Latest from The Spokesman-Review
OCEAN CREATURES — Many people have had the pleasure to swim with sea turtles, but since most of us have not, here's a feeling for what it's like.
Tom Delanoy, grandson of Medical Lake area resident Kenneth Delanoy, shot this video in Hawaii. It's fun to watch.
Of the seven species of sea turtles, six are found in U.S. waters: Green Sea Turtles, Hawksbill Turtles, Kemp's Ridley Turtles, Leatherback Sea Turtles, Loggerhead Sea Turtles, and Olive Ridley Turtles. All Six species of sea turtles occurring in the U.S. are protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
It is illegal to touch sea turtles, as it can cause them to drown or subject them to disease.
Under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Hawkbill and Leatherback are listed as endangered. The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, a distinct population of Green Sea Turtles, is listed as "threatened." This means that the species is likely to be in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range in the foreseeable future. The Olive Ridley Turtles are listed as endangered in Mexico and threatened elsewhere. Loggerhead turtles are listed as threatened.
EVENTS — A new multi-sport race in the Spokane Valley will put three-person teams to the test of paddling on the Spokane River, mountain biking on Beacon Hill and running on the Centennial Trail.
The Plante’s Ferry Adventure Race is set for Sept. 18, sponsored by the Spokane Valley Junior Soccer Association.
PFAR is open to teams of three or individuals. Participants must be age 14 or older. Categories include Youth (14-18),
Friends, Family, Ladies and Corporate. Cost: $99 per team or $49 individual.
OUTDOOR HAZARDS — The state Health Department says the West Nile virus was found in a mosquito collected Tuesday in Yakima County — the first sign of the disease this year in Washington.
No human cases have been identified this year, but there were two last year, and a 38 people in the state were sickened in 2009 by the virus, which is carried by birds and mosquitoes.
Most people bitten by a mosquito with the virus won't become ill, but some people with weak immune systems risk serious illness.
The department recommends wearing bug repellant and long pants and long sleeves when outdoors.
WILDLIFE — A “Be Bear Aware” educational trailer – and a chance to be trained on using bear spray – will be open Monday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department office, 2315 N. Discovery Pl. in Spokane Valley.
WATER SPORTS — Campers and boaters must be aware of toxic alage warnings for a portion of Potholes reservoir and Lake Rufus Woods.
The Washington Department of Health is warning people not to swim in Rufus Woods, but officials say the problems does not affect fish or fishing.
However, pets and livestock should be kept away from the water.
The Department of Ecology has a website devoted to algae issues.
Read on for a details story from the Grand Coulee Star Online plus links to
SALMON FISHING — The return of sockeye salmon to Lake Wenatchee is not strong enough to allow a recreational fishery in the lake this year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife just announced.
Although more than 185,000 sockeye have passed Bonneville Dam this year, only about 14,000 of them are expected to enter Lake Wenatchee, said Jeff Korth, WDFW regional fish manager in Ephrata.
That is well short of the 23,000-fish goal for spawning escapement in the lake, Korth said.
“We know this is disappointing news for anglers, especially since the lake has opened for sockeye fishing for the past three years,” Korth said. “But the number of sockeye counted between Rock Island and Rocky Reach dams is low, and very few are entering the Wenatchee River.”
While the overall run of sockeye to the Columbia River has been relatively high, most of these fish appear to be headed for the Okanogan River and on into Canada, Korth said.
“The four- and five-year old sockeye that make up the bulk of this year’s run to Lake Wenatchee were spawned in years with very low sockeye abundance,” Korth said. “So there’s good reason to believe returns will improve in the years ahead.”
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today voted to increase cougar hunting opportunities in six counties.
Meeting via telephone, the commission amended cougar hunting regulations for a pilot project that authorizes cougar hunting with the aid of dogs. The project had expired and was not extended this year by the Legislature.
The commission increased cougar hunting opportunities without the aid of dogs in Klickitat, Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties to continue to meet management objectives in those areas.
In addition, the commission modified the criteria for determining when cougars are removed to address public concerns about pet and livestock depredation and personal safety. The change allows for cougar removals when complaints confirmed by WDFW staff in a given game management unit exceed the five-year average.
WDFW game managers recommended the amendments to cougar hunting regulations as an interim measure until the 2012-14 hunting season package is developed.
Public discussion of the 2012-14 hunting seasons is scheduled to begin this month, including a Spokane meeting on Wednesday.
Click here for more information about future commission meetings.
ADVENTURE RACING — The end is in sight, at least figuratively for competitors in Expedition Idaho, the 6-day adventure race — 528 miles, 137,000 vertical feet – night and day through North Idaho.
"After an unbelievable week, where at times, we never thought we could pull everyone back together, the race has come together perfectly," said organizer David Adlard of Athol. "And it looks like our grand scheme for the Blues and Brews finish (which many told me wouldn’t work/you’re crazy) is going to work perfectly, despite the forest fire near the Silver Mountain Resort which almost got to the gondola!"
Read on for Adlards just posted in-the-field report.
COLUMBIA RIVER — The level of Lake Roosevelt was 1286 feet this morning. High pool is 1290.
For the next week, the level of Lake Roosevelt is anticipated to continuing dropping gradually, the Bureau of Reclamation reports.
The predicted level of the lake by the end of next week should be about 1283. The target elevation for the end of August is 1279 – 1280. Grand Coulee Dam is operating to meet power demand and target flows on the Columbia River at McNary.
For a daily forecast call 1-800-824-4916. This forecast is updated at 3 p.m. each day
FISHING — Record and near record steelhead catches from the Lower Columbia mainstem sport fishery last month have just been reported by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:
New record steelhead harvest for the month of July. An estimated 8,549 steelhead were kept last month. The old record was 8,200 steelhead taken home in 2009.
Last month’s 15,897 total steelhead handled (kept and released) missed the record by just 37 fish (15,934 in 2009).
MEANTIME, more than 23,000 steelhead have run up the Snake River and climbed over Lower Granite Dam. And they're coming at the rate of about a thousand a day.
Quote of the week:
- Missoula Independent
FLY FISHING — High water and prolonged runoff fouled Montana fly fishing plans and forced cancelation of guided trips well into July this year.
But that's history. Many experts say that setback should translate into sensational fall fishing.
For an update, check out Swollen Rivers, but Great Fly Fishing In Montana, by Desmond Butler.
The operative quote: "Rebook for September, it's going to be epic." October should be off the charts as well.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A five-year project has succeeded in returning the Western bluebird to Washington’s San Juan Islands. The bird had historically inhabited the islands, but changing land use practices and a paucity of nesting sites meant the species had not nested there for over 40 years.
Biologists with the Western Bluebird Reintroduction Project captured and translocated 45 breeding pairs of Western Bluebirds from an expanding population at Fort Lewis Military installation, Washington, and another four pairs from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The birds were kept in aviaries on San Juan Island prior to release to acclimate them to their new surroundings.
Read on for details about the project and the several cooperating groups from the American Bird Conservancy.
FISHING — The Spokane River's struggling native redband trout are in the news for more reasons that one this week.
As stream flows hit their seasonal lows in the Spokane River, Avista Utilities begins a to-do list of work on their dams and on the bed of the river. Many of the jobs are part of their 50-year relicensing agreement compiled by several stakeholder groups, including Indian tribes and environmental groups. On Wednesday surveyors and environmental consultants planned and prepared for the construction of weirs to direct river flows in a more aesthetically pleasing way.
The project included netting trout stranded in the basalt pools of the dewatered falls and releasing them safely in the river.
The effort — and a glimpse at the size of redband trout living in the Spokane Falls area — are captured in a picture story by Spokesman-Review photographer Jesse Tinsley.
The other news story this week, detailed in my column today, is the legal challenge to the docks proposed on the river by the Coyote Rock development near Plantes Ferry Park.
SPOKANE RIVER — Every regulator with a clue seems to agree that plans to build up to 30 docks at the Coyote Rock development are a bad idea for the Spokane River.
The river has emphasized the sentiment — see photo above — as spring runoff swept around the bend past Plantes Ferry Park, damaged pilings and nearly ripped out the first two docks to be approved.
However, nobody at the city, county or state level seems able to thwart a bad plan and its threats to struggling native redband trout and the area aesthetics.
My column today, "Coyote Rock docks cause howl," spells out the issue and the importance of the unprecidented upcoming trial before the Washington state Pollution Control Board.
Some paddlers, rafters and anglers are planning to rally with their boats for a play day at Plantes Ferry Park Sunday at noon.
But the real action will start Monday when the Spokane Riverkeeper, Gonzaga Law, and the Center for Justice begin a formal challenge of the permit issued by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife under the state Hydraulic Code. This is the first appeal before the board of the Hydraulics Project Approval process.
MOUNTAINEERING — Two climbers were plucked from the summit of South Goodsir Tower in Yoho National Park on Sunday in the highest helicopter rescue on record for the Banf, Yoho or Kootenay national parks.
Parks Canada spokesman Omar McDadi said two climbers who used a SPOT satellite beacon to call for help from the top, were heli-slung down off the mountain's 3,600 meter summit: that's 11,810 feet.
“The elevation doesn’t reflect the difficulty of the rescue, it’s just that the higher you go the less performance you get out of a helicopter,” he said to the Calgary Herald.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Hikers in the Teanaway area of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest are being warned to watch out for an aggressive mountain goat.
Spokeswoman Nancy Jones says the forest has received six or seven complaints since June, most recently last weekend. The goat is bold enough to nibble on backpacks and clothes.
NOTE TO NORTH IDAHO HIKERS: Please, please don't feed the popular mountain goats that greet hikers at the top of the trail to Scotchman Peak. They are a treat to visit, but people who feet these creatures could be leading them down a path to their demise.
The North Cascades complaints have come from hikers on trails near Long's Pass and Eagle Pass.
The animal is apparently seeking salt. Hikers are encouraged to urinate at least 50 yards off trails and be ready to frighten a goat by yelling, waving clothing or throwing rocks.
In October, a mountain goat gored and killed a Port Angeles man in the Olympic National Park.
CAMPING — Double the life of the ice in your cooler during long camping trips by wrapping it with your sleeping bag when not in use.
Better yet, I dedicate an old rectangular sleeping bag to the cooler and leave it on to insulate all day and night.
This past week, I had cold food on the fifth day of camping using that method with minimal ice. The sleeping bag's value was apparent every time I uwrapped the package for food and felt the outside of the cooler — it was always cold to the touch.
On the fifth day as we ended a backpack fishing trek down the St. Joe River last year — with temps soaring into the 90s, I surprised my sweat-soaked companion at the trailhead by pulling out a sleeping bag-wrapped cooler from the pickup and treating him to a very cold Corona.
He's a believer.
PAY TO PLAY – Washington’s first general hunting-fishing license fee increase in a decade kicks in Sept. 1.
Now’s the time to buy and save on most licenses – but you might want to hold off on buying some youth, senior or disabled licenses, which will decrease in cost. And the endorsement that allows angers to use two rods while fishing some waters will decrease substantially.
All of the new license fee prices are available on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
But here’s a sampling of increases for resident fees (nonresident increases are much more substantial):
- Deer, elk, bear and cougar tag package, currently $81.20, will increase to $93.50.
- Small game license, $38, will increase to $38.50.
- Freshwater fishing license, $24, will increase to $27.50.
- Combination fishing license, $48.20, will increase to $52.25.
Decreasing: Examples of fees that will go down starting Sept. 1 include:
- Senior freshwater fishing license, $8, will decrease to $5.50.
- Two-pole endorsement, $24.50, will decrease to $14.30.
BOATING — Idaho’s $7 invasive species sticker, which is required on all boats and inflatables longer than 10 feet, cannot be transferred from one vessel to another, Idaho Parks and Recreation officials say.
A story in the Sunday Outdoors section (Aug. 7) suggested otherwise, noting that some boaters were laminating the stickers for more practical attachment such as a cord or zip tie, especially in the case of their rafts.
“Vendors that offer convenient solutions to affixing them to inflatable rafts with rope rigging are doing just that – providing a convenient solution to affixing them to a designated vessel,” said Jennifer Blazek, department spokeswoman in Boise.
But she advised, “The rules are still the rules. The sticker is non-transferrable.” Here's the Idaho Code to prove it.
She acknowledged that nothing on the sticker says it can’t be transferred, but said it’s stated in the rules.
Beyond that, she said the fee is for a good cause dear to the hearts of all boaters.
“Contributions to the Idaho Invasive Species Fund are put to service protecting our coveted waters from invasive species that can devastate a recreational hotspot in a year or less,” she said. “It’s an important program that should be taken seriously.”
FISHING — It's cool that KHQ TV followed up on my Tuesday story about the Spokane teenager who surprised himself and a lot of onlookers as he hook,fought and landed a 42-inch-long northern pike in the Spokane River near the Loof Carrousel.
Joe Buster, who just turned 18, clearly is an ambassador for the sport of fishing.
A few other notes on why his story is special:
Peter Roundy at the General Store gives special attention to Joe in selecting the gear to feed his enthusiasm for the sport. Joe is a special ed student at a Spokane High School. He's a class act.
HUNTING — Field & Stream magazine has just announced the 27 winners among 150 products it's editors tested for their annual Best of the Best hunting gear roundup.
Here's a sneak peak at the list of top products ranging from bows to trail cams.
FIELD & STREAM’S 2011 BEST OF THE BEST WINNERS:
- Best New Rifle #1: Montana Rifle Co. American Standard Rifle (ASR)
- Best New Rifle #2: WinchesterModel 70 Safari Express
- Best New Big-Game Ammo: WinchesterPower Core 95/5
- Best New Shotgun: Remington Versa Max
- Best New Shotshell: WinchesterBlind Side
- Best New Fixed-Blade Knife: Ontario Knife Company Blackbird SK-5
- Best New Folding Knife: Benchmade 915 Triage
- Best New UTV: 2011 Can-Am Commander 1000XT
- Best New ATV: 2012 Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i EPS
- Best New Trail Cam: Primos Super Model Game Camera and Photo Viewer
- Best New GPS: Bushnell BackTrack D-Tour
- Best New Hunting Pack: Cabela’s Bow and Rifle Pack
- Best New Boots: Magnum USA Sidewinder HPi in MultiCam
- Best New Outerwear: ColumbiaSportswear Omni-Heat Electric Wader Widgeon Interchange
- Best New Muzzleloader: Traditions Performance Firearms Pursuit Ultralight
- Best New Muzzleloader Bullet: PowerBelt AeroLite
- Best New Binocular: Swarovski CL Companion 8x30mm
- Best New Spotting Scope: Zeiss Dialyt Field Spotter 18-45x65mm
- Best New Rangefinder: Leica Rangemaster CRF 1600
- Best New Scope: Minox ZA5 1.5-8x32mm with Versa-Plex Reticle
- Best New Handgun: Browning 1911-22 A1
- Best New Bow: Hoyt Carbon Element
- Best New Crossbow: TenPoint Carbon Fusion CLS
- Best New Treestand: X-1 Stand
- Best New Safety Harness: Tree Spider Speed Harness, Live Wire Descent System
- Best New Blind: L.L. Bean Stowaway Hunter’s Blind
- Best New Decoy: Carry-Lite Bob'n Tail Tom Turkey
FISHING — Anglers on the lower Columbia records are setting records with the number of steelhead they're catching on the lower Columbia, according to a detailed report by Northwest Sportsman.
It's not clear whether that's a good omen or a bad one for upstream anglers waiting for those fish to head up the Snake and arrive above Lower Granite Dam. But I can tell you that anglers are catching steelhead in the Clearwater. Game on.
TRAILS — Volunteers interested in helping manage noxious weeds on Spokane’s High Drive Bluff are invited to participate in a work party this evening, (Aug 17).
"We will cut rush skeletonweed plants away from sections of the trail where they are impeding trail use," said group facilitator Diana Roberts of the WSU Spokane County Extension.
Next Wednesday (Aug. 24), volunteers will focus on controlling knapweed.
"Be sure to bring work gloves, sturdy garden clippers and water to drink. Long pants, long sleeved shirts, and hiking boots are the recommended attire."
Meet: 6:30 p.m. at the trailhead south of Bernard St. and High Drive.
"At 8 p.m. we will adjourn to the Rocket Market for a beverage and to socialize," Roberts said.
Info: Diana Roberts (509) 477-2167 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAMPING — Rich Servatius sent in this report after 12 days of exploring the Route of the Hiawatha and Loop Creek areas along the Montana-Idaho border.
My extended family and friends have been going there for about 15 years for a week or so. Each time we go the wildlife that we see changes.
The first year we saw 13 bears between us, the next year only one and haven’t seen any since.
We normally see about one moose per day; this year we saw one only.
We normally have deer hanging around our camp on Loop Creek; this year we mostly saw them in the old railroad tunnels, but did see some in the Loop Creek valley.
We saw lots of beaver the first five years; one this year.
We saw a few elk tracks this year and heard reports of 22 head near Dominion Peak a couple months ago, but we saw none.
Four years ago my sister saw a wolf near I-90 and close to St. Regis (our first sighting). This year a pack of wolves were howling just a hundred yards from me to the south of the Gold Hill trail, coming from Moon Pass direction (West). That was a little exciting and scary too. No wonder that the couple of ATV riders were carrying pistols. My only weapon was a rock.
As for huckleberries, they were ripe at lower elevations in places with lots of sun and I found one place higher up in an alpine meadow where the berries were 50 to a bush and juicy. It will be another couple of weeks before they start showing up in quantity.
Wild flowers were showing their splendor.
Shefoot mountain was pretty, but someone had left a fire burning at the top and a little trash.
If you go to that area, expect lots of bicycle traffic and dust.
We helped a couple of ATV riders clear the Idaho / Montana state line road for a few miles for ATV use. We didn’t have the equipment and gas and manpower to clear it for truck use. About 100 trees were down between Roland Pass and the paved road from the St. Joe River to St. Regis pass. Someone else had cleared the road before us, so these trees had probably blown down in the last few weeks. If you take that route; bring a chainsaw, help, shovels, and cable.
Spots of snow 2 feet deep were melting slowly. The snow on Shefoot Mtn. was melting fast…none on the road, which was clear.
Lots of flies and those *&%$#@ skeeters to bother people!
SALMON FISHING — My enthusiastic post regarding the pink salmon flooding into Puget Sound apparently left Spokane angler Dan Hansen feeling a little blue about his vacation to visit West Side relatives. He writes:
"My beard’s getting full, due to my pledge to stop shaving till I catch a salmon. Six days of fishing, and I can’t even catch a humpy (which hardly even count)!
"One day, standing elbow-to-elbow on a beach in West Seattle, everyone caught salmon and the pre-teen standing next to me caught his 4-fish limit. My brother's going to take me out in his boat next Tuesday, somewhere on Puget Sound; that may be my last chance.
"Trying to decide whether I want to pledge to stop showering for deer season."
PREDATOR CONTROL — Oregon's new fund to boost predator control is appallingly misnamed environmental groups say.
Even Governor John Kitzhaber complained of the name when he signed the measure into law, according to a Northwest Public Radio report.
Few people would balk at contributing at face value to the "Wildlife Conservation Fund."
But Brooks Fahy of Eugene-based Predator Defense calles the name is a sham. It's "offensive, because it's just the opposite. It should be the 'Wildlife Destruction Act," Fahy told correspondent Chris Lehman.
The newly created Wildlife Conservation Fund targets hunters. Starting in January, hunting license buyers can volunteer a donation when they apply for their license.
Most of the money will be funneled toward an existing U.S. Department of Agriculture predator control program, Lehman reports.
Among other things, the federal agents kill problem coyotes and bears, a program supported by many sportsmen, ranchers and timber companies.
Environmental groups urged Governor Kitzhaber to veto the measure. The governor signed the bill, but said he was concerned about quote "truth in labeling" when it comes to the name of the fund.
On the web:
Oregon House Bill 3636
Governor Kitzhaber's Statement
Environmentalist’s Letter to the Governor.
HIKING — Since Congress overturned the Reagan-era restrictions on openly carrying firearms in national parks, we're seeing noticeably more heat on trails in and outside of parks nowadays.
Nevermind the research in Alaska showing that pepper spray is a much more certain defense in case of an attack by a grizzly.
But a hiker never knows what other critter might charge from the wilderness.
Here's a report from a recent hiking trip by outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson of Lincoln, Mont., to go with his photo, above. Trust me, this will leave you shaking your head.
"After a grueling hike of several hours off trail, we were set up (with our cameras) on the edge of this rockslide waiting for the pika’s to make their appearance. They seem to dislike the warm mid-day heat and become active just before dark. The entire hike in we walked through fresh grizzly digs that were made within the last one or two days.. we kept one eye watching for one to make an appearance.
"Instead, we heard approaching hikers. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it. We never see other hikers. They were trudging along the rockslide walking by. They had no clue we were even in the universe. Then to make things worse, a pika lets out a chirp right in front of them (they were about 50 yards away from us).
"The first guy draws his pistol and takes aim on the pika. Before he could shoot, I hollered out “Dude, don’t shoot the pikas.”
"Surprised by our presence, the guy jumped a foot. Then he sheepishly said, 'But he was coming right at me.'
"I said, 'Yeah, killer pika,' and shook my head.
"He seemed embarrassed, put his pistol away and continued walking."
NATURE — It's prime time to join the Idaho Native Plant Society to get in a good hike and marvel at the native plants in the high country near St. Maries.
Gerry Queener will lead a group field trip to Freezeout on Saturday (Aug. 20). '
Beargrass, orchids, penstemons, lupines, columbine, fleabane (daisies) and paintbrushes all are expected to be on display. Habitats will range from subalpine forest to alpine meadow at 6,500 feet elevation. The terrain is moderately challenging.
Meet at the Moscow Eastside Marketplace (south end of parking lot near Hwy 8) at 8 a.m. to arrange carpooling. The group will return about 3:30 p.m. A couple drivers with high clearance vehicles and good tires are needed – the last 5 miles is very rocky with steep drop-offs.
Bring water, hat, sunscreen, lunch, and good hiking footwear.
Info: Pat Fuerst, email@example.com, (509) 339-5213.
ADVENTURE RACING — I can't report where the coed teams are going in Expedition Idaho, the North Idaho adventure race that started Sunday — that's a secret that even the racer's don't know until they find their next clue on whether to hike, bike, climb, paddle or slog.
But I can tell you that a couple of lagging teams currently are near the Route of the Hiawatha Trail. Those teams are being directed to the "short course," since they can't meet cutoff times for certain segments of the six-day, 500-mile route.
They may not complain. It might give them a chance to catch a nap before the race ends this weekend at the the Blues and Brews event at Silver Mountain.