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Fall chinook season to open early in Priest Rapids pool

FISHING — This announcement just posted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is good news if you're champing at the bit to cast for the early portion of the record run of fall chinook heading up the Columbia River.

Action: Fall chinook season opens two days early to coincide with Labor Day weekend. 

Effective date:  Aug 30, 2014 (one hour before official sunrise).

Species affected:  Chinook salmon

Location:  Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam to Wanapum Dam

General Rules: Daily limit six (6) chinook only; up to two adults may be retained. All other rules for Columbia River apply, including barbless hooks. Two poles allowed through Aug 31, 2014.

Reason for action: The standard opening date for fall chinook in the Priest Rapids Pool is September 1. With Labor Day weekend falling on August 30, 2014, opening two days early will allow for additional angling opportunity.

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 upper Columbia River spring chinook fisheries.  The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River basin.

Monitor fishing rule changes on the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500 or the WDFW webpage.

Lake Wenatchee sockeye season to close after Labor Day

FISHING — Not much time left, according to this announcement just posted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Action:  Lake Wenatchee closes for sockeye salmon fishing. 

Effective date: Sept. 1, 2014 (one hour after official sunset).

Species affected:  Sockeye salmon

Location:  Lake Wenatchee (Chelan Co.)

Reason for action:  The majority of adult sockeye salmon currently in Lake Wenatchee will soon become largely unavailable to anglers due to their annual migration to the spawning grounds on the White and Little Wenatchee Rivers.  Sockeye condition and desirability will have declined drastically. This closure will further reduce unnecessary impacts to bull trout with such relatively few sockeye still being present in Lake Wenatchee. 

Coast is clear: Illia Dunes beaches reopened along Snake River

PUBLIC LANDS — Illia Dunes, a Snake River beach and recreation site especially popular in August and September with college students, is being reopened today after last week's closure stemming from fecal coliforms found in water samples.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says test results received early this afternoon showed the area was again safe for in-water recreation.

Corps natural resources staff take weekly water samples at swimming areas in the district and have them tested for fecal coliforms that pose a potential hazard to human health. The Illia Dunes beach was closed Aug. 15 after tests showed that fecal bacteria exceeded levels considered safe for people.

In past years, Illia Dunes, located on the Snake River about three miles downstream of Lower Granite Lock and Dam, has proven a popular end-of-summer gathering place.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers natural resources staff remind visitors of the following rules for the dunes and other Corps Snake River recreation areas:

Illia Dunes parking is restricted to two nearby Corps parking lots only. Due to the size, configuration of available space and limited maneuverability for larger vehicles, no busses are allowed to park in these lots. The two parking lots hold a total of about 120 cars. Although not a new requirement, it should be noted that tour and school buses must contact the dam at 509-843-1493 at least 24 hours in advance for crossing authorization.

No public parking is allowed on the adjacent 50-mph speed limit Almota Ferry Road. “No Parking” signs have been placed along the roadway. Warm-weather visitors parking on the two-lane, road shoulder have often encroached on traffic lanes, making the roadway narrower and preventing cars and emergency vehicles from safely passing. Shoulder parking also creates pedestrian hazards.

Banning alcohol consumption on Corps lands is an option the Corps could enact at any time, and such bans are in place at several locations in the region. While alcohol consumption at Illia Dunes is not banned at this time, underage drinking is not allowed. Remember, state laws prohibit driving or boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Remember that drugs are prohibited on federal lands, even if state law allows it.

Conducting special events on Corps property is prohibited without a special-use permit. Permit applications are available at Corps natural resource management offices, and take about 30 days to review and determine if the requested activity will be allowed.

Sound-producing equipment operated in such a manner as to unreasonably annoy other visitors is prohibited.

Any act or conduct by any person which interferes with, impedes or disrupts the use of the site or impairs the safety of any person is prohibited. Individuals who are boisterous, rowdy, disorderly or otherwise disturb the peace on Corps lands or waters may be requested to leave.

No glass containers are allowed on the Dunes, and the Corps provides free trash bags for visitors to use for “pack it in, pack it out” trash removal. Please, use the trash bags and put filled trash bags into on-site garbage receptacles.

Corps officials say they will continue to patrol and monitor how well visitors keep glass containers off the beach at all times, consume alcohol responsibly, use provided restrooms, not use fireworks on Corps lands at any time, and enjoy their visit without violating laws or posted notices. In this way, visitors will be helping determine future public use of the area, which is also a wildlife habitat management area.

New wolf kill authorization broader than state law

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Some readers reacting to my recent report have pointed out that the public already has the right in Eastern  Washington to shoot a wolf that threatens a person or domestic animals even though wolves are protected by state endangered species laws.

So why did we headline the announcement that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has given a rancher the OK to shoot wolves?

I asked department officials to explain and here's a summary of the answer:

Gray wolves are managed under state regulations in the eastern third of the state while federal Endangered Species rules apply to wolves farther west.

Following incidents with wolves preying on sheep and pets in rural areas, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted a standing rule that any person in the eastern third of the state who sees a wolf in the act of attacking livestock or domestic animals can shoot and kill up to one wolf to stop the attack.

The new authority given in the case of the recent sheep attacks in southern Stevens County is broader.

Rancher Dave Dashiell as well as WDFW staffers on the scene to help move and protect the sheep were given the authority Wednesday to shoot any wolf they see even near the sheep.  An attack does not need to be underway and they can kill more than one wolf if the opportunity presents itself.

That said, the chances are very low even under the broader guidelines that they will get the chance to shoot a wolf.  When the decision was finally made to destroy the cattle-eating Wedge Pack in 2012, the state got nowhere with killing wolves until they hired a helicopter. The aerial gunner took care of the issue in a couple of days.

“These attacks (on Stevens County sheep) have occurred mostly at night and unnoticed even though people are out there with dogs and lights,” said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman. “It's a stretch to expect even one wolf to be shot under these rules, but at least they have the authority if the the chance presents itself.”

ORVer displays ignorance of what’s spoiling his sport

OFF-ROADING — I recently received an email from a gutless reader dissing me for a column I wrote about ORVer's who ride on private property — notably Mica Peak — without permission, as well as on public lands where riding off designated roads is illegal.

I call the person “gutless” because he/she has taken the liberty to call me a moron without having the courage to identify himself/herself more specifically than “Dusty.”

Here's his/her beef:

I just stumbled across your blog entry/story.

Really? That's some seriously objective writing style you have.

And a shot of a couple bikes riding past a small, PRIVATELY PLACED “NO TRESPASSINGsign does not indicate a crime — nor an error in land ethics - in progress.

I happen to ride up (on Mica Peak) from time to time, and the only “problem” I've encountered are people who seem to think they can dictate their own personal land use rules to us.

The people I ride with are local and know where and where not to ride. Our bikes use Forest Service approved spark arresters, and we ride with care, making sure to have as little impact on the land as possible.

And dirt bikers have been using that area for decades, and are responsible for the creation of most of the area's trails.

So please spare us the faux outrage and keep your ill-advised and opinionated blog posts to yourself, moron!

—DustyDissenter@yahoo.com

I offered this reply two weeks ago, but Dusty has not responded:

Dusty:

Did you ever ask the landowners for permission to ride on that Mica Peak land and create those trails you mention?

Tell me the truth.  Because if you did the landowners lied to me.  

And what about those “NO MOTOR VEHICLES” signs on the gates to Inland Empire Paper Co. lands? Does that mean you, or is it just my unobjective interpretation?

There's a very good chance you don't have a clue Dusty.

Read the story linked to that blog and learn why dirt bikers are losing places to ride right and left. 

State gives sheep rancher OK to kill attacking wolves

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A northeastern Washington wolf pack that’s acquired a taste for sheep could get a taste of lethal force.

A rancher and state wildlife officials herding 1,800 sheep away from the site of recent wolf attacks in southern Stevens County received the OK Wednesday to shoot wolves that approach the flock.

Gray wolves are protected by state endangered species laws except in cases where they threaten people or livestock.

The Huckleberry Pack has continued to kill sheep this week despite four guard dogs, a range rider, the livestock owner’s crew and state officials working day and night to protect the sheep, said Donny Martorello, Fish and Wildlife Department carnivore manager.

Department Director Phil Anderson authorized livestock owner Dave Dashiell of Hunters and his helpers to use limited lethal measures to avoid additional attacks. They cannot actively hunt or attempt to bait the wolves for shooting, he said.

Wildlife officials have confirmed that wolves killed 16 sheep in four separate incidents on since Aug. 14 on leased Hancock timber company land near Hunters.

A confirmed wolf-killed sheep was found Tuesday followed by another on Tuesday night, Martorello said. “We’re doing everything we can to patrol and run interference,” he said.

  • The range rider was having trouble getting keys to locked gates from the Hancock timber company in order to move camps to more strategic areas where there's water for the horses, Martorello confirmed.

Signals from a radio collar attached to a male wolf in the pack show the animal was at the site, likely with other pack members, when the attacks occurred, said Nate Pamplin, the department’s wildlife program director.

 A total of 14 sheep were killed last week in two incidents. Before that, nine other sheep were found dead in the area but their deaths couldn’t be confirmed as wolf kills.

The rancher is moving the sheep each day and the state is trying to help him find alternative pasture. “We have leads on places but nothing for sure, yet,” Martorello said.

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association has criticized the state for not giving Dashiell radio collar information this spring that would have indicated the operator was planning to pasture sheep near the Huckleberry Pack’s denning area.

Martorello said the wolf had been trapped and collared by the Spokane Indian Tribe under an agreement not to share the location of the wolf. Since the attacks, the tribe is allowing the location of the collared wolf to be shared, he said.

The Huckleberry Pack, one of about a dozen confirmed packs in Washington, has six to 12 members. The pack has not been associated with livestock kills until last week.

The events are reminiscent of the 2012 wolf attacks on cattle in northern Stevens County that didn’t end until the state was forced to use helicopter gunners to kill all seven members of the Wedge Pack.

Fish and Wildlife officials reported spending $76,500 to end the pack’s livestock attacks but not before at least 17 calves had been lost, mostly on private land managed by Diamond M Ranch.

Dashiell has four large guard dogs and camps alongside his flock at night, Pamplin said. “Yet, the attacks have continued, even after the department sent four members of our wildlife-conflict staff and an experienced range-rider to help guard the sheep and begin moving them out of the area.”

  • The dogs are crosses of the standard sheepdog breeds: Marema, Akbash and Pyrenees. The Dashiells report that one of the dogs has two large canine bites in one of his rear legs that may be from fighting off the wolves.

The livestock owner has removed the carcasses of dead animals where possible to do so and kept his flock on the move around the grazing areas, Pamplin said.

Wildlife officials may attempt to trap and collar more wolves to help monitor the pack’s movements, Pamplin said.

“Our preferred option is to help the livestock owner move the sheep to another area, but finding a place to graze 1,800 animals presents a challenge,” Pamplin said. “We’ll continue to do everything we can to avoid further conflict.”

YogaSlackers win 500-mile Expedition Idaho adventure race

ADVENTURE RACING — A team of three men and a woman covered 500-miles of rugged Panhandle mountain terrain on their feet, bikes and rafts, spiced with rock climbing and other challenges, to win the 2014 Expedition Idaho adventure race last week.

Five teams started the event from the Silver Springs Resort on Aug. 10 and finished Saturday before the cheering Brewsfest crowd on Silver Mountain.

Bruises, stitches, a broken nose, heat exhaustion, navigation errors and sleep deprivation were suffered during the event and water rescues were required to keep all the teams going during the race, officials said.

Winning the event were the YogaSlackers team of yoga instructors Jason Magness and Chelsey Gribbon-Magness, along with software engineer Dan Staudigel – all from Bend, Oregon – plus sea kayaking guide Paul Cassedy from San Diego.

While all five teams finished the event, only the top two teams completed the full course. YogaSlackers qualified for a similar event next year in Alaska.

Expedition Idaho was organized by Perpetual Motion Events from Coeur d’Alene, headed by David Adlard of Athol.

”We have had more rain this one week in August than in any month of August since I have lived in Idaho,” said Adlard. ”And of course, there is no rain scheduled for the rest of the month. We brought it along just to give that little extra test to the racers, it seems.”

The second half of the course included a 100-mile mountain bike leg that had racers pedaling through Thursday night. Severe thunderstorms during the week washed out some routes and forced the teams onto alternate routes through the Mallard-Larkins Pioneer Area. The route went over Lookout Mountain and Breezy Point, down Gold Creek Canyon.

 On Friday they launched for 38 miles of whitewater rafting on the St. Joe River through sections including Tumble Down Falls.

Several of the ultralight one-person rafts punctured in the rapids, where occupants were beat up in the rocks before they could get out.

The racers had to rope up and ascend 300 feet on a rock climbing route carrying their rafts before rappelling back to the river to finish the float.

This final bike leg was a challenging 27 miles that took eight hours even for the winning team as they ascended Prospect Peak, Mastadon toward to the Elsie Lake area.

The last leg was a trek to Silver Mountain, where they were rewarded with cheers from a Brewsfest crowd of 1,500, high fives and much free beer.

Expedition racing was born in the early 1970’s when a group of friends in Alaska challenged each other to race to a point over 600 miles distant without using any mechanized transport or roadways.

The World Championships of expedition racing are held in a different country every year, including Costa Rica this year.

Helicopter used to recover bodies of Mount Rainier climbers

MOUNTAINEERING — A helicopter crew using a grabber device on a long cable were able to recover the bodies of three Mount Rainier climbers today from a dangerous slope below the Willis Wall.

The climbers died in a fall while attempting a difficult and dangerous route up Liberty Ridge in May. Their bodies were detected during a training flight this week in the debris field on the Carbon Glacier.

See the report from KOMO TV.

Idaho license plates focus on wildlife

CONSERVATION — First the state bird, then an elk, and a trout. 

These iconic Idaho species are featured on the state's wildlife specialty license plates that can be seen on the front and rear bumpers of thousands of vehicles in Idaho in license plate program that raises money for wildlife conservation.

Funding from sales of these plates is earmarked for managing wildlife that are not hunted, fished or trapped—more than 10,000 species or 98 percent of Idaho’s species diversity. 

Idaho Fish and Game has received about $850,000 a year in recent years from revenue generated by the three wildlife plates.

  • Idaho’s 30 specialty license plates — benefiting non-profit efforts including trails work and even a Corvette club and an appaloosa horse club — raise $1.6 million a year for the various groups that benefit from them.

Idaho’s first wildlife license plate, the mountain bluebird, was approved by the Legislature in 1992 and went on sale July 1, 1993. A second plate, the Rocky Mountain elk, was added in 1998, followed by the cutthroat trout plate in 2003.

No state tax dollars are provided for wildlife diversity, conservation education and recreation programs, nor are any revenues from the sale of hunting or fishing licenses spent to implement wildlife diversity management and conservation. The primary source of revenue is the Idaho wildlife specialty license plates, partnered with direct donations, federal and private grants, and fundraising initiatives.

Adventure Cycling releases list of bike tours, learning experiences

CYCLING — If you're dreaming up a plan for a bicycle tour in 2015, check out the recently released list of 2015 early, epic, and educational tours from Adventure Cycling.

The Missoula-based bike touring association has a delicious schedule of group tours you can join as well — as well as educational sessions that teach riding/touring/camping skills for cyclists.

When I enrolled to be a leader for Bikecentennial TransAmerica bicycle tours in 1976, I took the group's leadership training course. (Bikecentennial later became Adventure Cycling).  That four-day course saved me months of trial and error learning and gave me skill set and confidence to make that summer a success that goes down as one of my most memorable adventures.

When my oldest daughter started planning a major bike tour, I suggested she enroll in one of the Adventure Cycling courses. She traveled to Denver for the course and she'd agree that the sessions such as on-the-road bike repair, camp cooking and logistics plus social and riding skills are worth the investment. 

Here's what Adventure Cycling is offering in 2015:

Educational Courses

If you're interested in joining a group for a bicycling trip, consider this wide range of options:

Epic Tours

Early Self Contained and Inn to Inn Tours

Early Fully Supported and Van Supported Tours

Utah parks officially ban use of drones

PUBLIC LANDS — National Parks in Utah are uniting to take action on the June proclamation to ban unmanned aircraft in national parks across the United States.

Drones banned in national parks, monuments in Utah
The use of unmanned aircraft in Arches and Canyonlands parks as well as Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments in Utah was formally banned Monday, amid an increase in the use of drones by photographers and videographers and an increase in complaints about such use.
—Salt Lake Tribune

Huckleberry photo worth a thousand words

WILD EDIBLES — Vickie Garner Sienknecht said she's not much for poetry — shunning my request for submissions of Huckleberry Haiku — but this photo from last weekend, she says, clearly indicates how much she loves her huckleberries.

If I were to put Haiku words in her mouth, it might go like this:

Verse comes not to mind

Passions focused t'ward a pie

My heart bleeds purple.

WSU study: Can grizzlies make use of tools?

WILDLIFE RESEARCH — Washington State University researchers are learning whether grizzly bears make and use tools.

With claws and teeth that can rip open anything from a beer can to beaver dens and moose carcasses, it seems as though tools would be unnecessary.

But while it’s too soon to reach a broad scientific conclusion, researchers say at least one female bear at the WSU lab is demonstrating that use of tools comes naturally.

The study, being conducted at WSU’s Bear Research Education and Conservation Center, is documenting eight grizzlies faced with the challenge of getting their claws into a dangling food snack that’s too high to reach, reports Linda Weiford of WSU News. No training is involved. The researchers are chronicling innate learning behavior.

Information gleaned from the study can be used to help wildlife managers solve grizzly-related challenges and problems, according to researchers, and also assist zookeepers in keeping captive bears mentally and physically stimulated. The study should be completed this fall.

“While it’s generally accepted that grizzly bears are intelligent creatures, until now no scientific research had been conducted on their problem-solving skills,” said WSU veterinary biologist Lynne Nelson, who is overseeing the study.

Here are more details from the WSU report:

In WSU’s controlled setting, eight brown bears—three males and five females—are being tested separately and are at various phases of the experiment, said Nelson. To date, a 9-year-old grizzly named Kio has sailed through each phase, essentially nailing the hypothesis that the species is capable of tool use.

Here’s how the study works: Inside the grizzly bears’ play area, a donut is hung on a string from a wire, too high for the animals to reach. First, each bear is tested to see if it will stand on a sawed-off tree stump to reach up and get the donut down. Once this is mastered, researchers move the stump away from the hanging donut and place it on its side.

Here’s where things get challenging. The bear must move the stump until it is positioned underneath the donut and then flip the stump over into a makeshift footstool.

Kio mastered this early: “She manipulates an inanimate object in several steps to help her achieve a goal, which in this case is to obtain food,” said Nelson. “This fits the definition of tool use.”

The other grizzlies are in the process of figuring out the feat, she explained, which confirms what the center’s scientists have long suspected about the keen brain power of bears. Frequently, Nelson and her colleagues witness grizzlies doing remarkable things, including using a single claw in a key-like manner to try to open locks.

Why should humans scientifically assess tool use among America’s greatest predators?

  • “If grizzly bears are capable of using tools to interact with their environment, that’s important for us to know because it provides a fuller picture of how they think,” said WSU veterinary student Alex Waroff, who designed the study and who, with Nelson, tests the bears five mornings a week.
  • “By better understanding their cognitive abilities, we can help reduce encounters that can turn deadly for bears and humans alike,” he said.
  • Such understanding also could shed light on whether the species is capable of manipulating its environment when faced with changes in the wild, such as shifts in habitat conditions or declining food sources, he explained.

Most of the center’s grizzly bears were deemed “problem bears” in the wild and were brought to WSU as an alternative to being shot and killed.

“Grizzlies are smart foragers and they’ll work hard to get at food – which, as we’re seeing, can include some pretty sophisticated strategies,” Nelson said.

Incidentally, the glazed donuts, donated by a local grocery store, are used to entice the bears for the study and aren’t part of their normal diet, said Nelson.

“Yes, they like sweets – just like humans,” she said. “But we’re careful to restrict their intake.”

Spokane River Classic attracts variety of paddlers

WATERSPORTS — More than 100 canoeists, kayakers and stand up paddleboarders of all skill levels are registered so far for the Spokane River Classic set for Saturday, Aug. 23.

The event will start at McKinstry near Gonzaga University with participants heading out on a 1.3-mile citizens course or a 5.4-mile endurance course.

The Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club revived the classic this  year to emphasize boating participation on the river and the need for public access to the river for boaters.

In addition to paddling, the lawn area around McKinstry is being transformed into a Spokane River party. Fueling the festivities for adults will be a beer garden courtesy of River City Brewery, barbeque from Big Daddy’s, Camargo’s taco truck, and prizes for participants.

Kids will be fueled with a root beer stand, popcorn and an interactive play area that includes making authentic fish prints.

Idaho swings liberal for dove hunting this fall

HUNTING — Dove hunters in Idaho will be able to take more birds home in 2014.

The Fish and Game Commission has approved liberal limits in response to new harvest strategies for North America’s most abundant game bird.

The daily limit for mourning doves will be 15, and the possession limit will be 45. The season will last 60 days, from Sept. 1 through Oct. 30.

The new harvest strategy approved by the Pacific Flyway Council is designed to conserve mourning dove populations while minimizing annual regulatory change. While this may be confusing to Idaho hunters in the first year, in the long run the goal is to provide more consistent seasons and limits in the future.

Spokane Junior Rifle Team sets open house for new shooters

SHOOTING – The Spokane Junior Rifle Team, which has produced several world-class shooters since it was founded nearly 50 years ago, will hold an open house for prospective members on Thursday, Aug. 21, at the Spokane Rifle Club’s indoor range along the Spokane River.

 “Many Spokane kids have attended college on NCAA shooting scholarships and several have gone to regional, national and international competitions, including the Olympic Games,” said coach Michael Furrer.

He should know. His daughter, Amanda Furrer, shot her way from the Spokane junior team to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Boys and girls age 10-18 interested in marksmanship as a sport or hobby are invited to the informal introduction, he said.

Info: spokanerifleclub.com.

Meeting on Washington hunting issue tonight in Spokane

HUNTING — Washington wildlife managers are conducting public meetings this week, including one tonight in Spokane, to discuss some of the issues being raised before any formal proposals are made for changes in the 2015-17 hunting regulations.

Issues for discussion have been compiled from comments by sportsmen since June on this Department of Fish and Wildlife web page. Comments on the alternatives will be accepted through Sept. 20.

Issues currently under consideration by the department for upcoming seasons include:

  • Setting spring and fall black bear seasons.
  • Early archery elk seasons.
  • Modern firearm mule deer seasons.
  • Hunting equipment, including non-toxic ammunition, expandable broadheads and crossbows.
  • Special permit drawings.
  • Baiting big game.

Public meetings in this region are set for 7 p.m. in:

  • Spokane, TONIGHT, Aug. 19, at Centerplace Regional Events Center 2426 N Discovery Pl.
  • Moses Lake, Wednesday, Aug. 20, at Big Bend Community College ATEC Center, 7611 Bolling St. NE.

Enterprise boat-in campground reopens on Lake Roosevelt

WATERSPORTS —  The Enterprise Boat-in Campground has been re-opened as the Enterprise fire has been controlled on Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.

The popular campground for boaters southwest of Hunters is open on a first-come, first-served basis.

“For your safety, we request that you stay out of the burned area and at least 100 yards from the burned area even on the water,” National Park Service officials say in a media release.

The Enterprise Fire will continue to produce smoke as scattered pockets of brush, stumps, and downed logs continue to smolder and burn. This is normal and will decrease over time. If you see brush and or trees fully engulfed by active flame within the burned area, please don’t hesitate to call the NE Interagency Dispatch Center at 509-685-6900.

Methow forest areas reopen as fires reduced

PUBLIC LANDS — Methow Valley and Tonasket Ranger Districts on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest have reopened many of the areas that were closed because of the Carlton Complex wildfires. Areas reopened on Sunday include:

  • East Chewuch area
  • Upper West Chewuch area,  including Andrews Creek and 30-Mile trailheads
  • North Summit and South Summit areas
  • Buttermilk Creek area south to Pateros, including Black Pine Lake, Foggy Dew, Loup Loup and JR campgrounds. West Fork Buttermilk, East Fork Buttermilk, Libby Lake, Crater Creek, Foggy Dew and Eagle-Oval Lakes trailheads
  • Sawtooth Backcountry

Areas that remain closed include:

  • 8-mile and Falls Creek drainages, including: Honeymoon, Ruffed Grouse, Nice, Flat, Buck Lake, Falls Creek, Chewuch and Camp 4 campgrounds; and the Billy Goat and Lake Creek Trailheads
  • Little Bridge Creek and Twisp River drainages, including: War Creek, Mystery, Poplar Flat, South Creek roads and campgrounds, and the Twisp River Horse Camp; War Creek, Williams Creek, Reynolds Creek, South Creek, Gilbert, Scatter, Slate Creek and Wolf Creek trailheads.
  • Road Closures: Finley Road #4100300 and Pole Pick Mountain Roads #4100500 and 4100535 as they are impassable. Other short-term temporary road closures may occur in the burned area due to heavy equipment doing road repairs.

The North Cascades Scenic Highway Corridor and Harts Pass, as well as east and west portions of the Pasayten Wilderness, Tiffany Springs Campground, Long Swamp and Chewuch trailheads were not impacted by the fires and remain open.

Info:  Methow Valley Ranger District at (509) 996-4000 or go to http://www.fs.usda.gov/okawen/.

Owl snacks on caged canaries in CdA

WILDLIFE WATCHING  —Don Sausser of Coeur d'Alene called Huckleberries Online Sunday to report a strange wildlife experience.

He snapped this photo of an owl on his 10th floor apartment balcony only to find out that the owl had entered the home through an open door, unlatched the family's bird cage door and snacked on one of his canaries.

 More here.

Colville Forest designates roads open to disabled hunters

HUNTING — Portions of five roads in the Colville National Forest have been designated as routes that will be open to disabled hunters during the upcoming hunting seasons.

The program allows motorized access into a gated road where other hunters must walk in, said Franklin Pemberton, Forest Service spokesman.

The 2014 disabled hunter access routes include:

  • Betty Creek in Ferry County (12.4 miles),
  • Boundary Mountain in Ferry County (7.8 miles),
  • Brewer Mountain in Stevens County (2.4 miles),
  • Mitchell in Stevens County (7.8 miles),
  • Renshaw in Pend Oreille County (2.8 miles).

The program does not provide special motorized access to all areas on the CNF, just to specially designed roads otherwise closed to motor vehicles.

“Disabled Hunter Access hunters and one of their two permitted assistants can harvest any game in season for which they have purchased licenses,” Pemberton said.

Permitted hunters can use the weapons allowed for the particular season by state hunting regulations. Participating hunters with disabilities must have a state issued disabled hunter permit and must register and sign-in at any one of the six Colville National Forest offices prior to hunting.

  • Colville National Forest Supervisor’s office, 765 S. Main St., Colville. Phone (509) 684-7000. Office hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Three Rivers Ranger District office, 255 W. 11th St., Kettle Falls. Phone (509) 738-7700. Office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Republic Ranger District office, 650 E. Delaware, Republic. Phone (509) 775-7400. Office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Newport office: 315 North Warren, Newport. Phone (509) 447-7300. Office hours are 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Sullivan Lake office: 12641 Sullivan Lake Road, Metaline Falls. Phone (509) 446-7500. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Colville National Forest partners in the project with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council.

Washington website devoted to high lakes fishing

FISHING — A new “High Lakes” section of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department's interactive “Fish Washington” web site has is online with details to help anglers find fish off the beaten path.

High lakes fishing has deteriorated in Washington over the past few decades as national parks have scaled back fish stocking where trout were not native — which means most high lakes in the Olympics, Mount Rainier and North Cascades national parks.

Don't expect a lot of state staff time to go into keeping this site up to day or full of details — that would take a lot of field time the agency doesn't have.

Perhaps the biggest value of this new site is easy access to stocking figures to help anglers channel their high-country efforts to the right waters.

Photo: bull elk trio displays great potential

WILDLIFE WATCHING  — This royal threesome of bull elk photographed in early July by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson is probably polishing up its act, so to speak, for the rut, which is just about ready to kick into gear in elk country across the west.

Prime time to hook smallies on the Ronde

FISHING — Silver Bow Fly Shop guide Sean Visintainer posted these photos to remind us that August is prime time for catching chunky smallmouth bass in the Snake and Grande Ronde Rivers.  Says Visintainer:

Bassin' is always a great alternative to trout fishing during the dog days of summer. Aggressive fish that will crush flies on the surface or just below. Try it for yourself or holler at us if you are interested in a guided trip on the Grande Ronde during the summer months.

Photo: Mom’s lesson bears fruit for bear cub

WILDLIFE WATCHING — While bears have a well-known taste for huckleberries, they also cash in on other fruits.

This black bear sow appears to be giving its cub a lesson in the nutritional benefits of eating chokecherries, according to this great photo snapped this week by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.

Illia Dunes temporarily pooped out as WSU party spot

PUBLIC LANDS — This is bad news for the beginning of the college party season on the Snake River: 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers temporarily closed the Illia Dunes beach  and adjacent shallow waters today after routine water testing there showed elevated levels of fecal bacteria.

The area is a well know party spot for Washington State University students.

Additional water samples will be taken Monday to be tested again for fecal coliforms that pose a potential hazard to human health. The beach will remain closed until tests show that fecal bacteria levels do not exceed state and federal levels considered safe for people.

Boating and fishing continues to be allowed in nearby areas. Fish caught in waters near the swim beach should be thoroughly cleaned and fully cooked before eating.

Warning signs have been posted at the Illia Dunes.

Contact: Corps' Lower Granite Natural Resources Management Office in Clarkston, Wash.,  (509) 751-0240.

Record number of visitors to Glacier park in July

PUBLIC LANDS — National Park Service officials say July 2014 was the busiest that Glacier National Park has ever seen.

The park service’s statistics office says nearly 700,000 people visited the northwestern Montana park last month.

The previous record for July was just shy of 690,000, in 1983.

The statistics office keeps monthly visitation records going back to 1979.

The park’s year-to-date visitor count is 1.2 million, which is nearly 5 percent higher than this time a year ago.

However, the number of people staying overnight declined 5.3 percent, and overnight stays in the backcountry dropped 15 percent.

Wolves kill 14 sheep in Stevens County

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed that one or more wolves from the Huckleberry Pack in southern Stevens County killed 12 sheep Aug. 11 and two more Aug. 12 on private property off the Springdale-Hunters Road.

The attack just north of Blue Mountain and about two miles north of the Spokane Indian Reservation is the first confirmed loss of livestock to gray wolves this year in Washington.

About 1,800 sheep are being grazed in the area under a lease with the Hancock Timber Company, which owns the land, said WDFW officials who verified the attacks.

The state is working with the operator to move the sheep to another grazing allotment and remove the sheep carcasses to avoid wolves returning to the kill site.

WDFW staffers are on site with the sheep and are prepared to haze away any wolves that might return, said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman in Spokane. A contract range rider will also be on the site for five to seven days while the sheep are moved.

The sheep producer may be eligible for compensation for the sheep lost to the wolves, she said.

The Huckleberry pack was confirmed as Washington’s seventh wolf pack in June 2012 and currently is believed to have at least six members, including a breeding pair and the radio-collared male. This does not include pups produced this year.

Luers said the Huckleberry Pack, named for nearby Huckleberry Mountain, has not been associated with livestock attacks before this incident.
  

Whitefish mountain bike route a ‘model’ flow trail

CYCLING — A year after its completion, Whitefish Mountain Resort’s Kashmir Trail has been named a model “Flow Trail” by the International Mountain Biking Association.  The route is among 30 miles of downhill and cross-country trails at the Whitefish Bike Park.

Once a year, IMBA recognizes outstanding mountain bike trails and locations with the IMBA Model Trail awards which encompass Epics, Ride Centers, Flow Trails and Community Bike Parks.

Kashmir is one of four Flow Trails recognized this year. Others included trails in Karnten, Austria, Sun Valley, Idaho and the Czech Republic.

The winners were announced last week and will be recognized at the 2014 IMBA World Summit Aug. 20-21 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Whitefish Mountain Resort’s Events and Recreation Manager, Josh Knight will attend and accept the award.

“It’s an honor to see Kashmir be recognized by IMBA,” said Josh Knight, the resort’s events and recreation manager. “As one of the first resorts in the west to provide lift-served mountain biking starting with the Summit Trail in 1996, it speaks volumes about the direction of the sport and the industry and what riders want.

“Kashmir has received many compliments over the past year from both experienced and intermediate riders progressing to the next level. Everyone involved in building the trail from our trail crew to Terraflow Trails was very proud of its creation. This award will help Whitefish continue to build on its reputation as a bicycling destination.” 

An IMBA media release said, “These are the trails worth traveling to; the best places to introduce someone to the sport we all love and are the facilities builders and advocates should look to for inspiration.”

Riders will have the opportunity to compete on Kashmir in two events set for September:

  • The Double Dip Downhill, Sept. 6-7 and will feature a course on Kashmir for Saturday’s race day.
  • Ender Enduro, Sept. 13, Whitefish Bike Park’s second enduro race of the season.

The Whitefish Bike Park lift-served downhill and cross-country trails are open daily mid-June to Labor Day and Friday-Sunday in September.

Kashmir Trail info:

  • Level - Black Diamond
  • Length - 2.54 Miles
  • Elevation Loss – 1,684 Vertical Feet
  • Description - The area's backbone flow trail running along the west ridge of the mountain toward the lower pod of downhill trails. It intersects with the Summit Trail six times so you can start small and work your way up to more advanced sections of trail.

 

Idaho wolf hunting derby seeks 5-year permit

HUNTING — Organizers of a disputed predator derby aimed at killing wolves in central Idaho are asking for a five-year permit to hold the contest.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports the group called Idaho for Wildlife applied with the Bureau of Land Management for a special recreation permit.

The derby went ahead last year after a U.S. District Court ruled against an environmental group that filed a lawsuit to stop the event. Wolf hunting with the required license during the established seasons is Idaho is legal.

  • There was a lot of hysteria promoted by pro-wolf groups who predicted a wolf slaughter even though everyone with a clue knew that derby hunters had little chance of killing more than a few wolves.

Organizers say that last year more than 230 participants killed 21 coyotes but no wolves near Salmon.

Organizers have said they’re seeking to publicize wolves’ impact on local elk herds and potential disease risks.

The BLM is examining the application as part of a process that will include a public comment period.