Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

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.

Tuesday Video: Cutest bear attack ever


Time for some levity.

In this clip, an adorable baby bear roughhouses with a visitor in a Russian wilderness park. (Insert Yakov Smirnoff "In Soviet Russia, bear…." joke.) Of course, by the time this bear reaches maturity, it will weigh a much as a ton and stand up to 10 feet tall and it will need protection from Russia's insane bear hunting practices. But for now, watch this club play!

Washington agents, SWAT team sting wildlife traffickers

WILDLIFE CRIMES — In a major crackdown on alleged illegal wildlife traffickers today, Washington Fish and Wildlife police served 14 search warrants on businesses — including Walla Walla County restaurants selling illegal elk meat. 

 A SWAT team was called in to arrest one West Side man officers say provided “two to three big game animals a week” at times to undercover officers.

See the report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.

Here's  report by KING 5 TV.

Shooting, smoking, fires restricted on state wildlife lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Citing extreme fire danger in Eastern Washington, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has just issued emergency restrictions — including a restrictions on target shooting, smoking and open fires —  for all state wildlife lands.

Many of these restrictions already are in place on national forests.

Read on for the details.

Park sued for not using wolves to control elk

PREDATORS — WildEarth Guardians will have their day in court in a lawsuit  against the National Park Service for not considering reintroduction of wolves into Rocky Mountain National Park as an option for controlling elk numbers.

Park officials have been using sharpshooters to thin the elk herd over the past few years.

WildEarth says wolves should have been introduced to do the culling naturally. 

Biologists say the park is to too small to expect the wolves to stay put and not cause issues elswhere. 

WildEarth said we'll see you in court.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing a case Thursday on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder.

See story.

Travel: Overnight idyll at Montana’s Virgelle Mercantile

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)

   The two-story mercantile, a farmhouse, the old grain elevator, a bank building and a set of abandoned railroad tracks running across the grassland are the only visible reminders of the town of Virgelle, Montana. Settled in 1912 by homesteaders who rushed to claim their 300 acres in the harsh Montana landscape, by 1930 the boom was over and the little town was frozen in time

    After the last holdout left in the 1970s, the ghost town could have faded away but the property was purchased by a pharmacist who’d grown up nearby. He filled the mercantile space with an antiques business and turned the upstairs rooms into a Bed and Breakfast. One by one, original homestead cabins, rescued from the surrounding countryside, were brought in and refurbished. A vintage sheepherder’s wagon was added to the mix of restored accommodations.

    My room for the night was the 1914 Little Mosier homestead cabin. Big enough for a double bed, an oilcloth-covered table and two chairs, a big iron-and-nickel cook stove and a washstand with both a Coleman lantern and a battery lantern, the cabin faced the grassy slope rolling down toward the Missouri River. To my left, down the road a bit, I could see a working ranch. To my right, a bath house and the Mercantile building. A little further, more cabins and the rest of what remains of the original town.

    Dropping my bags in a chair, I opened the screen door and stepped back out to the porch and stood there a long time looking out, trying to imagine the scenes that had played out in the tiny cabin and others like it. I thought about what it must have been like to live there a century ago, a child on my hip, maybe another in a cradle by the stove. The family would have ached with cold in the harsh winters and been baked by the relentless summer sun. It’s easy to imagine early optimism giving way to fatigue and loneliness and perhaps, eventually, even despair. The reality of the hardscrabble life most early homesteaders faced would break most of us. Only the toughest made it.

    Grabbing my camera, chasing the golden light cast by the fading sun, I followed the path across the road and walked to where the old railroad sign still marked the town by the railroad tracks. A rabbit, startled by my footsteps, darted out and, deciding I was no threat,  skirted me, almost touching my boots, before continuing down what was obviously a trail, worn and defined by generations of other wildlife.

    As it always does, gazing out at the vast openness of the Montana sky and rolling grassland soothed the jangled tension inside me. Like many others, I am someone who needs quiet spaces but although I relish my solitude, I don’t need complete isolation to find it.  The little cluster of old buildings and cabins was perfect. There were a few others staying in the restored cabins and the sheepherder’s wagon surrounding the mercantile store, but voices were low and each of us seemed to be happy to be left alone with our thoughts.

    After a big meal served family style in the kitchen of the bed and breakfast, in the company of other guests—there were only one or two others as it was late in the tourist season—I was ready to call it a day. Flashlight in hand, I followed the path back to my cabin. A bird, startled by my footsteps on the porch, returned the favor and startled me as it flew over my head and out into the night sky. Inside the cabin, the lantern painted the walls with shadows.

    I slipped between crisp cotton sheets, burrowing under the heavy hand-stitched quilts. The early September night was already cool, tinged with autumn, hinting at the winter that would come.

    As I lay alone in the dark, listening to the coyotes call down by the river and the rustling of nightbirds and small creatures outside, I closed my eyes. Content, warm, safe, and, for the first time in weeks free of the noise of a busy life, it felt possible to pick up the loose and broken threads of work and family and all the other nagging worries that fight for attention in my mind and knit myself back together. I closed my eyes and let the night sounds sing me to sleep.

More information about the Virgelle Mercantile

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Spokesman-Review Home Planet and Treasure Hunting columns and blogs and her CAMera: Travel and Photo blog, 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

Losing Rammel no loss to Idaho elk, hunters

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — It's one thing to be an anti-government blowhard. 

It's another thing to be detrimental to Idaho's public resources and the state's very valuable wild elk herds.

Good riddance, Rex Rammel.

See the story here, and we hope it's the last we hear of him.

La Sportiva Wildcats a hit with Pacific Crest Trail through hikers

BACKPACKING — Ultra light, ultra functional and ultra durable — those are the keys to gear that causes a buzz among through hikers on long-distance trails.

One group of hikers most of the way through their month's long,  2,650-mile journey on the Pacific Crest Trail, recently were comparing notes on their shoes at Washington's Chinook Pass. The durability winner in this group was the La Sportiva Wildcat trail running shoe, a Backpacker  Editor’s Choice item in the magazine’s 2010 gear review.

One hiker had 1,000 miles on his pair and they were still going strong.

While trail running shoes may be perfect for PCT through hikers, who are focused on speed and staying on the trail, they may not be the best for everyday hikers who may not be so trail hardened or who do more off-trail exploration.

Diamond Pack wolf killed by hunter in Idaho

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Even though Washington wolves are still protected by state endangered species rules, Idaho offered a touch of "management" to the Diamond Pack of northeastern Washington over the weekend.

A Washington man with an Idaho wolf hunting license killed a wolf on Saturday just east of the Pend Oreille County/Washington border.

The wolf had the red Washington eartags 379, 378, which means it had been caught, tagged and released by Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologists studying the Diamond Pack's movements. 

According to Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager, the male wolf was killed by the hunter in Kalispell Creek. which drains into Priest Lake near Nordman. 

The Diamond Pack had been observed as early as 2007 and was confirmed as the second breeding wolf pack in 2009.  The photo above shows Diamond Pack pups photographed in Pend Oreille County in 2009 by a remote camera placed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Only a few tagged Washington wolves have previously strayed to legal doom in other jurisdictions.

  • A Diamond Pack female wolf was killed by a trapper in Idaho last winter just east of the Washington border.
  • A Teanaway Pack female wolf was shot last spring in a southeastern British Columbia pig pen.

Read on for details on the Diamond Pack from the WDFW.

Updated: Snake steelhead run a shadow of past years

FISHING — The numbers over the dams tell the story of this year's downsized steelhead run to the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

What the numbers don't say is that anglers putting in their time are catching fish, and having a good time doing it.

More than 1,600 fish a day have been moving up over Lower Granite Dam.

How many do you need?

Read on for the latest update, posted Monday afternoon, on Columbia River system steelhead and fall chinook run sizes.

More dead cattle but no dead wolves reported in Wedge

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department hasn't had much to report regarding its less than fruitful efforts to curb the cattle killing by gray wolves in the Wedge area of northern Stevens County. The toll is about 15 cattle confirmed killed or injured by wolves between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers since mid-July.

But a lot of other people are talking, including the Stevens County Cattlemen's Association.

Several more cattle have been found dead or severly injured since WDFW sent officers into the Wedge area in late August, but the agency has not reported any wolves being killed in the effort.

Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW regional manager, said this afternoon that the number of officers in the area is being increased after another Diamond M Ranch calf was confirmed killed by wolves in an investigation on Sunday. 

Possible reasons for the lack of effective agency response are listed in this report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.

Read on to see a media release from the Cattlemen's association, which is raising concern about the progress of wolf recovery and wolf management.

Map shows forest areas closed by fires in Leavenworth-Wenatchee area

FOREST FIRES — The map above from the Wenatchee National Forest shows areas off limits to visitors because of forest fires in the Central Washington area.

The closures affect hikes in prime season and hunters out for Washington's early High Buck Hunt that opened Saturday.

Cool-headed backpackers evacuate Alpine Lakes as fires close in

BACKPACKING — After reading my post this morning about fire-related closures affecting hikers in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness,  Stephanie Akker of Kennewick emailed me the photo (above) snapped Saturday from the Colchuck Lake area as she decided to evacuate during the night to safety. 

I was happy to see your article on-line as I have been scouring for more info since we backpacked out of Colchuck, in the dark, Saturday night. 

Attached is a photo of the fire from our campsite on the north end of Colchuck.  We day hiked into the Enchantments Saturday after camping at Colchuck Friday night. We chose to evacuate after watching the fire grow dramatically over the course of 24 hours and also considering the proximity to the parking lot. 

Yes, we had to forgo our coveted permit, but felt it better safe than sorry. 

Read on for her photo of Colchuck Lake, a scene that helps you understand why it was no easy decision to leave.

Fires restrict access to Alpine Lakes Wilderness, other areas

HIKING — Many backpackers with coveted permits for the prime September season in the Enchantment Lakes area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in northcentral Washington are finding their plans up in smoke.

Area includes Eightmile Road, Colchuck, Stuart, Eightmile, Caroline, and Trout lakes, and the Windy Pass portion of the Enchantment area in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness due to a fire burning Many Enchantment area overnight camping permits are cancelled. However, the Enchantment Basin itself remains open at this time with access via Snow Creek Trail. Please call the Wenatchee River Ranger Station for more information on which permits are cancelled.

See a photo and report from a backpacker who self-evacuated Colchuck Lake Saturday night as fires closed in.

Read on for the latest press release and details from the Wenatchee National Forest.

Updated: Snake steelhead run a shadow of past years

FISHING — The numbers over the dams tell the story of this year's downsized steelhead run to the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

What the numbers don't say is that anglers putting in their time are catching fish, and having a good time doing it.

More than 1,600 fish a day have been moving up over Lower Granite Dam.

How many do you need?

Read on for the latest update, posted Monday afternoon, on Columbia River system steelhead and fall chinook run sizes.

Small boat sails through climate change issue in arctic

CLIMATE CHANGE — The warming globe is giving sailors more room to roam.

Read the disturbing story: 

Ship's historic crossing signals extent of Arctic melt, Edmonton Journal.