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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.

Incidentally:

  • 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.

Cast your opinion on Pend Oreille River Water Trail plan

BOATING — Officials pondering the Pend Oreille River Water Trail Concept Plan are seeking comments through the month in an online survey.

The plan would help develop and promote water access, activities and tourism on a 70-mile stretch of the river from the Newport area downstream to Boundary Dam.

The PORTA website  includes a summary of the plan along with an interesting map and description of the Water Trail. 

Public comments and suggestions about the project can be directed to Mike Lithgow, Pend Oreille County Community Development Department or Susan Harris, Executive Director, Pend Oreille River Tourism Alliance (PORTA) until Sept. 1.

The Water Trail has been a three-year project. 

Agencies and organizations participating in the Water Trail development currently include the USFS, BLM, National Park Service, Towns of Newport, Cusick, Metaline and Metaline Falls, Ione, WDFW, DNR, PUD, Pend Oreille County Community Development Department, WSU Extension Office, Map Metrics, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Kalispel Natural Resources Department, SCL Boundary Dam Project, and Pend Oreille River Tourism Alliance.

Bikers, families to rule Albi-Audubon streets on Sunday

OUTDOOR NEIGHBORHOODS — The streets will be wide open for bikes, walkers, in-line skaters an family activities on Sunday.  Check it out.

Prime time to get away from it all at a lake

Life is good this week at Sullivan Lake — or at any lake for that matter.  Enjoy.

Mountain bikers: plan now for Tour de Rock

MOUNTAIN BIKING — Eager riders are using this summer to tone up for the Tour de Rock Mountain Bike Ride & second annual Rough Ride 4000' at Chewelah and 49 Degrees North Ski Area.

The Oct. 1 event — which benefits the Ski Patrol — includes two events:

The “Rough Ride” starts at 10 a.m. in Chewelah and runs 10.2 miles on pavement up  to the ski area. From there, riders ride the ski area trails to the summit, gaining a total of 4,000 feet of elevation on a variety of surfaces.

The citizen's mountan bike tour starts 11 a.m. at the ski resort and climbs up through the Sunrise Basin, traverses across the face of the mountain and concludes with an enjoyable downhill run back to the lodge.

Both rides conclude with a barbecue and live music.

Sign up early for $20 entry fee, $30 with a t-shirt.

Info: Call or email Doug (509) 937-4922, doug@shirewood.com.

One more reason to catch your own salmon

FISHERIES —  Wild-caught Pacific salmon is more myth than reality on some Puget Sound restaurant menus, a study at the University of Washington Tacoma has found.

About 38 percent of samples from Tacoma-area restaurants showed a menu was promoting farm-raised Atlantic salmon as wild-caught Pacific salmon, or calling a coho a king, the Associated Press reports. 

Grocery stores and fish markets got better scores, with only about 7 percent of store samples mislabeled.

“I’m shocked at the number of substitutions that we encountered,” said Erica Cline, an assistant professor in the university’s environmental program who was one of two biology instructors leading the study.

Cline said, but she hopes her study and others like it could lead to stronger enforcement of federal laws that prohibit false labeling of fish and other animals.

Idaho pitches plan to restore native vegetation at Farragut State Park

STATE PARKS – A more natural view toward Lake Pend Oreille could be in the works to greet visitors to the popular Jokulhlaup lookout in Farragut State Park.

The Idaho Fish and Game Department is planning to restore the view shed and the adjacent ponderosa pine habitat on property the agency manages at Farragut State Park and Wildlife Management Area.

An open house to discuss the project and take public comments is set for 6:30 to 7:30 p.m on Aug. 17 at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional Office, 2885 W. Kathleen Ave. in Coeur d’Alene.

The project includes removing trees and brush from 5 acres to restore the view shed at Jokulhlaup lookout near Blackwell point. Shade tolerant trees and dense brush would be removed from approximately 8 acres of Ponderosa Pine forests.

Wildfires would have done this job naturally in the years before the region was developed.

Read on for details.

Check out this man’s bike tour of 14 national parks

BICYCLE TOURING — OK, so it was done first in cars during a 1920 showcase event.

But one cyclist/writer says there's bicycling merit to the Playground Tour, a 4,500 mile, four-month bike ride through the Western United States.

Rick Olson, editor-at-large of adventure journal Wend Magazine, spent June – October of 2010 peddling a bicycle (nicknamed “Buck”) across miles of western landscapes, recreating on two-wheels a historic auto tour of 12 National Parks that took place in 1920 to celebrate the creation of the Park-to-Park Highway.

“I was inspired when I saw Paving the Way, a documentary about the creation of this amazing bit of the US highway system,” says Olson. “I wanted to bring attention to this great achievement and at the same time highlight the need for more bike friendly routes around the US.”

While en route, the Playground Tour raised money for the United States Bike Route System, supported by the Adventure Cycling Association. The goal of this effort is to create the world’s largest bicycle route system.

Weekend clinics set to hook women fly fishers

FLY FISHING — Wade aside men – more women are likely to be hip deep in your favorite fly-fishing river soon.

A Lewiston-Idaho based set of fly fishing clinics is geared specifically for women ages 12 and older. The clinics will introduce beginner anglers to casting techniques, equipment use, clothing, fly selection, how to read water and, most importantly, how to catch fish.

Evening sessions are set for two clinics on Aug. 31 and Sept. 7 in Lewiston. Each will be followed by the weekend overnight clinic and campout.

To make the offer even more attractive, two days of personalized fishing instruction on a scenic Idaho river planned September 10 and 11.

Cost: $50 for adults and $20 for girls 12-17 years old; includes a Saturday sack snack, evening dinner and Sunday breakfast with coffee both mornings.

Fly rods and reels will be provided to those who do not own equipment, but participants must bring all other fishing gear, waders, camping equipment, food and beverage.

Girls 12-17 must be accompanied by a participating guardian or parent. Participants ages 14 or older must purchase an Idaho Fishing license before the weekend outing.

Contact Peg Kingery, (208) 669-1858 or email pkingery@vandals.uidaho.edu

Get registration forms here. Space limited.

Sponsored by Kelly Creek Flycasters, Temple Fork Outfitters and Idaho Fish and Game.

Forest crews hacking through Blue Mountains blowdowns

TRAILS – A November storm left a nasty surprise for Forest Service trail crews heading out in the Blue Mountains this summer.

“There’s more timber down this year than I’ve seen in the 30 years I’ve been on trails,” said Rich Martin, trails coordinator for the Pomeroy District. “We were averaging 50 downed trees per mile.

“On the trail from Teepee Trailhead to Oregon Butte, we had to get a fire crew in to help us out or we’d have never got the three miles cleared out to get the lookout (staffer) in there.

“One poor contractor bid the job on the Wenaha River trail last year and came in and couldn’t believe the mess the winter left him. But he had some strong boys with him and they just pulled out of there this week.

“The Wenaha River trail is cleared out and there’s been a lot of other reconstruction work, but you couldn't ride a horse across the river until late July this year because of all the water coming down — and it just kep coming.”

Read on for other projects underway, some of which will be especially good news to hunters:

Hike down Amazon more than a walk in the woods

ADVENTURING — You think mosquitoes are bad in the the Idaho Selkirks?

How about venomous stingrays, killer bees, rabid vampire bats, electrifying thunderstorms, previously uncontacted tribes and a bazillion welt-inducing insects?

A Discovery News report tipped me off to Ed Stafford, a 35 year old British explorer who devoted more than two years to walking the length of the Amazon River, from source to sea. 

He finished the journey last August and published a book in June. In a video, he recalls the misery as he wrote in his journal along the way.

A trailer of a show that's yet to become available in the United States suggests it’s full of juicy entertainment.

Meanwhile, Stafford’s adventures — he hasn't retired — can be followed on his website.

Chinook fishing to close in Idaho on Wednesday

SALMON FISHING — Spring and summer chinook salmon seasons across Idaho will close at the end of fishing hours Wednesday.

The closure affects the main stem of the Clearwater River, the Middle Fork Clearwater River, the South Fork Clearwater River, the Lochsa River, the Snake River downstream from Hells Canyon Dam, the Little Salmon River and the upper Salmon River.

“This has been one of the longest Chinook seasons we’ve had in recent years,” said Pete Hassemer, Idaho Fish and Game’s salmon and steelhead manager. “By this time of year, most of the Chinook have passed through the areas open to fishing on their way to hatcheries and spawning grounds, and the success rate is slowing down.”

Washington waterfowl seasons set

WATERFOWLING — Duck and goose hunting in Washington this fall will be roughly the same as last year under the season adopted last week by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved.

Statewide duck hunting season will be open Oct. 15-19 and from Oct. 22-Jan. 29.

A special youth hunting weekend is scheduled Sept. 24-25.

Special limits for hen mallard, pintail, redhead, scaup, canvasback, goldeneye, harlequin, scoter and long-tailed duck will remain the same.

Goose hunting seasons vary by management areas across the state, but most open Oct. 15 and run through January 2012.

Details on the waterfowl hunting seasons will be available later this week on WDFW’s website.

Duck production surveys indicate a great crop of waterfowl in the western U.S.

Idaho seeks comments on waterfowl seasons

HUNTING — Waterfowl hunters are being asked to responded to a survey on Idaho hunting season options by the end of the week.

“We’ve had some requests for more late season duck hunting, and we’re asking hunters statewide to weigh in on which way they’d like to go,” said Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager in Coeur d'Alene, noting that the Coeur d'Alene area is in Area 2 for both ducks and geese.

Duck production surveys indicate a great crop of waterfowl in the western U.S., so it's worth chiming in on seasons.

Taket he quick survey here

Read on for details on the proposals currently under consideration.

Don’t let the rude people take over national forest debates

PUBLIC LANDS — Perhaps the Internet will usher civility into the meetings the Colville National Forest is conducting to inform the public about proposed revisions to its management plans.

The meeting at Colville two weeks ago was, as one man put it, “a freak show” of conspiracy theorists who essentially commandeered the evening with rudeness. They twisted the meeting to profess outdated private property rights takeover hysteria and misinformation about the Yellowstone-to-Yukon wildlife corridor concept – which is just that:  a concept.

The Forest Service staffers conducting the meetings can’t even respond to such tripe.  The meeting bullies might as well go blow their mouth's at the next PTA meeting, where their issues would be similarly irrelevant.

The Colville Forest meetings are about explaining the forest plan, from grazing and timber management to wilderness proposals. Nothing more.

The problem with rude people is that they give the impression they represent a larger portion of people than they actually do.

They do this by repulsing and repelling decent people who just want to be informed and make constructive criticism.  Many people simply walked out of the Colville meeting, I’m told. 

Let's hope the Forest Service and elected officials recognize this and pay more attention to the thoughtful comment that will be trickling in. 

The Newport and Spokane meetings were more balanced, but a sprinkling of rudeness apparently is following the Forest Service meeting schedule.

However, today Colville officials will be conduction another informational meeting – on the Web, starting at noon.  Check it out here.

Can the nut cases disrupt a civil process over the Internet?

We’ll see.

Bonners Ferry man charged with killing grizzly

POACHING — Jeremy M. Hill, 33, of Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho, has been charged for killing a grizzly bear, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced today.

The information filed today in United States District Court alleges that on May 8, 2011, Hill shot and killed a grizzly bear that was on his property in Bonner’s Ferry. The grizzly bear is classified as a threatened species in the Lower 48 states, according to the Endangered Species Act of 1975, and protected by federal law.

The charge of killing a threatened species is punishable by up to one year in prison, a maximum fine of $50,000, and up to one year of supervised release.

The case was investigated by the Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Four-wheelers leave their mark on Antoine Peak

PUBLIC LANDS – They’re vandals on wheels, stealing the common from the wildlife and the public.

Off-road vehicle drivers have the capacity to do serious long-term and even permanent damage in minutes with the thoughtless use of their machines.

The land carnage by four-wheel drive and ATV enthusiasts is not uncommon on public lands.

I was reminded of this last night while hiking around Antoine Peak, the mountain that forms the backdrop for East Valley High School. More than 1,100 acres of the mountain have been secured over the last few years through the Spokane County Conservation Futures Program.

It’s a spectacular wildlife refuge. I saw turkey vultures, hawks and ravens soaring over Antoine’s 3,373-foot summit and wild turkeys and quail on the ground – all within minutes. I saw deer, elk and moose tracks while looking over the Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake.

But I also saw the rampant recent damage by off-road vehicles, which are prohibited in the Antoine Conservation area. These are probably the same people who disregarded the no trespassing signs on the land when it was still privately owned.

Buying one of these vehicles does not come with a license to destroy public land and wildlife habitat. The law should require visible license plates so the public has a way of reporting the vandals when we spot them in action.

There destructiveness is undefendable. It's selfishness on wheels.

Chelan macks produce; Upper Columbia salmon spotty

SALMON FISHING — The latest observations on upper Columbia salmon fishing from Anton Jones of Darrell & Dad's Family Guide Service include a digression to point out that mackinaw fishing continues to be great at Lake Chelan, as one can see above in the form of a 21 pounder in the hands of Jolene Rhoads of Spangle.

Meantime, “Salmon fishing on the Upper Columbia has been spotty at best,” Jones said.

“Everything we have heard indicates that the lack of a thermal barrier at the mouth of the Okanogan River has made for very slow salmon fishing. Below Wells Dam, it has been a bit better, but the inconsistent releases from the dam have played hobb with our fishing.”

West Side timber company starts new fee access for hunters

FORESTS — Hunting access is taking a new twist this season in Southwest Washington as Rayonier starts selling permits for entry to some of its lands most coveted by sportsmen.

The timber company’s new hunting permit program for 46,000 acres near Grays River in Pacific County follows fee-access programs initiated several years ago by Potlatch in Idaho and Inland Empire Paper Co. in Eastern Washington and Idaho.

However, Rayonier’s program is more restrictive and expensive, according to a Longview Daily News story.

Rayonier is selling 175 permits to enter its 31,000-acre Fossil Creek area Aug. 15-Dec. 31 for a flat $225.

Though private timber companies like Rayonier have restricted access to their lands in recent years, they haven’t charged hunters they do let in.

“Hunting is going to become a rich man’s sport,” said Vern Eaton of Longview, who has been active in hunting access groups. “I hate to see it come,” he said.

Read on for more details from the story by outdoor writer Tom Paulu.

Rain, floods spurred ducks to reproduce

HUNTING– With the duck factories of North America producing a record high number of waterfowl, Montana and Idaho waterfowl hunters have something to look forward to this fall.

This year, 10 primary duck species on the traditional spring survey areas totaled about 45.6 million—a record high for the survey that dates back to 1955, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recent surveys.

That’s an 11 percent increase over 2010 and 35 percent above the 50 year long-term average.

“This year all parts of the 'duck factory' kicked in,” said Jim Hansen, the Central Flyway coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.  “Just about all of the north central U.S. and Prairie Canada have been wet, but certainly it came with flooding that has been terrible.”

Mallards, the most sought-after species in Montana, were up 9 percent from last year at 9.2 million—22 percent above the long-term average.

Pintails, which have been in decline, showed a 26 percent increase and were 10 percent above the long-term average.

Redheads reached a record high, 106 percent above the long-term average.

Deer has that velvety feeling

She's well aquainted with the touch of a velvet hand like a lizard on a window pane.”

- John Lennon

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY — This photo was made last night by Lincoln, Mont., photographer Jaime Johnson, who makes more great outdoor photos in a week than most wannabe outdoor photogs make in a year.

Check out his website.

Colville Forest addresses forest plan in ‘webinar’

NATIONAL FORESTS — The Colville and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests are planning two toll-free online informational webinars in addition to recent meetings for the public to learn about their Draft Proposed Actions for the Forest Plan Revision.

The proposals cover a wide range of forest issues, ranging from grazing to wilderness.

The sessions will be conducted 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. as follows:

  • Colville National Forest, Tuesday, (Aug. 9).
  • Okanogan-Wenatchee National ForestsThursday, (Aug. 18).

The webinars will include a 20-minute overview of the proposals, plus time for clarifying questions and responses.

Click here to register for Aug. 9.

Click here
to register for Aug. 18.


Questions about the webinars? (509) 826-3275, or email r6_ewzplanrevision@fs.fed.us.

Montana wolf tags on sale Monday

HUNTING — Montana's wolf-hunting licenses will go on sale Monday, Aug. 8.

Licenses will be valid within 14 specifically defined wolf management units. Hunters must obtain permission to hunt on private lands, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say.

Idaho's tags already are on sale, but interest is far lower than the first season two years ago.

Read on for Montana details.

Grizzly attacks solo hiker in Glacier Park

HIKING –A grizzly bear attacked a hiker around noon today on the trail from Many Glacier to Piegan Pass in Glacier National Park. The hiker was able to walk to assistance after the being bitten multiple times.

The 50-year male hiker from St. Paul, Minnesota was hiking alone when he rounded a bend in the trail and encountered a sow grizzly with one sub-adult, park officials say. The hiker was carrying bear spray, but was unable to deploy it before the bear attacked.

The hiker sustained bites to his left thigh and left forearm, before the bear grabbed his foot, shook him, released him and left the area, the park report says.

The man hiked back toward Many Glacier encountering a naturalist ranger leading a hike. The ranger notified dispatch while the man continued to the Many Glacier Ranger Station where he was treated for his injuries and then transported to the Blackfeet Community Hospital in Browning by the Babb Ambulance.

Initial reports indicated the hiker was making noise as he hiked.

The trail from Piegan Pass to Feather Plum Falls is closed at this time, and rangers are investigating the incident.

Glacier National Park is grizzly and black bear country. Park officials advice hikers to carry bear spray, know how to use it, and have it on a pack strap ready for immediate use.

Hikers are also encouraged to hike in groups and make noise when hiking.  
  

Sunday: Watch for wildlife ideas at Yard & Garden Tour

WILDLIFE — The Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane are presenting their 26th annual Yard & Garden Tour on Sunday, Aug. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This tour has a wide variety of ideas for landscaping, and one always comes away with tips on gardening for wildlife,such as hummingbirds and butterflies.


Tickets are $10 each (children under 12 are free).

Tickets are available the day of the tour, at each of the six locations:

  • 5217 N Madison
  • 824 W Queen
  • 4029 N Cedar
  • 3903 N Whitehouse
  • 3225 W 7th Avenue
  • 1026 S Carousel Ln
      

Video: octopus has many personalities on ocean floor

WILDLIFE WATCHING — This short video shows how a mimic octopus takes on various disguises in its quest for survival deep in the ocean.  

Very cool. I especially enjo the act of perambulating along the ocean floor as if the sea creature is running on legs.

Colville names 10-year Forest Service employee Republic ranger

NATIONAL FORESTS — Robert Sanchez, a 10-year career Forest Service employee and University of Idaho alumnus, has been  named District Ranger of the Republic Ranger District, based out of Republic, Wash.

Colville National Forest Supervisor Laura Jo West announced the appointment last week.

Sanchez will be coming to Republic in September from the Mendocino National Forest, based in Willows, Calif., where he is the forest hydrologist.

Read on for details on Sanchez's career