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Cast master Rajeff, films featured at Sandpoint fly fishing festival

FISHING — Fly casting champion Tim Rajeff is coming to North Idaho this weekend and he’s only part of the celebrity action during the two-day Sandpoint Fly Fishing Film Festival.

The event features the eight films edited into the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) to be shown at the Panida Theater on Friday night followed by the four films in the Internatonal Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4) on Saturday night.

Doors open both nights at 6 followed by the films at 7. Tickets are $12 in advance at Big R or Eichardt’s in Sandpoint or $15 at the door.

“We have tons of prizes, including guided steelheading trips and fishing trips on the Kootenai, Missouri and Bitterroot rivers,” said Calvin Fuller of Big R Fly Shop in Ponderay.

“It was a lot of fun to have both film festivals last year, so we’re doing it again.”

On Saturday, Rajeff, an expert affiliated with fly rod and line companies, will help anglers with casting demos 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at a 40-foot by 100-foot casting pool in the Big R parking lot.

A casting competition for distance and accuracy with prizes is set for all levels of casters at 2 p.m.

Info: 208-610-4151, panhandletu.org.

Read on for more details about Tim Rajeff:

Mar Don Resort lures anglers with special deal

FISHING — With the spotlight this week shining on the lowland trout fishing season that opens Saturday, lakes that are open to fishing year-round are temporarily in the shadows.

MarDon Resort on Potholes Reservoir has a plan to capture some attention to its fine facilities and area fisheries that are already open and producing action.  Here's the scoop:

The Central Washington Fish Advisory Committee has purchased 800 rainbow trout 9”-11” and 256 Triploid Trout 9”-11” from Trout Lodge to be stocked in Corrall Lake before the April 26-27 weekend. 

MarDon Resort will be offering camping specials for a tent or RV site, stay Friday get Saturday 1/2 off.  Must request at time of booking.  You must have a valid fishing license and either the WDFW Car Pass that comes with a seasonal fishing license or a Discover Pass to drive to this lake, which is just across the street from MarDon Resort.

This lake is one of potholes “seep lakes” that opened to the public for fishing on March 1.

Info: (509) 346-2651. 

Volunteers signing up to “unveil” the Centennial Trail

VOLUNTEER — More than 300 volunteers are signed up for the annual Unveil the Trail clean-up Friday, Saturday and Sunday (April 25-27)  to prepare the 37.5-mile Centennial Trail for it's busiest season

Friends of the Centennial Trail is working with 31 local businesses and non-profits to activate their ranks for picking up litter, pulling weeds, pruning shrubs and giving the Trail a clean sweep from the Washington/Idaho state line to Nine Mile Falls. 

The work is done in conjunction with Earth Day

“Spring cleaning work by Unveil the Trail volunteers gets the Centennial Trail ready for the 2.4 million users who will enjoy this incredible pathway this year,” said Loreen McFaul, the friends group executive director. 

Trail rules, etiquette and safety information is posted on the 19 trailhead posters spanning the Trail, on printed maps sold by the Friends and on their website

“The four biggest areas of concern by Trail users are unleashed dogs, dog deposits left on/ near the Trail, bicyclists traveling faster than the 15 mph speed limit and parked vehicle break-ins at trailheads,” McFaul said.   

Users encountering potentially dangerous issues are encouraged to take photos, call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233 and Washington State Parks at (509) 465-5064.


Oregon rancher kills 500-pound black bear

WILDLIFE — A huge black bear by Oregon standards has been killed by a rancher legally defending the family's property.

Hunters are scratching their heads wondering how they missed seeing one of the biggest bruins experts have seen in the Northwest.

From the Associated Press:

Ranchers in south-central Oregon have legally killed a nearly 500-pound black bear after one of their heifers was killed by a bear and the giant animal was found in the family’s cattle herd.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Craig Foster says Marie Leehmann went beyond legal requirements by obtaining a kill permit before a family member shot the bear.

The Herald and News reports that field biologists say the male bear weighed 490 pounds, stood 6-foot-5 and was 13 to 15 years old. Foster said the largest bear he had previously seen weighed 345 pounds.

The kill permit was issued after it was determined that one of the Leehmanns’ yearling heifers had been killed by a bear. Two days later, on April 4, Leehmann was checking the cows when a bear ran out of the herd. Her son, Ryon, shot the bear within a quarter-mile of their home.

Foster says ranchers are legally allowed to kill bears that attack cattle.

It’s the buzz: fishing season opens Saturday

FISHING — I just got off the air with KXLY radio host Bud Namek to discus Saturday's opening of Washington's lowland trout lake fishing season — and the special advance coverage we'll be publishing Thursday in S-R Outdoors.

I’ve been covering opening day for more than three decades and every year I come across family groups that have been assembling at the same lakes to camp and fish for generations.  

There's a lot of competition for a family's recreation time nowadays, but fishing is still a good value and time well-spent.

 It's a lifetime sport.

BLM seeks artist in residence for Idaho wilderness

WILDERNESS — Here's a wild opportunity for professional artists looking for immersion in a canyonland wilderness landscape:

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Idaho will host two week-long Artists-in-Residence, one for the Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness and the other for the Owyhee River Wilderness.

Southwestern Idaho features some unique and dramatic landscapes, including winding rivers, deep canyons and vast areas of sagebrush steppe habitat, all of which can provide inspiration to an artist with an eye for color, shape and shadow. 

Applications for the positions are due in May.

Read on for the details from BLM:

Wyoming mule deer log longest migration

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

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

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

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

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

Two-day-old bald eagle chicks active in nest

WILDLIFE WATCHING — “I love the little wings and the open mouth,” says Spokane Valley pastor and photographer Craig Goodwin, back from a North Idaho birding adventure. “The eaglets are two days old.”

Goodwin says he's found great bird photo situations including great blue herons and waterfowl in the past few days.

“There is some pretty amazing birding out there right now.”

A Web cam trained on a bald eagles' nest has become an Internet sensation in recent years, giving millions of viewers an intimate glimpse of doting parents raising their young. T

he Decorah Eagle Project in Iowa is one of the best eagle Web cams out there. See them bring in squirrels, fish — whatever — to feed their young.  On Sunday, the world saw one of the parents shield the fragile young during a lightning storm.   Fascinating.  

Currently the eagles are raising three chicks, with the third-hatched noticeably smaller than the other two, but gaining strength daily.  Check them out.

IFG says Pend Oreille kokanee limits could be raised

FISHING — They were cautious at first, allowing a daily limit of just six kokanee last year for the first kokanee fishing season since 1999 at Lake Pend Oreille.

But Idaho Fish and Game Department officials say surveys continue to show the fishery has recovered from its near collapse, with  2 or 3 million adult land-locked sockeyes estimated to be swimming in the lake this spring.

The department is getting ready to ask anglers if they'd back biologists in requesting that the daily limit be raised to 15. If so, they'll propose the increase to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for a decision that could be made in mid-May.

“The first question anglers are going to ask is whether the fishery is recovered enough to be ready for it,” said Jim Fredericks, Panhandle fisheries manager. “Our answer is definitely yes, or we wouldn't even suggest it.”

Fredericks invites anglers who have questions or comments about the possible rule change to contact him at (208) 769-1414 or send an e-mail to jim.fredericks@idfg.idaho.gov, before May 10th

Sign of the times:  The annual K&K Spring Derby, for the first time since the 1990s, has added a Kokanee Division to its fishing contest.   The event opens this weekend and runs through May 5. The Lake Pend Oreille Idaho Club's Pin Auction fundraising event is Friday.

 Prizes run up to $2,500 for the largest rainbow and $1,500 for the top mackinaw.

But yes, kokanee are back.  The K&K name came from the old days of Kamloops & Kokanee Days.  Whether you think it should be G & K (G for Gerrard-strain rainbow) or whatever, it's great to see the return of the K for Kokanee.

100 volunteers give spring cleanup to Spokane River

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

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

See a full report from the Riverkeeper.

Birder counts woodies galore

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The sight of a wood duck will brighten anyone's day.  That's why Wayne C. Weber of Delta, British Columbia, is probably wearing sun goggles this week.  Here's his birding report from April 15 in northcentral Washington:

While birding in northern Okanogan County, I made a brief stop at Nighthawk, on the Similkameen River west of Oroville. From the bridge across the Similkameen, I noticed quite a few Wood Ducks in the river and perched on the banks, so I stopped to make an exact count. In three counts of the Wood Ducks, the number kept going up; my final count was 91 birds!  Most of these were perched along the riverbank from the bridge downstream for about 400 yards, and a small number were actually swimming in the river. There were about equal numbers of males and females.

This is easily the largest group of Wood Ducks I have ever seen in Washington. (The previous high count for Okanogan County in eBird was 20 birds!) Although I’m sure a few Wood Ducks breed along the Similkameen River backwaters near Nighthawk such as Champneys Slough, I suspect that this was a migratory concentration.  Whatever the reason for this aggregation of Wood Ducks, it was impressive!

Washington hunting regulations out; applications open; photo winner revealed

HUNTING — Washington's new 2014 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet has been posted on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website — with hard copies showing up at dealers. 

The month-long special permit application period for deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, bighorn sheep and wild turkey starts today.

The deadline is May 22.

Note the cover photo: Jason Raines won the WDFW hunting camp photo contest for the braggin' rights of getting his camp featured on the cover of the 2014 pamphlet. The photo shows his his 2009 elk camp near Mount St. Helens in the general area where he's hunted elk for more than a decade. Raines reported he bagged a “raghorn” 3x4 bull on the last day of that season.

That's the beauty of a good hunting camp: It keeps you comfortable enough in the right place for as long as it takes to put the odds of success in your favor.

“It’s a place that calms the mind and soul,” he told WDFW about the photo entry. “It is so tough to describe, it just has to be experienced.”

Here's a tip of the blaze-orange hat to Raines who, since 2010, has been bringing wounded veterans out to enjoy the camp and the big-game hunting experience it fosters.

Idaho’s 2014 big-game hunting rules published

HUNTING — Idaho's 2014 Big Game Seasons and Rules brochures are back from the printer and should be available at license vendors and Fish and Game offices in most locations. 

Elk hunters will notice changes to several elk management zones in the south half of the state. 

Wolf hunters will notice that bag limits have been standardized to five wolves per year statewide.  The hunting season was also extended to year-round on private land in Units 8, 8A, 10, 10A, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A, 17, 18, 19, and 20.

The wolf trapping bag limit has also been standardized to five wolves per season in all units open to wolf trapping.  There are new trapping seasons in 10 game management units, and legally-salvaged roadkill may be used for trapping wolves statewide. 

The minimum hunting age to hunt big game, effective July 1, 2014, will be lowered from 12 to 10 years of age.  Normally a hunter who will be of legal age at the time of a hunt can apply before reaching that age. However, because this law does not take effect until July 1, 2014, hunters who are 9 or 10 cannot apply for big game controlled hunts in the first controlled hunt application periods (April 1 to April 30; May 1 to June 5.)  After the law is enacted in July, 9 and 10 year-olds who will turn 10 or 11 during the season can apply in the second application period in August.

Idaho’s trespass law and use of aircraft law related to hunting have been updated.    Hunters will notice adjustments to seasons have been made in all regions of Idaho, so attention to the current seasons and rules is important.  

‘DamNation’ film scopes dam removals, river revivals

RIVERS – A new documentary about the impact of dams on rivers will be screened Wednesday, April 23, at the Lincoln Center 1316 N. Lincoln St. in Spokane.

DamNation, by Patagonia, follows the movement that started two decades ago with the removal of a dam in Maine to the more recent projects to remove dams on Washington’s Elwha and White Salmon rivers.

This screening — the first in the Northwest — is sponsored by Save Our Wild Salmon and the Spokane Falls Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

The event will feature a no-host bar and a Q & A with the film-makers and local spokespeople after the show. Doors open at 6 p.m.; show at 7.

For more information and to get your tickets online, click here

Contact: Sam Mace at sam@wildsalmon.org or (509) 747-2030

DamNation documents the growing movement in the United States to restore rivers by removing dams that can no longer justify their existence.  Produced by Patagonia, Felt Soul Media and Stoecker Ecological, the film shows how far we’ve come in the last 50 years, from assuming all dams are progress to taking out the first major dam on the Kennebec River in Maine.  Celebrating the successes on the Elwha and White Salmon River, the film turns its lens on the four lower Snake River dams in eastern Washington.  Since premiering at SXSW last month, DamNation has been playing to sold out crowds and winning awards at every film festival, including the People’s Choice Award at SXSW and Best Environmental Advocacy Film Award at the DC Environmental Film Festival.  

Six sea lions killed to protect Columbia salmon

FISHING — Six California sea lions have been killed to protect endangered salmon crossing Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, the Associated Press reports.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Jessica Sall says the six were among some 20 sea lions that have been hanging around the dam as chinook salmon start their spawning run. People in boats and on shore harass the sea lions to discourage their feeding, but the department is allowed to kill up to 30 a year. Last year two were killed and two sent to a zoo. 

The six that were trapped and euthanized recently are the first to be killed under the permit this year.

Lower Columbia fishermen have seen many of their catches devoured by sea lions before the fish can be netted.  But the pinnipeds pose a serious threat to endangered chinook salmon stocks when they can ambush the fish at man-made river bottlenecks such as the fish ladders at the dams.

Of course, the Humane Society of the United States has been trying to stop the practice, arguing sea lions kill fewer fish than people, the dams and loss of habitat. But a federal appeals court last year upheld the practice.

HSUS spokespeople are quoted and allowed to voice their outrage in several stories I see by area news outlets including Northwest Public Radio. But none of those reports quotes a fisherman, guide, tackle shop owner, motel owner, boat salesman or restaurant waitress on the importance of salmon fishing to their livelihoods. 

Yellowstone Park roads opening to vehicles

PARKS – Snowplows at Yellowstone National Park opened the main road into Old Faithful over the weekend, marking the beginning of the spring tourist season.

The East Entrance is scheduled to open May 2 and the South Entrance May 9. 

National Arbor Day: Plant a tree!

Photo: Seedlings grown at Arbor Day Farm are ready to be sent to new Arbor Day Foundation members 

     I call the Hawthorn tree outside the window my “weather tree.” If it has leaves, it is summer. If the leaves are wet, it is raining. If it has berries, it is fall. If there is snow on the branches, it is winter. If the limbs are edged with tiny green buds, it is spring. 

    Countless times each day as I work, I glance up at the tree, noticing the way the birds are dancing in the branches or the wind has set it in motion. March can’t make up its mind, but April starts the short season of spring in the Northwest. Flowers bloom, trees, like my Hawthorn, bud out, grass begins to grow again, sending pale green blades up through the dead leaves and other detritus of the previous fall and winter. Tulips wake up and jonquils bloom. April stirs a body. It makes you want to go out and plant things. Like a tree.

    April also brings Arbor Day and countless tiny tree seedlings packaged to be given away to school children across the country, always with the same exhortation: Plant trees! 

    Last fall I visited Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, and the sight of tables full of plastic tubes filled with miniature Blue Spruce, White Pine and other species being packed to ship out to new Arbor Day Foundation members, brought back the excitement of being a child given the gift of a tree, and the way we felt important as we planted the spindly seedlings in the back yard. 

    I walked the grounds of the teaching farm, through the Hazelnut grove, through the orchard, sampling heirloom apples, and I was reminded of the importance of trees in my own history. 

    My grandfather was a naturalist and often pulled one of his tree-identification books from the bookshelf to show me an illustration. He kept a mental inventory of beautiful or rare trees he discovered as he drove the back roads of the deep south. I remember him pulling over and stopping the car to show me a tall Dawn Redwood in the neighborhood. He pointed to the tangled branches of the Monkey Puzzle tree in the yard of a grand old house at the edge of town. When the majestic Ginkgo trees at the small private college with which he was affiliated turned to gold, he took me to see them, waiting patiently while I gathered a handful of delicate heart and fan-shaped leaves that had fallen. One year he gave me a small Ginkgo. I planted it, moved it twice, and then finally left it behind as I moved away forever. As far as I know it is still there, an unmarked legacy to a man who loved nature and loved me.

    When I moved west to Spokane I immediately visited the city’s “tree garden,” the 56 acres of trees and shrubs at Finch Arboretum just west of downtown. I still go there sometimes. It is an excellent place to wander. 

    While I was at Arbor Day Farm, my daughter and son-in-law were in the process of buying their first home. I decided I would give them an Arbor Day Foundation membership as a housewarming gift so they could plant the 10 free trees that come with the membership in their new backyard. My son, another nature-lover who grew up to be the kind of man my grandfather would approve of, spent the winter studying the history and properties of that most majestic tree, the Douglas Fir. I decided he needed a membership as well and I know he will happily plant his ten tiny firs on the property surrounding his mountain cabin. I am intrigued by the foundation’s work on sustainable hazelnut farming as a way to provide nutrition and combat the effects of climate change. Joining that charter will give me three hazelnut bushes of my own.

    I still have a box of old photos that belonged to my grandparents and there are one or two faded, unmarked, photographs of trees that must have caught his eye for one reason or another. Looking at them I remember they were taken before cell phone cameras, that he didn’t just drive by and snap a photo the way I do now. He would have had to make a trip with a camera. Then the film or slide would have to be developed. This wasn’t a whim. It was a compulsion.

    I thought of that when I came across an old Arbor Day poster. It stated “Trees prevent wind erosion. They save moisture and protect crops.” True. But it was what was written after that that grabbed my attention and resonated in me. “Trees,” the poster declared, “contribute to human comfort and happiness.” And they do. 

    Beyond the indisputable environmental impact, there is an intimate connection between trees and the human spirit. Looking up at the constantly-changing sky through the branches of a tree, feeling the texture of the bark against our fingertips, breathing in the organic perfume of a living thing, we’re moved in subtle ways we don’t always stop to recognize. 

    Sometimes, like the Hawthorn outside my window, they simply remind us that there is a rhythm to life, a cycle of seasons that come and go and come again.

Note: National Arbor day is the last Friday in April but each state can set its own day. In Spokane, Arbor Day events will be held on Saturday, April 26.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com


Big pack needed for hike in elk antler country

HIKING — Holly Weiler of Spokane Valley recommends a big pack even for an overnight spring backpacking trip into the Blue Mountains. 

Being the first to trek up the North Fork Asotin Creek Trail was rewarded with the discovery of a six-point bull elk antler shed, which she had to pack out around 10 miles to the trailhead.

But what filled her pack was all the trash she collected that wintered in the mountains, leftover from last fall. 

Said Weiler:

Ice axe loops work nicely for shed hunters, too. That pack was heavy! The plastic bag is full of other people's trash.

North Fork Asotin Creek is one of the many destinations mentioned in my story about the visual pleasures of day hiking in April

It's Hike No. 124 in Day Hiking Eastern Washington.

Note:  I do not recommend camping at the ladybird beetle “meadow” during spring.  It's a rare find — a fragile traditional roosting spot for bugs that have great value to society by preying on crop-plaguing insects.

Photo: five cougars near Newman Lake home

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Ken Vanden Heuvel got a big surprise when he checked out the photos on the trail cam that's pointed down the driveway of his Newman Lake-area home.

Check it out closely:  1, 2, 3, 4 — 5 cougars in one shot.

Time to keep the dog in the house!

  • Even more impressive is the photo I published in 2010 with the story about about the Wenatchee hunter who captured a pride of EIGHT mountain lions in ONE trail cam photo.  See the story and photo here.

Volunteer for Palisades Park cleanup Saturday

TRAILS – Volunteers are needed for the annual Palisades Park Cleanup starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Meet at the intersection of Greenwood, Rimrock and Basalt roads.

A tailgate party lunch for volunteers is set for noon.

The city park, which is near Indian Canyon, features Rimrock Drive, now a non-motorized route overlooking Spokane, plus hiking trails in a natural conservation area.

RSVP: membership@palisadesnw.com.

Video: duckling is breakfast for northern pike

WILDLIFE — Being cute is no defense in the harsh world of nature.

When a northern pike zeroes in on a duckling, there isn't much a mother can do.

St. Joe River campground host sought

CAMPING – A campground host is being sought for the Huckleberry Campground along the St. Joe River 30 miles east of St. Maries, Idaho.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Coeur d'Alene District provides the volunteer hosts free camping and utilities for services five days a week.

Info: (208) 769-5041.

Read on for more details from the BLM:

Mineral Ridge Trail a quick fix for hikers

HIKING — David Taylor, who's already sampled some of the region's choice early season trails, made an early morning hike today on the Mineral Ridge Trail, which starts from the Beauty Bay area of Lake Coeur d'Alene.  (Head south from I-90 at the Wolf Lodge Bay exit).

The trail was in good shape and the view, as always, didn't disappoint.

Snake River spring chinook fishing opens April 27

FISHING – Two sections of the Snake River below Little Goose Dam and Clarkston  will open to fishing for spring chinook salmon Thursday, April 24. Two other sections of the river below Ice Harbor Dam near Pasco and below Lower Granite Dam will open April 27.

Each section of the river will be open three days a week.

The Little Goose Dam and Clarkston area sections will be open Thursday through Saturday. The sections of the river below Ice Harbor Dam and below Lower Granite Dam will be open Sunday through Tuesday.

Read on for the full announcement and details from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Ferry County Rail Trail trestle decked, ready to ride

TRAILS — The Ferry County Rail Trail's Curlew Lake Trestle across the north end of the great fishing lake has been re-decked and is being opened for public use.

Ferry County Rail Trail Partners and the county commissioner’s Rail Corridor Committee will dedicate the bridge at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 26 at the east end of the trestle.

The Ferry County Rail Trail runs 28.5 miles on an abandoned railway from the U.S.-Canada border to an existing trail at Republic, the county seat. Some portions of the trail are in good condition for mountain biking while some stretches are still rough.  The stretch north from Curlew is especially nice as it follows the Kettle River.

“This project represents the culmination of several years of planning and effort by local, state and federal agencies and volunteers who are working together to improve the Ferry County Rail-Trail,” the Rail Trail Partners said in a media release.

Refreshments will be served after the ceremony refreshments followed by a group hike on the trail 2.5 miles to Black’s Beach.

Two Rivers spring fishing derby postponed on Roosevelt


Trout Derby reset

by Roosevelt levels

OUTFISH – The annual Two Rivers Spring Trout Derby at Lake Roosevelt has been postponed because of this year’s deep drawdown of Lake Roosevelt, said organizer Dan Kieffer.

The event, originally set for next weekend, April 26-27, has been rescheduled for May 17-18, which the reservoir’s water levels should be on the rise, he said.

Other derbies also have been scheduled by Two Rivers Resort, which is on the Spokane Indian Reservation at the confluence of the Spokane and Columbia Rivers near Fort Spokane:

  • June 7-8 – Walleye Derby.
  • June 14-15 – Bass Derby.
  • Aug. 23-24 – Fall Derby.

Info: (509) 215-0202 or 722-4029.

Photo: Labrador retriever, or a beaver?

DOGS — It's not hunting season and there are no tennis balls around so…

Teri Pieper of Twisp has an endless source of entertainment in this Lab.  

Next:  The entire tree!

Pheasants chicks available for raising, releasing

WILDLIFE – The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council will be distributing pheasant chicks to people who have facilities to raise 25 or more birds for around six weeks before releasing them into the wild.

 The council provides the day-old birds in lots of 25 and charges a fee to cover costs: 

  • 40 cents a hen
  • $2.25 for roosters
  • $1.50 for half roosters, half hens.

Starter feed is available, 50 pounds for $20.

The first shipment of chicks from Little Canyon Shooting Preserve in Peck, Idaho, will be April 29 and continue every Tuesday until late June, said program coordinator Larry Carey.

They will be available for pickup at the council office, 6116 N. Market.

Chicks must be reserved in advance: 328-6429. 

Not a hero: Rancher’s federal land grab all about greed, arrogance

UPDATED 3:18 p.m. to properly attribute Taylor quote.

PUBLIC LANDS — Washington State Rep. Matt Shea has ridden out of his Spokane Valley district on his white horse to save us from the overpowering federal government as he stands in lock-step with a Nevada rancher who's stolen more than $1 million in grazing favors from public land.

Whom will Shea stand up for next? The guy who says he has a Constitutional right to rob the Post Office?

Shea says he was compelled to back Cliven Bundy as he joined Rep. Dave Taylor for a trip to the Bundy Ranch. As Taylor put it,“If we don’t stand up for our neighbors, there won’t be anybody left when they come for us.”

The confrontation stems around a Nevada rancher who doesn't recognize the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as the owner of the public land he wants to graze his cattle on. Bundy has declined to pay about $1 million in fees while he lets his stock run amock where law abiding ranchers don't.

Trouble is, the BLM isn't the only voice saying Bundy is breaking the law.  So have the courts, twice.  

The courts, at last check, are our nation's way of settling points of law.

BLM backed away from confiscating Bundy's cattle — seizing the stock was authorized by a judge — when supporters came in and posed the climate for a violent confrontation.

So where do we go from here?  

The public owns the land, not the rancher. If every man who fabricates a disagreement with the government decides to run his cattle — or cuts his trees, builds his roads, kills his game, nets his fish, or fires up his bulldozer — the way he sees fit, the American icon of public land will be lost.

That, Mr. Shea, is what's worth standing up for.   Not one man's greed and selfishness, but rather the rule of law and the overwhelming advantages of regulated public land.

Extra day offered for lower Columbia spring chinook fishing

FISHING — Anglers will have one more day - Saturday (April 19) - to fish for spring chinook salmon on the lower Columbia River prior to an updated assessment of the run size.

The chinook fishery will be open to boat and bank fishing from Buoy 10 upriver to Rooster Rock. Bank fishing will also be allowed from Rooster Rock upriver to the fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam.

Anglers may retain one hatchery chinook salmon as part of their daily catch limit. Barbless hooks are required, and any salmon or steelhead not visibly marked as a hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin must be released.

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon approved the one-day extension after a week in which anglers caught 6,500 upriver spring chinook, boosting the total catch for the season in the lower Columbia River to 7,880 upriver fish

One more day of fishing is expected to bring the catch levels up to 95 percent of the initial harvest guideline of 10,157 fish, said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Catch levels tend to skyrocket at this time of the year,” Roler said. “As in years past, fishing started out slow this season, but you wouldn't know that by what we're seeing out there right now.”

Prior to the start of this year's fishing season, fishery managers estimated that approximately 227,000 upriver spring chinook salmon would return to the Columbia River this year.

Anglers may get additional opportunities to catch spring chinook salmon later this spring, depending on how that estimate compares to the updated forecast planned in the next few weeks, Roler said.

“If the fish return at or above expectations, we will look at providing additional days of fishing on the river later this spring,” he said.

The extended fishing season in the lower Columbia River does not affect the spring chinook season above Bonneville Dam, currently open through May 9 under regulations described on WDFW's website.