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Colville private tree farm site for public farm forestry event

HABITAT – The public is invited learn how small-farm forestry can benefit wildlife and the environment at a multi-generational tree farm at an Aug. 9 event near Colville.

Visitors also will have the option to catch-and-release trout in a private pond.

The Northeast Chapter of the Washington Farm Forestry Association is sponsoring its Forest Owners Field Day, this year set at the 600-acre Dominion Tree Farms at the west foot of Old Dominion Mountain east of Colville.

Starting at 8:30 a.m. through mid-afternoon, participants will visit five distinct locations with a unique story and history – from Western larch planted just a few years ago to ponderosa pines planted in 1985 to an experimental hardwood tree stand.

Owners will showcase their practice of  ‘patch cuts’ as an alternative to clear-cutting, said Randall Hansen, chapter president.

 Attendees should bring a sack lunch and camp chair. Water and other refreshments will be provided.

Following the tour, catch-and-release fishing will be allowed on Lake Rosanna, a private 18-acre lake planted with trout.

The WFFA is a non-profit organization of and for forest landowners in Washington who own from a few acres to thousands as well as industry professionals. Emphasis is on managing the private forests for timber, other forest products, wildlife, fish, recreation and aesthetics. 

Dominion Tree Farms is one of the nearly 90,000 small private forestland owners across the state, with private ownership totaling about 5 million acres out of Washington’s 22.1 million acres of forestland.

Info: (509) 936-3842, http://www.wafarmforestry.com/NorthEast or email Patti Playfair, patti.playfair@gmail.com.

Big-game hunting films coming to The Bing

HUNTING — The Hunting Film Tour is coming to Spokane on Tuesday, Aug. 5 at the Bing Crosby Theater.

The collection of nine high-quality hunting films has been edited into a two-hour show by WebEye Group and G2 Adventure Entertainment, the groups that have been bringing the popular Fly Fishing Film Tour to the Bing for several years.

The films include archery, muzzleloader and rifle hunts for big game ranging from whitetails to bighorn sheep, plus wingshooting, waterfowling and international adventures.

Doors open at 6 p.m. The two-hour show starts at 7.

Get tickets online: $14.

Device helps women stand up when nature calls

CAMPING — The females in my family have never had a problem squatting in the woods to relieve themselves — this video seems to suggest it's a problem for some outdoorswomen.

But the Pee Pocket device the video promotes has real value in outdoor applications.

For instance, by being able to stand a pee like a man, a woman can urinate more easily into a bottle in a tent, for instance, so the urine can be disposed of in an outhouse or away from camp the next morning.  This would be a big advantage in a storm or when in grizzly country  — or for simply keeping pesky deer away from camp that are otherwise lured by the salt.

While floating the Grand Canyon this winter, several gals on the trip were envious of my “pee bottle,”  which I used at camp rather than having to hike to the river from the tents — sometimes a long way — every time the urge struck, day or night.

I'll let you outdoor women size this up for yourselves, but I'll bet you'll be able to find a few good uses for it.

Backcountry skiers commenting on Forest Service plan

WINTERSPORTS — The public comment period for the U.S. Forest Service’s draft Over-Snow Vehicle (OSV) Travel Rule ends Aug. 4.   This rule will affect all national forests, including the Idaho Panhandle and Lolo National Forests, which are favorite winter destinations for both backcountry skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers.

“The proposed OSV Travel Rule is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough,” says John Latta of the Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance. The group has been working to sort out conflicts between snowmobilers and muscle-powered recreation in the Lookout Pass area and other special areas.

 Latta said nordic skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and winter mountaineers should be weighing in to ensure the Forest Service adopts a rule “that meets its obligation to minimize the impacts of winter motorized use, and finally bring balance to the winter backcountry.”

Following is the group's recommendation for commenters:


STEP 1: Review the WWA informational webpage about the draft rule HERE to get up to speed. Basically, we need to tell the Forest Service that the winter travel management rule should be consistent with the summer travel management rule.

STEP 2: Submit your comments online HERE. You can write your comments in the online form. OR if you prefer (and you’re computer savvy), you can modify and submit the WWA’s comment letter template (a Word document) that you can find HERE.
Let the Forest Service know how management of the winter backcountry has the potential to improve your experience on National Forest lands — or how a lack of management has degraded your experience.

You may want to make sure that you include these important points in your comments:

  • Winter travel management needs to take a “closed unless designated open” approach to OSVs, which is how the Forest Service currently manages off- road vehicles (ORVs).
  • Past administrative decisions about over-snow vehicle use that apply to only part of a forest or that do not consider the impacts of OSVs on other users or the environment, should not be “grandfathered in” and must be reexamined.
  • The draft OSV Rule defines an “area” differently than the existing ORV travel management rule. This change is unnecessary and the definition should be consistent in ALL seasons.

Please include information about your own experiences and local playground, be it the Stevens Peak backcountry area and/or any other backcountry area that you use.

STEP 3: Share your tracking number with WWA. When you submit your comments on the Regulations.gov website, it gives you a tracking number. Please copy that number <Ctrl C>, then paste the tracking number <Ctrl V> in the appropriate field, along with your name and email address, at the bottom of the WWA page HERE and click Submit.

Great Blue Heron stalks dining diversity

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Here's a great glimpse into the versatility in hunting and feeding skills of a great blue heron, known to eat a lot of fish and amphibians geared to water.

Watch it to the very end.

Nothing but the freshest food for this fella.

Photos: birder focused on pileated woodpeckers

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Birder/photographer Ron Dexter has made sure improvements to his property in the foothills of Mount Spokane haven't spoiled the neighborhood for some of his most colorful neighbors.  In posting these photos, Dexter said:

A pair of pileated woodpeckers has nested in a snag in the woods behind us at least 3 times now. The loggers were careful to not knock the snag down, so the woodpeckers may add more holes in the future.

These are the largest woodpeckers in the United States, possibly the world. Their length is up to 18” and wingspan up to 30”.  An ornithologist dissected one and counted approximately 2,500 carpenter ants in the stomach. So you can see, they help save the forests and maybe your house.
They chop out large rectangular holes in trees to get to the ants and grubs, but their nest holes are shaped like a raindrop as you can see in the photo. They actually spend the majority of their feeding time on the ground or on fallen trees, snags or stumps that contain grubs, ants. etc. 

I see and hear them every year in our woods. They are in the area year round.


Open house, guided hikes at Dishman Hills Saturday

CONSERVATION — Here's a prime opportunity to become acquainted or reacquainted with the Spokane Area's standout wild gem.

Members of the Dishman Hills Conservancy will be leading short hikes each hour, noon to 5 p.m., on Saturday, Jully 26, to help the public become familiar with the Spokane Valley natural area and see changes that are underway.

The open house activities will be based out of Camp Caro — south of Appleway on Sargent Road.

Feds doubt climate change’s impact on wolverines


THREATENED SPECIES — The wolverine, perhaps the coolest critter you've never seen, is threatened, according to considerable research, by global warming that's likely to reduce the snow packs vital to the species' denning needs.

But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service isn't going out on the climate change limb to support wolverines.

In case you missed it this month, here's a good summary of the wolverine's status by the Associated Press:

By MATTHEW BROWN/Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. — A top federal wildlife official said there’s too much uncertainty about climate change to prove it threatens the snow-loving wolverine — overruling agency scientists who warned of impending habitat loss for the “mountain devil.”

There’s no doubt the high-elevation range of wolverines is getting warmer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Noreen Walsh said. But any assumption about how that will change snowfall patterns is “speculation,” she said.

Walsh told her staff to prepare to withdraw a proposal to protect the animals under the Endangered Species Act.

Wildlife advocates said the move was a bow to pressure from Western states that don’t want wolverines protected. Walsh said her stance “has not been influenced in any way by a state representative.”

More broadly, it points to the potential limitations in the use of long-range climate forecasts to predict what will happen to individual plant and animal species as global temperatures rise.

Walsh’s comments were contained in a May 30 memo obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Chris Tollefson confirmed that Walsh authored the document.

Agency Director Dan Ashe will have the final say, with a decision due Aug. 4.

Wolverines max out at 40 pounds and are tough enough to stand up to grizzly bears. Yet some scientists warn they will be no match for anticipated declines in deep mountain snows, which female wolverines need to establish dens and raise their young.

Federal biologists last year proposed protections for an estimated 300 wolverines in the Lower 48 states. At that time, Walsh said “scientific evidence suggests that a warming climate will greatly reduce the wolverine’s snowpack habitat.”

In the recent memo, she expressed the opposite view: “Due to the uncertainty of climate models, I cannot accept the conclusion about wolverine habitat loss that forms the basis of our recommendation to list the species.”

Walsh, also a biologist, said she reached that conclusion after reviewing the latest science on wolverines and consulting with other agency officials.

Most of that science already was available when protections were first proposed, leading the Center for Biological Diversity to criticize the about-face.

The likelihood of climate change harming wolverines was too great to delay action because of any lingering uncertainties, said the group’s climate science director, Shaye Wolf.

The government already has declared that global warming imperils other species, including polar bears, ringed seals and bearded seals.

“Climate change is driving some iconic species toward extinction, and many species are in trouble,” Wolf said. “It’s a very bad turn of events that the Fish and Wildlife Service has chosen to ignore the expertise of its own scientists” on wolverines.

Agency officials said Monday that Walsh’s memo was just one step in its deliberations on the animal.

Once found throughout the Rocky Mountains and in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, wolverines were wiped out across most of the U.S. by the 1930s due to unregulated trapping and poisoning campaigns. In the decades since, they have largely recovered in the Northern Rockies but not in other parts of their historical range.

In some areas, such as central Idaho, researchers have said suitable habitat could disappear entirely.

Wolverines are found in the North Cascades in Washington and the Northern Rocky Mountains in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Wyoming. Individual wolverines have also moved into California and Colorado but have not established breeding populations. Larger populations persist in Alaska and Canada.

Officials from states including Montana, Utah and Idaho have objected to more protections, saying the animal’s population has been increasing in some areas.

Two members of an independent peer review panel also raised questions about the science behind last year’s proposal. They suggested that no direct link could be made between warming temperatures and less habitat.

Panelist Audrey Magoun, a researcher based in Alaska, said shifting weather patterns could mean more snowfall, not less, in the mountains where most wolverines den. She said Monday that she was not taking a position on whether protections were needed and that there was enough time to determine that through additional research before any long-range threats come to pass.

Wolverines were twice denied protections under the Bush administration. In 2010, the Obama administration delayed action and said other imperiled animals and plants had priority over wolverines.

Hanford Reach fall chinook salmon fishery enhancements

Read up on the latest from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife on the fall chinook salmon fishery enhancements on the Hanford Reach.

Long-range shooting events at Rock Lake range

SHOOTING — Long-range shooting enthusiasts continue to test their skills in a four-event series at the new Rock Lake Rifle Range, 2356 Glorfield Rd., St. John, Washington

A the next shoot in the series is set for Saturday, July 26. Check in 7:30-8 a.m.

The Northwest Precision Steel Series Challenge has divisions for tactical and hunting class shooters, says organizer Doug Glorfield.

Tactical competitors will engage targets at distances of 175-1,250 yards in seven stations.  Hunting and youth shooters will do five stations at 150-600 yards.

Shooters will compete for cash prizes on Saturday and in the other series shoots set for June 28, July 26 and Aug. 30. 

“My dad and I built the range last year, Rock Lake Rifle Range LLC,” he said, noting that the site is west of the south end of  Rock Lake. “We built it to host long-range rifle shoots to bang away at steel.”

Info: (509) 939-7855.

Oregon Congressman seeks wolf buffer around Yellowstone

WILDLIFE —  An Oregon congressman is asking the Interior Department to work with states to curb gray wolf hunting around Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana.

Rep. Peter DeFazio is the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.

Hunters have legally killed Yellowstone wolves that have roamed out of the park after becoming familiar with wolf-watching tourists. Some of these wolves have been radio-collared by wildlife scientists. While killing them is legal under hunting regulations, the loss is significant to research on the species.

DeFazio said in a recent letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell that hunters killing wolves just outside Yellowstone’s boundary could hurt the overall health of the park’s ecosystem.

DeFazio asked for a “wolf safety zone” or buffer around the park, which includes parts of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. He also asked Jewell to establish a task force to devise protections for wolves around other national parks.

State officials have resisted prior calls from wildlife advocates seeking an outright ban on wolf hunting around the park. However, quotas in some areas limit how many can be killed annually.

McDowell Lake among waters proposed for rotenone treatment

FISHING – McDowell Lake, a prized fly-fishing water in Stevens County is, among 11 lakes in Eastern Washington proposed for treatment to optimize the waters for trout.

 Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials want to treat three lake systems with rotenone, a naturally occurring pesticide commonly used to remove undesirable fish species from lakes and streams.

McDowell Lake, a standout trout fishery on the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, has gone downhill as nongame fish such as tench have proliferated.

Other trout-management waters proposed for treatment this fall include the Hampton Lake chain and Sago, Hourglass, and Widgeon Lakes in Grant County to remove species including bass, bullhead, stunted panfish and tench.

The Hampton Chain is made up of Upper and Lower Hampton Lake, Hampton Slough, Hen Lake, Dabbler Lake, Marie Lake and Juvenile Lake.

“The goal is to restore trout populations by removing competing species that have essentially taken over the lake's resources,” said Bruce Bolding, warmwater fish program manager.

“Illegally stocked fish compete with trout fry for food and prey, rendering efforts to stock trout fry ineffective.”

Public meetings to discuss the  proposed treatments are set for Wednesday, July 23, at two locations starting at 6 p.m.:

  • Ephrata, at the WDFW Region 2 Office.
  • Colville, at the WDFW District 1 Office, 755 S. Main St.

The decision on whether to go ahead with the treatments will be made in September. 

The agency says, “Rotenone is an organic substance derived from the roots of tropical plants, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved for use as a fish pesticide.” It disrupts the ability of fish’s gills to process oxygen from the water.

WDFW has used rotenone in lake and stream rehabilitations for more than 70 years, and is used by other fish and wildlife management agencies nationwide. 

Family bike ride celebrates wildlife refuge anniversary

WILDLIFE WATCHING —The Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge has been marking its 75th anniversary with public events this summer. Next on the schedule:

• July 26: Blue Goose Family Fun Bike Ride, a family-friendly 10.5-mile ride on packed, graded dirt roads. Start anytime after 8:30 a.m. to finish by noon, when prize drawings will start at headquarters. Anniversary cake and bluegrass music. Free.

Info:  (509) 684-8384, fws.gov/littlependoreille

Directions from Spokane: Drive U.S. 395 north to Arden (about 6 miles south of Colville). Turn right on Hall Road. At the stop sign, turn left onto Old Arden Hwy. Take the third right run onto Artman-Gibson Road. Go about 4 miles. At four-way intersection, turn right onto Kitt-Narcisse Road and follow it for 2.2 miles. Where road forks, bear right onto Bear Creek Road. Follow this dirt road 3.3 miles to refuge headquarters.

Ski area expansion prompts Mount Spokane land classification proposals

PUBLIC LANDS — Land classification proposals that could make or break a plan to expand the Mount Spokane alpine ski area will be presented at the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission meeting Thursday, July 24, in Bellingham.

In 2010, Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park proposed expanding its ski area within the state park to provide more intermediate terrain needed to remain competitive. Conservation and wildlife groups have contested the expansion.

The ski area concession encompasses 1,425 acres of the 14,000-acre state park.

In 1999, land classifications were adopted for the park, but 850 acres was left unclassified in an area designated for potential alpine ski expansion.

The ski area has proposed installing a lift, which already has been purchased, and expanding skiing with seven new runs over nearly 280 acres of that area.

State Parks staff is releasing a report this week that proposes four land classification options. One of the options would designate the land a “natural forest area,” which would preclude any development and most recreation.

An environmental impact statement on the land classifications is to be released this week. Public comment will be taken through mid-August. The commission is scheduled to choose an option on Nov. 20.

The Lands Council based in Spokane plans to argue that the report has flaws, including the stance that the area does not include old growth forest.

“I guess we’re still in a little bit of a battle,” said Mike Peterson, executive director.


Criticism of paragliding safety criticized

FREE FLYING — I've received a sharp response to my previous post regarding paragliding safety prompted by the death of David Norwood, a highly-regarded flyer who crashed to his death at Chelan Butte on Wednesday.

Like all tragedies, the incident is causing some flyers to step back and re-evaluate. The discussion can only be healthy.

But my previous post, in which I simply printed the personal perspective of Rick Masters of Owens Valley, California, was not well received by some paragliders.  

Masters contends that when choosing to fly paragliders or hang-gliders, one is a safer choice in iffy weather because of the frame that helps prevent canopy collapse. 

Masters suggests that frank discussions are hindered on chat rooms because paragliding sites often are controlled by people in the industry who don't want too much frank talk.

But James Bradley of New York, the U.S. moderator on the worldwide online forum paraglidingforum.com, sharply disagrees.  Here's his message:

Your acceptance of Rick Masters as an authority on paragliding, apparently without taking the time to learn anything about him, or talk to any people who are actually involved with the sport—we are all concerned about safety—is pretty disappointing.

I am one of a handful of US pilots who race on the Paragliding World Cup circuit. I am also the only US moderator on the worldwide online forum paraglidingforum.com (a volunteer position). Rick Masters was allowed to join there and post like anyone else. We learned that he is on an enduring anti-paragliding crusade. Like a religious zealot, he is not interested in facts or discussion unless they support his rigidly defined position. He behaved badly for some time on the forum and then we banned him, as we have a handful of other people over time.

Masters' disregard for facts is evident in his facile characterization of Paragliding Forum as populated mainly by people with a commercial interest in the sport. There are some of those of course but we have 30,000 registered members worldwide and an untold number who read without registering. The vast majority are simply enthusiasts in the sport.

All light aircraft are dangerous. The accident and fatality statistics for hang gliding and paragliding over time are about the same. The most common accident types are different. Accidents come in clumps in all sports, probability predicts that. We are sadly in a clump of paragliding accidents in North America at the moment, much more than average. The last couple of years have been the other way, lighter than the average.

Paragliding safety questioned after Chelan Butte fatality

FREE FLYING — Members of the close-knit paragliding community are mourning the loss of David Norwood, one of their highly regarded flyers, who crashed to his death at Chelan Butte on Wednesday.

Like all tragedies, the incident is causing some flyers to step back and re-evaluate.

I just received the following commentary from Rick Masters of Owens Valley, California, who suggests that frank discussions are hindered on chat rooms because paragliding sites often are controlled by people in the industry who don't want too much frank talk.

Masters contends that when choosing to fly paragliders or hang-gliders, one is a safer choice in iffy weather because of the frame that helps prevent canopy collapse. 

  • See a response from a paragliding forum moderator to Masters' contention.

Says Masters:

David Norwood was the 1244th soaring parachutist to die since the first paragliding fatality in the Alps in 1987 by my incomplete verified tally. Paragliding Forum does not allow me to post on the site.  If you notice the second post by pecoflea, he has received eight negative “karmas” from forum members for questioning the death rate and problematic design of paragliders.  When he accumulates enough negative karmas, he will not be allowed to post.  This keeps newbies from too much negative exposure so they keep buying paragliders.  Many forum members are paragliding equipment dealers.


If I could respond to pecoflea, it would be like this:

This is getting crazy


Another highly experienced pilot is killed in our sport.


My thoughts again are why did this happen?


How do we avoid this from happening to us?


I've been flying Hang gliders since 1974 and Paragliders since 2010 In hang gliding I remember many very scary days, but I never worried that my wing would fall apart.

In paragliding, I remember these scary days and just don't even bother to fly on strong days “period ”

Yes,, I have definitely become the chicken in my flying group.

Is there no way to make our PG wings more collapse resistant?


How about one way valves like what is in our airbags incorporated into our cells to help resist complete blowouts?


Probably a dumb idea , but surely we can find a way to cut the collapses down that seems to be inherent in this sport?


Well, probably a better place to post this , but I find this news very distressing and think that manufacturers need to forget about the bottom line for a while and focus all energies into creating a safer wing “Period”.


Travel: Alaska cruise brings a tale of a whale

   I was standing in an alcove on an upper deck about to step out onto the deck of the Carnival cruise ship, the Miracle, when the doors opened and a family blew in. 


   A man and this three sons, each holding an ice-cream cone, lunged forward like the wind had reached out and given them each a shove. The youngest—maybe four years old, definitely no more than 5—was so full of big news he didn’t care that he didn’t know me. 


    He  ran up to me and said, “We saw the tail of a whale!”


    I was impressed. We’d left Seattle the afternoon before and it was just the first morning of our Alaska cruise. 


    “Is this true?” I asked his father. “Or is this just a whale of a tale?”


    The man laughed and said it was true. They’d been walking along the deck when the whale popped up and showed his fluke, his whale tail, before disappearing back into the sea.


    The little boy couldn’t contain himself.


     “The whale breathed up (his arms shot up in the air and the ice-cream wobbled on its cone) “and then he dived down like this” (he scooped his free hand up and then down) “and then his tail came up!”

    As an afterthought he added, “Daddy let us have ice cream for breakfast. 


    Wow. A wave from a whale and an ice cream cone for breakfast. The little boy had just described my perfect day.


    I asked the man if this was their first Alaska cruise and he said it was. He said they live in Texas and they’d come to see Alaska. And whales. They really wanted to see whales and here, just a day into the trip, they’d already had their own private show.


    Several years ago, after my first cruise up the Inside Passage, I decided I want to make the trip every summer. For the rest of my life, if I can swing it.  No two Alaska cruises are ever the same. People from around the world plan and save for years and travel a lot of miles to get there. But living in the Northwest, we’re already halfway there. It’s easy to get on a ship in Seattle or Vancouver, British Columbia, to spend a week looking at some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. 


    I’m working on my Alaska-every-summer plan. This year I was solo but in the company of people of all ages: men, women and children—(lots of children) and large family groups, all ready to go see the sights. And we were off to a good start.


    The boy’s happiness was contagious. I looked at my watch. It was still early, they’d be serving breakfast for another couple of hours… I filled a cone with vanilla ice cream and stepped out onto the deck. The wind whipped my hair as I licked the cone and swept my eyes across the horizon.


    I’d already decided it wasn’t going to take much to turn this into a perfect day. I had my ice cream cone. Now all I needed was a glimpse of the tail of a whale. 

    And like the little boy, I didn’t have to wait long at all.



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

Idaho discounts nonresident big-game tags

HUNTING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has reduced the price of unsold nonresident deer and elk tags to be sold as second tags.

The following discounts will be available to resident and non-resident hunters purchasing second tags in 2014.

  • Second elk tags will be discounted from $415 to $299
  • Second deer tags will be discounted from $300 to $199

The price does not include the $1.75 vendor fees.

Since 2000, the Commission has offered any unsold tags remaining to resident and nonresident hunters as a second tag at the full nonresident price. In 2013, the release date for second tags was moved forward one month from September 1 to August 1.

“The commission feels discounting those tags will give hunters additional field opportunity by making a second tag more affordable,” Idaho Fish and Game says in a media release.

Fish and Game Wildlife Chief Jeff Gould reminds hunters that second tags have been factored into big game season settings since these tags became available for purchase as a second tag 15 years ago.

“We restrict the number of tags available in elk zones that are performing below desired population levels,” Gould said. “Hunting opportunity is based on biological as well as social considerations. The decision to discount the second tag price is biologically sustainable and will make it more affordable for hunters to increase their hunting options this fall.”

Second tags will mainly be used in general hunts where there are currently no restrictions on the number of deer or elk tags sold to Idaho residents in any given year. Second tags cannot be used in areas where deer or elk harvest is managed with controlled hunts and the use of second tags must fall under currently established nonresident elk zone tag limits.

For 30 years, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission has maintained a statewide annual quota of 12,815 nonresident elk tags and 15,500 nonresident deer tags.  Idaho hunters purchase about 143,000 deer and 86,000 elk tags annually. Hunters purchased 964 second deer tags and 430 second elk tags in 2013. That left 5,773 deer and 4,960 nonresident elk tags unsold at the end of the year.

The discounted second tags will be available to resident and nonresident hunters August 1. The actual number of second tags available won’t be known until August 1, when unclaimed and returned nonresident tags are added to the second tag pool.  Second tags will be sold on a first come first served basis at all Fish and Game license vendors. 

The Commission stresses this will be a trial program, and will closely analyze the 2014 season to determine how hunters respond to the discounts before deciding whether to apply discounts in future seasons.

Glacier Park warns hikers of hazardous high country travel

HIKING — While I'm writing an upcoming Sunday Outdoors story on a similar topic, Glacier National Park is warning hikes to be prepared for dealing with hazardous snowfields at high elevations even in lake July after a week of very warm weather.

Here's a lot of good information to review, especially if you're headed to one of the most stunning parks on the continent:

Several of Glacier National Park’s high elevation hikes are open to the public, but snow and snow hazards remain in many areas. 

Hikers should be wary of snowfields and steep areas in the higher elevations. Snow bridges may exist, and hard to identify.  A snow bridge may completely cover an opening, such as a creek, and present a danger.  It may create an illusion of unbroken surface while hiding an opening under a layer of snow, creating an unstable surface.  

It is important to know the terrain you are about to hike or climb, and carry the appropriate equipment.  When hiking may include snowfield travel, visitors should know how to travel in such challenging conditions, including knowing how to use crampons and an ice axe.  It is recommended to have layers of clothing available, appropriate footwear, including boots with lug soles, a map, first-aid kit, water and food.  Always communicate to someone your planned route of travel and your expected time of return. 

  • There are over 700 miles of trails in Glacier National Park providing a variety of hiking opportunities.  During July and August many of the more popular trails can be crowded.  Visitors are encouraged to consider a lesser used trail or more remote trail during this time.  See more information about hiking options and trail status.

Caution should be used near rivers and streams, as water may be extremely cold, and running swift and high. Avoid wading or fording in swift moving water, as well as walking, playing and climbing on slippery rocks and logs. 

The Highline Trail is open, but snow remains past Haystack Butte. Strong hiking skills and snow travel skills, as well as the appropriate equipment, are recommended.  

The Ptarmigan Tunnel is open.  Stock access to Iceberg/Ptarmigan Trail is prohibited due to a temporary bridge that allows foot traffic, but it is not suitable for stock. 

The park’s shuttle system is serving hikers on the east side of the park.  It is free, and the shuttle has stops along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.  Due to road rehabilitation activities on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, parking to access the St. Mary, Virginia and Barring Falls areas is very challenging and the shuttle system may be a convenient alternative.   

Black bears and grizzly bears are common in Glacier Park.  Hikers are encouraged to hike in groups, carry bear spray that is easily accessible, and make noise at regular intervals along the trail.  Bears spend a lot of time eating, so hikers should be extra alert while in or near feeding areas such as berry patches, cow parsnip thickets, or fields of glacier lilies.  Hiking early in the morning, late in the day, or after dark is not encouraged.  Trail running is not recommended as it has led to surprise bear encounters. 

See more information about recreating in bear country.   

Bats, bears, bighorns and more at Sinlahekin seminars

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Experts will be making free presentations on bats, bears, bighorns and much more July 26-27 on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in northcentral Okanogan County as the celebration continues for the 75th anniversary of Washington’s FIRST wildlife area.

It’s the third summer weekend in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife “Explore the Sinlahekin – Past and Present” series of free public field trips and presentations on the fauna, flora, geology and history of the area south of Loomis. 

Sessions scheduled on Saturday, July 26, include:

  • Bighorn sheep of the Sinlahekin by Okanogan assistant district wildlife biologist Jeff Heinlen.
  • Bats of the Sinlahekin by wildlife biologists Ella Rowan and Neal Hedges.

Sessions scheduled on both Saturday, July 26, and Sunday, July 27, include:

  • Forests of the Sinlahekin by U.S. Forest Service and Washington State University foresters;
  • Role of wildfires in the evolution of the Sinlahekin’s landscape by a Central Washington University paleobotanist;
  • Historical photo point tour by veteran Sinlahekin manager Dale Swedberg;
  • Bears, cougars, coyotes and other carnivores by Okanogan district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin.

Click here for more information about the July 26-27 weekend sessions, and a complete schedule of upcoming weekends (Aug. 23-24, Sept. 6-7, and Sept. 27).

Fires scorch hopes for sockeye fishermen

FISHING — The heat and smoke of wildfires is forcing some anglers to temporarily chill their enthusiasm for catching a share of the record run of sockeye heading into the upper Columbia.

Pateros area is being evacuated tonight because of the Carlton Complex fires, and the city of Brewster is feeling the heat just as anglers are piling in to reap the bounty of fish.

And anglers could be blocked from Saturday's opening of the Lake Wenatchee sockeye season by firefighting efforts that have closed the state park boat access.



Paraglider crashes, dies at Chelan Butte

FLYING — A 55-year-old Wapato man has died in a paragliding accident in Chelan County.

Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett says David A. Norwood, known as an experienced flyer, crashed after taking off from the top of Chelan Butte on Wednesday afternoon.

Witnesses reporting seeing him fall quickly after one side of his parachute collapsed. He crashed about 150 yards downhill from where he took off.

The sheriff says Norwood was well-known within the paragliding community.

Word from other paragliders on social media indicate that Norwood, aka “Preacher”:

  • “Took an asymmetric off the launch and collided with terrain.”
  • “Lauched 1:30 on green monster at Chelan. It was windy on the flats; assuming it was on launch. Major collapse; landed on his head breaking his neck.”
  • An ongoing discussion among shocked paragliders is underway here.



Fires may block access to Lake Wenatchee sockeye anglers

FISHING — All roads are currently closed to Lake Wenatchee, where a popular sockeye salmon fishery is set to open Saturday (July 19).

With several wildfires burning in the area, state officials have closed U.S. Highway 2 east of Stevens Pass as well as Old State Route 209 (“Chumstick Road”) between Leavenworth and the lake.

Washington State Parks has also closed entry to Lake Wenatchee State Park, the site of the primary boat launch on the lake.

“The sockeye fishery will open as scheduled, but anglers may have to wait for a few days to get to it,” said Jeff Korth, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We strongly advise they check reports on fire and road conditions before they head out.”

Sources of that information include:

Information on the upcoming sockeye fishery is available on WDFW's website.

Huckleberry festivals mark ripening of Idaho state fruit

WILD EDIBLES — The huckleberry harvest season is underway at lower elevations and the pleasure is working its way up the region’s mountainsides as the berries ripen. People and communities have taken note:

The berries are ripening at higher elevations this week, but the peak rage of ripe berries occurs in August. With my family in tow, I have to add hours to the hiking time into a Cabinet or Bitterroot mountains backpacking destination. It's hard to walk past a booming patch of hucks.

High areas in the Selkirk Mountains, such as Roman Nose, provide good picking into September.

Montana man lands sailing title in Nevada desert

LAND SAILING — John Eisenlohr of Lakeside, Mont., raced across Nevada desert Wednesday to victory in one of the competitive mini-yacht classes in the Landsaiiling World Championships.  He won the title in a sleek, silver rig he built using parts from hardware stores, beating out racers who crafted boats with marine parts.

Eisenlohr is among hundreds of sailing enthusiasts competing at Smith Creek Dry Lake in Lander County, Nevada.

According to a Reno Gazette-Journal story by Benjamin Spillman, it’s just the third time since 1990 the global event has been held in the United States, and it could be decades before it returns.

Yachts travel at high speeds — approaching 100 mph in some classes — with pilots reclined in a small seat within a few inches of the ground. Often the only protective gear on the pilot is a helmet and goggles.

“The remote location and harsh, unpredictable conditions are pushing competitors to their limits, both in terms of logistics and racing skills, Spillman said.

Lake Wenatchee sockeye season starts Saturday

FISHING — The record run of sockeye up the Columbia River has made way for a salmon season on Lake Wenatchee starting Saturday, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has just announced.

However, fires may block road access for the opener.

Action:   Lake Wenatchee opens for sockeye salmon fishing. 

Effective date: July 19, 2014 (one hour before official sunrise).

Species affected:   Sockeye salmon

Daily limit: The daily limit per angler is 6 sockeye, 12 inches in length or greater.  

Location:   Lake Wenatchee (Chelan Co.)

Reason for action:   Based on current sockeye passage at both Tumwater Dam and mainstem Columbia River Dams, at least 65,000 total sockeye are projected to be destined for Lake Wenatchee. This provides an estimated 42,000 sockeye to be available for harvest above the natural spawning escapement goal of 23,000 fish.  

Other information: Selective gear rules (up to three single barbless hooks per line, no bait or scent allowed, knotless nets required) in effect. Anglers may fish with 2 poles as long as they possess a valid two-pole endorsement.  A night closure will be in effect.  Legal angling hours are one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.  Bull trout, steelhead, and chinook salmon must be released unharmed without removing the fish from the water.

NOTE:   The Lake Wenatchee sockeye fishery may be closed on short notice depending on participation and catch rates.  Anglers are advised to check daily the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500 or WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/rules_all_freshwater.j

Anglers are required to possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement as part of their valid fishing license.  Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the Columbia River fisheries.  The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River basin. 

Idaho considers scaling back sage grouse hunting

HUNTING — Idaho is considering more restrictions on hunting sage grouse, including closures on south-state areas where the number of males at breeding grounds has declined more than 50 percent in three years.

Sage-grouse are proposed for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act; primarily due to habitat loss from such things as wildfire and invasive plants like cheat grass, department officials say. “Sage-grouse experts have determined that carefully regulated hunting is not a primary threat to populations, and Fish and Game closely monitors sage-grouse annually to ensure hunting will not compromise the population,” the agency said in media release.

Idaho Fish and Game is seeking public input on sage-grouse hunting proposals through Aug. 5. Upland bird managers will present sage-grouse hunting season recommendations to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at their Aug. 11 meeting. 

Recommendations are based on the current 3-year running average of male sage-grouse counted at leks (breeding sites) to counts from 1996–2000 when Idaho began intensified surveys statewide. Current sage-grouse lek data indicate that many populations could be hunted at the “restrictive” level. 

Idaho is considering two options for the 2014 season:

  • Option A: no change from the 2013 season.
    • Restrictive: Seven-day, one-bird daily limit statewide within sage-grouse range, except in designated closed areas, Sept. 20-26.
    • Closed: East Idaho Uplands area in southeastern Idaho; Washington and Adams counties; Eastern Owyhee County and western Twin Falls County; and Elmore County.
  • Option B: same as Option A, but would add a new closure in parts of Bannock, Cassia, Oneida, and Power counties.  Males at leks in this area have declined by 53% since 2011.

Planted flowers attract classy clientelle

WILDLIFE WATCHING — “Two of my favorite things in our garden this morning,” Spokane Valley pastor/photographer Craig Goodwin said Tuesday. “Tiger swallowtail butterflies and purple coneflowers. The blue flax to the left is a volunteer from some wildflower seeds I planted a couple years ago.”

Snake is standout in northeastern Washington

WILDLIFE WATCHING — “Rubber boa: Pend Oreille county's only native constrictor,” says Bart George, wildlife biologist with the Kalispel Tribe.


First Utah condor chick confirmed

ENDANGERED SPECIES — It’s official: a pair of California condors are raising a wild chick in Zion National Park, the first chick to be documented in Utah in the bird's recovery under endangered species protections.

The nest is in a cavity 1,000 feet above a remote canyon floor. This chick is the offspring of first-time nesting parents. The occasion is particularly momentous because the results of first-time nesters often fail.

“This is the first documented occurrence of California condors raising a chick in Utah,” says Eddie Feltes, condor project manager with The Peregrine Fund.

Keith Day, regional wildlife biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, says the chick won’t try to fly until November or December.

“California condors take about six months to fledge,” he says. “Their fledging period is the longest of any bird in North America.”

The parents will spend the next year raising the chick. “California condors typically produce one chick every other year,” he says.

Curious to see what the chick looks like?  The location of the wild chick is being kept secret for its protection, but you can visit the condor camera at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where a condor hatched in the rearing facility within days of this wild-born condor.