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Geology prof talks on Ice Age floods

LAND FORMS – A free program on “Missoula Floods in the Northern Rockies,” will be presented Thursday, 7 p.m., at Spokane Community College Student Union Building.  

The program will be presented by Gene Kiver, a book author, retired geology professor and stalwart in the Ice Age Floods Institute.

State shoots 2 wolves in Wedge Pack today; 6 or more to go

ENDANGERED SPECIES – Shooting from a helicopter, a marksman with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife killed two wolves in Northeast Washington today as part of an effort to eliminate a pack that has repeatedly preyed on livestock in a remote grazing area near the U.S.-Canada border.

The word comes from Bruce Botka, WDFW public affairs director in Olympia.

Teams of marksmen and wildlife biologists returned to an area of northern Stevens County known as the Wedge late last week, but had not killed any wolves after several days of around-the-clock activity. 

Beginning Monday, the department called in a helicopter to aid the effort, and an airborne marksman shot the two wolves early this afternoon, about seven miles south of the Canadian border.

WDFW Director Phil Anderson had directed the pack’s removal last week in response to the wolves’ escalating pattern of predation on the livestock herd of the Diamond M Ranch of Stevens County.  Since July, the pack of eight or more wolves is believed to have killed or injured at least 17 of the herd’s calves and cows.

The department says the attacks came despite non-lethal efforts to minimize wolf conflict by the rancher and department staff. Some pro-wolf groups say the efforts to prevent the attacks could have been more effective.

Read on for more details from WDFW.

Priest Lake mackinaw gives fisherman the finger

FISHING — Good fishermen always check the stomach contents of their fish to see what they've been eating, but few have had to drop the task at hand, go to the police and have the contents FINGER PRINTED to find out the source of the feed!

Read S-R reporter Scott Maben's story from Priest Lake, Idaho.

Black bears hanging out at English Point near Hayden Lake

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A black bear sow and her cub have been frequenting the English Point recreation trail near Hayden Lake, Forest Services officials say.

No reports of aggressive behavior from the bears have been received at the Panhandle National Forests headquarters in Coeur d'Alene, "but it remains important for the public to exercise caution and give the bears plenty of space to ensure future bear encounters are uneventful," said Jason Kirchner, forest public affairs officer.

“Bear sightings are not unusual but due to the unpredictable nature of bears the public needs to understand that some caution should be taken whenever they are in bear country,” said Coeur d’Alene River District Ranger Chad Hudson.


Should you encounter a bear:

  • Stay calm. Group together, pick up small children and assess the situation. Prepare to use your bear spray.
  • Do not run or make sudden movements, it may instinctively cause the bear to charge you.
  • Give bears a chance to identify you as human, and not a threat. If the bear stands up, it is trying to see, hear and smell you better.
  • Talk firmly in a low-pitched voice while backing away. Avoid direct eye contact as bears may perceive this as a challenge or threat.
  • Continue to back away slowly and cautiously, retreating to a place of safety. Monitor the animal’s response, and adjust your actions accordingly.

More info: Center for Wildlife Information or your local Forest Service office.

Travel: Canoeing Montana’s Missouri River

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)

    When I opened my eyes, the sun was not yet over the horizon and the weak light it cast was wrapped in the heavy mist rising from the Missouri River. I lay still, warm and bundled under a heavy layer of quilts, watching through the small window beside the bed as the day came into its own.  Soon I could see deer grazing in the rolling fields around the other cabins, all, like my own, early homestead shelters that had been moved to the Virgelle Mercantile and refurbished for guests.

    By the time I was up and dressed the coffee was ready in the kitchen of the old Mercantile building. I poured a cup and the steam rose from the mug in my hand as I walked back outdoors out to take photos.

    After a breakfast of whole-hog sausage and baked French toast, washed down by pots of hot coffee, in the company of others there for the guided fishing and canoeing trips offered by the Mercantile’s sister business, The Missouri River Canoe Company, we gathered our gear and took the short ride down to the canoe launch.Once our canoes were loaded we paddled away.

   This stretch of the Missouri River is shallow this time of year, no more than a couple of feet deep in some places. We made steady progress, paddling hard enough to get where we were going but stopping whenever something caught our attention. The beauty of September in Montana is that the summer travelers have gone back to work and school. We had the river to ourselves, but we were not alone. Deer splashed across inlets and an eagle sitting on the branch of a tall Cottonwood tree studied us as we passed. Farther along, a silent, watchful Coyote, camouflaged in the tall grass, turned his head to follow our progress down the river.

       Soon, warmed by the sun and the exercise, our jackets came off. There wasn’t a cloud in the wide blue dome of the sky and only an occasional gust of wind worked against us as we paddled.

    I listened as our guide, a genuine Montana woodsman who makes his living guiding, hunting and trapping along the river, talked about Lewis and Clark’s journey along the same route through what is now the Missouri River Breaks National Monument. It was, he pointed out, with the exception of the occasional barn or fenceline and the grey-green Russian Olive introduced by homesteaders as a way to shelter flimsy cabins from the relentless wind, essentially an unchanged landscape. Soon, at a bend in the river, the eerie Hoodoos and white sandstone cliffs so unique to that portion of the river, the aptly-named White Cliffs stretch, came into view.    One more thing checked off the list of places I need to see before I die.

    After a couple of hours we pulled our canoes onto a pebbled strip of beach and stopped for lunch, digging into the sandwiches and fruit like we were starving, as though we hadn’t eaten a massive breakfast that morning. As we ate, I thought about something one of the group had said the night before. He’d been telling a story and mentioned a particular day— a special day—as one of the thirty or so he actually remembered of that particular year. I’d never really thought about it before but he is right. Most of the 365 days of work and worry, scheduled appointments, hurried commutes and eat-at-your-desk lunches, blend into a blur. Not much stands out. But, once in a while, there are moments that stay with us forever, etched into memory. They are special enough to share.    

    We packed up the scraps left from our meal and pushed away from the shore, paddling on down the river. More white cliffs and narrow coulees. More photos. More memories.

    At the end of the trip, gathering our gear and hopping back into the van that would carry us and the canoes back to our cars at the Mercantile, I let what I’d seen and done replay in my mind.  From the moment I opened my eyes and let them rest on the fog-softened view, to the last spectacular mile of Missouri River wilderness before we pulled our canoes out of the water, the day was special. It was a day worth holding onto and, in that way, worth sharing.

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

Being a geezer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

HUNTING — Although I wasn't old enough to be allowed to carry a gun, I took my English Setter, Scout, out for some training at the Fishtrap Lake pheasant release site this morning, the second day of the new Geezer Pheasant Hunting Season.

Scout found one cock (above) in the first 15 minutes while the sunrise was still glowing orange through smoke from the region's wildfires. Then we worked for another 50 minutes without a find.

Birds had been released for las weekend's youth upland bird seasons and hunters reported roosters leftover after the weekend season closed.

But it's very dry out there. Survivial of pen-raised birds is notoriously short. 

I met a legitimate senior hunter with his chocolate Lab, having a good time but they had found no birds by 8:30 a.m.   He had other places to try…. and of course he had time to do it.

Being a non-geezer, I had to go back to work.

Disease testing required for game returning with hunters

HUNTING — Washington hunters returning with game from Wyoming or 16 others states and some Canadian provinces must have the meat and trophies properly processed to prevent possible spread of Chronic Wasting disease.

CWD has been found in wild deer populations in Texas and Missouri in the past year, bringin the number of states with verified cases to 17.

Washington residents hunting in states where CWD has been confirmed are required to conduct additional processing of deer, elk and moose carcasses brought back to Washington.

The others states where CWD has been detected include Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The requirements are in place to reduce the risk of spreading CWD into Washington, where no cases of the disease have been confirmed.

While CWD is a fatal illness in deer and elk, there have been no confirmed cases of CWD being transmitted to humans or passed to domestic animals or livestock.

See more information on the additional processing and reporting requirements, (also published onpage 93 of the Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules Pamphlet.

Click here for more information on CWD.

Disabled hunters sign up for access

HUNTING– Qualificed applicants have until Sept. 30 to sign up in a drawing for special access to hunting areas through the Coeur d'Alene River Ranger District’s Hunters with Disabilities Program.

Disabled hunters must sign up in person at either the Forest Service’s Silver Valley Office, (208) 783-2363, in Smelterville or Fernan Office, (208) 664-2318, in Coeur d’Alene. 

Applicants must present a Handicapped Person's Motor Vehicle Hunting Permit (orange card), a valid Idaho Disabled Hunting License and a big game tag when signing up.

The Forest Service is allowing motorized access for hunters with disabilities during the General Elk Season, Oct. 10-31 in two areas:

  • Clover-Haystack Mountain, Roads 6544, 6545 and 944.
  • Idaho Gulch, Road 1505.

The drawing will be held Oct. 1.

The Sandpoint Ranger District also has two areas open for disabled hunters. Applications for opening day hunts must be submitted by noon on Friday (Sept. 28). Info: (208) 263-5111.

Organized runs hit the trails around Spokane

TRAILS– Two notable trail runs are coming up in the Spokane area:

Wild Moose Chase Trail Run, Sept. 29, on 5K, 10K and 25K routes on trails at Mount Spokane State Park.

(No Discovery Pass required; reduced fees for kids.)  

Email: wildmoosechase@gmail.com

Sekani Trail Run, Oct. 13, choose to walk or run on 5K or 10K courses at Camp Sekani, a 125-acre natural park above the Spokane River in Spokane Valley.

UI sends writers into the wilds

OUTDOOR WRITING – Graduate students chosen for the University of Idaho’s new Writing in the Wild masters of fine arts fellowships will spend a week at either the McCall Outdoor Science School at Payette Lake or the Taylor Wilderness Research Station in the heart of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.  

Applications for the creative writing program this academic year are due Sept. 30.  

Applications for the 2013-2014 fellowships are due April 15.

Idaho sets clinics for youth waterfowlers

HUNTING– Registration is underway for the limited number of spots in the annual Youth Waterfowl Hunting Clinics sponsored by the Idaho Fish and Game Department’s Panhandle Region.

This year’s clinics are set for Sept. 29, when girls and boys ages 15 and under and their parents can learn the basics of hunting waterfowl in mentored hunting situation during the states’s special hunting season just for youths.

Following a morning hunt with experienced waterfowlers, participants will be treated to a free barbeque and skills clinic. 

The clinics are limited to 25 participants at three different clinics:

Northern Panhandle Clinic: Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area, northwest of Bonners Ferry.

Central Panhandle Clinic: Pend Oreille Wildlife Management Area, east of Sandpoint at the Clark Fork Delta drift yard boat ramp.

Southern Panhandle Clinic: Heyburn State Park, northwest of St. Maries at the south end of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Pre-register with J.J. Teare at the Panhandle Region Office, (208) 769-1414.

Youth hunter switches seats with dad; pheasants leftover for geezers

HUNTING — Daniel Kuhta, 15, ended his career of participating in youth upland bird hunting seasons Sunday at the BLM Fishtrap Lake area with a limit of pheasants, and a good weekend with his dad, Scott, their yellow Lab, Luby, and the family's new Lab pup, Max.

"This was the last year for my son to take advantage of the youth hunt weekend," said Scott, marking just one in the series of changes of teenagehood.

"He turned 15 in July and today was the first time he drove ME to our hunting spot."

"We hunted Fishtrap both days and saw lots of birds. There were a few kids out Saturday but we did not see any other bird hunters Sunday."
Fishtrap is one of 29 pheasant release sites in Eastern Washington. The next release of pheasants at the sites is likely to occur the week AFTER the Oct. 13 general phesant season opens.

Mushroom club plans Priest Lake foray

FORAGING – The Spokane Mushroom Club’s annual fall foray is set for Oct. 5-7 at the Priest River Experimental Forest based in Priest River.

Experts lead daily group hikes to identify mushrooms collect specimens for educating the groups when they convene.

Participants who can’t spend the entire weekend can join the Saturday foray, which leaves promptly at 9 a.m., and attend Saturday’s Pot Luck set for 6 p.m.

Pre-registration is required by today (Sept. 24). Cost: $25.

Lodging arrangements can be made.

Contact Lynda Foreman, (509) 368-9969, email schroomerlyn@msn.com

State aims to eliminate wolf pack: more details

ENDANGERED SPECIES — More information about the decision to kill the entire Wedge Pack of wolves responsible for killing wolves this summer in northern Stevens County is in my news story in today's paper.

Cattlemen, pro-wolf groups weigh in on Wedge Pack death sentence

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department in conjuction with a livestock group and a wildlife conservation group have just issued statement's on the previously reported state decision to eliminate an entire wolf pack that's been attacking cattle in northern Stevens county.

"In response to ongoing attacks on livestock by a wolf pack in Northeast Washington that appears to be preying exclusively on cattle, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife today announced it plans to eliminate the pack and lay a foundation for sustainable, long-term wolf recovery in the region," according the the WDFW statement just released.

 WDFW Director Phil Anderson said the plan has the support of key conservation interests and livestock operators.  Two organizations that participated in developing the state’s 2011 Wolf Conservation and Management Plan – Conservation Northwest and the Washington Cattlemen’s Association – joined the department in issuing a statement explaining their positions. 

Mount Adams fire closes part of Pacific Crest Trail

TRAILS — A wildfire burning near Mount Adams forced the closure of part of the Pacific Crest Trail late Thursday.

The closed segment of the trail is between the Williams Mine Trailhead off Forest Road 23 to the junction of the Divide Trail on the Mt. Adams, Ranger District, said Ken Sandusky of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Call the district office for more information, (509) 395-3402.

The Cascade Creek fire, apparently sparked by lightning storms near Mount Adams on Sept. 8, has burned 9,800 acres. Firefighters say its only about 50 percent contained.

Death sentence issued for entire wolf pack in Wedge area

ENDANGERED SPECIES — One thing's for sure: Beef is not healthy for wolves.

At a public meeting in Colville Thursday night, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department announced intentions to eliminate the entire Wedge Pack of wolves that have killed or injured at least 15 cattle in northern Stevens County since mid-July.

This is a milestone in the controversial process of wolf recovery, the first time a wolf pack has been targeted in Washington since gray wolves were extirpated from the West with guns, traps and poison in the early 1900s. Eliminating wolf packs focused on livestock already has been employed in Montana and Idaho where the issues arose.

Statements were issued late Friday afternoon by the WDFW along with the state Cattlemen's Association and Conservation Northwest.

Details of the meeting and the agency's plan to kill the wolves are spelled out in this morning's report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.

For those watching this issue, the writing was on the wall.

The scenario was pretty well set up, as I illustrated in my Thursday column, when WDFW officials confirmed another wolf attack on Diamond M Ranch cattle on Sunday.

Walgamott also posted a detailed scene-setting report.

The agency posted answers to frequently asked questions on Wednesday night.

Hiawatha rail trail closing for season Sept. 30

BICYCLING — The Route of the Hiawatha mountain bike trail, with its popular tunnels and trestles near Lookout Pass, will close for the season at 5 p.m. on Sept. 30. 

BLM’s Fishtrap Lake trails mostly untouched by fire

PUBLIC LANDS — The 350-acre fire on BLM land that prompted a temporary evacuation of Fishtrap Lake Resort recently was fairly well contained with minimal damange, officials say.

The photo above shows the edges of the fire burning up to the Farmer Landing trailhead west of Fishtrap Lake.

"Horseback riding and hiking along the trail from that trailhead should still be through unburned landscape,” said Steven Smith, BLM recreation manager in Spokane.

“So far, about 54 different fires in Eastern Washington have affected BLM lands,” said Scott Pavey, Spokane District spokesman, noting that some fires farther west are still burning. “A rough total of about 42,500 BLM acres have burned.”

Idaho forest dryness spikes; fire danger extreme

PUBLIC LANDS — "We were sitting pretty good a couple of weeks ago, but there's been marked increase in field dryness," said Jason Kirchner, Idaho Panhandle National Forest public affairs officer, getting word out that potential for forest fires have changed remarkably in just the past week.

"Monitoring stations in the North Fork Coeur d'Alene, near St. Maries and in the Selkirks are registering in the top 3 percent of dryness ever recorded."

Forest Service plans for annual fall controlled burns to improve wildlife habitat and clear out forest understory to reduce fire danger next year are on hold until conditions are less volatile, he said.

"Even if it wasn't so dry in the Panhandle, the smoke that's moved into the region would be enough to put off our controlled burning plans because of air quality requirements," he said.

"At least the smoke is a good reminder that there are fires all around us. We haven't had any significant fires, but we're not out of the woods yet."

Scientists document acceleration in arctic ice melt

ENVIRONMENT — More sobering news related to climate change:

Arctic ice melt smashes record set in 2007

As the arctic ice melt ended Sunday, scientists calculated the extent of the melt at 293,000 square miles more than in 2007, which broke the previous record.  — Washington Post

Related story:  Small boat sails through arctic ice issue

Wedge wolves topic of Colville public meeting tonight

ENDANGERED SPECIES — At the request of Stevens County ranchers and commissioners, Washington Department of fish and Wildlife officials will present an update on their efforts to deal with gray wolves that have killed or injured at least 15 cattle since mid-July.

Some of the issues were spelled out in today's Outdoors column.

The cattle belong to the Diamond M Ranch which summers its livestock on a national forest grazing allotment in the "wedge" area near the Canada border between the Columbia and Kettle rivers.

Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW regional manager, will outline the agency's efforts in a public meeting set for 5 p.m. tonight (Sept. 20) in the Colville County Commissioner's meeting room (old Avista Building) 230 E. Birch Street Colville 99114.  See map.

WDFW posted these answers to questions about the Wedge Pack issues on its website Wednesday.

Reading between the lines, Northwest Sportsman editor Andy Walgamott says the agency appears to be targeting more than just a few of the Wedge Pack wolves — perhaps the entire pack of 8-11 animals.

Priest River prime for paddling starting Oct. 8

PADDLING — The drawdown of Priest Lake to its winter level will begin Oct. 8.

The drawdown generally is complete by early November and brings the lake down three feet from a summer elevation of 3,427.64 feet to the winter level of 3,424.64, said Karl Duncan, the dam operator.

The lake’s drawdown also launches the unofficial beginning of the paddling season on Priest River. Generally too low for canoes during the summer season, Priest River takes on new life as flows are increased.

Photographer leaves no doubt: elk are in the rut

WILDLIFE — In case you had any doubts about the elk mating season being in full swing, Montana wildlife photographer Jaime Johnson offers this photographic evidence.

Notice I didn't say this is image is proof.  After all, hitch-hiking is legal in Montana.

National Parks offer free admission Sept. 29

PUBLIC LANDS — National parks will be waiving entrance fees to celebrate National Public Lands Day on Sept. 29.

The Park Service is waiving fees for a total of 17 days in 2012.

Offering  free admission to national parks and other federal lands has been featured the past three years as a cost-friendly family vacation option in the economic slump.

Forest Service eases ruling on skier use of Bitterroot cabin

NORDIC SKIING — The Forest Service has moved a popular skiers cabin at Chief Joseph Pass to the the agency's nationwide rental system and started charging a fee, but officials compromised and lowered the overnight rental rate from $20 to $9 for this season after a protest by disgruntled members of the Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club.

The club spent nearly two decades developing the cross-country ski trails in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in Montana, and in 2001, raised $100,000 to build the Gordon Reese Cabin at Chief Joseph Pass. They felt betrayed when the Forest Service denied them free access to the cabin.

See the story by the Ravalli Republic:  USFS relents a bit on cabin rental in Montana national forest

Volunteers to spruce up Dishman Hills Sept. 29

PUBLIC LANDS — The Dishman Hills Conservancy and REI have a useful way to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

 On September 29th we look to continue the wonderful efforts that were made on April 22nd (Earth Day) by our 547 volunteers. We will continue the process of noxious weed removal, placement of mulch in the lower Camp Caro parking area to aid in habitat restoration and perform trash clean-up across the properly.

Thanks to REI, we will also have a couple of t-shirts that we will be able to give away via a drawing at the event.

 More information and online registration: DHNA National Public Lands Day 2012


Dawn Glanc’s Montenegro climb presented tonight at Mountain Gear

CLIMBING – Rock and ice climber Dawn Glanc will discuss her 2010 tour in Montenegro in a free multi-media program TONIGHT (Sept 19) at Mountain Gear, 2002 N. Division.

Refreshments start at 6 p.m.; show at 7 p.m. Gifts will be offered to the first 100 women attending.

Glanc joined Patrick Ormond and Jeremiah Watt on the first American team to climb in the Balkans country bordered by Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and the Adratic Sea.

Never trust your hunting dog with a gun

HUNTING — Two men, on opposite sides of the world, have been shot by their alleged best friends, reports News.com.au.

One man's shooting trip in Utah, US took a surprise turn when he was shot in the buttocks - by his own dog.

Meanwhile in France, a 55-year-old hunter had to have his right hand amputated after his dog accidentally shot him has said he doesn't blame the pet, which he still considers "adorable".

Read more.