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Interviewing The Nuge: He blew me away

HUNTING/SHOOTING — After an hour-long interview on hunting, shooting and the American way with Ted Nugent, followed by a two-hour concert that loosened the mortar between the bricks of the Knitting Factory, I must say….. I need an F-ing break.

Story to come.

Northwest Tandem Rally snapshot

BICYCLING — Spokane treated the 600 riders in the Northwest Tandem Rally to sunny weather over the holiday weekend and two days of tandem cycling fun out of the city and into the Palouse.

But as you can see, tandem doesn't always mean a bicycle built for two.

The engineering and craftmanship in modern multi-rider bikes is mind-boggling.

Conservative agenda apparent in Interior appropriation bill

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A measure that would give Wyoming control over wolves and fend off lawsuits if a deal was struck to take the wolf off the federal endangered species list was attached by U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis to the 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.

The Jackson Hole Daily has this update.

The bill is laden with a number of other provisions that would direct the U.S. Forest Service to put more focus on logging beetle-killed forests, limit funding for endangered species and critical habitat, and protect grazing rights.
  

Forest Service taps new Sandpoint District Ranger

NATIONAL FORESTS — A Forest Service administrator in Vermont has been named the new Sandpoint District ranger by Idaho Panhandle National Forests acting forest supervisor Maggie Pittman.

Erik Walker, Deputy District Ranger in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont will replace Dick Kramer who retired from the Sandpoint District ranger position in May.

Walker comes to the Idaho Panhandle with more than 20 years of Forest Service experience on a wide variety of natural resource issues throughout the nation including Lake Tahoe and the Lassen National Forest in California, the Las Vegas and Carson Ranger Districts of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada, and the Manchester Ranger District in Vermont.
  

Walker and his wife say they look forward to getting out in the local area and taking part in some of their favorite activities, including snow-shoeing, skiing, hiking, biking, gardening, kayaking, and photography.

Walker is expected to report to Sandpoint at the end of August.
  

Idaho Panhandle fisheries projects listed

FISHERIES MANAGEMENT — With the field season finally in full swing, here are some of the projects Idaho Fish and Game Department fisheries biologists are conducting on the Idaho Panhandle, according to Jim Fredericks, regional fisheries manager in Coeur d'Alene:

  • Channel catfish stocking program evaluation in various lakes around the region (Cocolalla, Hauser, Fernan)
  • Priest River fish population survey
  • St. Maries River fish population survey
  • Pygmy whitefish surveys in Priest and Spirit lakes
  • Hauser and Fernan lakes creel surveys

Video: kayaker shares Dead Dog Hole experience

PADDLING — Local kayaker Brian Jamieson has produced a nifty video to give the rest of us a feel for the thrill of playing at Dead Dog Hole.

This accidental treasure of a wave is in the Spokane River on the state line. 

Kayakers were concerned that construction of the new stateline bridge would affect the wave. 

More recently, they've been rejoicing:  Not only has the construction had no effect, the water conditions have provided them great play paddling for five months, Jamieson says.

Check it out.

Federal grant to boost hunter access in Washignton

HUNTING — A federal grant of nearly $1 million will be used to give private landowners in Eastern Washington an incentive to open their lands to fishing and hunting, the Washington  thanks to to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports.

The federal Farm Bill-authorized grant is the second awarded to Washington in as many years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last year, WDFW received $1.5 million to increase recreational access to private lands around the state.

Don Larsen, the agency's private lands coordinator, said the $993,231 grant will be used in three ways:

  • Provide incentives to private landowners to allow hunting on forested properties in Kittitas, Klickitat, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Yakima counties.
  • Work with landowners in Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Walla Walla and Whitman counties to improve habitat enrolled in both the federal Conservation Reserve Program and WDFW access programs.
  • Initiate a “Feel Free to Fish” program in southeast Washington, paying  private landowners for shoreline access to river fisheries.

Read on for more details.

Idaho jury convicts Rammell in elk poaching case

HUNTING — In case you missed the news, an eastern Idaho jury on Friday convicted former gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell of illegally shooting and killing a cow elk in December.

The jury of six people deliberated about an hour before finding Rammell guilty of misdemeanor unlawful possession of wildlife, according to the Associated Press.

His hunting license was suspended for two years and he was ordered to serve 180 days in jail, with all but five days of the jail sentence suspended.

Rammell was told to pay a $250 process fee as well as $1,500 in fines, suspending $500 of the fines.

Rammell says he didn’t get a fair trial and will appeal. Because of the appeal, Rammell’s jail sentence was stayed.

Jury’s out on impacts to kokanee at North Idaho’s big lakes

FISHING– High lake levels and prolonged heavy out flows this year are reason for worry about the kokanee fisheries at Pend Oreille and Coeur d’Alene lakes.

What are the impacts? “The short answer is that we don’t know, and we won’t for a couple more months,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department Panhandle fisheries manager.

Read on for details on why he’s cautiously optimistic.

UClimb: learn to have a life on the rocks

ROCK CLIMBING – A fun-oriented, low-key weekend event to introduce people to the sport of rock climbing is set for July 23-24 at Q’emiln Park in Post Falls.

The annual UClimb  (www.uclimb.org) sponsored by Mountain Gear recruits professional climbers who teach and encourage beginners to scale vertical rock cliffs in safe rope-supported stations.

The group will camp out at the park picnic shelter, where Saturday’s barbecue dinner will be served followed by Sunday’s pancake breakfast.

“It’s a friendly setting where people can learn a lot and become comfortable with the sport,” said Phil Bridgers, Mountain Gear spokesman, noting that UClimb events also are scheduled in Western Washington, Nevada and Kentucky.

Cost for the full weekend:

  • $199 if you have your climbing gear.
  • $329 for the weekend package ($179 for youths) that lets you keep nearly $300 worth of gear, including shoes, harness, belay device, helmet, locking carabiner & chalk bag.

Local info: (509) 340-1165. Preregister online.

Grizzly kills hiker in Yellowstone: first in 25 years

NATIONAL PARKS —  A grizzly bear killed a hiker today on a popular trail in the Yellowstone National Park backcountry. It's the first fatal bear mauling in the park since 1986, officials said.

Park spokesman Al Nash said it appears the man and his wife surprised a female grizzly and her cubs this morning, the Associated Press reports.

Nash said investigators have been interviewing the woman about the bear attack, which took place close to Canyon Village, near the middle of the park. He said authorities aren’t prepared to release the man’s name, age or hometown and likely won’t release more details until Thursday.

Nash said park officials haven’t taken any action against the bear, which he described as a sow with cubs.

Read on for details.

Royal honeymooners resort to paddling

CANOEING — Prince William and wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have been muscling their way through the Prince Edward Island portion of their Royal Tour of Canada this week.

First they competed against each other in Dragonboat races, digging in with paddles in time with large teams of 15 other paddlers in 50-foot-long canoes.

Then they launched on a more peaceful a canoe tour with elder Francois Paulette, above left, from the Fort Smith area at Lake Blatchford, Canada, lodge on Tuesday.

Slow start to upper Columbia chinook fishing

SALMON FISHING — High water and gusty winds hindered the opening weekend of chinook salmon fishing on the upper Columbia River.

The Wenatchee World reports the water was rough and fishermen say they’re getting few bites.

Glen Sagdal of East Wenatchee said he and a friend caught 12 fish last year on opening weekend. On Friday they caught zero salmon.

Fishing boats were battling a strong current and rough water and some people report the waves are so rough that guides are getting seasick, the World reported.

The fishing wasn’t as disappointing at Wanapum, where Jerrod Gibbons of Okanogan Valley Guide Service said he had five bites Friday and pulled in one 25 pounder. Gibbons said the fish are late, but they’re coming.

Whitewater rivers claim two more drowning victims

RIVER RUNNING — Two more deaths have been confirmed among whitewater river runners in the Inland Northwest, making 2011 one of the deadliest rafting and kayak seasons in memory.

  • In Montana, a woman in her 60s was killed in a rafting accident on the swollen Blackfoot River near Missoula on Tuesday.
  • In Washington, the body of a Kittitas River kayaker missing since Monday evening was found by authorities Tuesday afternoon.

AMONG THE OTHER recent drowning or major injury incidents:

Read on for details from the Associated Press about the latest two confirmed deaths.

Rigby man named to Idaho Fish and Game Commission

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter named a 60-year-old Rigby man to the seven-member Idaho Fish and Game Commission, the Associated Press reports

Kenny Anderson replaces Cameron Wheeler of Ririe, whose term expired June 30.

Among the issues Anderson will help decide is management of wolves during the upcoming hunting season.

Anderson is the owner of a cabinet and millwork business, as well as an avid sportsman and member of the National Rifle Association.

Otter says among numerous qualified candidates, Ken Anderson stood out as someone with a grasp of the issues and an even temperament.

Rufus Woods trout game for almost any lure

FISHING — While many river anglers are in a deep funk over the unusually high water, fishermen focused on Lake Rufus Woods been coming home with huge smiles — and even bigger fish — for several weeks.

Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of fish released from commercial net pens have been feeding a fantastic fishery in the reservoir downstream from Grand Coulee Dam.

I've been asking successful anglers to report their top methods, and the answers have been interesting in that there's been no single way to catch the notoriously portly fish.  Almost every reasonable presentation seems to have been working. Here are two examples.

  • "My stepson says throw spinners or cranks right up against the shore," said Al Liere, S-R fishing report columnist. "Don't try to anchor — just drift, but concentrate on the larger bays. If you don't mind keeping your first two, a white mini-squid (small) with double hooks baited with 'crawler and a slinky-type sinker drug along the bottom will get hits. My friend, Al Rettman echoes Evan's report — small plugs cast or trolled shallow." 
  • Dale Davis went Sunday and had a glowing report. I asked him how they fished:

"Bouncing weighted jigs on the bottom with power bait. With anise scent on the plug. We drifted around the pins. There were six of us that went and we limited out in an hour. Super fantastic fish. I attached a picture of them, pay attention to the pop can in the middle to see how big these suckers were. Couldn't have asked for a better day."
  

Join group for Friday hikes in Glacier Park

HIKING — The Glacier National Park Fund is inviting people to join up with their Friday Hiking Club, which heads out on a great park tail every week, starting this Friday through Sept. 16.

The hikes range from 5 miles to 13 miles, easy to moderately strenuous.

Foundation staffers say they're not really "leading" the trips, just facilitating them to introduce people to the sights, insights and needs of the park.

Info: 406-892-3250

GNPF logo
 The Glacier National Park Fund supports the preservation of the outstanding natural

beauty and cultural heritage of Glacier National Park for the use and enjoyment

of present and future generations by fostering public awareness and

encouraging private philanthropy. 

Turnbull Refuge offers tours, activities Saturday

NATURE — Turnbull Wildlife Refuge staff and volunteers are leading several tours, walks and activities Saturday to coincide with the annual Jubilee in nearby Cheney.

Pre-register with group leaders for details and meeting places.

  • 8 a.m: A two-hour morning walk around the Pine Lakes area to see what birds can be found in summer.  Leader: Marian Frobe, 328-0621.
  • 8:45 a.m.: Biologist Sandra Rancourt will conduct a pond study for families that identifies aquatic macroinvertebrates and discuss the environmental importance of these creatures.  You will be collecting and identifying these critters.  Call Louise O’Leary, (509) 235-4531 or email looeezoleary@netscape.net
  • 9:45 – 11:15 a.m.:  tour of the Turnbull National Refuge that you don’t usually get to see.  Refuge biologist, Mike Rule will be your guide sharing some of the history of the refuge, the Native Peoples and pioneers of the area along with the current management of Turnbull.  Call Louise O’Leary, (509)235-4531 or email looeezoleary@netscape.net
Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge will have an information booth and kid’s activity table at the main events area at the Safeway parking area in Cheney with many other vendors and activities.  
 
Cheney Jubilee will provide transportation to and from Turnbull, if necessary.
 

West Fork Bitterroot salmonflies on last legs

FLY FISHING — With the large snow pack and cool temperatures this spring the fishing has been tough and slow to get started on many Montana rivers, including the Clark Fork and Bitterroot.

"Due to high, fast and cold water the morning bite is slow with the better fishing being in the afternoon after it warms up," said Jim Mitchell of  Montana Hunting and Fishing Adventures based out of Hamilton.

"The water is finally starting to drop and clear and the fishing will continue to improve with lots of water well into this summer," he said Tuesday. "The hatches have been running later this year the salmonflies are still out on the upper West Fork (Bitterroot), but won't last much longer."

Snow sloggers find company on Scotchman Peak

HIKING — Deb Hunsicker and Phil Hough know their way around Scotchman Peak northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.

As members of the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness the couple has hiked up the namesake peak numerous times.

Their intimacy with the mountain paid off Saturday as they easily scaled the peak even though most of the trail for the 7 mile round trip is still hidden by snow.

"There's still a LOT of snow," Phil said. "The trail's obscured, so hike only if you already know the route or go with someone who does and add more time than you think you will need."

At the top, in weather warm enough for t-shirts and shorts, Hunsicker and Hough were greeted by the Scotchman mountain goats.

They welcomed the company.

BTW, they know better than to feed the goats. Please don't do that if you go. They're good goats, now.  Let's keep them that way.

Field trip, seminars planned at Butterfly Conference in Newport

NATURE — Here's an event to make your heart flutter:

Youngsters and novices are welcome to join the fun at the Washington Butterfly Association's 12th annual conference, July 15-17, at the Pend Oreille Playhouse in Newport.

The schedule includes:

  • Friday evening lecture, "Butterflies and Habitats of Northeast Washington," by John Baumann (with help from Carol Mack and other local WBA members)
  • Saturday, full-day field trip
  • Saturday evening, keynote address by Jon Shepard, lepidopterist from Nelson, British Columbia, and author of "Butterflies of British Columbia"
  • Sunday, half-day field trip
Register for part or all of the conference by visiting the WBA website.
Children and novices are welcome.
Special low conference registration rate for first-time attendees.
 
Local contact:  John Baumann, (509) 327-4827, or email baumann.j56@gmail.com
 

Climber’s body found on Mount Baker

MOUNTAINEERING — Searchers have found the body of a woman who fell and was missing Saturday while climbing on Mount Baker on northwestern Washington.

The Whatcom County sheriff’s office says 34-year-old Sheryl Costello, of Golden, Colo., had reached the summit of the 10,781-foot mountain on Saturday with her boyfriend. They were on their way down when he lost sight of her near Heliotrope Ridge. 

Bellingham and Skagit mountain rescue teams spotted the body Sunday in a hole that develops in the snow just west of the ridge, the Bellingham Herald reports today.

Deputy Mark Jilk says they were unable to reach the body because of extreme snow conditions. The Herald said conditions will have to improve before the body can be removed from the mountain.
  

Black bear killed where woman was attacked near Colville

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A small black bear was killed the day after a woman was attacked while she was jogging Thursdya near Thomas and Gillette campgrounds east of Colville.

As I reported in my blog post on Friday, the 36-year-old woman surprised a bear while jogging. She fell to the ground and was batted around by the bear.

She was not seriously injured, but state Fish and Wildlife officials say they have to take bear encounters seriously in developed areas.

Fish and Wildlife officers brought in a houndsman who released dogs near the site of the incident.

"Very shortly they spooked up a couple of bears," said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman. "One was estimated at 140 pounds. The other, about 70 pounds, turned on the dogs and handler, so they took it out."

It's not clear whether that was the bear that was aggressive toward the woman, she said.

The officers baited and set a culvert trap in the Lake Gillette area, but no other bear has been captured in nearly four days, she said.
  

Fourth breeding wolf pack confirmed in Washington

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Washington’s fourth documented breeding wolf pack has been confirmed, this one in Kittitas County, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Depatment just announced.

Last month, agency biologists caught, attached a radio collar and released an adult female wolf that was lactating, indicating she was nursing pups. The biologists took tissue and hair samples and submitted them for DNA testing to determine whether the animal was a wild wolf or a wolf-dog hybrid.

Results of the DNA testing conducted at the University of California-Davis confirmed the animal is a wild gray wolf, the agency says in a prepared release.

WDFW biologists are monitoring the wolf’s location and activity through the radio telemetry tracking collar. They are referring to the new wolf pack as the Teanaway Pack.

The Lookout Pack, confirmed in Okanogan and Chelan counties in 2008, was Washington’s first documented resident pack since a breeding population of wolves was extirpated from the state in the 1930s.

A second pack, known as the Diamond Pack, was documented in 2009 in central Pend Oreille County. 

A pup from a third pack, known as the Salmo Pack, was radio-collared in 2010 in northeast Pend Oreille County, where pack territory ranges into British Columbia.

Wolves from the Cutoff Peak Pack, with a den site in Idaho, range into Pend Oreille County in northeast Washington.

This announcement of a new wolf pack in the Cascades comes on the heels of reports that only two animals remain in the original Lookout Pack.  Authorities believe the Lookout Pack's numbers were severely reduced by illegal killing.

“The discovery of another resident wolf pack clearly indicates that wolves are returning to Washington state naturally,” said WDFW Director Phil Anderson. “Their return highlights the need to continue efforts to finalize a state wolf conservation and management plan that will establish state recovery objectives and describe options for addressing wolf-livestock and wolf-ungulate management issues.”

Read on for more details.

Hunters, anglers get $1 off at Indians baseball

SPORTSMAN PERKS — It's Hunting and Fishing Day at the Spokane Indians Baseball game tonight at Avista Stadium in Spokane Valley. The tribe takes on the Tri-City Dust Devils at 6:30 p.m.

Sportmen with a hunting or fishing licenst pay $5 for a reserved bench seat. Normal price is $6.

More details? Visit the Spokane Indians website.

Paintball guns deter I-90 moose at Liberty Lake

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Nevermind the Tasers and high-powered weaponry in their vehicles. When law enforcement officers arrived around 6 this morning to deal with three moose on Interstate 90 near Liberty Lake, they were armed with guns you can buy at a toy store.

Washington State Troopers blocked I-90 traffic while state Fish and Wildlife Police "escorted" three yearlings out of traffic toward the Spokane River. To keep the moose moving, the officers used paintball guns.

"Two officers went at them on foot and stung them every now and then with the paintball guns," said Capt. Mike Whorton of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department. "Pretty soon they ran across all four lands of I-90 and out of the way of traffic."

Whorton said one of his officers tested his own paintball gun last year for harassing and moving wildlife out of danger. The test was so successful, a local sportsmen's group has purchased paintball guns for all of the area Fish and Wildlife police, he said.

"Paintball guns can get off a lot of shots rapidly and accurrately," he said. "They are so much more effective and cost effective than the rubber bullets we had been firing out of 12-gauge shotguns. And aside from some pink paint on their rumps, the paintballs don't do any more than sting the moose."

WILDLIFE UNDERPASS NEEDED

The larger issue, Whorton emphasized, is that the Liberty Lake area is a natural migration corridor for moose, elk and deer.

"The Department of Transportation needs to install a freeway underpass for wildlife in that area," he said. "It's a safety issue for wildlife and the motorists.  A woman was killed near there after hitting a moose a couple of years ago."

Woman drowns rafting Wenatchee River

RIVER RUNNING — A 69-year-old Chelan County woman drowned Sunday while on a guided rafting trip on the Wenatchee River.

The Wenatchee World says Sharon G. Hughes was one of seven family members and a guide in a raft that hit log jam in the middle of the afternoon. Six family members were able to climb out of the raft onto the log jam, said Sgt. Mike Harris. But the raft flipped over with Hughes and the guide in it, throwing them both into the water. Harris said the woman was swept under the log jam, but washed back out after being under it for one to two minutes.

Rafters indicated the accident occurred at logs blocking the river left side of Boulder Bend rapids.

Read on for details.

Details on hiker’s deadly slide in Alpine Lakes Wilderness

HIKING/CLIMBING — More details are available regarding the death of a 21-year-old Eatonville, Wash., woman who slipped and fell into a crevasse Sunday while hiking and glissading in the Aasgard Pass area (elevation 7,841 feet) of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

The woman has been identified as Julia A. Rutherford, 21. She was a junior at Pacific Lutheran University. Most likely she died from hypothermia Sunday after she fell down a snow face and was pinned between snow and rock flooded with icy snowmelt.

“A person can only stand being in that water for about 20 minutes,” Chelan County Sheriff’s Lt. Maria Agnew told the Wenatchee World this morning. “That’s glacial water and it’s really cold.”

Aasgard Pass is in the Cascade Mountains near Leavenworth. It is the shorter, steeper way of two routes up into the Enchantment Lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The pass is still snow-covered.

Rutherford was hiking with her boyfriend and two other companions when she slid down the snow face, disappearing over the edge into an opening about 5 feet wide, where water was pouring in from snowmelt.

Read on for other details from the Wenatchee World.

Veradale kid shows Ilwaco salmon anglers how it’s done

SALMON FISHING — Out with his family for their first ocean fishing experience, 8-year-old Jared Clark of Veradale topped all anglers in last week's Ilwaco king salmon derby with the bright beauty he's posing with above.  

Clark landed the fish on Friday while fishing off the Washington Coast with Captain Rob Gudgell of the Katie Marie booked through Pacific Salmon Charters.

Jared had just begun reeling in to check his bait when the chinook struck.

His dad had to help steady the rod, but Jared manned the reel, reports his mother, Shelly.

"The captain got so excited when he saw what Jared had on his line, he ran down to net the fish himself, even though there were two deck hands helping the fishermen," Shelly said.

The king salmon weighed 21.90 pounds after it was cleaned, earning Jared a handsome $100 prize in addition to being able to take home enough dinner for the neighborhood.

"Jared's been saving money to buy his own (hand-held computer)," Shelly said, noting that the derby prize is more than a huge windfall for an 8 year old. "When he heard how much he'd won, he said 'This is my dream day.' "
 

More details on grizzly bear in North Cascades

WILDLIFE — I posted the notice Friday when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that experts had confirmed a bear photographed by a backpacker in the North Cascades in October was indeed a grizzly.

A news report by Craig Welch of the Seattle Times provides much more detail on this rare bit of documentation.

Before this, the last officially recognized sighting was in 1996, when a biologist happened on a bear and a cub in the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area and was able to make a cast of the adult's track.

"Our records go back to the mid-1950s, and the last official photo we have is of a dead bear that was killed in 1968," said Doug Zimmer, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman in Olympia, who monitors a hotline for grizzly-bear sightings.

Joe Sebille, of Mount Vernon, was hiking in the park in October when saw the bear south of Highway 20 in the upper Cascade River drainage, on the western slope of the range. He made the photos with a cell-phone camera.