Latest from The Spokesman-Review
PUBLIC LANDS — A proposal by Idaho lawmakers to assume control of millions of acres of federal land statewide earned mixed reviews today, with supporters calling it an essential step to revitalizing rural economies and critics panning it as a financial boondoggle, according to a story that's just been moved by the Associated Press.
The Federal Lands Interim Committee meeting gave lawmakers their first chance to gauge public opinion on a plan calling on the federal government to cede much of the public land it oversees in Idaho to the state, writes AP's Todd Dvorak in Boise.
Earlier this year, the Legislature approved a resolution making a case for the land transfer and the committee is spending two years to study the merits before submitting a recommendation in 2015.
Those encouraging lawmakers Wednesday included leaders of tea party groups, foresters who’ve seen local economies struggle amid declines in timber cutting and the shutdown of sawmills and county leaders frustrated with the management of national forest lands.
Ken Postma, a former forester for wood products company Boise-Cascade, argued the state would be a better steward of the forests and more amenable to expanding logging and other activities.
Read on for more of the story from the Associated Press:
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Wolf sightings have been reported in Whitman County off and on for several years, but last week, Washington Fish and Wildlife biologists were able to verify wolf tracks in the Palouse.
Two biologists verified one set of wolf tracks in the Rock Lake area, about two miles from where wolf sightings had been reported in the Ewan area.
They surmise the wolves may be wandering in from packs established in Idaho, just a short hop away for a wandering wolf.
Wolf tracks are huge in the canine world, measuring at least 4 inches long — twice the size of a coyote track.
- The agency last week had to denounce rumors that it was releasing wolves in the Palouse and that wolves had attacked horses.
HUNTING — A few birds may still be hanging on at hunting sites for the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement and Release Program.
The final release of farm-raised rooster pheasants was made a last week, just before Thanksgiving at sites near Fishtrap Lake, Sherman Creek Wildlife Area, Snake River and 20 other areas in the region.
Despite the non-toxic shot requirement enacted in 2011, these release public land sites have continued to be popular since the program began in the late 1990s. It's especially popular with hunters who don’t have access to hunt private land.
The first releases of the year occurred at all sites before the Sept. 21-22 youth upland bird season. Two additional releases were scheduled at the sites during the general pheasant season.
Only about half the sites were stocked with birds for the Oct. 19 opener, said Joey McCanna, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist. The other sites were stocked the following week, he said.
The agency does not divulge which sites will be stocked when.
This bit of chance and inconvenience dates back to the bad experiences agency staff had years ago when hunters often waited at designated sites for the game farm trucks to show up. In some cases, greedy hunters created dangerous situations, sometimes even blasting away as the birds were being released.
Times have changed in other ways since the early years of the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program, when the Washington Legislature required 80 percent of the funding to be spent on releasing birds while the rest was earmarked for pheasant habitat efforts.
In 2008, about $270,000 was spent to release birds on the East Side and about $32,000 went to habitat.
That year, with legislative approval, Washington Fish and Wildlife managers approved a phased-in schedule to reduce the number of birds planted until the spending equaled about 50 percent for birds and 50 percent for habitat.
“We’re right about there this year,” McCanna said, noting that 11,350 rooster pheasants were released at the sites this year. That’s down from 11,820 last year and down from more than 20,000 birds in the initial years.
Hunter groups have supported the department’s emphasis on working with farmers to enhance habitat for wild pheasants. Methods include developing plantings that improve pheasant productivity on lands seeded into the federal Conservation Reserve Program.
WINTER SPORTS — My recent blog post on the transitions at Mount Spokane State Park indicated the biggest change this seasons is the elimination of the Discover Pass for WINTER vehicle access to the park through March 31.
The handy chart above, courtesy of the Spokane REI store, helps illustrate the change.
Read the story for details.
SHOOTING — This is a great idea, at least in the minds of those of us who honed our early shooting skills by plinking tin cans.
LaserLyte®, a company specializing firearms laser technologies, has released an entertaining Laser-Plinking-Can. When hit with a laser from any of the LaserLyte® training cartridges or other laser trainer tools, the cans react by jumping up and falling over just as a real can would.
This reaction is all powered by a 9-volt battery and a spring loaded plunger released by a solenoid. To reset the cans, simply stand them up and depress the plunger. The battery will last for about 8,000 shots.
The Laser Plinking Can Set provides hours of training and entertainment indoors or outdoors without the cost of ammunition, need for a special range — or the clean-up of cans after the session!
ENDANGERED SPECIES — An organization of wildlife officials for Western states is asking the federal government to delay a possible listing for wolverines as a threatened species, which could mean an end to trapping outside Alaska for the animal’s fur.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife objects to any listing based solely on fears climate change could shrink the wolverine’s wintry terrain along the spine of the Rocky Mountains and other Western ranges.
“Climate change models are not a reason to list species under the Endangered Species Act,” Bill Bates, a representative from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, told The Tribune.
Bates said the population of wolverines has actually increased since the time of European settlement, even though it’s estimated fewer than 300 of the elusive, snow-loving carnivores roam the mountain ranges of the Lower 48 states.
“We can wait and see what happens with climate change in the next 20 to 30 years,” Bates said.
Federal officials say they aren’t trying to use the wolverine as a means to regulate greenhouse gases, but they say it’s a fact climate change threatens the wolverine as much as it does the polar bear. The Interior Department listed polar bears as threatened five years ago because of loss of their primary habitat, sea ice, due to climate warming.
In January, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposed protections for the wolverine throughout the continental U.S. It opened a public comment period that’s set to end on Monday.
Read on for more of the story moved by the Associated Press.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Bald eagles are finally showing some interest in their traditional winter feast of spawning kokanee at Lake Coeur d'Alene.
Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, counted only 57 bald eagles today in the Wolf Lodge Bay area. That's up from two eagles counted during her weekly survey two weeks ago and up from 11 counted last week.
However, the 57 eagles counted today — 46 adults (white heads), 10 immatures (under 4 years old) and one unknown — amount to less than half of the eagles counted in Wolf Lodge Bay last year at this time, Hugo said.
The eagles have provided a popular wildlife-viewing attraction as the birds are lured to the northeast corner of the lake from mid-November into January to feast on the spawning kokanee that stack up in the bay.
- A record 273 bald eagles was counted at Lake Coeur d'Alene on Dec. 29, 2011.
“Last year I counted 121 bald eagles — 84 adults and 37 immature,” Hugo said, noting that today's survey conditions were cold and windy and many eagles were soaring in the breeze. “Let's see if the cold snap this week freezes some lakes up north and sends a big pulse (of eagles) our way!”
CYCLING — I've just learned that the city of Spokane is eliminating its Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator position.
As of Dec. 21, Grant Wencel, who's held the postion for more than four years, will be terminated and the job will go dark.
Here is a reaction from Bradley Bleck, who's been closely involved with the recent advances in bicycling routes and status in city transportation planning:
As someone who has served on the (Bicycling Advisory Board) for nearly seven years as a volunteer and member, who worked to help bring a bike/ped coordinator to the city, I can only see it as a significant step in the wrong direction, one that will make both recreational and utilitarian cycling in the city much less a priority.
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.
WILDLIFE — Time magazine indicates the good ol' days of hunting are changing, and our bloated civilization has turned a corner in the way we regard wildlife.
We've reduced animals such as deer and turkeys to pest status, the story contends.
Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman shares a few thoughts on the national news weekly's latest cover story.
PUBLIC LANDS — Bonner County Commissioners got most of what they wanted in changes to recommended wilderness in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests revised management plan just released this fall.
But they want more. I mean they want less.
Actually, they want none.
SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) — Bonner County commissioners in northern Idaho are urging the U.S. Forest Service not to designate any more lands as potential federally protected wilderness in the Kootenai and Panhandle national forests.
The Bonner County Daily Bee reports in a story on Sunday that commissioners say there are other ways for pristine areas to be preserved.
Commissioner Mike Nielsen says Scotchman Peak needs to be protected but that wilderness protection would isolate adjacent areas where trails are groomed for snowmobile riders.
A draft forest management plan released in October recommends making more than 25,000 acres of the Scotchman Peaks area in northern Idaho and northwestern Montana part of a federally protected wilderness.
The recommended area for the Scotchman Peaks has widespread support and mountain goats that need protection from the advances of motorized winter recreation.
Bonner County officials are just one faction. Read on for a Lewiston Tribune story about another point of view regarding the IPNF wilderness recommendations.
PREDATORS — The latest livestock attack by Oregon’s Snake River wolf pack puts it one bite away from a potential state kill order, according to Jeff Barnard of the Associated Press.
An Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife report released Monday says the rancher who found a wounded cow Nov. 21 in the rugged country between the Imnaha and Snake rivers had taken required nonlethal steps to deter wolf attacks. Those steps included cleaning up old cow carcasses, putting out radio-activated alarm boxes and checking the cattle up to five times a day.
The report says bite marks on the cow’s hindquarters were characteristics of wolf attacks. The wounds were estimated to be a week or two old, and a GPS tracking collar put the pack in the area at that time.
New rules established under a legal settlement allow officials to consider a kill order after four qualifying attacks by a wolf pack in six months, the AP reports. The most recent attack makes three for the Snake River pack since October.
Unlike other states trying to control wolves in cattle country, Oregon has adopted specific rules requiring ranchers to take nonlethal steps to deter wolf attacks before the state can shoot a wolf for attacking livestock. The rules were the result of a legal settlement of a lawsuit from conservation groups.
Steve Pedery of Oregon Wild, one of plaintiffs, says the department is faithfully carrying out the new rules. He noted that the number of attacks by the Imnaha pack has gone down as nonlethal efforts have gone up. The Imnaha pack was Oregon’s first and had the most livestock kills last year when a decision to shoot two of its members was blocked by court order.
“I think the agency deserves a lot of credit for following the letter of the plan, putting out reports and making them public, which is a big change over where we were a couple years ago,” Pedery said.
Russ Morgan, wolf coordinator for the department, said more ranchers have bought into nonlethal control in the range of the Imnaha pack, where they have been dealing with wolves for a longer time. However, it is still uncertain whether the nonlethal controls are responsible, he said.
Morgan added that the Imnaha pack is made up of different wolves, except for the breeding pair, than when the pack was more actively attacking livestock. Young adults have moved on, and the pack has at least seven new pups.
Rancher Rod Childers, who negotiated the rules on behalf of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, said ranchers are still frustrated with the slow pace of the process, which can take a week or more to confirm a kill and determine whether it qualifies under the rules.
“People are learning it’s here and we’ve got to deal with it,” he said of the seven confirmed wolf packs in northeastern Oregon. “We just want it dealt with in a more timely manner than what it is.”
CYCLING — Pedaling a bicycle across the United States is the equivalent of a graduate degree in American Studies, only you'll be in better shape than when you started.
I made the journey in 1976 betwixt college and career (left), and on Monday my daughter, Hillary, at the same age, finished her TransAm trip 37 years later.
My favorite youngest daughter and her cycling partner Katy Howell reached St. Augustine, Fla., completing the Adventure Cycling Association's Southern Tier Route across the USA. Hillary started riding in September from San Francisco to San Diego, and then eastward through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Whahoo!
I told her it was going to be cold when she returns to Spokane at the end of the week. She said she'd wear wool socks under her Chacos.
My main words of advice to Hillary before she departed was to focus on the people, not on making the miles. She and Katy excelled at meeting people. They have a trail of friends now.
Following is Hillary's first look back at her travels in a post after reaching the Atlantic:
After 2 months and over 3,000 miles of blood, sweat, and gears (and tears!), I finally made it to the Atlantic Coast on my bicicleta! It has been a truly profound experience - traveling with only women in a part of the US that is so different from my Washingtonian bubble of a reality that it felt like a completely different country. I never ceased to be blown away by the incredible hospitality we encountered… countless people who accepted us as complete strangers into their homes… who provided us with the luxuries of a warm shower, a fresh,fluffy towel, or a home-cooked meal. The guardian angels who warned us of sketchy towns to avoid or gave us a lift when we got lost and ended up on gravel roads. Although many warned us of the crazies that were out to get us, we encountered only nice and gracious people. This journey has made me deeply appreciate my life and the freedoms I have - the freedom to travel, to be educated, to ultimately leave my home town and see a different state, or 8… Or the whole world! The access to fresh, local food… Access to recycling and composting and environmental awareness. But most of all, a self-confidence that I couldn't have acquired any other way. A belief in myself, and a belief in humanity… That humans are innately good. Thanks to all of you who helped me fulfill my dream. But now, I am looking forward to having more than 4 pairs of underwear!
HUNTING — Hunting camps are full of traditions and camaraderie, and often they're pretty darned photogenic.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials want to capture that feeling for the cover of the 2014-15 hunting regulations pamphlet that hundreds of thousands of sportsmen will pore over next year.
Hunting camps are the them of the agency's third-annual Big Game Regulations Pamphlet Contest.
- Photos should be at least 1 MB in size – preferably larger – to ensure a quality print job.
- Photos should not include items that could appear to endorse specific companies or products. Examples include logos or labels on sporting goods, foods, alcoholic and non‑alcoholic beverages, etc.
- Contest participants may enter multiple photos, but must enter each individually.
All submissions must be received by by the agency by March 1, 2014.
The winner’s photo will be featured on the cover of next year’s Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations Pamphlet.
CONSERVATION — Some landowners have a deep attachment to their property and its value to wildlife, water, scenery, tradition and other values. We can all be thankful to them.
Since 1991, Inland Northwest Land Trust has private landowners get tax advantages and peace of mind, protect 14,694 acres – with more acres added soon!
Here's a word from the local land trust, a local non-profit working for everyone's future an acre at a time.
We work with willing private landowners to protect the region’s natural lands, waters and forests for the benefit of wildlife, our community and future generations. You make our mission possible by your commitment to our region.
Supporting Inland Northwest Land Trust on Giving Tuesday celebrates and encourages a national movement for charitable activities helping non-profit organizations AND provides an additional $2 for every $1 donated to us thanks to an Extra Gift Challenge Grant throughout December.
Call the Inland Northwest Land Trust office, (509) 328-2939 or mail a check to Inland Northwest Land Trust, 35 W Main Avenue, Suite 210, Spokane, WA 99201.
WINTER SPORTS — The expansion of Big Sky Resort in Montana is BIG news in every way.
The resort's owners purchased neighboring resorts, Moonlight Basin and Spanish Peaks in August, and debuted the transformed mega resort — now the largest in the country — during the Thanksgiving holiday.
“The acquisitions make Big Sky the big boy on the U.S. alpine skiing and snowboarding scene,” says Brett French of the Billings Gazette. “The combination means more than 30 lifts, 4,350 vertical feet of drop and 5,750 total acres for riders to roam. In comparison, the other big dog — the tony Vail Mountain Resort in Colorado — has about 5,300 acres and 3,450 vertical feet.”
The new Big Sky is treating skiers to the longest vertical run in the lower 48 states.
Read on for details from the Gazette story:
FISHING — Through November 30, anglers have harvested a total of 243 steelhead in the Hanford Reach (Hwy 395 to old Hanford townsite), according to a report just posted by Paul Hoffarth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist for the area.
- Roughly 50 percent of the steelhead encountered to date have been unclipped.
- Both catch and harvest are well below last year’s fishery and the 10-year average.
- Anglers are averaging 20 pole hours for one hatchery steelhead.
- Bank anglers are faring a bit better than the boat anglers.
FLY FISHING — My Sunday Outdoors feature story about Fly Gal founder April Vokey and her recent visit to Spokane was just a minor installment in an international series of media segments focusing on this bright light in the fly fishing industry.
A few weeks later, she would be followed by a film crew to Belize before returning to her home-region in the Skeena area of British Columbia for a week of filming with a crew from 60 Minutes Sports (see trailer above). The segment aired in early November on Showtime.
Here are some of the highlights from my April Vokey story:
- “I don’t like fluff in people, life or flies.”
- Among the most remarkable if not phenomenal details in Vokey’s life is that she’d become a hard-core steelhead fly fisher by the age of 16 without the direct influence of fishing parents.
- “Late-night parties found drunken classmates stumbling through self-discovery as I soberly snuck out early to be on the river for first light.”
- “I wanted it so bad that come hell or high water I did it every day to see how I’d do and get better at it,” she told me. “I’ve never had a 9-to-5 job.”
- “It has always been a shame to me that fly fishing is perceived as a man’s sport. There is truly nothing overly masculine about it.”
“Woman in a male-dominated sport – I feel I’m so far past that now,” she told me. “I live the sport every single day of my life.”
“I prefer to be thought of as an angler with integrity, someone who considers it a pleasure and a privilege to share what I know. ”
Two weeks ago Vokey, 30, was in Missoula giving seminars. This week she's fishing in Chile.
The British Columbia fly fishing guide says she's been to about 20 countries for fishing. “I don't go to a country if I can't go fishing,” she said.
HUNTING — This is a note to the person who discovered a little public land quail honey-spot I've hunted for 30 years.
You apparently had a good day recently. I don't really care how many birds you killed or missed, but I found at least six of the red 12-gauge 7 1/2-shot shell casings you left littering the sage brush on just a few acres of land. I have no idea how many I didn't see.
I don't know who you are, but I have this vision of you being a pig.
Responsible hunters should clean up all of their litter, especially plastic shot shell hulls that will remain an eyesore in the field to give all hunters a black eye for decades.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A Steller’s jay photographed in the foothills of Mount Spokane by Ron Dexter is one of 12 birds featured in the Spokane Audubon Society’s 2014 Birds of Eastern Washington Calendar.
The calendars are a bargain at $10.
Order them at the club's online store.
FISHING — Two Spokane area finished first and third in the unofficial results from the 2013 Kendall Chevrolet Clearwater Snake Steelhead Derby that started Nov. 23 and ended today, according to the Lewis Clark Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Although results won't be verified until Monday, the 2013 overall winner appears to be Lance Hall of Nine Mile Falls with a steelhead weighing 18.33 pounds. The prize is $2,000.
Jason Peters of Clarkston is in second and Kyle Zipse of Spokane is in third.
Hall also is the skins game winner, set to take home an additional $500 prize.
Continue reading for the complete unofficial results.
FLY FISHING — My Sunday Outdoors feature story sheds some light on April Vokey, the celebrated British Columbia fly fishing guide and founder of Fly Gals Ventures, who was giving presentations in Spokane recently.
But you'll get another glimpse of her appeal and talent in this trailer (above) for a 60 Minutes Sports story that's available for viewing on Showtime.
I’m not a great caster; I’m not a great fly tier; I’m not a great writer; I’m not the best at any of those things,” Vokey says in the report.
“Then what makes you so good at this?” asked 60 Minutes Sports reporter Bill Whitaker.
“I love it more than anybody I know.”
FLY FISHING — A friend of mine taunted me while I was at elk camp in October with text messages raving about the fly fishing fun he was having for bigger-than-average brown trout in the Missouri River near Craig, Mont.
Surveys recently released by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks support his delight.
Fish surveys this year indicate rainbow and brown trout numbers remain above the long-term average in the Missouri River between Holter Dam and the town of Cascade, says a Montana fisheries biologist.
State fish survey crews this fall estimated 5,194 rainbow trout greater than 10 inches long per mile near the town of Craig on the Missouri. Not only is that above the long-term average of 3,174 rainbows per mile, but continues a trend of above average numbers over the past three years: 6,034 per mile in 2011 and 7,312 in 2012.
This year’s population was bigger in size and slightly lower in abundance than the past two years, says Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologist Grant Grisak, which is typical as the current population reaches its maximum size.
“This year,” Grisak says, “87 percent of the rainbow trout in the Craig section were 15 inches long or greater, and 35 percent of the population was 18 inches long or longer.”
Next year, the population should return to normal levels, unless an unusually high water event occurs in the spawning tributaries, Grisak says. High water in the Missouri River tributaries typically results in high rainbow trout production.
Brown trout in the Craig section at 10 inches long and greater were estimated at 745 per mile. The long-term average is 578.
In the Cascade section, near the town of Cascade, the estimate for rainbow trout 10 inches long and greater was 2.260. The long term average is 1,551 per mile.
Brown trout in the Cascade section 10 inches long and greater were estimated at 447 per mile. The long term average is 387.
Brown trout populations are sampled in the spring and rainbow populations are sampled in the fall.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Bald eagles are way short of their historical mark for showing up to feed on spawning kokanee at Lake Coeur d'Alene.
Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, counted only 11 adult bald eagles in the Wolf Lodge Bay area today. That's up from two eagles counted during her weekly survey last week, but down from 100 eagles counted during this week last year.
The eagles have provided a popular wildlife-viewing attraction as the birds are lured to the northeast corner of the lake from mid-November into January to feast on the spawning kokanee that stack up in the bay.
- A record 273 bald eagles was counted at Lake Coeur d'Alene on Dec. 29, 2011.
Birders and biologists have been scratching their heads, wondering if the revival of kokanee at Lake Pend Oreille is detouring eagles that normally would be flocking to Lake CdA by now?
Reader Eric Brady has a different observation that spawns another theory:
I have observed a much higher number of eagles on the Clearwater River near Lewiston compared to prior years and it appears that the eagles are feeding on dying fall Chinook, which returned in post-dam-era record numbers to the Snake River and its tributaries this year. On one gravel bar last weekend, I saw 5 eagles within 20 feet of each other. On quite a few occasions this fall, I have seen 2-3 eagles feeding in close proximity near the waterline. In prior years, it has not been uncommon to see eagles flying overhead when fishing on the Clearwater, but rarely have I seen an eagle on a gravel bar – let alone in numbers.
Perhaps there are fewer eagles at Lake CDA as they are feasting on the record run of fall Chinook?
WINTER SPORTS — This is transition time for nordic skiers and snowshoers at Mount Spokane State Park.
This week: State Park staff was out recently to clear about 50 trees that had blown down on the 60-kilometer cross-country trails system after two feet of snow followed the storm and buried them well. Taking the snowcat out for that job helped pack some of the trails, and Park Manager Steve Christensen went out on his own with the snowmobile groomer to smooth out the trails, although it was too hard-packed to set tracks. The Selkirk Lodge will be opened on Thanksgiving Day, he said. “I've been trying to save a little money on heating it — it costs about $1,000 a month — since there's not that many people up here yet,” he said.
Starting Dec. 1: Official grooming will begin if snow conditions allow. The biggest change this year mostly affects snowshoers. Dec. 1 marks the day that Discover Passes will no longer be valid for parking during the winter season at Mount Spokane, where all vehicles will need a Sno Park Permit in their vehicles EXCEPT at the Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park official parking when the resort is operating. No parking will be allowed along the roads without a Sno-Park Permit this season.
Lots of other things are gearing up. A good way to stay informed is to Join or Renew a membership with Spokane Nordic and get the club's regular newsletters and email updates. A sampling of this week's updates:
Snowball potluck, Dec. 7
Celebrate the first Saturday of grooming at the Mt. Spokane Cross-Country Ski Park with the Snowball potluck on Dec. 7, assuming conditions cooperate. If it has to be moved later for lack of grooming conditions, we'll let you know through email and Facebook. This is open to ALL skiers. Get to know your fellow skiers and start the season with a full belly. Bring a dish to share for lunch at noon at the Selkirk Lodge. What to bring: Names starting with A-P bring a main Dish; Q-Z bring Dessert.
WinterFest early registration prizes
Even better than Black Friday… register for WinterFest by Dec. 1 and you'll be automatically entered to win an REI backpack. WinterFest is a new event the club is organizing to celebrate muscle-powered winter sports at Mount Spokane.
Kids' skis available
The online ski swap lists a collection of used small kids' gear available at Mountain Gear's retail store in Spokane. You can also find a set of barely-used ski waxes and some booties for your skijoring dog.
Nordic Kids and Youth Rangers
Register for Nordic Kids and the new Youth Rangers program before Dec. 15 to avoid late fees. And invite a friend to get their kid going in lessons!
Adult nordic skiing lessons
Adult lessons are scheduled for all experience levels, skate or classic on Saturdays and Sundays starting Dec. 7. Tweak those skills, and invite that friend or co-worker who's never skied to try out a beginner lesson.
Contact Spokane Nordic by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
WINTER SPORTS — Silver Mountain Resort plans to open its lifts for skiers on Friday, Nov. 29, joining the rest of the region's ski resorts in opening limited terrain to take advantage of early season snow.
- Although Schweitzer Mountain Resort does its own thing with publicity, see updates for the region's other resorts at Ski the Northwest Rockies.
Following is the just-released announcement from Silver Mountain:
Silver Mountain Resort will be opening for skiing, boarding, tubing, snowshoeing and scenic rides Friday November 29th through Sunday December 1st. The first gondola will load at 8:15am, skiing and tubing will start at 9:00am and go until 4:00pm. This will be a great chance to get some first tracks for the season and burn off some of that Thanksgiving dinner. This will be a limited opening for skiing and boarding with select runs open along with chairs 1, 2 and the carpet lift. We will be offering reduced price lift tickets for skiers and boarders with adult tickets at $29.95 and youth tickets at $27.95. The best way to experience Silver is to stay at the base in their luxurious lodging and enjoy the 84 degree warm of Idaho's largest indoor waterpark.
There are plenty of activities to keep the family busy this weekend at Silver Mountain Resort. We will be having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Noah's Canteen, a premier of Warren Miller's “Ticket to Ride” on the 29th in Noah's loft and our Village Christmas Tree Lighting on the 30th, complete with warm drinks and caroling.
Currently there is a 10 inch base at the Mountain House and 22 inches at Kellogg Peak. NOAA is forecasting another storm system for Friday the 29th and we will be opening more terrain as conditions permit. For more information please visit our website.
WINTER SPORTS — As more backcountry skiers use roads and parking areas plowed by ski resorts and then strap on skins and climb their way up groomed or controlled slopes to reach their backcountry destinations, the U.S. Forest Service has proposed a rule change that would allow ski areas that lease lands from the federal agency to charge a fee for the uphill skiers.
WILDLIFE — Wild turkeys are found across Idaho, and there’s even an open hunting season on them right now in the Panhandle Region and portions of the Clearwater.
But wild turkeys are not native to the state.
Merriam's strain turkeys were introduced by the Idaho Fish & Game Department in 1961, a move that was a common part of wildlife management in the state at the time. The Fish & Game photo above shows the first turkey release in '61.
S-R reporter Betsy Russell has more on her Eye on Boise blog.
The Idaho Fish and Game Department is celebrating its 75th anniversary with daily web posts about its history in wildlife management.
PUBLIC LANDS — The Clearwater National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) has been released to guide where motor vehicles can be used on the forest.
The published maps, which answer frequently asked questions about roads and trails open to motorized traffic, are available online and free at the forest headquarters in Orofino and at other offices.
In 2005 the U.S. Forest Service published a new rule requiring each national forest and grassland to designate those national forest system roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicle use. It further required designated routes and areas to be identified on an MVUM that is available to the public free-of-charge.
On January 12, 2012, after nearly four years of public involvement and analysis, the Clearwater National Forest issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision that designated roads, trails and areas where motorized uses are allowed.
Read on for more details from the Forest Service.