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It’s write time for young authors with outdoor theme

It's time for high schoolers to begin thinking about fame, fortune and the great outdoors.

The Spokesman-Review once again is joining the Outdoor Writers Association of America in sponsoring a contest for youth outdoor writing.

The contest is open to high school students from the newspaper's circulation area.

Entries must be on the general topic of “outdoors.” This includes subjects such as hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, boating, nature and conservation. Any literary style - including humor, fiction, letters or poetry - is acceptable.

Other contest rules are as follows:
 
  • Contestants must be in grades 9-12 and from the newspaper circulation area in Eastern Washington or North Idaho.
  • Stories must be original and may be no longer than 1,000 words.
  • Entries should include the writer's name, school, grade, home address and telephone.
  • Stories should be typed.
  • Entries must be received by 5 p.m. Nov. 18.
  • Limit is one entry per student.

E-mail entries (preferred) to richl@spokesman.com. Receipt of all e-mail entries will be acknowledged.

Entries also can be mailed or delivered to Youth Outdoor Writing Contest, Sports Department, The Spokesman-Review, 999 W. Riverside, Spokane 99201.

Newspaper writers and editors will pick the best entries and award one $50 first-place prize and at least two $30 runner-up prizes.
 
The winning entries will be published in the Sunday Outdoors section and entered in the national OWAA Scholastic Writing Contest.

The national contest offers awards of up to $200 for the best outdoors articles published by high school students in 2010.
 
In 25 years, 39 finalists from The Spokesman-Review contest have won national awards.

Cold water a major safety factor for waterfowlers

WATERFOWLING — Water does not have to be near freezing to kill, it only has to be colder than a person to cause potentially fatal hypothermia.

With the waterfowl seasons about to open, Idaho Fish and game officials are urging waterfowl hunters who hunt from boats are to wear life jackets and take necessary safety precautions when on the water.

Nationwide last year, 15 hunters lost their lives in boating accidents. Eleven victims drowned because they were not wearing life jackets, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation reports. Overloaded boats and failure to wear life jackets are leading reasons Idaho typically loses a couple of waterfowl hunters every year.

Cold water wicks body heat 25 times faster than air at that same temperature. A hunter who falls in has only a few minutes before the cold renders numb numb and unable to swim.

Most boats float even when capsized or swamped, so get in or on the boat to get as far out of the water as possible. Wearing a life vest is a must. It will help preserve body heat and keeps even an unconscious person stay afloat. Get to shelter, change into dry clothing and warm up slowly.

Read on for more timely tips:

Gutsy griz wrangler and horse on Letterman Show Oct. 11

GREAT OUTDOOR STORIES — Here's latest update from Erin Bolster, the wrangler who rode her horse to the rescue of a boy being charged by a grizzly bear:  

The David Letterman Show has postponed her appearance until Oct. 11 so they can bring her hero-horse, Tonk, to New York for the program.  
 
Bolster has become a national hero, too, after the S-R revealed the story of how she and her horse went head to head with the big bear on July 30 near Glacier Park.
 
 Here's the scoop in Erin's words.

I just wanted to let you know, Letterman has been moved to the 11th. They decided they really wanted Tonk out there and they want to make him and me a bigger feature. So, in order to allow Tonk a more relaxed 5-day trip to NYC (in his own climate controlled van no less) and to schedule me on a date when they could allot me two segments, the producer set us to film and air on Oct. 11th. I'm quite excited and I think Tonk will be a real treat on camera.

Smoke make have provoked latest bighorn dieoff in western Montana

WILDLIFE – Montana wildlife officials say another pneumonia outbreak has killed several bighorn sheep in the Skalkaho area in western Montana.

Officials tell the Missoulian that two dead sheep recently died from severe cases of pneumonia, and that a third sheep had been dead too long to identify the cause.

Veterinarian Brent Rice of Hamilton says smoky conditions in the area from forest fires might have stressed the bighorns and made them more susceptible.

Officials say that if the outbreak spreads it would be the seventh major die-off of bighorns in western Montana since 2009.

Silver Bow offers beginner fly-tying class

What:  Learn the basics and how to tie six flies in two nights.

When:  6 p.m. -9 p.m., Oct. 10-11.

Where:  Silver Bow Fly Shop. 13210 E Indiana Ave.

Instructor:  Angela Morgan.

Cost:  $75; pre-register, space limited.

Contact: Silver Bow Fly Shop, 924-9998.

Roadside treasure: Washington Pass overlook of Liberty Bell in North Cascades

MOUNTAIN ROADS — The North Cascades Highway from Winthrop, Wash., west to Marblemount is a great scenic attraction that keeps getting better, according to this Seattle Times story.

Now's a great time to gander at LIberty Bell Mountain. 

Join nordic skiers to clear trails at Mount Spokane

TRAILS — Join local nordic skiers to clear brush from Mount Spokane cross-country ski trails in work parties set for Oct. 2 and Oct. 15, starting at 9 a.m. at Selkirk Lodge.

Wear appropriate clothing; bring a lunch and water.

Details: Art Bookstrom, 368-3119 days, 624-9667 evenings.

Fewer razor clams available for fall digs

SHELLFISHING — Fewer razor clams will be available for harvest this season on the Washington Coast beaches, according to Washington Fish and Wildlife Department pre-season surveys.

The decline, said state coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres, is due to the natural cycle of razor clam populations.

“We’ll have a little less digging this season,” Ayres said. “But we’ll probably save as much as we can for spring dates. People like that, the conditions are better and the clams are bigger.”

Information about current razor-clam stocks, marine toxins and digging options is available on the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s shellfishing website.

Bowhunter seems to lure unwanted predators

HUNTING — Years ago, before Jim Ebel had retired as manager of the Colville Fish Hatchery, I wrote a story about his unnerving encounter with a cougar.

He was putting up a tree stand before the archery deer season when a cougar came in below the tree and waited for an easy meal to come down.  Ebel was unarmed.

Eventually the cat left the immediate area, so Ebel crawled down and began hiking a mile to his pickup, but the cougar immediately showed up again and stalked him from beihind and from the side, slipping in and out of sight at close range.

That experience — something most hunters will never experience in their lifetimes — was enough to convince Ebel to carry a weapon in the woods.

But last year's hunting season seemed to move Ebel's status from hunter to “bait.”

Read on for the rest of the story:

Last call: Hiawatha Trail closing for season Sunday

RAIL TRAILS – The popular Route of the Hiawatha Trail rail trail near Lookout Pass is scheduled to close for the season on Sunday, (Oct. 2).

Bear spray worked for bowhunters

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — It's worth emphasizing that an Idaho archer was able to end a grizzly attack on his bowhunting partner on Saturday by using pepper spray, an essential that should be on the pack straps of every hunters in grizzly country.

The elk hunter who apparently stumbled across a bear’s resting spot and was hospitalized after the animal bit him and broke his right arm, officials said.

Richard Paini, 40, suffered puncture wounds and an injured left hand along with the broken forearm in the attack at about 9 a.m. He was taken to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

A hospital spokesman said Paini, of Island Park, was listed in serious condition Saturday afternoon.

The bear involved in the attack fled after Paini’s archery hunting partner, John Stiehl of Island Park, used bear spray to scare off the bear. Stiehl told authorities he believed it was a grizzly bear.

Gregg Losinski, an Idaho Fish and Game bear specialist, said hunters are at more risk of surprising bears because they are understandably being stealthy when they're in the woods.

Wolf plan heads wildlife panel’s Oct. 6 agenda

ENDANGERED– Washington’s pending Wolf Conservation and Management Plan will be the focus of another special state Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Oct. 6 in Olympia.

The discussion will center on the interaction of wolves with livestock and ungulates.  Public comment will be accepted.

The special session will be followed by an Oct. 7-8 meeting, when the commission will receive briefings on issues including the status of north coast steelhead stocks and population goals for deer, elk and other ungulates.

The special meeting is the second of three scheduled on the recommended Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The first was held in Ellensburg. The third special meeting is set for Nov. 3 in Olympia.

The commission is expected to take action on the plan in December.

Click here to see agendas for the commission meetings.

Click here to see the proposed wolf plan, including recovery objectives that would allow the state to eventually remove wolves from protection lists.  

Cool, rainy spring dampened pheasant hatch, but birds rallied

UPLAND BIRD HUNTING — Hunters chilled at the thought of what the cool, rainy spring was doing to nesting pheasants and quail in June.

Indeed, the hatch isn't anything to crow about, but it's not as bad as hunters may have feared, at least in the Snake River region.

Surveys by Idaho Fish and Game biologists indicate quail and Hungarian partridge had modest reproductive success and pheasants did better than the did last year, although last year's hatch was pitiful.

Idaho partridge populations of both are down slightly from 2010 and long-term averages. Pheasant numbers are up from last year, but still be low the averages.

Read on for details in a story by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune:

Prepare for Montana hunt with online resources

HUNTING — The time a nonresident takes to plan a Montana hunting trip is worth more than the high cost of the out-of-state tag.   

Read on for some steps and resources to consider.`

Steelhead fishing opens in Upper Columbia and tribs

STEELHEAD FISHING — Fishing for hatchery steelhead opens Wednesday (Sept. 28) on the upper Columbia River above Rock Island Dam, and on the Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, Methow, and Okanogan rivers, the , the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says.

Salmon fishing will also reopen Wednesday from Wells Dam to Brewster, and the Similkameen River will open to hatchery steelhead retention beginning Nov. 1.

The steelhead fisheries will remain open until further notice, while the salmon fishery will run through Oct. 15.

Read on for details.

Wild Night for Wilderness Sept. 30 in Sandpoint

CONSERVATION — “Wild Night For Wilderness” – a community celebration of the great outdoors, is being organized into an evening of music, slides and updates on the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30, at Evans Brother’s Coffee in Sandpoint.

The evening also includes a taste of local libations — featuring locally brewed beer by Laughing Dog and locally crafted wine by Pend d’Oreille Winery — plus free appetizers, door prizes and music by Baregrass, a popular local dance band.

The event, sponsored by Idaho Conservation League, Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education and Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness,  will have a no-host bar, $5 cover at the door.

Info: (208) 265-9565.

Calf found dead: More Imnaha wolves targeted

ENDANGERED SPECIES – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will kill two wolves from the Imnaha wolf pack, including the collared alpha male,  after they were blamed for a livestock kill in Eastern Oregon.

The department tracked an adult male wolf with a GPS collar to the location of a calf that was killed last week, according to the Associated Press.

Killing the adult male and a second, uncollared wolf will leave two wolves in the pack. Other wolves from the pack have dispersed to new areas.

The wildlife-advocate group Oregon Wild has protested the proposed kills, saying they are a “major blow” to Oregon’s wolf recovery program.

The Imnaha pack has been blamed for 14 livestock kills since mid-2010.

Wolves in the area were delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act in May, when the department killed two other wolves.

The overall number of wolves in the state has fallen from 21 to 12. The number is expected to climb.

Act now for FREE tickets to Reel Rock Film Tour

CLIMBING — Some of the year's top climbing short-films are coming to Spokane in a film tour — REEL ROCK VI.

Watch the trailer..

The show is a screaming deal — it's free!  But you must think ahead or get left out.

The films will be shown starting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the Mountain Gear retail store, 2002 N. Division.

“The show is free but space is limited to about 150, so attendees need to stop into the store and pick up their FREE ticket in advance,” said Phil Bridgers, Mountain Gear events coordinator.

Among the films are epic cold shots of mountaineering Gasherbrum II, big-wall ascents at Yosemite, ice climbs and the skill of an inspiring elementary school-age rock prodigy.

Read on for the film list and details. 

Albino mule deer fawn outstanding in the field

WILDLIFE WATCHING — It wasn’t a ghost Nels Houghton first saw while jogging in the early morning near his Billings, Mont.

Last weekend he returned and stalked to within 75 yards of the rare deer as it walked warily across a hillside, reports Brett French, outdoors writer for the Billings Gazette.

“I’ve hunted all my life and have never seen anything else like that,” he said. “I was pretty excited about it.”

French reports that albino deer are rare, but just how rare is open to debate.

  • One 1989 text, “The Deer of North America,” estimated the rate of albinism in mule deer at 1 in every 500,000 deer.
  • An Outdoor Life article on albino whitetail deer put the number at 1 in 20,000.
  • Former Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Jay Newell said he thinks the 1 in 500,000 odds are high. He told French he'd seen three albino mule deer — spread out along the Musselshell River and in the Bull Mountains — during his work in the area. Yet Newell has never seen an albino whitetail deer.

Asian carp: if you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em

FISHERIES — Asian bighead carp have become a big pain in the rear for fisheries managers and boaters in the Great Lakes region.

To get a sense of the danger they pose to boaters, check out this video of flying carp on the Illinois River.

Illinois officials say some creative thinking about the exotic species might offer a solution to two major problems _ the Asian carp's threatening of the Great Lakes and record numbers of people facing hunger.

In other words, quit carping about the carp and start commercial fisheries to catch them so they can be consumed.

Starting last week, the state's Department of Natural Resources launched a campaign to change the fish's image and teach people how to cook the ultra-bony meat.

Neighbornhood workshop on fire risk reduction for the High Drive Bluff on Thursday

URBAN FORESTS — The Friends of the High Drive Bluff are organizing a discussion on the proposed Fire Risk Reduction Plan for that popular South Hill recreation area on Thursday, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m., at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 5720 S. Perry St.

Anyone interested in the Bluff is welcome and encouraged to participate.
 
Last spring, community members identified fire risk reduction as a high priority for the Bluff and for neighboring homes. Attend this workshop to learn details of the plan, get answers to your questions, and learn how you can help with the project.

Contact: Diana Roberts, WSU Spokane County Extension, (509) 477-2167, email robertsd@wsu.edu

BLM seeks public comment on climbing ban in two Idaho counties

ROCK CLIMBING — The Bureau of Land Management is proposing a ban on rock-climbing at Cedar Fields near Burley, Idaho, to protect cultural resources in that area and would also ban climbing on BLM lands in the Castle Rocks Inter-Agency Recreation Area.

The federal agency is taking public comment on the plan until Oct. 28.

See story.
  

Coeur d’Alene Tribe asserting right to hunt

TRIBAL HUNTING – The Benewah County prosecutor was incorrect to say the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in North Idaho does not have the right to hunt or fish on reservation land owned by non-tribal members, tribal officials say.

“Any explanation or advice to people that tribal members can’t hunt and fish anywhere on the reservation is wrong, and potentially dangerous,” said Helo Hancock, tribe spokesman in a report by the Coeur d’Alene Press. “I think it misleads people and could lead to people getting into a conflict situation.”

Hancock said the tribe owns about 3,500 acres in the reservation, or about 25 percent of the land. He told the Coeur d’Alene Press that the rest is state, federal or privately owned.

Doug Payne, the county’s prosecutor, said a 1960 opinion by the Solicitor General of the Department of the Interior said the executive order that created the reservation didn’t reserve to tribal members the right to hunt and fish on the land.

But Hancock said that the opinion Payne referred to had been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968.

Read on for more of the story.

Number of young hunters dropping in Oregon

HUNTING — The number of youth hunters is dropping as Oregon’s population continues to shift to urban areas, according to a report in the East Oregonian.

 Oregon youth hunting license sales for hunters ages 12-17 have dropped by more than 17 percent in the last 10 years, the paper says.

The total number has dropped from 22,000 in 2001 to 18,000 in 2010 as the state’s population has grown.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy told the East Oregonian the numbers have started to stabilize in recent years.

Dennehy says there are now more activities — and distractions — for young hunters than there were a decade ago.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 29 percent of Oregon’s population lives in rural areas.

Photographer’s free program features Owls, woodpeckers

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Distinguished wildlife photographer Paul Bannick will present a free multimedia presentation based on his book “The Owl and the Woodpecker” TONIGHT (Sept. 26), starting at 5 p.m. in the  Wolff Auditorium, Jepson Center, Gonzaga University.

The event is sponsored by Gonzaga Environmental Studies.

Downtown hike a great way to celebrate whatever water has flowed under your bridge

HIKING — My wife, Meredith, and I celebrated our 29th anniversary Sunday afternoon (and evening) with a lively troop of trekking friends, shown here bagging the Kardong Bridge on the Centennial Tail.

This was Bridge No. 18 in the 7.8-mile downtown hike of 18 Spokane River bridges. We could have made it 20 bridges had we scampered across the Maple Street and Division Street bridges, but we left that goal for another year of marriage.

 We started and ended at the Sandifur Bridge near High Bridge Park.

What next? We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Ducks Unlimited raising wetland funds at Northern Quest BBQ

CONSERVATION — With waterfowlers gearing up for the fall general season start (Oct. 15), the West Plains Chapter of Ducks Unlimited is sponsoring BBQ buffet dinner and fundraising auction Oct. 6 at Northern Quest Casino.

Many species of wildlife benefit from the work of DU and the generosity of sportsmen and other conservationist to preserve and restore wetland habitats.

Buy tickets online by Oct. 1 for a chance on $100 Duck Bucks to use on the Live Auction!

Read on for details.

Not tonight deer: birth control vaccine may reduce urban deer damage

NUISANCE WILDLIFE — Science is out of the rut and onto a new tactic for dealing with burgeoning deer populations in towns and suburbs where the animals can't be hunted.

A new birth control vaccine for white-tailed deer — a growing nuisance in urban areas for gardens and landscaping — eliminates the dangerous reproductive behavior behind the annual autumn surge in automobile-deer collisions, according to a report in Science Daily.

The vaccine, just becoming commercially available in some U.S. states, was the topic of a report in Denver at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, Science Daily said.

Mountain bikers offer trail building class in CdA

TRAILSInternational Mountain Biking Association trail crew experts are offering a Trail Building Class, Saturday, Oct. 1,  8 a.m.-4 p.m.  starting at McLain Hall, North Idaho College,  followed by a field session at Blue Creek Bay.

Experts train locals in techniques to help boost area trail systems.

Dress for a day of work in the woods and bring plenty of water and snacks.

  • Who: Anyone interested in developing mountain biking in our area
  • Cost: FREE – lunch is provided

Sponsored by North Idaho College Outdoor Pursuits, Lake City Trail Builders Association, International Mountain Biking Association, Bicycle Sales and Service, Two Wheeler Dealer, Bureau of Land Management.

Contacts: Jon Totten: jon_totten@nic.edu (208) 769-7809, Lake City Trail Builders: lctba83814@hotmail.com

Facebook ‘wall of shame’ targets slobs who create garbage bears

WILDLIFE — Frustrated by some homeowners' unwillingness to secure their garbage to keep black bears from becoming habituated, a group of residents of Incline Village in Nevada near Lake Tahoe have created a Facebook “wall of shame,” that features unsecured Dumpsters and the identity of the people who own them.

Social Network pressure to protect wildlife!