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Redband trout net-rescued at Spokane Falls

FISHING — The Spokane River's struggling native redband trout are in the news for more reasons that one this week.

As stream flows hit their seasonal lows in the Spokane River, Avista Utilities begins a to-do list of work on their dams and on the bed of the river. Many of the jobs are part of their 50-year relicensing agreement compiled by several stakeholder groups, including Indian tribes and environmental groups. On Wednesday surveyors and environmental consultants planned and prepared for the construction of weirs to direct river flows in a more aesthetically pleasing way.

The project included netting trout stranded in the basalt pools of the dewatered falls and releasing them safely in the river.

The effort — and a glimpse at the size of redband trout living in the Spokane Falls area — are captured in a picture story by Spokesman-Review photographer Jesse Tinsley.

The other news story this week, detailed in my column today, is the legal challenge to the docks proposed on the river by the Coyote Rock development near Plantes Ferry Park.

Regulators let bad idea slip past rules and reason at Coyote Rock

SPOKANE RIVER — Every regulator with a clue seems to agree that plans to build up to 30 docks at the Coyote Rock development are a bad idea for the Spokane River.                

The river has emphasized the sentiment — see photo above — as spring runoff swept around the bend past Plantes Ferry Park, damaged pilings and nearly ripped out the first two docks to be approved.

However, nobody at the city, county or state level seems able to thwart a bad plan and its threats to struggling native redband trout and the area aesthetics.

My column today, “Coyote Rock docks cause howl,” spells out the issue and the importance of the unprecidented upcoming trial before the Washington state Pollution Control Board.

Some paddlers, rafters and anglers are planning to rally with their boats for a play day at Plantes Ferry Park Sunday at noon.

But the real action will start Monday when the Spokane Riverkeeper, Gonzaga Law, and the Center for Justice begin a formal challenge of the permit issued by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife under the state Hydraulic Code. This is the first appeal before the board of the Hydraulics Project Approval process.

Record-setting helicopter rescue saves Canadian climbers

MOUNTAINEERING — Two climbers were plucked from the summit of South Goodsir Tower in Yoho National Park on Sunday in the highest helicopter rescue on record for the Banf, Yoho or Kootenay national parks.

Parks Canada spokesman Omar McDadi said two climbers who used a SPOT satellite beacon to call for help from the top, were heli-slung down off the mountain's 3,600 meter summit: that's 11,810 feet.

“The elevation doesn’t reflect the difficulty of the rescue, it’s just that the higher you go the less performance you get out of a helicopter,” he said to the Calgary Herald.

Aggressive mountain goat reported in North Cascades

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Hikers in the Teanaway area of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest are being warned to watch out for an aggressive mountain goat.

Spokeswoman Nancy Jones says the forest has received six or seven complaints since June, most recently last weekend. The goat is bold enough to nibble on backpacks and clothes.

NOTE TO NORTH IDAHO HIKERS:  Please, please don't feed the popular mountain goats that greet hikers at the top of the trail to Scotchman Peak. They are a treat to visit, but people who feet these creatures could be leading them down a path to their demise.

The North Cascades complaints have come from hikers on trails near Long's Pass and Eagle Pass.

The animal is apparently seeking salt. Hikers are encouraged to urinate at least 50 yards off trails and be ready to frighten a goat by yelling, waving clothing or throwing rocks.

In October, a mountain goat gored and killed a Port Angeles man in the Olympic National Park.

Hot-weather camping tip: Bag your cooler

CAMPING — Double the life of the ice in your cooler during long camping trips by wrapping it with your sleeping bag when not in use.

Better yet, I dedicate an old rectangular sleeping bag to the cooler and leave it on to insulate all day and night.

This past week, I had cold food on the fifth day of camping using that method with minimal ice. The sleeping bag's value was apparent every time I uwrapped the package for food and felt the outside of the cooler — it was always cold to the touch.

On the fifth day as we ended a backpack fishing trek down the St. Joe River last year — with temps soaring into the 90s, I surprised my sweat-soaked companion at the trailhead by pulling out a sleeping bag-wrapped cooler from the pickup and treating him to a very cold Corona.

He's a believer.

Most Washington fishing-hunting license fees increase Sept. 1

PAY TO PLAY – Washington’s first general hunting-fishing license fee increase in a decade kicks in Sept. 1.

Now’s the time to buy and save on most licenses – but you might want to hold off on buying some youth, senior or disabled licenses, which will decrease in cost. And the endorsement that allows angers to use two rods while fishing some waters will decrease substantially.

All of the new license fee prices are available on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

But here’s a sampling of increases for resident fees (nonresident increases are much more substantial):

  • Deer, elk, bear and cougar tag package, currently $81.20, will increase to $93.50.
  • Small game license, $38, will increase to $38.50.
  • Freshwater fishing license, $24, will increase to $27.50.
  • Combination fishing license, $48.20, will increase to $52.25.

Decreasing:  Examples of fees that will go down starting Sept. 1 include:

  • Senior freshwater fishing license, $8, will decrease to $5.50.
  • Two-pole endorsement, $24.50, will decrease to $14.30. 

Idaho’s invasive species sticker not transferrable from boat to boat

BOATING — Idaho’s $7 invasive species sticker, which is required on all boats and inflatables longer than 10 feet, cannot be transferred from one vessel to another, Idaho Parks and Recreation officials say.

A story in the Sunday Outdoors section (Aug. 7) suggested otherwise, noting that some boaters were laminating the stickers for more practical attachment such as a cord or zip tie, especially in the case of their rafts.

“Vendors that offer convenient solutions to affixing them to inflatable rafts with rope rigging are doing just that – providing a convenient solution to affixing them to a designated vessel,” said Jennifer Blazek, department spokeswoman in Boise.

But she advised, “The rules are still the rules. The sticker is non-transferrable.” Here's the Idaho Code to prove it.

She acknowledged that nothing on the sticker says it can’t be transferred, but said it’s stated in the rules.

Beyond that, she said the fee is for a good cause dear to the hearts of all boaters.

“Contributions to the Idaho Invasive Species Fund are put to service protecting our coveted waters from invasive species that can devastate a recreational hotspot in a year or less,” she said. “It’s an important program that should be taken seriously.”

Video: Riverfront Park’s pike-catching teen featured in TV report

FISHING — It's cool that KHQ TV followed up on my Tuesday story about the Spokane teenager who surprised himself and a lot of onlookers as he hook,fought and landed a 42-inch-long northern pike in the Spokane River near the Loof Carrousel.

Joe Buster, who just turned 18, clearly is an ambassador for the sport of fishing.

A few other notes on why his story is special:

Peter Roundy at the General Store gives special attention to Joe in selecting the gear to feed his enthusiasm for the sport. Joe is a special ed student at a Spokane High School.  He's a class act.

Field & Stream announces Best of Best hunting gear

HUNTING — Field & Stream magazine has just announced the 27 winners among 150 products it's editors tested for their annual Best of the Best hunting gear roundup.

Here's a sneak peak at the list of top products ranging from bows to trail cams. 


  • Best New Rifle #1: Montana Rifle Co. American Standard Rifle (ASR)
  • Best New Rifle #2: WinchesterModel 70 Safari Express
  • Best New Big-Game Ammo: WinchesterPower Core 95/5
  • Best New Shotgun: Remington Versa Max
  • Best New Shotshell: WinchesterBlind Side
  • Best New Fixed-Blade Knife: Ontario Knife Company Blackbird SK-5
  • Best New Folding Knife: Benchmade 915 Triage
  • Best New UTV: 2011 Can-Am Commander 1000XT
  • Best New ATV: 2012 Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i EPS
  • Best New Trail Cam: Primos Super Model Game Camera and Photo Viewer
  • Best New GPS: Bushnell BackTrack D-Tour
  • Best New Hunting Pack: Cabela’s Bow and Rifle Pack
  • Best New Boots: Magnum USA Sidewinder HPi in MultiCam
  • Best New Outerwear: ColumbiaSportswear Omni-Heat Electric Wader Widgeon Interchange
  • Best New Muzzleloader: Traditions Performance Firearms Pursuit Ultralight
  • Best New Muzzleloader Bullet: PowerBelt AeroLite
  • Best New Binocular: Swarovski CL Companion 8x30mm
  • Best New Spotting Scope: Zeiss Dialyt Field Spotter 18-45x65mm
  • Best New Rangefinder: Leica Rangemaster CRF 1600
  • Best New Scope: Minox ZA5 1.5-8x32mm with Versa-Plex Reticle
  • Best New Handgun: Browning 1911-22 A1
  • Best New Bow: Hoyt Carbon Element
  • Best New Crossbow: TenPoint Carbon Fusion CLS
  • Best New Treestand: X-1 Stand
  • Best New Safety Harness: Tree Spider Speed Harness, Live Wire Descent System
  • Best New Blind: L.L. Bean Stowaway Hunter’s Blind
  • Best New Decoy: Carry-Lite Bob'n Tail Tom Turkey

Record steelhead catch logged on Columbia

FISHING — Anglers on the lower Columbia records are setting records with the number of steelhead they're catching on the lower Columbia, according to a detailed report by Northwest Sportsman.

It's not clear whether that's a good omen or a bad one for upstream anglers waiting for those fish to head up the Snake and arrive above Lower Granite Dam.  But I can tell you that anglers are catching steelhead in the Clearwater.  Game on.

Tonight: Volunteers meeting for weed detail on South Hill Bluff

TRAILS — Volunteers interested in helping manage noxious weeds on Spokane’s High Drive Bluff are invited to participate in a work party this evening, (Aug 17).
“We will cut rush skeletonweed plants away from sections of the trail where they are impeding trail use,” said group facilitator Diana Roberts of the WSU Spokane County Extension.

Next Wednesday (Aug. 24), volunteers will focus on controlling knapweed. 

“Be sure to bring work gloves, sturdy garden clippers and water to drink. Long pants, long sleeved shirts, and hiking boots are the recommended attire.”
Meet: 6:30 p.m. at the trailhead south of Bernard St. and High Drive.

“At 8 p.m. we will adjourn to the Rocket Market for a beverage and to socialize,” Roberts said.
Info: Diana Roberts (509) 477-2167 or robertsd@wsu.edu.


Outdoor reader reports game changing around Lookout Pass

CAMPING — Rich Servatius sent in this report after 12 days of exploring the Route of the Hiawatha and Loop Creek areas along the Montana-Idaho border.

My extended family and friends have been going there for about 15 years for a week or so.  Each time we go the wildlife that we see changes.

The first year we saw 13 bears between us, the next year only one and haven’t seen any since.

We normally see about one moose per day; this year we saw one only.

We normally have deer hanging around our camp on Loop Creek; this year we mostly saw them in the old railroad tunnels, but did see some in the Loop Creek valley.

We saw lots of beaver the first five years; one this year.

We saw a few elk tracks this year and heard reports of 22 head near Dominion Peak a couple months ago, but we saw none.

Four years ago my sister saw a wolf near I-90 and close to St. Regis (our first sighting).  This year a pack of wolves were howling just a hundred yards from me to the south of the Gold Hill trail, coming from Moon Pass direction (West).  That was a little exciting and scary too.  No wonder that the couple of ATV riders were carrying pistols.  My only weapon was a rock.

As for huckleberries, they were ripe at lower elevations in places with lots of sun and I found one place higher up in an alpine meadow where the berries were 50 to a bush and juicy.  It will be another couple of weeks before they start showing up in quantity.

Wild flowers were showing their splendor.

Shefoot mountain was pretty, but someone had left a fire burning at the top and a little trash.

If you go to that area, expect lots of bicycle traffic and dust.

We helped a couple of ATV riders clear the Idaho / Montana state line road for a few miles for ATV use.  We didn’t have the equipment and gas and manpower to clear it for truck use.   About 100 trees were down between Roland Pass and the paved road from the St. Joe River to St. Regis pass.  Someone else had cleared the road before us, so these trees had probably blown down in the last few weeks.  If you take that route; bring a chainsaw, help, shovels, and cable.

Spots of snow 2 feet deep were melting slowly.  The snow on Shefoot Mtn. was melting fast…none on the road, which was clear.

Lots of flies and those *&%$#@ skeeters to bother people!

—Rich Servatius

It’s Wednesday: does that mean it’s Humpie Day?

SALMON FISHING — My enthusiastic post regarding the pink salmon flooding into Puget Sound apparently left Spokane angler Dan Hansen feeling a little blue about his vacation to visit West Side relatives.  He writes:

“My beard’s getting full, due to my pledge to stop shaving till I catch a salmon. Six days of fishing, and I can’t even catch a humpy (which hardly even count)!

“One day, standing elbow-to-elbow on a beach in West Seattle, everyone caught salmon and the pre-teen standing next to me caught his 4-fish limit. My brother's going to take me out in his boat next Tuesday, somewhere on Puget Sound; that may be my last chance.

“Trying to decide whether I want to pledge to stop showering for deer season.”

Oregon Conservation Fund a misnomer, groups say

PREDATOR CONTROL — Oregon's new fund to boost predator control is appallingly misnamed environmental groups say.

Even Governor John Kitzhaber complained of the name when he signed the measure into law, according to a Northwest Public Radio report.

Few people would balk at contributing at face value to the “Wildlife Conservation Fund.”

But Brooks Fahy of Eugene-based Predator Defense calles the name is a sham. It's “offensive, because it's just the opposite. It should be the 'Wildlife Destruction Act,” Fahy told correspondent Chris Lehman.

The newly created Wildlife Conservation Fund targets hunters. Starting in January, hunting license buyers can volunteer a donation when they apply for their license.

Most of the money will be funneled toward an existing U.S. Department of Agriculture predator control program, Lehman reports.

Among other things, the federal agents kill problem coyotes and bears, a program supported by many sportsmen, ranchers and timber companies.

Environmental groups urged Governor Kitzhaber to veto the measure. The governor signed the bill, but said he was concerned about quote “truth in labeling” when it comes to the name of the fund.

On the web:

Oregon House Bill 3636

Governor Kitzhaber's Statement

Environmentalist’s Letter to the Governor.


Hiker packs heat, stands tall against a charging … pika

HIKING — Since Congress overturned the Reagan-era restrictions on openly carrying firearms in national parks, we're seeing noticeably more heat on trails in and outside of parks nowadays.

Nevermind the research in Alaska showing that pepper spray is a much more certain defense in case of an attack by a grizzly.

But a hiker never knows what other critter might charge from the wilderness.

Here's a report from a recent hiking trip by outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson of Lincoln, Mont., to go with his photo, above.  Trust me, this will leave you shaking your head.

“After a grueling hike of several hours off trail, we were set up (with our cameras) on the edge of this rockslide waiting for the pika’s to make their appearance. They seem to dislike the warm mid-day heat and become active just before dark. The entire hike in we walked through fresh grizzly digs that were made within the last one or two days.. we kept one eye watching for one to make an appearance.

“Instead, we heard approaching hikers. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it. We never see other hikers. They were trudging along the rockslide walking by. They had no clue we were even in the universe. Then to make things worse, a pika lets out a chirp right in front of them (they were about 50 yards away from us).

“The first guy draws his pistol and takes aim on the pika. Before he could shoot, I hollered out “Dude, don’t shoot the pikas.”

“Surprised by our presence, the guy jumped a foot. Then he sheepishly said, 'But he was coming right at me.'

“I said, 'Yeah, killer pika,' and shook my head.

“He seemed embarrassed, put his pistol away and continued walking.”

Native Plant Society to hike at Freezeout Pass

NATURE — It's prime time to join the Idaho Native Plant Society to get in a good hike and marvel at the native plants in the high country near St. Maries.

Gerry Queener will lead a group field trip to Freezeout on Saturday (Aug. 20). '

Beargrass, orchids, penstemons, lupines, columbine, fleabane (daisies) and paintbrushes all are expected to be on display. Habitats will range from subalpine forest to alpine meadow at 6,500 feet elevation. The terrain is moderately challenging.  

Meet at the Moscow Eastside Marketplace (south end of parking lot near Hwy 8) at 8 a.m. to arrange carpooling. The group will return about 3:30 p.m.  A couple drivers with high clearance vehicles and good tires are needed – the last 5 miles is very rocky with steep drop-offs. 

Bring water, hat, sunscreen, lunch, and good hiking footwear.

Info: Pat Fuerst, epfuerst@frontier.com, (509) 339-5213.

Expedition Idaho teams near Hiawatha Trail

ADVENTURE RACING — I can't report where the coed teams are going in Expedition Idaho, the North Idaho adventure race that started Sunday — that's a secret that even the racer's don't know until they find their next clue on whether to hike, bike, climb, paddle or slog.

But I can tell you that a couple of lagging teams currently are near the Route of the Hiawatha Trail. Those teams are being directed to the “short course,” since they can't meet cutoff times for certain segments of the six-day, 500-mile route.

They may not complain.  It might give them a chance to catch a nap before the race ends this weekend at the the Blues and Brews event at Silver Mountain.

Today it’s even more peaceful at Gypsy Peak

HIKING — Today is the first day of the annual late-summer closure of several roads leading to prime recreation areas in the Sullivan Lake Ranger District of the Colville National Forest.

The closures were instituted in the 1980s to reduce human disturbance in prime grizzly bear habitat and berry areas when they are most attractive to bears, acccording to Mike Borysewicz, Forest Service wildlife biologist.

The gates were locked yesterday on two notable roads leading to trailheads:

  • Johns Creek Road 500 off the 2200 Road just east of Sullivan Lake Campgrounds. It provide's access to the Trail 540 trailhead for the shortest hike (2.5 miles one way) to Hall Mountain, which looms over Sullivan Lake.   Ironically, because of the late spring weather and snowpack, the road is closing before that area's huckleberry crop is ripe.
  • Bear Pasture Road 200 off the 2212 Road near northwest of Gypsy Meadows. It runs to the border of the Salmo-Priest Wilderness, offering the easiest foot access to Gypsy Peak (elev. 7,309 ft.), the highest mountain in Eastern Washington. The route is about 4 miles one way using the alpine-bound Trail 515 and off-trail scrambling.  But you'll have to wait until next year. 

I drove up both of these roads and hiked the trails last week to beat the closures. The areas area spectacular.

The huckleberries were green but the mosquitoes were at their peak.

I met Rick Moore, who was surveying dragonflies for the Forest Service. He said the mosquitoes were viscious at Watch Lake, but around the ridge, where violet-green swallows were swarming like bees — the mosquitoes were barely noticeable.  A coincidence?  Hmmm.

If you want to hear the buzz for yourself now that Road 200 is gated, you'll have to hike all of Crowell Ridge from the Sullivan Lake Lookout more than 8 miles one way to Gypsy Peak.

Pink salmon flooding into Puget Sound

SALMON FISHING — Puget Sound anglers are in the pink, hooking up with the building surge of six million pink salmon forecast to flood Puget Sound during the next two months.

The catch of pink salmon hit an all-time high last week at Sekiu in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to Washington Fish and Wildlife Department creel surveyors.

And now the fish are pushing into Puget Sound and close to cities.  Northwest Sportsman's online magazine reports plenty of pinks are available for today's opening in the Lower Puyallup area

“The overall expectations are for a pretty darn good fishery, and I’ve seen some reports there are already pinks in Area 11 (south central Puget Sound),” Steve Thiesfeld, the state Fish and Wildlife Puget Sound salmon manager, told the Seattle Times.

While this summer’s forecast is 3 million fewer pinks than the 2009 record return — pinks only return in odd-numbered years — Thiesfeld says it will be an abundant run.

Another fisheries biologist fishing off Bush Point on the west side of Whidbey Island says the humpies (a term the male fish receive for a distinct hump that grows on their back at spawning time) were “rolling all over the place” this week.

The huge number means that in almost all marine areas of Puget Sound, except southern Puget Sound, anglers will be able to keep up to four pinks daily.

Shorebound anglers can also get into the action as pinks tend to congregate closely to beaches.

Construction forces Centennial Trail detour

TRAIL REROUTED: Upriver Drive from Freya to Frederick:

A sewer construction project will create an Upriver Drive detour for Centennial Trail users for almost a year, the Friends of the Centennial Trail report.

The trail will be closed from Freya to Frederick Avenue on Upriver Drive. There will be a detour in place and signage to guide users.

The Friends group has maps and details on its website.

Directions: Coming from downtown going east take Ralph to Carlisle to Havana to Fredrick and back out on Upriver Drive. It may be possible at times to let Trail users back onto the east section of Upriver Dr. at times during this project. If you have a street bike avoid signed detour onto gravel road sections. 

2011 continues to be a dream for fans of mountain snow

HIKING — It's mid-August and snowshoes are still de rigueur at Mount Baker hiking trails.

John Frankhsuser of Spokane snapped the photo above last week as he ventured toward from the Heather Meadows trailhead parking area. The snow around the plowed area of the parking lot was over his head.

Seems rare to for and East Sider to travel to Western Washington so he can get that “above the arctic circle” feeling. 

The Artist Point area normally is overrun with hikers stretching their legs and smelling the wildflowers this time of year.

Next East Side wolf meeting Aug. 29 in Ellensburg

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has scheduled three more special meetings to discuss the state's recommended Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and take public comment.

A meeting in Ellensburg is set for Aug. 29 while the others are set for Oct. 6 and Nov. 3 in Olympia.

The plan is intended to guide state wolf management while wolves naturally disperse and re-establish a sustainable breeding population in the state.

The plan contains controversial recovery objectives that would allow the state to eventually remove wolves from protection lists, along with management strategies to address wolf/livestock and wolf/ungulate conflicts.

The recommended plan was developed after a scientific peer review and public review of the 2009 draft plan. The public comment process, which concluded last year, included 19 public meetings and drew nearly 65,000 responses.

In addition, a 17-member citizen Wolf Working Group, which advised WDFW on the plan, met with WDFW staff 10 times from 2007-2011.

Teen bags 42-inch pike in Riverfront Park

CITY FISHING — An 17-year-old boy fishing for trout and bass by the Loof Carrousel at Riverfront park surprised a crowd of onlookers and himself Saturday by hooking a 42-inch northern pike.

Passersby got in the water to help him get the lunker ashore after it made three surging runs over 30 minutes.

But then the bad part.  He had a 42-inch-long fish and14-inch-wide cooler. To get home he had to ride a city bus.

Click here for the rest of the story.

Expedition Idaho adventure race underway: 5 days, 400 miles to go

ADVENTURE RACING — Starting from Silver Mountain, the Expedition Idaho adventure race is off and  running/biking/paddling for 500 miles around a mostly uncharted course in North Idaho.

Two of the 13 registered teams are less than 50 minutes apart heading into segment three partway through the first 24 hours, according to this morning's report from race organizer David Adlard of Athol.

The first day found them traveling in the dark toward Lookout Pass and rapelling off cliffs at Stevens Lakes (map above).  The racers go day and night, resting for maybe two hours a day during the six-day event. They'll end at the Silver Mountain Brews and Blues fest.
“We are still looking for some volunteers later in the week for 'Survival Quest,' so please call to help!” Adlard said, noting that the racers go to some incredible remote terrain.

 Check out the Expedition Idaho website for live leaderboard, stories, videos, photos and more. 

Bears gone, Forest Service reopens Graham Creek area to camping

CAMPING — With bear problems under control, Graham Creek, a popular dispersed camping area near the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River has been reopen for public use, Idaho Panhandle National Forests officials announced this morning.

Graham Creek, 14 miles north from I-90 on Forest Highway 9, was closed in late July because campers were reporting frequent bear encounters.

“We enacted the area closure to discourage the bears from returning to Graham Creek,” said Kimberly Johnson, Coeur d'Alene River District deputy district ranger. “By removing campers from Graham Creek, the food and trash that was attracting the bears to the site was also removed,”  In addition, huckleberries and other food sources have recently become available drawing bears away from the lowlands and into the hillsides away from the site.”

Campers still need to be Bear Aware, she said. All food and trash should be kept inside bear proof containers or locked vehicles while camping on national forests.

“If people do not store their food and trash properly, do not follow Bear Aware protocol, and the bears return, Graham Creek may close again,” she said. “We want to protect both humans and bears.”

Badger Lake aquatic herbicide permit on hold

LAKES — Dana Strode reports the Pollution Control Hearings Board granted a stay on the herbicide permit issued to control native aquatic plants in front of several properties on the Spokane County lake and popular trout fishery.

Strode is one of seveveral property owners who oppose the permit sought by Bruce Schwan and several other property owners who say the growth of plants has increased, making it difficult to use their boat docks.

I reported details of the controversy in this story published last month. 

The permit was issued to a licensed applicator.

Photo shows Imnaha wolf pack has at least one pup

ENDANGERED SPECIES — While lots of eyes and camera lenses are out there trying to get a handle on the growth of northwest wolf packs, a remote camera in Oregon came up with at least one solid find: The Imnaha wolf pack in northeast Oregon was parading past the camera with at least one of this year's pups in tow.

A black-colored pups was photographed July 16 by an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife camera.  It's traveling with the Imnaha pack’s alpha female (its mother). So far, photographs and visual observations have turned up only one pup for the Imnaha pack this year, but more pups may be found.

Oregon Fish and Wildlife has made other photos of the pack available here.

At least three members of the Imnaha pack dispersed from the pack in the past few months, biologists say, including one collared female that moved into Washington last winter when she was 1.5 years old.

“Wolf packs are dynamic and rarely stay the same size over time,” noted Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator. “A pack can be healthy despite these natural fluctuations in numbers, as long as a breeding pair of wolves, the alpha male and female, is maintained.” 

Late spring, cool water good news for Snake sockeyes

FISHING — While the decades-out weather forecast poses big challenges to cold-water fisheries, this year's high cool water spells good news for endangered Snake River sockeye salmon making their amazing 900-mile return from the Pacific to the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho.

The fish started showing Aug. 1 at the Stanley Basin’s Sawtooth Hatchery near Redfish Lake Creek, the first of what's expected to be a relatively big run.

Through Wednesday a total of 1,480 sockeye had been counted passing the lower Snake River’s Lower Granite Dam, which is just downstream from Lewiston — about 400 river miles downstream from Sawtooth Hatchery. That count is second only to last year’s tally of 2,201 on a record dating back to 1975.

With flows that are somewhat higher and cooler than average this year, biologists feel a relatively high number of fish will make that final four-week swim up the last 400-mile leg of the journey.

Climate change could slash 50 percent of native cutthroat trout habitat

FISHING — Native cutthroat trout are likely to feel the heat from climate change.

A new study shows a changing climate could reduce suitable trout habitat in the western U.S. by about 50 percent over the next 70 years, with some trout species experiencing greater declines than others.

The results were reported by a team of 11 scientists from Trout Unlimited, the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, Colorado State University, the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group.

The study, published today in the peer-reviewed science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, predicts native cutthroat throughout the West could decline by as much as 58 percent, while introduced brook trout could decline by as much as 77 percent.   Rainbow and brown trout populations, according to the study, would also decline by an estimated 35 percent and 48 percent respectively. (Read the study report.)

The study notes that the decline of cutthroat trout is “of particular significance,” because cutthroats are the only trout native to much of the West and a keystone species in the Rocky Mountain ecosystem.

Read on for reaction from Trout Unlimited, and some reason for hope.

Kettle River Gorge photos have kayaker in stitches

PADDLING — As Bob Whittaker of Republic ran his kayak down the Kettler River Gorge between Orient and Barstow, last weekend, Andy McConnell shot a series of photos. 

Then McConnell “stitched” them together with a photo software program to create this fascinating panorama that lets you look up and down the river in one shot.

The finished product shows Whittaker three times — at the top, middle and bottom of the falls —  as he made a single pass.


  • The Kettle's flows have dropped down to the boney flows of summer.
  • The river private-property-rights tyrant, Mr. Honeycutt, is still hassling paddlers as the put-in their boats in some areas, regardless of whether or not they're on the public right of way.