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French ‘ranchers’ kidnap park official to protest wolf attacks in Alps

PREDATORS —  Livestock producers in France have issues with wolf management not unlike ranchers in Stevens County, Washington.   Here's the latest development in the French Alps.

Around 50 angry farmers have kidnapped the chief of a national park, demanding he take action against repeated wolf attacks on their livestock, according to an online report today on the News from France page of the LanguedocLiving website (for French stories in English).

Farmers in France have grown exasperated in recent years after seeing their sheep repeatedly slaughtered by the rising wolf population in certain parts of the country.

While the government has authorized for wolves to be killed in certain areas where attacks have taken place, farmers have grown frustrated that not enough is being done.

On Tuesday evening a group of around 50 farmers took the extreme step of kidnapping the president of the National Park of Vanoise in the Alps along with the park’s director.

They made the move to hold Guy Chaumereuil and Emmanuel Michau hostage against their will following a pubic meeting on the park's new charter.

The radical move of kidnapping has proved popular in France over the years, especially in Labour disputes between unions and bosses.

The farmers want urgent measures put in place to prevent the wolf attacks against their livestock.

According to farmers there have been 130 deadly attacks against livestock this summer compared to 105 last year.

A statement from the leading farmer’s union FDSEA in the Haute-Savoie region said: “Farmers are demanding the authorisation to kill wolves in the heart of the park and to establish effective means to round-up five wolves by the end of the year.”

“The farmers have reached their limit, they can’t take anymore. Every night they are in permanent stress,” said Jean Claude Croze, from the local branch of FDSEA.

The kidnapping, which did not involve any violence, took place around 11pm and talks were still ongoing on Wednesday morning.

According to reports in the press, the police have not suggested they will intervene.

Cecil the lion incident clouds trophy hunters’ contributions to land, wildlife conservation

HUNTING — Trophy hunters get a bad rap sometimes. They often spend big money, much of it going to wildlife conservation causes, to kill big specimens of various species. If done legally and ethically in fair chase, I don't see that being much different that spending a little money to kill meat for the table.

Overall, the contributions of trophy hunters to the preservation of wildlife and the lands that support them is not just impressive; it's phenomenal, as I pointed out in today's Outdoors column, Trophy hunters prized Denali; led national park campaign.

Trophy hunters, not meat hunters, led the initiative for state hunting regulations to maintain big-game as a renewable resource.

Trophy hunters led the way starting in the late 1800s to preserve public land for hunting, public access and preserving wildlife habitat.

"We're rightfully proud of our heritage," said Keith Balfourd, spokesman for the Boone and Crockett Club based in Missoula. He cited  numerous major efforts, such as initiating rules to protect Yellowstone National Park, hunting rules for the Alaska Territory that became a model for states, creating Glacier National Park and promoting national wildlife refuges. Big players in the efforts were Boone and Crockett members including Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell and Gifford Pinchot.

"When you consider the kinds of things that sportsmen were involved in, and then look at the way social media portrayed them in the Cecil the lion hunting incident (in Zimbabwe), you see there's a major disconnect to hunting's role in conservation, hunting regulations and wildlife management.

Wildlife conservation was never geared to saving individual animals. That's not affordable or practical or even desirable except on a personal and perhaps selfish level.

Wildlife conservation is designed to save entire populations, Balfourd said, adding:

"Getting our noses out of joint over one lion hunting incident and throwing the entire history of hunting and conservation under the bus makes no ecological sense whatsoever." 

  • For the record, I do not consider myself a trophy hunter. After more than 50 years of big-game hunting, I have one mount to honor an especially memorable experience.

Documents:

Darby man fined $9K for poaching nine bears in Montana

POACHING — A 63-year-old Darby man will no longer be able to hunt, fish and trap in Montana after being sentenced in a bear poaching case.

The Ravalli Republic reports that James Harrison was sentenced Friday by Ravalli County District Court Judge James Haynes, who also ordered Harrison to pay $9,000 in restitution.

In addition, Harrison must spend 180 hours addressing hunter education classes about breaking hunting regulations.

Harrison pleaded guilty in June to five felony counts that included unlawful possession of nine bears that were illegally killed over bait between 2009 and 2014.

Harrison was one of three Ravalli County men charged in the case.

The other two pleaded guilty earlier to misdemeanor charges.

Harrison said he’s been humiliated and humbled by this case.

Idaho woman convicted of killing falcon to save duck

WILDLIFE — A North Idaho court has ruled that it's best to let predators have their prey, at least in the case of protected falcons.

A woman who was found guilty in connection to the death of a hunter’s falcon will not have her misdemeanor conviction dismissed, nor will she have to pay restitution, according to a report in the Coeur d’Alene Press. Judge James Stow ruled Monday that Patti MacDonald’s conviction for pursuing a protected bird would remain.  

Prosecutors argued that MacDonald fractured the skull of the 8-year-old falcon named Hornet on Jan. 7 trying to save a mallard. Both birds died that day. 

MacDonald is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 28.

Drought fishing restrictions eased on some rivers, but not in Spokane region

FISHING — Washington fishery managers are easing drought-related fishing restrictions and closures on more than a dozen rivers where conditions have improved, but so far no changes have been announced in far-Eastern Washington streams.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials in July closed or restricted fishing on more than 60 rivers and streams to protect fish from increased stress in drought-induced low river flows and warm water temperatures.

Conditions in some rivers have returned to normal for this time of year following recent rains and cooler weather, said Ron Warren, WDFW salmon policy lead.

 "If those conditions continue, we'll likely ease restrictions in other rivers in the coming days and weeks," he said.

Among the more than 40 rivers that are still closed or restricted to fishing only during "hoot owl" hours (no fishing allowed from 2 p.m.-midnight) are the following in the Spokane region:

Region 1 – Eastern Washington

Closed to fishing:

  • North Fork Touchet River above Spangler Creek.
  • South Fork Touchet River from the mouth to Griffen Fork and above Griffen Fork.
  • Wolf Fork Touchet River from the mouth to Coates Creek and Robinson Fork.
  • Asotin Creek and tributaries (Asotin Co.) from the mouth to headwaters.
  • Kettle River and all tributaries (Ferry Co.) from the Barstow Bridge to the headwaters, all portions contained within Washington.

Hoot-owl restrictions:

  • Walla Walla River (Walla Walla Co.) from McDonald Road Bridge to the Oregon State Boundary.
  • Touchet River (Columbia/Walla Walla Co.) from the mouth to the confluence of the North and South forks.
  • North Fork Touchet River from the mouth to Spangler Creek.
  • Tucannon River (Columbia/Garfield Co.) From the Highway 12 Bridge to Cow Camp Bridge.
  • Spokane River (Spokane/Lincoln Co.) from upstream boundary at Plese Flats Day Use Area to the Idaho State Boundary.
  • Spokane River tributaries, including Little Spokane River and tributaries (Spokane/Pend Oreille/Stevens Counties) from the State Route 25 Bridge upstream to Monroe Street Dam.
  • Colville River and all tributaries (Stevens Co.) from the mouth to the headwaters.
  • Sullivan Creek and all tributaries (Pend Oreille Co.) from the mouth to the headwaters.

Drought-related fishing restrictions were removed Wednesday on the following streams:

Fishing is open, or no longer restricted to specified hours, on the rivers listed by region below.

Region 3 - South Central Washington

Hoot owl restrictions lifted on:

  • Naches River from Tieton River to Bumping River/Little Naches River
  • Rattlesnake Creek
  • Yakima River from I-82 at Union Gap to South Cle Elum Bridge

Region 4 - North Puget Sound

Reopening to fishing:

  • Lower Nooksack River from Slater Road to Deming
  • Lower Skykomish River
  • Stilliguamish River from Marine Drive upstream to the North and South forks

Region 5 - Southwest Washington

Hoot-owl restrictions lifted on:

  • East Fork Lewis River from Lewisville Park upstream
  • Washougal River from Mt. Norway Bridge upstream

Reopening to fishing:

  • East Fork Lewis River from Lewisville Park downstream
  • Washougal River from Mt. Norway Bridge downstream

Region 6 - Olympic Peninsula and South Sound

Hoot owl restrictions lifted on:

  • Nisqually River

Reopening to fishing:

  • Quilcene River
  • Upper Quileyute River
  • Lower Dickey River
  • Lower Sol Duc River
  • Lower Calwah River
  • Lower Bogachiel River
  • Lower Clearwater River
  • Salmon River

NIC remembers student with poker bike ride Sept. 12

BICYCLING — The fifth annual North Idaho College Brian Williams Memorial Bike Ride (for a prize-winning poker hand)  is set for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, starting at O’Shays Irish Pub and Eatery, 313 Coeur d’Alene Lake Dr.

The poker ride is appropriate for riders of all ages. Live music, barbecue are planned from 4 p.m.-7 p.m.; door prizes and a T-shirt are included in the $25 donation. 

Williams was 28 years old when he was killed in a plane crash in 2010 while flying over Glacier National Park. He participated in NIC Outdoor Pursuits trips and was involved in a variety of outdoor programs offered through the college. Proceeds from the ride and a silent auction will benefit the Brian Williams Memorial Scholarship, which was established to support students studying outdoor leadership at NIC.

Preregister by calling the NIC Outdoors Center, (208) 676-7169.

Missing Glacier Park hikers helped rescuers with pre-trip planning

HIKING — After completing a rescue, Glacier National Park officials are giving two missing hikers a pat on the back for making their job easier.

The two female hikers, both park employees, were rescued after injuries in a fall during a day hike prevented them from completing their hike as planned and forced them to remain in the mountains.

A friend of one employee and a family member of the other employee contacted park staff to report the overdue hikers early Monday morning after the two had not returned.

Searchers keyed on the hikers' planned itinerary between Logan Pass and Sperry Chalet, a high alpine area of rock cliffs, water falls, wet and slippery rocks and boulders and dense vegetation.  A storm had moved through the area Sunday evening. Weather for the search was inclement with limited visibility.

More than 40 park staff and cooperators joined the search along with aerial support from the Flathead County Sheriff and Forest Service.

The missing hikers were located late Monday on a cliff face above Avalanche Lake and hoisted out of danger by a helicopter crew on Tuesday when the weather improved and after the women had spent another night out.

"The following factors contributed to the success of this rescue operation," park officials said in a media release. 

  • The hikers had planned ahead and were prepared with proper footwear, clothing and equipment. 
  • They travelled as a pair.
  • They were experienced hikers and were prepared for the challenging terrain. 
  • They also left their planned itinerary with someone, which greatly aided in timely search and rescue response.

Risk is inherent with backcountry travel in Glacier National Park and there is no guarantee for visitor safety, officials said.

Significant hazards include stream and river crossings, steep snowfields, precipitous cliffs and ledges, unstable sedimentary rock, dangerous wildlife, and ever-changing weather, including sudden snowstorms and lightning. The best insurance for a safe and enjoyable trip rests with your ability to exercise good judgment, avoid unnecessary risks, and assume responsibility for your own safety while visiting Glacier’s backcountry.

  • See a voluntary day trip plan form, which can be used to help search personnel concentrate search efforts along your intended route, saving critical time and possibly reducing risks to responders.
  • See more backcountry planning tips.

Bowhunter says pistol, not bear spray, was only option in grizzly attack

HUNTING — The Idaho bowhunter who fended off a grizzly attack Monday with shots from a handgun says the bear came from a side that made it impossible to deploy his bear spray, but he could reach his pistol with the other hand.

The gun vs. bear spray debate is a hot topic among hunters.  In this case, the archer was equipped with both and apparently took the only option available.

Here's more on the story from the Associated Press.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — An archery hunter pursuing elk is recovering after being attacked in Idaho by a grizzly bear with three cubs.

Wildlife officials say they could find no signs the bear had been wounded when the hunter fired at it with a .44-caliber handgun.

Gregg Losinski of Idaho Fish and Game on Tuesday said the hunter received no broken bones but had soft-tissue damage to his left hand and arm from the Monday morning encounter in eastern Idaho in the Island Park area below Sawtell Peak. That’s about 15 miles west of Yellowstone National Park.

Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries said the hunter, Mike Adams of Idaho Falls, used his cellphone to call for help and officials were able to use an advanced 911 system to pinpoint his location and direct him several miles out of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest using the easiest route to a waiting ambulance.

“He had an arm chewed up pretty good,” the sheriff said. “He was able to wrap it up and stop the bleeding and walk out.”

Adams was taken to Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, where a hospital spokeswoman said he was treated and released.

The estimated grizzly population in the 19,000-square-mile Yellowstone ecosystem is 757 bears, and they are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Losinski said a team of seven investigators went to the area on Monday that Adams marked with a GPS. Losinski said the team found Adam’s hat, evidence of a grizzly bear in the area, and a dead deer the bear was likely feeding on because it had been “cached,” or covered with dirt.

He said the team spent about six hours in the area but found no signs the bear had been wounded. If the bear had been shot, “with that caliber of handgun, you would expect to find something,” Losinski said.

Adams could not be reached by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Losinski said a creek in the area running full from recent storms likely prevented the bear from hearing Adams approaching.

“To be a good hunter you have to do everything we recommend people not do,” Losinski said. Officials advise people traveling in bear country to go in groups and make noise, the opposite of what successful hunters do.

He said the bear’s quick attack and then flight is typical of a surprised bear protecting cubs or food.

Losinski said Adams is left-handed and had bear pepper spray on his left side, but couldn’t get to it during the attack. Losinski said Adams with his right hand was able to reach his handgun on his right side and fire shots that Adams told officials he thought struck the bear.

“He was doing off-hand shooting while being attacked by a bear,” Losinski said. “How accurate he may have been no one knows.”

Losinski said he doesn’t anticipate the hunter will face any charges as he did nothing wrong.

“I wasn’t surprised when we had an encounter between a hunter and a bear,” said Humphries, the sheriff, noting his office has been fielding complaints about bears over the summer.

Officials euthanized a 25-year-old male grizzly bear in the Island Park area last week after it repeatedly broke into buildings. Officials said its advanced age and decreasing ability to forage naturally increased the potential for conflict.

Poachers run down 4 pronghorns in Idaho

POACHING — Somebody used a vehicle to run down four pronghorns in an agricultural field west of Mud Lake, bordering the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), south of State Highway 33 just after midnight on Aug. 27.  Three does and a fawn were killed. 

An agricultural worker had noticed vehicle headlights in the field during the evening and notified the Idaho Department of Fish and Game when the animals were found dead the next day.   

  • What's going on out there?  Washington officers are looking for somebody who rand down, killed and wasted three bucks near Reardan.  See story.

A violation of this nature in Idaho could result in a reward of up to $1,000 to the person providing information leading to apprehension of those responsible for this senseless waste of Idaho’s wildlife, department officials said.

Call with info to the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline, (800) 632-5999.

Hanford Reach fall chinook fishing picking up

 

FISHING — The fall chinook fishery in the Hanford Reach is starting to pick up, says Paul Hoffarth, Washington Fish and Wildlife biologist in the Tri-Cities. 

"This past week several nice bright chinook were harvested at Vernita, White Bluffs, Ringold, and in the Tri-Cities," he reports.

From Aug. 17 -Aug. 23, WDFW staff interviewed 57 boats (102 anglers) fishing for fall chinook in the Hanford Reach.  Anglers reported harvesting 16 adult fall chinook, 4 jacks, and 3 sockeye.  Staff sampled 35% of the boats fishing for salmon this past week.  Estimated harvest for the week was 46 adult chinook 12 jacks and 9 sockeye.

Fall chinook counts at Bonneville Dam were more than 22,000 on Saturday and McNary counts reached 3,600 adult chinook on Sunday.

Incidentally, bass anglers were getting the most action on the Reach, according the creel surveys. They averaged 0.4 hours per fish caught.

Some Idaho hunters can exchange tags due to fire closures

HUNTING —  Idaho Fish and Game is extending the deadline to exchange tags for some early elk hunts that are about to start, or have already started, in the Panhandle, Clearwater and McCall areas that have large land closures because of wildfires.

Fish and Game will not refund tags, but hunters who bought the following tags have until Sept. 11 to decide if they want to keep their tags, exchange them for a different elk tag, or turn in their tags for a receipt they can redeem at no cost for another tag later this year. Tags can only be exchanged at regional offices, but hunters choosing the receipt option can redeem it for a tag at any Fish and Game license vendor. 

Elk tags eligible are:

  • Panhandle Zone A and B tags.
  • Lolo Zone A tags
  • Dworshak Zone A and B tags
  • Elk City Zone A and B tags.
  • McCall Zone A tag.

Here are more details from IFG:

Elk hunters who have the above tags and want a receipt can also mail their tags to any regional Fish and Game office, which must be postmarked by Sept. 11. After hunters get the receipt, they can redeem it for any general season elk tag, except elk zones where tag quotas are in place and the quota is already sold out.

Some of the above hunts will have already opened by Sept.11, which typically means hunters would have to decide whether to exchange their tags prior to the beginning of the hunt. With large land closures affecting those hunts, Fish and Game officials wanted to allow those elk hunters as much time as possible to make informed decisions.

Hunters still have the option of exchanging other tags at any Fish and Game regional office, but they must do so before their hunt starts. 

All hunters should consider that fire conditions can change quickly with favorable weather and forests can reopen. Fire season tends to taper off by mid-September and is usually over by mid-October when most any-weapon hunts start.

Fish and Game officials are monitoring the fire situation throughout the state and will consider changes on a limited basis, where necessary, to ensure hunters are treated fairly.

See the Idaho Fish and Game wildfire web page.

Fish and Game’s standard policy is to not change hunts or rules due to fire closures because entire hunting units are rarely closed, and fire restriction rarely last through the entire hunting season.  But this is an unusual fire season, particularly in the Panhandle and Clearwater areas that are experiencing the worst fire season since the 1920s.

Wildfire danger closes hunting access to 22,000 acres near CdA

HUNTING — Private landowners who allow hunters by permit onto 22,000 acres near Coeur d'Alene have closed the area temporarily to public access.

Here's the info from Idaho Fish and Game:

Since 2011, the Mica Bay Land Company and the Godde Family have been very generous to allow hunters to access about 22,000 acres of previously inaccessible private property near Coeur d’Alene.  They initiated and entered into a public access program to allow hunting in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG).

Hunters are required to sign a contract agreeing to certain rules, and to pick up a free permit at the IDFG office that allows individuals to access the property.  This program is ongoing, and our hope is to continue it for many years.

 However, the current fire danger has led the owners of the property to follow suit with other land managers and close the property to ALL human entry until the fire danger decreases.  No more permits will be issued until there is a significant change in conditions and the decision is made to once again open the property to access. 

Permits have already been issued to some individuals.  Those permits were issued before fire danger became extreme.  Although the permit says that you are welcome to enter the property starting September 6th, that date is no longer accurate!  The property will remain closed to ALL human entry until further notice.

 IDFG is attempting to contact everyone who has a current permit to notify them of the closure.   Reference the Idaho Department of Fish and Game website for updates and status changes.  Look under the “About Us” tab, on the “Panhandle Region” page.

 It will obviously take a very significant period of high moisture to change the current conditions.  Nobody can predict when that will occur.  Permit holders are asked to please be patient and respect the closure!  Any human entry prior to the new opening will be considered a trespass and will be handled through the legal process.

Columbia River sturgeon fishing moratorium rescinded

FISHING — State fishery managers in Washington and Oregon are rescinding a moratorium on sturgeon fishing in the Columbia River Basin starting Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Water temperatures have returned to normal, ending the warm-water conditions that killed more than 80 sturgeon on the Columbia River and threatened many more, said Guy Norman, region manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"The extreme conditions that was subjecting sturgeon to stress have passed," Norman said. "We believe it's safe to reopen fishing in areas of the river closed since mid-July."

Anglers may resume catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon on the Columbia River and its tributaries above Bonneville Dam. Any sturgeon caught now must be released because no scheduled sturgeon-retention seasons are open, Norman said.

Idaho bowhunter fends off grizzly attack with handgun; bear spray unused

HUNTING — An archery hunter survived an attack by a sow grizzly bear while hunting in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in the vicinity of Yale Creek near Sawtell Peak today, Aug. 31, the Idaho Fish and Game Department says in a preliminary report.

The archer sustained injuries to his hand and wrist, but hiked out under his own power and was transported by ambulance to Madison County Hospital in Rexburg, officials said.

"The hunter reportedly was carrying bear spray but apparently couldn’t access it when the attack occurred," the report says.  

He tried to shoot the bear several times with a .44 magnum revolver pistol at point-blank range.  Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) personnel are heading to the area of the incident to access the situation and try and determine the condition of the grizzly, who the hunter says had three cubs with her.

  • While we're thankful the hunter didn't suffer more serious injuries, critical thinkers must ask, "Why was the handgun more accessible than the bear spray?

Think twice about heading into Canada to avoid wildfire smoke

WILDFIRES — We're not alone!

Officials say 177 wildfires are burning in British Columbia.

See interactive map.

Climbing film highlights Jess Roskelley in shadow of his father’s legend

CLIMBING — As an Adidas-sponsored athlete, Jess Roskelley of Spokane is featured in a new short film (below) that sums up his journey to become a climber in the shadow of his father and world-class climber, John Roskelley — one of six mountaineers in the world to be recognized with the Golden Ice Axe Award.

The flick adds context to the passions that have taken these men around the world and to the top of the heap for climbing adventures.

But anyone who knows much about their stories will marvel at how little the five-minute film says about them.

That's how life is captured in social media nowadays.

John Roskelley has written books about his adventures and there's still much to say.

The Roskelleys have shared some quality time together in the mountains, but Jess has largely carved his own way in the sport.

In the film, Jess points out that the fire for climbing was kindled forever when his father helped him make the connections to climb Mount Everest together.  "I was not going to blow that opportunity," he said later.

 

Lake Roosevelt begins reopening most boat access sites

WATERSPORTS — Although some sites remain closed because of wildfires, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area is opening campgrounds, boat ramps and day-use areas at 13 sites in the North District of the park, National Park Service officials have announced. 

A reduction of wildfire activity in that area prompted the changes.

Some areas will remain closed because of their proximity to the Carpenter Road Fire and the Kettle Complex.

Sites to reopen Tuesday, Sept. 1, include Porcupine Bay, Enterprise, Gifford, Cloverleaf, Daisy, Bradbury Beach, Colville Flats, Kettle Falls, Marcus Island, Evans, Summer Island, North Gorge, and China Bend.

Though wildfire conditions have improved in the area, fire danger remains high and the fire ban on open flames remains in effect, officials said. Shifting winds may also bring heavy smoke and poor air quality.

Remaining closed at this time are campgrounds, boat ramps, and day-use areas at Camp Na-Bor-Lee, Hunters, Snag Cove, Napoleon Bridge, Kettle River, Kamloops Island, Haag Cove, and French Rocks.

Idaho fall chinook, coho fishing seasons open Sept. 1

FISHING — Idaho will open fall chinook salmon fishing season on parts of the Snake, Clearwater, and Salmon rivers on Tuesday, Sept. 1, as well as the second-ever coho season on the Clearwater River.

The 2015 fall chinook forecast is 37,000 hatchery and naturally-produced fall chinook to the Snake River basin.

The Snake River will open for fall chinook fishing from the Washington-Idaho border upstream to Hells Canyon Dam.  Washington also is opening its stretch of the Snake to fall chinook harvest on Sept. 1.

Fishing on the Idaho portion of the Snake River from the Cliff Mountain Rapids (about a mile downstream of Hells Canyon Dam) will be open until Oct.31, but could be closed sooner depending on the actual number of fish that return and the amount of harvest. The stretch between Hells Canyon Dam and Cliff Mountain Rapids is scheduled to remain open until Nov. 17, or until further notice.

The Clearwater River, from its mouth upstream to Memorial Bridge in Lewiston; and the Salmon River, from its mouth upstream about three-fourths of a mile to Eye of the Needle Rapids, will be open until Oct. 31, or until further notice.

A valid fishing license and salmon permit are required to fish for fall chinook.  Only adipose-clipped salmon may be kept. The daily bag limit is six adult fall chinook; the possession limit is 18. There is no season limit.

Only adult fall chinook (24-inches and longer) must be recorded on the angler’s salmon permit. There is no daily, possession, or season limit on jacks (those less than 24 inches).

Coho fishing will be a nice bonus to Idaho anglers as fisheries managers predict 5,000-18,000 "silvers" will return to Idaho, enough to provide a tribal and non-tribal sport fishery.

The coho season will run through Nov. 15 on the mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River from the mouth upstream to Clear Creek near Kooskia, and on the North Fork Clearwater River downstream from Dworshak Dam.

Anglers can keep two coho salmon per day and have 6 in possession.  The season limit is 10.

Coho released from the Nez Perce Tribe's hatchery program have not had their adipose fins clipped.  Anglers may keep coho salmon with an intact adipose fin, but fall chinook salmon with adipose fins must be released unharmed. 

  • Color fish illustrations are printed in the general fishing seasons and rules brochure and online.
  • The Fall Chinook and Coho pamphlets also are available online

Washington Snake River fall chinook season opens Sept. 1

FISHING — Washington stretches of the Snake River will open for harvest of fall chinook salmon sportfishing on Tuesday, Sept. 1. 

Here are the details from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Locations:   Waters of the Columbia River from the railroad bridge between Burbank and Kennewick upstream approximately 2.1 miles to the first power line crossing upstream of the navigation light on the point of Sacajawea State Park (Snake River Confluence Protection Area) and on the Snake River from the mouth to the Oregon State line (approximately seven miles upstream of the mouth of the Grande Ronde River).

Dates:  Sept. 1 through Oct. 31, 2015.

Species affected:  Chinook salmon.

Reason for action: The 2015 Columbia River forecasted return of upriver bright adults is 626,000, with a significant portion of these fish expected to return to the Snake River. Significant steelhead fisheries also occur in the area and some hatchery fall chinook are expected to be caught during steelhead fishing.  Retention of hatchery fall chinook is not expected to increase impacts to Endangered Species Act listed wild fall chinook.  Therefore, adipose clipped hatchery fall chinook that are caught can be retained in the Snake River.

Other information: The salmon daily harvest limit in the Washington portion of the Snake River is six (6) adipose fin-clipped fall chinook adults (24 inches in length and larger), and six (6) adipose fin-clipped jack fall chinook (less than 24 inches).  Minimum size for chinook that can be retained in the Snake River is 12 inches. 

Harvest of hatchery chinook (adults and jacks) is allowed seven days per week.  Anglers must cease fishing for salmon and steelhead for the day once they have retained 3 hatchery steelhead – regardless of whether the salmon daily limit has been retained.  Adipose fin-clipped fish must have a healed scar at the location of the missing fin.  All chinook and steelhead with unclipped adipose fins must be immediately released unharmed.  In addition, anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for chinook or steelhead in the Snake River and the Snake River Confluence Protection Area.  Anglers cannot remove any chinook or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily bag limit. 

Refer to the 2015/2016 sport fishing rules pamphlet for other regulations, including possession limits, safety closures, etc.

Steelhead fishing rules changing on Tucannon River

FISHING — Tucannon River angers will have new restrictions starting Tuesday, Sept. 1, in order to offer further protection to wild steelhead. 

Here are the details from from the  Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Action: Rule changes for steelhead fishery and other game fish.

Effective dates:  Sept.1, 2015, until further notice       

Species affected:  Hatchery steelhead (with missing adipose fin) and all other gamefish.

  1. Daily Limit is reduced to 2 hatchery steelhead per day.
  2. Mandatory hatchery steelhead retention is required.
  3. Barbless hooks are required while fishing for steelhead.
  4. Release all wild steelhead.
  5. The area from Marengo (at Turner Road Bridge) upstream is closed to fishing.

Reason for action: Natural-origin steelhead returns to the Tucannon River are not meeting management goals for conservation and therefore the fishery for hatchery steelhead must be modified to provide more protection of naturally produced steelhead in the Tucannon River.  Emergency rules are intended to focus the fishery on removal of stray hatchery steelhead that primarily enter the Tucannon River in the late summer/fall and to prevent them from spawning, as well as provide a refuge area above Marengo to protect early returning wild steelhead, and close the fishery before March when most of the wild steelhead return to the Tucannon River.

Other information: Anglers must cease fishing for steelhead for the day once they have retained 2 hatchery steelhead or their 2-trout per day limit.  Adipose fin-clipped fish must have a healed scar at the location of the missing fin.  All steelhead with unclipped adipose fins must be immediately released unharmed.  In addition, anglers cannot remove any steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily bag limit.  Anglers should be sure to identify their catch because chinook and coho salmon, as well as bull trout are also present in the Tucannon River during this steelhead fishery.

Refer to the 2015/2016 sport fishing rules pamphlet for other regulations, including possession limits, safety closures. 

Idaho steelheading opens Sept. 1 on Snake, Salmon rivers

FISHING — The fall steelhead harvest season opens Tuesday, Sept. 1, on Idaho's Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.

  • The Snake River will be open from the Washington State line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers upstream to Hells Canyon Dam.
  • The Salmon River will be open from its mouth upstream to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of Sawtooth Hatchery.
  • The Little Salmon River will be open from its mouth upstream to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder road.

The limits on these waters are three per day and nine in possession.

The Clearwater upstream of the U.S. Highway 12 Memorial Bridge, the Middle Fork, North Fork and South Fork Clearwater rivers are catch-and-release only until Oct. 15, when the harvest season in those sections opens.

The harvest season already is open the two-mile stretch of the lower Clearwater River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 12 Memorial Bridge near Lewiston.

The limits on the Clearwater are two per day and six in possession.

Anglers may keep 20 steelhead for the fall season, which ends Dec. 31. Only steelhead with a clipped adipose fin, evidenced by a healed scar, may be kept.  Any steelhead that has an intact adipose fin must be released unharmed.

See details on Idaho's 2015 steelhead fishing rules.

Native Alaskans get clean sweep on Denali; hunters played major role in park

PUBLIC LANDS — Mount McKinley, which reaches 20,320-feet above sea level, has a convoluted naming history that President Obama is clearing up this week. And with the publicity maybe more people will learn about the role sport hunters had in preserving the surrounding Alaska landscape and the wildlife within it.

Obama has announced he will rename North America's highest peak Denali, taking it back to its roots. Local Athabaskan Indians had reverently called the ice-covered mountain Denali, "The High One," as first recorded in 1794 by British explorer 'George' Vancouver.

Despite what Ohio lawmakers say, Denali, the name most climbers and natives have continued to use, seems much more appropriate than the moniker dropped on the mountain in 1896 by a prospector who wanted to promote an Ohio presidential candidate he favored.  President William McKinley was elected the 25th president of the United States in 1897, but he had no significant association with Denali.

  • Alaska newspaper Twitter feedback indicates that most residents, as well as the state's Republican congressional delegation, thought the renaming was over-due. 
  • Mount Rainier should be next up for renaming!

Mount McKinley National Park was designated after a campaign led by naturalist Charles Sheldon was supported by the Boone and Crockett Club and endorsed by club co-founder President Theodore Roosevelt. The area was important for wildlife such as grizzly bears, moose and caribou. But it was the distinctive white bighorns, the Dall sheep, that caught the hunters' attention.

Without protection, the wildlife and especially the Dall Sheep near Mount McKinley would be slaughtered by trophy hunters, Sheldon argued. The hunters, who prized Dall sheep for trophies, knew that limits and sanctuaries were critical in the bighorn's long-term survival.

After years of campaigning, on Feb. 26, 1917, Sheldon personally delivered the bill to President Wilson for signing.

According to National Parks: America's Best Idea by Ken Burns, Sheldon's only disappointment was that Congress, in creating Mount McKinley National Park, had ignored his pleas to return the mountain to its original name: Denali.

The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, a weeping monumental agreement throughout the state worked out by President Jimmy Carter, nearly tripled the size of Mount McKinley National Park. The act added 2.4 million acres to the park plus an additional 1.3 million acres in two adjacent national preserves. The name of the park was changed the Denali National Park and Preserve to reflect its deeper history.

But North America's highest peak continued to be officially named Mount McKinley.

Climbers focused on the prize of McKinley's summit early on, with the Wickersham party making an unsuccessful attempt in 1903.

The first ascent of the north summit was made by Sourdough Expedition prospectors in 1910, followed by the first ascent of the higher south summit by the son of a fur trapper in 1913.

McKinley continues to be a major international climbing attraction during a short spring window when mountain conditions are appropriate. Park records show that 1,204 climbers registered to attempt a McKinley ascent in 2014 and only 429 — 36 percent — reached the summit and returned safely.

Denali National Park is accessible by highway between Anchorage and Fairbanks.  Once inside the park, the Denali Park Road is 92 miles long, and only the first 15 miles of it are paved. Summer travel beyond mile 15 is by shuttle or tour bus, or under human power.

The chances of seeing the spectacular view of North America's highest peak from Wonder Lake, near the end of the Denali Park Road, are slim in the unpredictable weather, but worth the chance.  Now those signs visitors have read for decades will be changed to reflect the mountain's new name and long history.

Denali Park attracts about 400,000 visitors a year compared with about 3.5 million at Yellowstone National Park in the Lower 48.

Steelheading seminar set by Silver Bow Fly Shop

FISHING — A seminar on fly fishing for steelhead will be presented by Sean Visintainer of Silver Bow Fly Shop from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. on Sept. 14.

"Steelhead are trickling into the Clearwater River near Lewiston and will soon be entering the Snake and Grande Ronde in another month or so," he said. "We have already heard of a few steelhead swung up on the lower Clearwater."

The seminar will be held at the shop, 13210 E Indiana Ave., and group size is limited. Cost: $20.

Info: (509) 924-9998.

Alberton Gorge access on Clark Fork River being closed by wildfires

WILDFIRES — Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will close the Alberton Gorge section of the Clark Fork River beginning Monday, Aug. 31, between Cyr and Tarkio Fishing Access Sites due to fire activity.

The West Fork Fish Creek Fire is burning in the immediate vicinity, posing human safety concerns and a need to keep people out of the area while crews use the river water for fire suppression efforts.

Cyr Bridge, Triple Bridge, Ralph’s Takeout and Tarkio access sites are all closed.

The river and access sites will reopen as soon as fire activity subsides, officials said.

Clark Fork Complex fires expand to 14,800 acres; Idaho Panhandle closures listed

WILDFIRES — The Clark Fork Complex of fires located in northern Idaho near Clark Fork includes Scotchman Peak (1,920 acres), Whitetail (1,734 acres) , Marten (2, 033 acres) Fires east of Lake Pend Oreille plus six fires in the Kootenai NF in Montana. 

A new emergency Forest closure order closed the 332 Road, the 1066 Road, and 10210 Road at the intersection with the 332 Road in addition to previous trail closures, including the poplar Scotchman Peak Trail.

IDAHO PANHANDLE WILDFIRE INFORMATION:

National fire information website:  www.inciweb.nwcg.gov                      

Closure details: www.fs.usda.gov/ipnf

Restriction information:  http://idahofireinfo.blogspot.com/  or http://firerestrictions.us/  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/USFSIPNF

Hunting and fishing information: (208) 334-2592 https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/fire

Following is closure information listed in Idaho Panhandle Wildfires update on Aug. 30, 2015:

TEMPORARY WILFIRE EMERGENCY CLOSURES ON IDAHO PANHANDLE NF

The following emergency closures are in place. See the Idaho Panhandle National Forest website for the full text and map of each closure. The public is prohibited to go into or be upon these areas, roads and trails:

§  Priest Lake Ranger District (RD) - Due to Upper Priest Fire: Road 1013 north of Lime Creek. Trail #308 and Trail #28. (Road Closure and Trail Closure)

Due to Tower Fire : An area closure has been established for the area contained within the following boundaries: north of Bear Paw Road and Forest Road 305, west of HWY 57, south of Dickensheet and Forest Road 310, and east of the Idaho Panhandle NF/Colville NF boundary between Hungry Mountain and the junction of Forest Roads 305 and 306. Please see the following map for more detailed boundaries. A portion of the Newport Ranger District of the Colville National Forest is closed.  

§  Bonners Ferry RD - Due to Parker Ridge Fire:  Parker Creek Trail #14, Long Canyon Trail #16 and Parker Ridge Trail #221. Previously closed trails remain closed. They include Parker Ridge Trail #221 (Sections 7 and 8 of T64N, R1W and sections 12, 13, 14, 15, 2, and 27 of R2W) and the Fisher Peak Trail. Under this closure order, the public is prohibited to go into or be upon this trail.

§  Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene River RD - Due to  Clark Fork Complex (Scotchman Peak and Whitetail Fires): The Scotchman Peak wildfire emergency closure has expanded significantly. Please see the Closure Order and Map on the Forest website for specific boundaries, roads and trails

§  Coeur d’Alene River RD –Due to the increasing number of wildfires in the area and concern for public safety, a temporary emergency wildfire closure has been issued for all public lands north of I-90, south of Forest Road 332, east of Highway 95 and west of the Idaho/Montana border. This emergency closure includes all National Forest System lands, Bureau of Land Management lands, and state endowment forest lands within the described boundaries. EFFECTIVE SUNDAY, 12:01 AM AUGUST 30.

Due to Solitare Fire: All lands, trails and forest roads within T52N - R1W sections 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 and T53N - R1W sections 32, 33, 34. Forest Trails 1525 (Solitaire Creek 4WD) and 6728 (Sob Creek 4WD).

Due to Whitetail Fire: Forest Roads #430, #332, #332A, #203, #203A, #203B, #203E, and #1533. Forest Trails #20 (Coeur d'Alene River NRT), 52 (Alden Creek), #448 (Deer Creek), #77, #122. There are also large area closures described in the closure order and map. (

§  St. Joe RD– Avery Complex (Crater, Marble Creek, and Chicadee Fires) and Snow Peak Complex

  • Due to Marble Creek Fire and Crater Fire: This closure area encompasess a large portion of the St. Joe Ranger District and nearby BLM and industrial timber lands. The closure area generally encompasses the areas surrounding Marble Creek, the Hobo Cedar Grove, Grandfather Mountain, Last Inch Camp, Crater Peak, Outlaw Point, Flemming Peak, and all lands in between. For specific closure areas please see the Closure Order and Map.

  • Due to Snow Peak Complex: This closure area encompasses a large portion of the St. Joe Ranger District bordering the Nez Perce Clearwater NF. The closure includes the Snow Peak area, Granite Peak area, Ruby Point area and the Yankee Peak area. Please see map for specific closure boundaries.

  • Due to Breezy Chicadee  -This closure area ties together the Marble Creek and Snow Peak emergency wildfire closures areas. For specific closure boundaries, please see the Closure Order and Map on the website.

Snow Peak Complex fires block access to St. Joe areas, Mallard-Larkins

WILDFIRES — The Snow Peak Complex, comprised of 11 separate fires within the southeastern portion of the St. Joe Ranger District including the Snow Peak Wildlife Management Area, upper portion of the Mallard-Larkins Pioneer Area, and the Ruby Point to Yankee Peak area south of the St. Joe River, totaled 6,660 acres on Aug. 30, 2015.

The Snow Peak Complex area is temporarily closed to all public access.

Graves Mountain fire transfers to Kettle Complex as other Colville Complex fires nearly contained

WILDFIRES —  The Graves Mountain Fire northwest of Colville was very active on the northern perimeter on Aug. 29, with a spot fire across Deadman Creek growing to an estimated 500 acres to nearly 8,000 acres total. it is considered about 21 percent contained.

Graves Mountain Fire, the main fire in the 2015 Colville Complex fires, will be moved to management overseeing the the Kettle Complex Fires on Aug. 31 as other fires in the Colville Complex — Gold Hill (560 acres) and Marble Valley (3,100 acres) — are 96 percent contained.

Starting Aug. 31, follow updates on the Graves Mountain Fire on the Kettle Complex InciWeb page.

Clearwater-Nez Perce closes most of forest to public access as wind whips up fires

WILDFIRES — Clearwater-Nez Perce National Forest officials closed more than 3.5 million acres to public access this afternoon as numerous fires totaling 80,000 acres on Friday spread significantly today in windy conditions.

Wind gusts in Lewiston registered up to 72 mph today.

The exception to the closure is the Palouse District, which has its office at Potlatch, Idaho.

In the Blue Mountains, a new fire blew up in the Tucannon River area near Dayton.

Here's the release just posted from forest officials based in Orofino:

Many of the widespread wildfires on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests made significant runs today, pushed by gusty winds and low relative humidities.

“The weather conditions that materialized today were even worse than predicted,” said Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Cheryl Probert.  “I am extremely concerned about the safety of the people, communities and firefighters that may be in the paths of these rapidly-spreading fires.”

As a precautionary measure during extensive and severe fire activity, the Forests have issued an area closure prohibiting “human entry” into lands managed by the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, with the exception of the Palouse Ranger District.

“I understand this will be inconvenient for some people, but our priority is public safety.  We will evaluate the situation on a day-by-day basis, but it will take a significant change in weather to improve our fire situation.”

Forest Supervisor Probert requests that all visitors re-locate to lands outside the Forests away from fire activity, and that all prospective visitors find alternate locations away from the closure area.
 
National forest system roads can be used to exit the Forest.  For state and county road information, contact the local sheriff’s office and Idaho Department of Transportation.

Fire managers are in the process of evaluating the spread of area fires and will provide revised acreage updates tomorrow.

See updates on the forests'  Fire Information website.

The Palouse District encompasses 500,000 gross acres of which there are about 145,000 net acres of National Forest System lands.

Potlatch timber company, which also has land in the region, closed its forests to public access in July because of extreme fire danger.

 

High winds pose hazard to recreationists near region’s numerous wildfires

Updated 8-30-15 with link to news of Clearwater-Nez Perce closures and update on Idaho Panhandle closures.

WILDFIRES — Be careful out there.  High winds forecast for Saturday pose a major hazard to people in the vicinity of the numerous wildfires throughout the region.

I've listed in my blog this morning's updates on many of the fires and fire complexes.  I'm not going to do this on a daily basis, but I've given the InciWeb and mapping links to help you monitor the fires that interest you the most.

On the bright side, U.S. 20 (the North Cascades Highway), which has been closed by fires west of Twisp for two weeks, could possibly reopen at noon on Sunday, Department of Transportation officials said today.

Check with the North Cascades Highway Hotline, (360)707-5055, for the latest updates on SR 20.

Following are links to recent posts with updates on many of the region's fires and details on trails and road closures.

Parker Ridge Fire expanding northwest of Bonners Ferry

WILDFIRES — The Parker Ridge Fire in the Idaho Selkirks northwest of Bonners Ferry continues to slowly advance after being started by lightning on July 27, but forecast high winds could expand the fire from its current 6,250 acres.

The fire impacts the popular Long Canyon-Parker Ridge hiking trails. Long Canyon is the last major unroaded, unlogged drainage in the Idaho Selkirks.

The Westside Road north of Copeland Road is open to local traffic only, as a significant number of hazard trees have fallen across the road. Closures remain in place for Parker Ridge Trail #221, Fisher Peak Trail #14 and the Long Canyon Trail #16. For safety, hikers are encouraged to redirect farther south.