Latest from The Spokesman-Review
HUNTING/FISHING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently adopted a series of “nonbiological” rules that would take effect only if the upcoming Legislature approves them. Among the proposals:
- Allow commission to adjust resident and nonresident elk tag allocations in capped zones in which resident demand exceeds tag availability and nonresident tags are undersold.
- Eliminate the requirement for hunters to remove bear baits from the field between the summer dog training season and the fall harvest season in units 10 and 12.
- Require trappers in wildlife management areas to register in advance of trapping and enable regional supervisors to manage trapping better on wildlife management areas through limits on the number of trappers, type and number of traps.
- Limit the number of trappers at any given time, and to regulate the type and number of trap sets in the area.
- Require that hunters leave one fully-feathered wing or the head on Eurasian collared doves while in the field or in transport to their final place of consumption.
HUNTING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently adopted rules that boost disabled and youth hunters:
- A companion without a tag or permit will be allowed to assist a disabled hunter.
- A person will be able to transfer a controlled hunt tag to a child or grandchild.
Idaho lawmakers directed the commission to develop these rules during the 2012 Legislature.
The commission also adopted rules that become effective January 1, 2013, that will allow a person age 8 and older to participate in a mentored hunting program without being required to hold a hunter education certificate.
Read on for details.
SALMON FISHING — Sockeye salmon fishing is hot at the mouth of the Okanogan River near Brewster, and it's no secret.
Anton Jones of Darrell and Dad's Family Guide Service said anglers have converged on the fishery, requiring some thought to how to cope with the crowd.
"Strap on your patience as there were 345 boats on Saturday on the Columbia at the mouth of the Okanagon," he reports.
"Fish the edge of the old channel just above the depth you mark them on your sonar," he said. "Pull big chrome dodgers with a short heavy leader back to a big Mack’s Lures Wedding Ring baited with a piece of Pautzke Fire Cured Shrimp.
"You can also get some Chinook fishing Super Baits behind a rotating flasher. Fill those Super Baits with oil based tuna and dip them in Pautzke’s Krill Juice.
Keep your set backs short when you are in that combat fishery at the mouth of the Okanogan. Twenty feet back is plenty. More setback will lead to tangles with other anglers.
Yes, that does have a double meaning.
CYCLING –A class on basic bicycle maintenance is being offered Thursday (July 26), 7 p.m., at REI in Spokane.
This class is free to attend and space is limited. Register at www.rei.com/spokane.
STEELHEAD FISHING — Anglers have been catching a few steelhead in the Snake and Clearwater Riers, but as the charts reveal, the fish that have been moving over Bonneville Dam — first they reach on the Columbia - are just beginning to show up in bigger numbers at Lower Granite Dam — last dam on the Snake before the fish reach Idaho waters.
2012 Steelhead Count
From July 1 to November 30
|Dam||Date of Count||Daily Count||
Total To Date
Total To Date
|Average of Last 5 Years|
|Lower Granite||July 22||59||677||1,253||2,550|
WILDLIFE — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he shares Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead's desire to end federal protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears.
According to the Associated Press, Salazar wrote to Mead last week saying he expects the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies will finish their court-ordered analysis of the effect of the decline of the whitebark pine tree on bear populations by early 2014.
Mead wrote to Salazar in May saying that the gravity of the bear situation around the nation’s oldest national park cannot be overemphasized. Mead said bears killed four people in the area over the past two years.
It's not clear whether Salazar pointed out that in at least two of those cases, the victims were culpable in the attacks.
Biologists estimate the Greater Yellowstone area had about 600 bears last year. The area includes parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
FISHING — An couple of Brits fishing with a guide on British Columbia's Fraser River near Chilliwack landed a 12-foot, 4-inch sturgeon last week.
With a girth of 53 inches and weighing an estimated 1,100 pounds, guide Dean Werk of Great Fishing Adventures estimates the sturgeon to be over 100 years old.
Michael Snell, 65, and his wife Margaret of Salisbury, England, will go home with the distinction of catching one of the biggest fish ever caught in North America, Werk said in a story reported by the Vancouver Sun.
“I’ve been a professional fishing guide on the Fraser River for 25 years and I’ve never seen a sturgeon this big,” said Werk.
It took an hour and a half to land the fish.
PRIVATE TIMBERLANDS — Forest Capital Partners, which has a regional office in Colville, has sold its 1.88 million-acre timberland portfolio to Hancock Timber Resource Group and Molpus Woodlands Group.
FCP, with headquarters in Portland and Boston, paid $1.65 billion for the timberland in a 2005 deal with Boise-Cascade. The financial terms of what it sold for have not been disclosed.
“We will continue current practice for public access,” said Hancock spokesman Brian Carmichael responding to questions from The Spokesman-Review. “We have no plans for changes at Colville office.”
Hancock Timber is acquiring 573,000 acres in Oregon, 376,000 acres in Louisiana, 264,000 acres in Washington and 138,000 acres in Idaho.
Molpus is buying 286,000 acres in Minnesota, 110,000 acres in Louisiana and 138,000 acres in Idaho.
Dick Molpus is the president of Molpus Woodlands Group, which acquires, manages and sells timberland as an investment vehicle for pension funds, college endowments and wealthy individual investors.
He describes the timberlands as highly productive and ideally situated near timber markets with competitive pricing.
HUNTING — Outback Outfitters guide Jon C. Wick, 46, of Summerville, Ore., and Tod L. Reichert, 72, of Salkum, Wash., have pleaded guilty to criminal violations in a 2007 Blue Mountains elk hunt involving Washington’s coveted “Governor’s tag.”
Reichert purchased the Eastern Washington Any Bull Elk-Governor's Auction Tag for approximately $47,000. Reichert hired Wick for scouting and guiding services.
Reichert also hired a helicopter service to spot elk for the hunt, which is unlawful in Washington and most other states.
In December 2007, Reichert killed a trophy elk in the Umatilla National Forest with Wick's assistance outside the area the Forest Service had authorized Wick to provide outfitter-guiding services.
Reichert later falsely claimed that Wick had provided no professional services during the hunt or been paid any money for his services.
In 2008, Wick again provided professional outfitter-guiding services in the Umatilla National Forest to the purchaser of the 2008 Governor's Tag, which cost approximately $65,000. At that time, Wick did not have Forest Service authorization to provide the guiding services.
Reichert’s sentence includes a $5,000 fine and two years probation during which he cannot enter a national forest.
Described as "a strong supporter of elk hunting and improving elk habitat," he has killed several record-book bulls by outbidding other rich trophy hunters to get coveted tags, including $40,000 for the 2007-08 New Mexico Governor's Tag, $19,000 for the 2001 Oregon Governor's Tag, $16,000 for the 2003 edition, and an unpublished amount for the 1999 California tule bull elk tag.
Read more details about this man's debatable contributions to the sport of elk hunting in this report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine.
Wick’s sentencing is set for Sept. 13.
WILDLIFE ISSUES — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has removed all references to its Olaus Murie conservation award after the researcher’s family objected to the group’s policy on wolves.
The Missoulian has the full story.
In a letter to RMEF President David Allen, Olaus Murie’s son, Donald Murie, said the organization’s “all-out war against wolves” is “anathema to the entire Murie family.”
RMEF started giving the Olaus Murie Award in 1999 and has presented it five or six times since then to standouts in the field of wildlife science. The Murie family has no involvement with funding or chosing the award.
Murie, who died in 1963, “was a renowned biologist and one of the country’s great champions of wildlife and wilderness,” according the website of the Wilderness Society, where he served as director.
Murie published pioneering research on the elk herd in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and became “an early, staunch defender of predators and their crucial role in ecosystems,” the site says.
Incidentally: Montana just authorized a 2012-2013 wolf trapping season to help beef up the hunting season that failed to take the quota of wolves sought by wildlife managers last year.
This week, within 24 hours of opening registration for the state's first wolf trapping certification course — a prerequisite to getting a wolf-trapping license — 110 people had signed up.
TRAILS — Heavy rain and lingering snow have created a few obstacles for hikers, campers and other heading into the backcountry this weekend. Best to check with Forest Service offices today to make sure your destination is reachable.
- Hikers headed to Iron Mountain area east of Bonners Ferry will have to walk an extra half-mile to the trailhead because of a washout on Boulder Creek Road. The washout and lingering snow have kept trail crews from the area.
- Glacier National Park’s Going to the Sun Road was blocked for three days this week after a dozen or so mudslides buried sections of the popular road for miles. It’s open again today. However, the park service says more bad weather is expected on Friday, with a flash flood watch issued for the park from noon to midnight. Heavy lightning, hail and wind up to 60 mph is expected.
Lingering snow has prevented trail clearing in some areas.
- Idaho Panhandle crews have just begun logging out the Long Canyon area in the Selkirk Mountains northwest of Bonners Ferry. But the Parker Ridge area above is still covered with snow.
Priest Lake: All 192 miles of trails on the district have been logged out, getting a big boost from the Back Country Horsemen, who cleared out 50 miles of trails in their annual Memorial Day campout work party.
Huckleberries are ripe in some low to mid elevations.
ROCK CLIMBING — Climbers were humbled earlier this month to find a massive rock fall had wiped out a generation of climbing routes on the east face of Chimney Rock, a landmark on the skyline east of Priest Lake.
And the danger lingers.
The collapse of rock from the near-vertical face erased rock flakes used in many pioneering climbs on the iconic granite pillar in the Selkirk Mountains.
Classic lines now gone include Magnum Force, a route first free-climbed in 1967 by Spokane Mountaineers John Roskelley and Chris Kopczynski.
“Many tons of Inland Northwest climbing history are now part of the boulder field at the base,” said Dane Burns, one of the rock’s pioneering climbers.
"From the splitter crack line of Yahoody left all the routes are now gone. That includes but not limited to the Beckey/Cooper South Nose route, later freed by Roskelley and Kopczynski and renamed Magnum Force, Kimmie, named after our friend Kim Momb and UNI the first trad 5.12 crack done in the inland NW.”
Zach Turner, who reported the rockfall on July 5, noted the east face has a swath of new routes to be pioneered, but warned climbers more unstable rock appears to be hanging on the wall.
See Turner's post with before and after photos of the Chimney Rock east face and a list of the climbing routes affected.
SALMON FISHING — A fishing season for fall chinook salmon will open Sept. 1 in the Snake and Clearwater rivers under rules adopted by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.
The harvest season will continue until further notice or Oct. 31, whichever comes first, in the Snake River and the lower Clearwater River.
Fishery managers predict 18,272 adult hatchery origin chinook salmon will cross Lower Granite Dam, the last of four federal dams on the lower Snake River on their way back to Idaho.
Read on for details.
FLY FISHING — My good friend Randy LaBeff has a way of making sure his work takes him to the Anaconda-area of Montana every year around this time. Once again, he scored. Here's his Facebook post from minutes ago:
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Today's Outdoors column rounding up the recently elevated profile of gray wolves in Washington ends with a hint to another irony of Washington's East-West dichotomy.
Washington's wolf management plan requires 15 breeding pairs of wolves to be established for three years in all regions of the state before they could be removed from endangered status and their populations could be controlled.
But while wolves are moving in naturally from Idaho and Canada and establishing packs naturally in Eastern Washington, wolves would have to be trapped and relocated into the Western Washington and especially the Olympic Peninsula to complete the delisting requirements within a reasonable time frame.
The catch is that a lengthy environmental and public outreach process would be required before wolves could be translocated — even to the Mount St. Helens area where elk are starving from overpopulation. It's not clear whether Western Washington residents would welcome wolf releases, especially in the Olympics.
The East Side is getting wolves without management authority whether they like them or not. West Side residents get to have a say in whether they want wolves in their woods.
East Side wildlife will take the brunt of wolf recovery until West Siders make their decision.
With eight packs confirmed in Eastern Washington and more unconfirmed packs almost surely formed in the area, it seems like NOW is the time to begin the environmental reviews and public outreach required to get the ball rolling toward delisting wolves.
Why wait until wolves wear out their tentative welcome in Eastern Washington and give more East Siders a reason to hate them?
— See map graphics and details on Washington's eight confirmed wolf packs.
— See KING 5 News video report on Monday's capture and release of a 94 pound adult male and a pup from the Wedge Pack. The trapping effort confirmed the presence of a breeding pack between the Columbia and Kettle rivers near the Canada border.
— See five wolf pups in a short video clip from a remote trail cam that confirmed the presence of the Huckleberry Pack, a breeding pack in northern Spokane and southern Stevens counties.
NAVIGATION — Getting a map is easier than ever with online services and software.
But getting a good durable map that's specific for your application took a big hit this month as Northwest Maps — formerly Northwest Map and Travel Book Center — closed its shop in Spokane Valley.
As consumers have shifted to digital mapping sources, owner Steve Mitrovich decided to sell his massive map inventory and shifted to an online- and phone-only business to sell only his local-area atlases and marketing maps.
For years, Spokane was a premier hub for maps, including the U.S. Geological Survey office in the Downtown Post office. That office was closed at the end of 2001 after offering 43 years of service.
Mitrovich, who opened his shop in the mid 1985, stepped up to offer not only 7.5 minute quads for the entire region, but also all of the state public land maps, Canada maps, national park and Forest Service maps, wilderness maps and the travel guides to go with them.
If Northwest Maps didn't have a map you needed, Mitrovich likely could get it.
I pity people who think an 8 x 11-inch printout with smearable ink or even a GPS unit are satisfactory replacements for the information available to somebody who spreads out and pores over a topographic map.
Meanwhile, Northwest Maps is still offering a free map index service and taking phone orders for its local products through its website www.nwmaps.com.
- The Spokane REI store on North Monroe Street sells some topo quadrangle and recreation maps.
- Forest Service and state public lands maps can be purchased from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management office, 1103 N Fancher Road, (509) 536-1200.
- USGS maps can be purchased online at the USGS Store.
FISHING — Hardy Kruse of Spokane, who ran one of Spokane's first fishing shops with a special corner for fly fishers, is the latest of several notable angling personalities to drift out of this world in recent weeks.
Kruse, 85, died Sunday after a long illness. No public service is planned, according to close friend Stephen Aspinwall.
Long-time anglers will remember The Sport Cove, which Kruse operated in the Spokane Valley at the Two Swabbies for 30 years before closing the doors at the age of 75.
I still have the diver's swim fins Hardy hand rigged with straps to help anglers propel float tubes when they became the rage in the 1980s. "You'll spend three times as much for fins made for use with float tubes and they'll work half as well," he told me.
I tried them out with Hardy for a story about float-tubing in a fine day of fishing at Bayley Lake (see photo), which was one of Hardy's favorite waters for big brook trout and rainbows at that time. He also loved fishing the Bow River near Calgary.
Other notable anglers passing in recent weeks include:
Harry Lemire: A Boeing worker who became a standout in fly tying and steelhead and salmon fly fishing circles for his exquisite hand-tied flies — and I really do mean hand-tied.
Lemire said he succeeded in tying a fly without the help of a vise in 1991. "I found it very possible, practical and rewarding," he wrote. "From that day to this I've never used a vice when tying classic patterns and see no reason to."
Another Lemire quote: "I've caught steelhead up to 34 pounds on a skating fly and up to 23 pounds on a dry fly. My life, I would say, has been good."
Homer Circle: A southern gentleman, angler and author known to fans as "Uncle Homer" as he informed anglers for 50 years in Sports Afield and Field & Stream magazines. He passed away June 26 at the age of 97.
CYCLING — Local cycling guru Michael Emde has an enticing tidbit for participants in Saturday's Jederman Gran Fondo:
There are no traffic lights and there are only 20 over the length of the 112 mile course… The forecast is for 84F and very little wind!
The Jedermann Gran Fondo is a timed 112 mile cycling ride and cycling festival that will start and finish in Cheney, says Emde, event organizer.
The course in this inaugural event will visit the back roads and farming communities of Sprague, Tokio, Harrington, Edwall and back to Cheney.
In Europe, timed recreational events have been around for decades and each country has a different name for them. In Germany they’re called “Jedermann Rennen's” which translates to “Everyone’s Race". In Italy they call it a “Gran Fondo” which translates to “Great Ride”. Combine the two and “Jedermann Gran Fondo” translates to “Everyone’s Great Ride.”
Custom medals will be awarded Saturday for times under 6 hours, under 8 hours and under 10 hours.
Cyclists can enter as an individual OR as a 2-person relay team.
This ride includes mechanical support, food stops, a post race meal, dessert, libations, music, raffles and more.
WILDLIFE — Idaho's bighorn sheep are coveted by hunters, only a handful of which are allowed to hunt them each fall.
They are a prize for wildlife viewers and a symbol of the wildness that set's Idaho apart from much of the world.
Yet Idaho lawmakers have turned their backs on efforts to keep bighorns separated in their native range from domestic sheep, which can transmit diseases that have decimated bighorn herds in areas such as Hells Canyon.
Outdoor columnist Rocky Barker has this sensible insight on the issue, pointing out that it really wouldn't be too hard for Idaho's governorn or other lawmakers to give bighorns a better shake.
Meanwhile, as a recent SR story points out, sportsmen's groups are largely alone in trying to fund Washington State University research looking into preventing the domestic livestock transmission of diseases that are devastating wild sheep herds.
Read on for the details.
POACHING — A Western Washington man has pleaded guilty to 14 counts of luring bears with doughnuts, salmon and other bait so they could be killed for fun by himself and family from the porch of his Methow Valley recreation cabin.
James Erickson, 52, of Eatonville, Wash., has been sentenced to six days in jail on top of a $12,000 fine and 20 days electronically monitored detention at his home. He'll also loose his state hunting privileges for five years. As part of the plea deal, charges against others were dropped.
The case was sealed after years of investigation after Fish and Wildlife police received a tip that led to a remote trail cam with photos that caught Erickson in the act.
See the story and photos from the investigation that led to the arrest.
MOUNTAINEERING — Safely below the snowline, I was hiking in the Alps near Chamonix, France, last week when 9 climbers were killed by an avalanche on Mont Blanc, the highest peak in western Europe. It was particularly eery for me and my family, since we had just shared a train ride with a South Africa couple who had just climbed the peak — and we had shared breakfast on a previous day with a man who was headed up to climb.
The tragedy in bringing international attention to what appear to be increasing danger and unpredictibility in snow-country climbing and backcountry skiing.
Following the tragedy in the Alps as well as another on Mount McKinley, the New York Times has published this report citing veteran climbers pointing out that today’s conditions are combining to create a volatile highball of risk.
OUTDOOR SPORTS — Maybe you'd like to try a traditional sport, such as canoeing or kayaking, or maybe you're curious about more modern sports such as geocaching, slacklining or stand-up paddling.
Sekani Adventure Day — Saturday (July 21) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — at Camp Sekani Conservaton Area off Upriver Drive is the perfect opportunity. Try out a new sport while getting instruction and the chance to try a huge variety of outdoor equipment.
The event is sponsored by Spokane Parks and Recreation and boosted by volunteers from a variety of outdoor groups. Other sports covered include mountain biking, letterboxing, paddle rafting, archery, map and compass navigation, scrambling and maybe rock climbing this year
Nothing is sold at this event. It's strictly try it and see if you like it.
Where: Camp Sekani Conservation Area, 6707 E. Upriver Dr. See map.
Cost: $9 pre-registration or $15 at the gate.
Get more info and pre-register online, or call 625-6200.
FISHING — The gillnets didn't get all the northern pike in the Pend Oreille River.
This spring, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department and Kalispel Tribe used gillnets to remove about 87 percent of the non-native northern pike in the Box Canyon section of the river downstream from Newport. (See story)
But results from the June 29-July 1 Pikepalooza organized by the Kalispel Tribe indicate that serious anglers not only can catch a number of northern pike in the river on an outing, they also can catch some whoppers.
- Josh Whitney won a whopping $1,000 for catching the most northern pike — 14 — during the tournament.
- Dale Smith won $500 for catching the largest pike of the derby — 46.4 inches long!
The tribe reports that 138 anglers pre-registered and an additional 70 anglers signed up on site.
But water and weather conditions limited participation to about 80 anglers who turned out to compete for $3,000 in cash prizes and more than $500 in raffle prizes.
Although anglers faced tough fishing conditions over the weekend including high water, wake restrictions, closed boat launches, and hit-and-miss weather, the 80 anglers harvested 81 northern pike, reports Jason Connor, the Tribe's fisheries biologist.
- 33 people registered at least one pike.
- Pike from 286 mm (11.25”) to 1178 mm (46.4”) were harvested with the majority (74%) being 1-2 year olds less than 18 inches.
- No tagged pike were caught, so prizes will roll over to the next Pikepalooza event set for Aug. 3-5.
Read on for the complete list of prize winners.
Nature didn't stand still while I've been on vacation.
In the past two weeks, the cheatgrass has gone from green and soft to cured with spear-like seedheads that cling to socks and fur.
I just brushed dozens of cheat seeds out of my dog's fur after a training run.
The season has come to stuff cotton in a hunting dog's ear's before going afield. I could buy a yacht with the money I've spent over the years to have veterinarians extract cheatgrass seeds from deep inside my dogs' ears.
FORAGING — Bruce Howard of Spokane says this is an epic year for serviceberries, the pulpy purple fruit on the native shrubs that caught our eyes with lovely, delicate white blossoms in April.
"With the weather we've had, they are like real fruit this year," he said, noting the berries have been abundant and more flavorful that normal.
BACKPACKING – Backpackers who are tired of Ramen and balk at plain instant oatmeal might benefit from the free clinc on backpack cooking basics Thursday (July 19), 7 p.m., at REI in Spokane.
Topics to be covered include recipies as well as preserving, preparing packing and cooking tasty meals that won’t weight you down.
BOATING — The City of Post Falls boat launch and swim beach at Q’emiln Park has opened to the public Friday.
Avista officials said river flows had dropped sufficiently to allow all of the spill gates at the Post Falls hydroelectric facility to be closed last week. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday, and on average about June 22. The spring runoff season extended well into July this year because of a larger than average snowpack and rainfall in June that amounted to more than twice the normal amounts.
For current information on anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’ Alene Lake, Lake Spokane, and the Spokane River, call Avista’s 24-hour telephone information line.
- In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357;
- In Washington, call (509) 495-8043.
HIKING — While a Sunday Outdoors feature story covers the value and issues involved with using trekking poles for hiking, this video offers a useful guide to selecting poles for your type of use.
Our family became advocates of using trekking poles while hiking long ago. They save your knees, ward of charging marmots (seriously), offer an upper body workout and come in useful for all sort of things, including a center pole for a tarp tent.
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING – Spokane Nordic members are recruiting volunteers to help trim branches and clear the sprawling cross-country ski trail system at Mount Spokane before the snow flies.
The first of the club’s annual Trail Days is scheduled for Saturday, July 21.
Others Trail Day efforts are set for Aug. 12, Sept. 8, Sept. 16, Oct. 6 and Oct. 21.
Volunteers meet at the Selkirk Lodge at 9 a.m. dressed in work clothes and equipped with gloves, lunch and other tools.
Deails: Art Bookstrom at 624-9667.