closed federal services and some federal lands since Oct. 1.

Here are more details about some of the overall costs:

Report tracks shutdown's costs to national parks
A report issued by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees said that the federal government's shutdown that closed national parks and monuments has cost the U.S. economy $750 million in the first ten days, with Yellowstone National Park representing $9,452,054 of that loss; Glacier National Park $3,076,712; and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where visitors travel in October to view the eye-popping fall foliage, has lost $23 million.

—Casper Star-Tribune

Shutdown throttles businesses in Utah community near Zion NP
October is usually a busy time of year for Springdale, as tourists stop in the Utah town on their way to or from Zion National Park, but the shutdown has left the community's streets quiet, although the IMAX theater in town, which is now showing documentaries about the park, which is, for now, the only way to experience the park.

—Salt Lake Tribune

Utah governor offers to loan Interior Dept. money to open national parks
Gov. Gary Herbert said he talked with Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell on Wednesday and offered to loan the federal government the necessary money to get national parks and monuments in the Beehive State open again, and he said that his offer has precedent, as Arizona loaned the federal government money during the 1996 shutdown to keep the Grand Canyon open.

—Deseret News

Grand Canyon launches closed; rafters shattered

NATIONAL PARKS — They waited years to draw a permit and planned for months for their big float down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon — one of the greatest whitewater trips in the world.

But because of the shutdown of the federal government, Grand Canyon rafters are being turned away and told they can't use their coveted launch permits.

Park Service names concessioner for Seven Bays, Keller

BOATING — A 15-year concession contract has been awarded to Dakota Columbia Rentals, LLC for the operations of a full service marina, including houseboat and other boat rentals, moorage, retail/grocery, marine fuel and oil sales, pump-out services, and related services at the Keller Ferry and Seven Bays Marinas and also to operate the Keller Ferry campground within Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.

Says the National Park Service media release issued today:

Concessioners fill a vital role in helping the National Park Service (NPS) carry out its mission. Private companies are drawn to working with NPS in order to offer services to park visitors, which are not provided directly by the government. Concessioners specialize in these operations and are thus able to provide quality services at reasonable prices. By welcoming the private sector as a partner in park operations, the National Park Service broadens the economic base of the region and communities surrounding the parks.

As required by the 1998 Concessions Management Improvement Act, the NPS solicited for proposals, for the commercial services provided at Keller Ferry and Seven Bays Marinas within Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. Guidelines used to evaluate proposals can be found online at www.nps.gov/commercialservices.

Government shutdown leaves options for outdoors enthusiasts

PUBLIC LANDS — As the House and Senate continue to battle over a budget compromise, the impact of a potential government shutdown on Washington state would be a pain for some people, but it wouldn't necessarily be earth-shattering to the short-term plans of outdoors enthusiasts.

If Congress fails to reach an agreement by midnight, all national parks and refuges would be closed, as well as national monuments like Mount St. Helens, and Forest Service ranger stations would be closed.

Visitors using overnight campgrounds or other park facilities would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park. 

However, access would still be allowed to national forests and state lands would not be affected.

Snow closes Glacier Park’s Logan Pass temporarily

PARKS — The first serious bout of winter-like weather has temporarily closed Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road today at The Loop on the west side of the park.  

Weather conditions along the higher elevations of the Going-to-the-Sun Road today have included very windy conditions — 30-40 mph at Big Bend — slush and icy conditions on the road, cloudy and limited visibility, and snow accumulations of more than 8 inches at Logan Pass.

Camping conditions suck.

Plan ahead for free entry to refuges Oct. 13

 

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.

  • The next freebie is Oct.13 — National Wildlife Refuge Day — which is honored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service areas such as Turnbull and the Little Pend Oreille national wildlife refuges. 

The 13 Fee-Free Days in 2013 include three  holidays that involve ALL federal lands such as national parks, forests, BLM lands and wildlife refuges — Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 21), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 28), and Veterans Day Weekend (Nov. 9-11).

A list of other dates and participating agencies is listed below. The fee waiver does not cover expanded amenity or user fees for things such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.

Nov. 9-11, Veterans Day Weekend — National Park Service, Fish & wildlfie Service, BLM, Bureau of Reclamation, Forest Service.

Additionally, active duty military members and their dependents are eligible for a free annual pass that provides entrance to lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service.

The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program also offers a free lifetime pass for people with disabilities, a $10 lifetime senior pass for those age 62 and over, and an $80 annual pass for the general public.

Plan ahead for free entry to federal lands Sept. 28

 

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.

  • The next freebie is Sept. 28 — National Public Lands Day — which is honored by the National Park Service, Fish & wildlfie Service, BLM, Bureau of Reclamation and Forest Service.

The 13 Fee-Free Days in 2013 include three other holidays that involve ALL federal lands such as national parks, forests, BLM lands and wildlife refuges — Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 21), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 28), and Veterans Day Weekend (Nov. 9-11).

A list of other dates and participating agencies is listed below. The fee waiver does not cover expanded amenity or user fees for things such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.

Oct. 13, National Wildlfie Refuge Day — Fish and Wildlife Service

Nov. 9-11, Veterans Day Weekend — National Park Service, Fish & wildlfie Service, BLM, Bureau of Reclamation, Forest Service.

Additionally, active duty military members and their dependents are eligible for a free annual pass that provides entrance to lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service.

The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program also offers a free lifetime pass for people with disabilities, a $10 lifetime senior pass for those age 62 and over, and an $80 annual pass for the general public.

North Cascades Highway reopening today

OUTDOORS ACCESS — The Washington Department of Transportation says the North Cascades Highway is reopening at 10 a.m. this morning.

It was closed last week by severe mudslides near Rainy Pass.

Several businesses along the scenic route winding its way through the North Cascades National Park reported slower business as a result of the closure last week. Road workers using heavy equipment worked last week to remove about 30,000 cubic feet of rocks and trees in the roadway moved by mountain slides caused by heavy rain.

During the height of tourist season, generally falling in August and September, roughly 2,000 vehicles travel along the highway daily. 

Plan ahead for free entry to national parks Aug. 25

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.

  • The next freebie is Aug. 25, the National Park Service Birthday, with free access to all national parks.

The 13 Fee-Free Days in 2013 include three holidays that involve ALL federal lands such as national parks, forests, BLM lands and wildlife refuges — Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 21), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 28), and Veterans Day Weekend (Nov. 9-11).

A list of other dates and participating agencies is listed below. The fee waiver does not cover expanded amenity or user fees for things such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.

Sept. 28, National Public Lands Day — National Park Service, Fish & wildlfie Service, BLM, Bureau of Reclamation, Forest Service.

Oct. 13, National Wildlfie Refuge Day — Fish and Wildlife Service

Nov. 9-11, Veterans Day Weekend — National Park Service, Fish & wildlfie Service, BLM, Bureau of Reclamation, Forest Service.

Additionally, active duty military members and their dependents are eligible for a free annual pass that provides entrance to lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service.

The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program also offers a free lifetime pass for people with disabilities, a $10 lifetime senior pass for those age 62 and over, and an $80 annual pass for the general public.

Hot news: Keep bear spray where the sun don’t shine

CAMPING — “Bear spray left in car. Becomes bomb. Very impressive.”

That's a post  with the photo above from Hal Herring in Montana, who performed an unintentional science experiment by leaving a canister of bear spray in the back of his Subaru open to direct exposure to the hot summer sun.

Manufacturers say aerosol cans can burst above temps of 120-130 degrees.  But the main thing is that the canisters should always be covered — in a duffle, in an uncooled cooler, wraped in a towel under the seat of a car, but NEVER left to the full intensity of the summer sun in an enclosed vehicle.

“Check out the super shred on that bear spray holster…reckon there was a little force there?” Herring notes.