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Cutting tree for bridge over Tucannon River is costly mistake

WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT – If a tree falls in the forest and a Fish and Wildlife policeman is around, it will be heard – and investigated.

While patrolling the Tucannon Lakes and Wooten Wildlife Area in the Blue Mountains last week, a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officer stopped to check the vehicles of two people he’d seen previously hunting shed antlers.

 Meantime, he heard a chainsaw running down along the Tucannon River, according to the weekly report of enforcement activity in far Eastern Washington.  Moments later a large tree was heard to hit the ground.

The officer hiked into the area, found the two shed hunters and determined that one of them had sawed down a 50-foot tall live cottonwood tree measuring 30 inches at the stump.

The man had dropped the tree into the river to make a bridge for his partner to cross.

Aside from being stupid, senseless and selfish, this also is illegal.

The Tucannon River is a habitat protection area to protect, among other things, the trees and vegetation that shield the river from sun to keep the water cooler for young bull trout and steelhead.

The officer gave the information to the Columbia County prosecutor, where we’re looking forward to seeing a case move through the courts on charges felony malicious mischief and an HPA violation.

Anglers have plenty of elbow room at Hog Canyon

FISHING — As I was hiking the rim above Hog Canyon Lake on Sunday, I looked down on the water to see two fishermen looking very small as they trolled their lures in the chop. 

A few anglers were fishing with little success from shore at both ends of the lake, but these two men were in the only boat on the 53-acre lake.

Minutes later I saw them hook and land a trout that played hard and looked big in the net even from my distant vantage.

The winter-season lake closes to fishing at the end of the month.

Great weekend for waterfalls

HIKING — Reports from paddling friends say Hangman Creek had dropped too low for good canoeing over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Palouse River was flowing too big for safe paddling.

Time to put on the hiking shoes and just stand in awe of the sight at Palouse Falls State Park.

Dayhike destination: Waterfall ripping at Hog Canyon Lake

HIKING — Looking for a good early-spring dayhike?  Check out this spot i visited with my daughter this weekend.

Runoff period is a good time to visit the BLM land around Fishtrap Lake for a hike into Hog Canyon Lake.  .

Hog Canyon is a popular winter fishing lake off I-90 from the Fishtrap exit. There are several ways to reach it, including a longer walk from the main trailhead parking area on Fishtrap Road between the Sprague Highway and Fishtrap Resort.

First timers might want to use the BLM Fishtrap map to find your way to the Hog Canyon boat launch. Hike the west shoreline, scramble up to the rim and follow the rim up lake to the falls, with the lake below you to the right. Beautiful.

Butter cups blooming. Grass widows and balsamroot soon to follow.

Veterinarian offers free dog first-aid class

OUTDOOR CANINES – Hikers, hunters or anyone who takes a dog along for the adventure can benefit from a free program on preparing and caring for dogs in the outdoors Thursday, 7 p.m., at Spokane’s REI store.

Veterinarian Greg Benoit of SouthCare Animal Hospital will offer insights for taking care of a dog from its paws to its ears.

The class is free, but participants must pre-register to reserve a seat.

Big Horn Show: Takes more than a day to see

OUTDOORS — You can't just cruise through the sprawling Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show, which ends this afternoon at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center.  The best part of the show is in the details.

It's a place to talk and learn from knowledgeable people packed in one place, including experts on river rafting, all sorts of fishing and hunting and other discoveries.

For instance, representatives of the Montana-based HuntingGPSmas.com showed map software that can be loaded into computers or GPS units that shows game management units and the names of private property owners as you move the cursor over the map.

Among all the trophy mounts scattered around the show is the world record Roosevelt elk, which David Morris of Northwest Big Game rescued from a family's outbuilding to show the world.

Morris, who publishes the Record Book for Washington, also is displaying the Washington state record non-typical whitetail buck, which was taken in Pend Oreille County in 1931 by George Gretener of Newport, Wash. The buck's antlers score 236 5/8 Boone and Crockett points even though Gretener sawed off a 9-inch long tine that pointed toward the animal's back so it wouldn't hit the wall when hanging by the original antler-only mount.

Last chance: Moose tag raffle today at Big Horn Show

HUNTING — The Washington 2011 raffle moose tag will be drawn Sunday afternoon at the Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show that's underway at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center.

The more $10 raffle tickets you buy, the better the odds for drawing a coveted chance to hunt with an either-sex tag anywhere moose hunting is allowed in far-Eastern Washington.

The state is letting the Spokane-based Inland Northwest Wildlife Council handle the ticket sales in person or by phone or mail. A small percentage of the sales are used for wildlife conservation projects in this region; the rest goes to the state for moose management.

Here are a few details that sweeten the deal:

  • Residents and nonresidents are eligible to buy tickets, and the hunting license and tag is awarded to the raffle winner at no extra charge.
  • The “once-in-a- lifetime” restriction for a moose tag is waived.
  • If selected, any legal weapon may be used.
      

The moose raffle tag drawing is set for Sunday at the Big Horn Show, along with raffle drawings for a fine selection of firearms.
  

Gun powder needed for hunter education

HUNTING — Hunters education classes can use any gun powder that might be sitting unneeded in shops or basements of the region's hunters and reloaders.

“We do a powder burning demonstration for our classes to demonstrate the different burn rates for rifle, shotgun, pistol and black powder,” said Paul Weekley, one of the certified instructors for the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council.

The powders keep forever, so if people have some they're not using, these classes are a worthy cause.

Bring it to the Big Horn Show, which closes today at 5 p.m. at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center.

Or contact the council office, (509) 487-8552.
  

Hunter ed classes filling at Big Horn Show

HUNTING — This year's hunter education classes offered by the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council were filling fast at the sign-up table at the Big Horn Outdoor Recreation Show on Saturday.

Classes in May were full by Saturday morning and April probably filled before the day was over.  

But there was still plenty of room to fill in classes set for other months. 

The show ends this afternoon.

  

Bannick presents ‘Birds of the Northwest’ at The Bing

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Paul Bannick, wildlife photographer and author of The Owl and the Woodpecker: Encounters with North America's Most Iconic Birds, is coming to The Bing Tuesday for a program that begins at 7 p.m.

The last time Bannick was in Spokane, his program was booked at the Magic Lantern Theatre, which wasn't nearly large enough for the crowd, much of which was turned away.

The Bing will be an excellent venue.

Bannick's multimedia presentation will feature images, stories and recorded calls derived from thousands of hours in the field, highlighting the Columbia Highlands of northeastern Washington. Afterword, he will sign books.

Bannick, a birding specialist, draws connections between owls, woodpeckers and the plants and animals that live with them.  He says the show will include dozens of new images.

The show is sponsored by Conservation Northwest, with support from Friends of Turnbull Wildlife Refuge, Inland Northwest Land Trust, Palouse Audubon, Spokane Audubon, The Lands Council, and Upper Columbia River Group-Sierra Club

 A $5 donation  will be requested at the door. 

Info: 747-1663; www.conservationnw.org/birds

Newman Lake deer starving with plasic container stuck on face

WILDLIFE — A leftover trick from Halloween is no treat for a whitetail deer near Newman Lake, where it's been lured by human food sources to the danger of human garbage. 

The deer has a kids' Halloween bucket stuck on its face and the strap dropped behind its head, locking it on so it can't eat.

“These deer come every night to our house here in Newman Lake to hit up on our bird feeder and then go out to the horse pasture to pick up any hay then to on the creek on our property, said Diana Sellers.

Calls to vets and Fish and Wildlife officers have not generated any help, Sellers said, even though they know the deer has been entrapped for at least two days and is “trying desperately to eat.”

“ My kids are begging me to find someone to help,” she said.

Grizzly bears will dance for salmon

WILDLIFE WATCHING — We've all seen photos or video of grizzly bears feeding on river salmon.  But have you even seen a griz harvest a salmon with it's hind feet?

Check out this short video from the BBC.

Landowner workshop deals with weeds, pests

HABITAT — Pend Oreille County property owners can learn to manage pests and noxious weeds and sign up for neighborhood cost-share assistance in a free March 26 workshop offered by WSU Pend Oreille County Extension and the Weed Board.

The event runs 8 a.m.-noon at Camas Center for Community Wellness, 1821 N. LeClerc Rd. in Usk.

Pre-register: (509) 447-2402 or email jrice@cahnrs.wsu.edu.

Read on for details.

Tipster helps bag Blue Mountains bull elk poacher

POACHING — Jason Locke, 37, of Kennewick has pleaded guilty to poaching a bull elk and using his wife's special hunting license illegally, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department reports.

Locke was fined a total of $11,345, including a $6,000 criminal wildlife assessment penalty for taking a trophy-size bull elk.

Two other men – David E. Myles, 50, of Richland, and Brian E. Badgwell, 40, of Pomeroy were charged for helping transport the illegal game.

Locke is also facing poaching charges in Chelan County, and allegations that he guided Columbia River steelhead trips without a commercial license.

Washington Fish and Wildlife police were able to make the case thanks to tips from a concerned citizen. 

Read on for more details on this case.

Kokanee limits temporarily removed below Dworshak

FISHING — Kokanee limits were lifted starting Saturday BELOW Dworshak Dam to give anglers a chance to harvest fish that are otherwise being sucked into the dam.

NOTE: My previous post erred by suggesting the limits were lifted in the reservoir. That's not so:  The order targets only the spillage of kokanee through the dam.

With many dead and dying kokanee been flushed through Dworshak Dam, the bag and possession limits will be removed for kokanee in the North Fork Clearwater River and Clearwater River downstream of the North Fork in Clearwater County  March 12-May 15, Idaho Fish and Game announced this afternoon. 

While anglers can take home as many kokanee as they can carry, the fish may only be taken by rod and reel, dip net or by hand.  AnIdaho fishing license is required. 

Kokanee, which are a popular target of anglers fishing at Dworshak Reservoir, tend to congregate near the dam during winter. When mountain snowpacks are abundant and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dumps water to make room from spring runoff, the fish are susceptible to being washed downstream.  

At this point, the number of kokanee being flushed is not expected to have a large influence on next year’s fishery, IFG biologists say.

Settlement reached on wolf recovery in Idaho, Montana

 ENDANGERED SPECIES — Conservation groups reached a legal settlement today with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that paves the way for gray wolves once again to be removed from endangered species protections in Idaho and Montana.

The settlement was filed for approval with a U.S. Federal District Court in Montana. If approved by the court, the agreement would remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Idaho and Montana and return management authority — and the option for controlled hunting —  to those states, while retaining full protection in Washington, Oregon, Wyoming and Utah.

The settlement also will require the Department of the Interior to withdraw a controversial policy memo used to justify not protecting imperiled species throughout their entire range.

Click here to read the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release announcing the settlement.

Following is from a joint statement issued by the 10 conservation groups:

“We hope today’s agreement will mark the beginning of a new era of wolf conservation in the Northern Rockies, as well as confirm the success of the Endangered Species Act and this country’s boldest wildlife reintroduction effort in history. The proposed settlement maintains protections in Oregon and Washington where wolves have not yet fully recovered, while allowing for responsible state management in Idaho and Montana.

“In return for allowing the states of Montana and Idaho to manage wolves according to approved conservation plans, the Department of the Interior agrees to conduct rigorous scientific monitoring of wolf populations across the region and an independent scientific review by an expert advisory board after three years. This is a critical safety net to ensure a sustainable wolf population in the region over the long run. The settlement offers a workable solution to the increasingly polarized debate over wolves.


The 10 conservation groups that have agreed to the settlement are Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oregon Wild, Sierra Club and Wildlands Network.

Revival of wolf hunting would help fund wolf management

HUNTING — My numbers were off in a previous post about the revenue the government loses by not being able to employ controlled hunting for managing wolves in the Northern Rockies.

Idaho took in $470,000 during the 2009-2010 wolf hunting season while Montana took in $325,935.

Court action prevented the planned 2010-2011 season before it started.  Meantime, the government spent $4.6 million on wolf management last year.

Read on for the breakdown of the numbers verified by Idaho Fish and Game.

Big Horn Show schedule of hunting-fishing seminars

OUTDOORS — Here's the list of seminars by local sportsmen scheduled during the Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show underway at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center through Sunday. 

TODAY

1 p.m. — Fly casting, by Jerry hunt.

2 p.m. — Outdoor gear, by Doug Saint-Denis

3 p.m. — Salmon fishing, by Dave Murphy.

4 p.m. — Steelheading, by Mike Henze.

5 p.m. — Lake Pend Oreille rainbows and kokanee, by Ross Milliken.

6 p.m. — Blade baits for walleye, by Bob Ploof.

7 p.m. — Bass fishing, by Nick Barr.

SATURDAY

11 a.m. — Lake Pend Oreille fishing, by James Mullen.

noon — Upper Columbia kings and sockeye, by Shane Magnuson.

1 p.m. — Jigging techniques for walleye, by Bob Ploof.

2 p.m. — Salmon fishing, by Dave Murphy.

3 p.m. — Steelheading, by Mike Henze.

4 p.m. — Fly casting, by Jerry hunt.

5 p.m. — Lake Roosevelt rainbows and kokanee, by Ray Bailey.

6 p.m. — Bass fishing, by Nick Barr.

SUNDAY

Noon — Outdoor gear, by Doug Saint-Denis

1 p.m. — Fly casting, by Jerry hunt.

2 p.m. — Spinners for walleye, by Bob Ploof

3 p.m. — Lake Roosevelt rainbows and kokanee, by Ray Bailey

Steelheaders hooking up in sunshine on Salmon River

STEELHEAD FISHING — It's hard to ignore today's report from Riggins, where the water is running at 5,020 CFS, the water temperature is 42 degrees, and the steelhead are still active.

“Last week fishing was HOT!,” said Amy Sinclair of Exodus Wilderness Adventures. “Fishermen hooked into 3.4 fish per person and landed 2.4 fish per person,” she said.

While steelhead season on the Salmon River near Riggins is beginning to wind down, chinook salmon season is just around the corner. Season setting will occur soon.

Non-lead ammo may spare critters in Wyoming

WILDLIFE — Wyoming researchers say the distribution of nonlead ammunition to hunters in Jackson Hole is likely helping prevent lead poisoning of ravens, eagles and other scavengers.  But the study is in its early stages.

This is the second year researchers have tried to gauge the impacts of hunters using lead-free ammunition on the levels of lead found in the blood of big-game scavengers.

Researchers distributed nonlead ammunition to about 100 hunters who had 2010 permits for the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park.

Biologists then captured ravens and eagles and measured the level of lead in the birds, which can ingest lead bullet fragments from gut piles and wounded-and-lost game.

Previous research has shown that lead in ravens and eagles rise during hunting season and then drop off after hunting season ends.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide says researchers plan to hand out more lead-free ammunition next hunting season.

Avalanche advisory: Layered snowpack a concern

WINTER SPORTS — Warmer days followed by cool nights and continued snowfall are creating a stew of conditions for backcountry winter travlers to consider, says Kevin Davis from the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center in Sandpoint.

Generally, the weekly avalanche advisory posted this morning rates avalanche conditions as MODERATE in most areas.  However, there are many caveats considered in the report that travelers should read.

“I think its going to be one of those springs where we get powder in the hills into mid April,” Davis said. “This could lead to a continuation of the conditions we are experiencing today.  

“Be cautious of weak layers in the new snow and then rapid warming of the new snow.

“It's easy to check weak layers that are less than a foot deep.  Just isolate a block with your hand about 1 foot square on a steep little slope, like a road cut, and tap on the uphill side and see how easily it slides off the block.  

If it jumps off with little pressure, better pay attention. Do this on other slopes and elevations as you travel.  

We'll issue a spring travel tips advisory next week to keep you abreast of the constantly changing conditions this time of year.

Appalachian Trail: End-to-end in five minutes

Green Tunnel from Kevin Gallagher on Vimeo.

HIKING - Under the trail name “Fester,” Virginia hiker Kevin Gallagher hiked the 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail.  Then he compiled some 4,000 photos into a stop-motion video called Green Tunnel, which gives a view of the trail from end to end in five minutes.

It's pretty clear that the scenery just gets better and better as one heads north into Main to the trail terminus at Mount Katadyn.

Don’t procrastinate: STP bike tour almost full

BICYCLING — The most popular spring and SUMMER organized bicycle tours have filled or are filling fast.

I have a story coming Sunday with a calendar of the most popular local and regional events through August.

The Seattlet o Portland ride (STP), July 9-10,  which takes on 10,000 riders, was 80 percent full on Monday.  I just checked in it's 93 percent full for the 200-mile fully supported tour.

It’s the largest of the region’s cycling events. Info: cascade.org/

Big Horn Show racks ‘em up at fairgrounds

The Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show kicked off today and runs through Sunday at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center. 

The show has something for every member of the family, including fishing ponds and staffed shooting ranges for the kids.

In this photo made this afternoon, Hunter Hedquist of Spokane uses his phone to make a picture of mounted animal heads complete with horns hanging at the show's Trophy Territory building.

Oregon catfish gives anglers pause — swimmers, too

FISHING — Eat your chicken livers out, Southern boys. A huge channel catfish caught this month in Oregon's Willamette River proves that we got salmon… and big cats, too.

While fishing with heavy gear at Riverfront Park, Drew Beaty of Salem landed a 3-foot-long channel catfish estimated at 25-30 pounds, according to a story in the Statesman Journal.  He doesn't know for sure, because it's just a catfish. He didn't weigh it.

But Gary Galovich, the western Oregon warmwater fish biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife office in Corvallis, said Beaty's catfish is remarkable on a number of levels.

“First of all getting a channel cat that size out of the Willamette, I mean we know they're out there,” he told outdoors writer Henry Miller. “But we get so few reports, and most of them are downstream from Salem.

“But even more so, being able to catch a channel cat this time of year, I mean the river's up right now, and the river temperatures are pretty cold, too. So it's really surprising that he would be able to catch something like that.”

Beaty donated the fish to biologists, who plan to study and age the fish.

North Idaho Fly Fishing Expo expands to two days

 FLY FISHING — The annual North Idaho Fly Fishing Expo presented by the Kelly Creek Flycasters is expanding to two days this year and moving from Clarkston to Lewiston.

The event, which covers everything from beginning fly-casting instruction to advanced spey casting with two-handed rods, will be held March 25-26 at the Red Lion Hotel in Lewiston, according to a report today by Eric Barker in the Lewiston Tribune.

Read on for more details on the show and its featured presenters.

Construction to affect centennial trail access

TRAILS — The Indiana Avenue road extension project will limit access to the Centennial Trail and paddle-boat launching near Mission and Flora from April through July 4. 

Route changes in the area include new names for some of the roads, Spokane Valley officials said.

Since Indiana Avenue currently exists to the north of the project, the City has named the streets on the current project as Parkways and will change the name of Mission Avenue, west of Flora Road, to “Old Mission Avenue.”

Old Mission Avenue will provide the access to the Centennial Trail trailhead from the one lane westbound Mission Parkway. River users coming from the west on Indiana Avenue will be able to get to the Mission trailhead by circling through the roundabout at Mission Avenue and Flora Road and travelling a short distance down Mission Parkway to the Old Mission Avenue intersection.

Spokane River floaters: Tree obstructing Devil’s Toenail

RIVER RUNNING — This warning just came in from the local whitewater rafting email list for paddlers heading down the Spokane River into the Devil's Toenail Rapid near the Spokane Rifle Club:

A tree with a large rootball is hung up in the pour-over, river left of the toenail rock in the center. It doesn't appear that it will be moving out anytime soon.

  

Idaho offers ‘wilderness’ license plate

CONSERVATION — Idaho is offering several new specialty vehicle license plates this year, including one that benefits mountain biking programs and one to help manage Idaho's premier wilderness areas.

The wildernes plate, sponsored by the Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation, benefits trail maintenance and wilderness stewardship in Idaho’s Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

The specialty plate was released in February featuring wilderness artwork from Boise artist Ward Hooper, a native of Grangeville. 

Read on for details for Idaho residents wanting to buy one of these specialty plates.
  

Lake Roosevelt offers 10 youth summer positions

OUTDOOR YOUTH — A local follow-up to yesterday's post on outdoor-related summer jobs for youths:

The Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area soon will be hiring for 10 Youth Conservation Corps positions for youths 15-18 years old.  Work starts in June . The youths work 40-hours a week through August.

Applications are due by March 31.

Contact Sue Halverson, 509-725-2715, extension 20 at Fort Spokane, or Ron Sacchi, 509-633-9441, extension 141 at Coulee Dam, or  Pat Michael 509-738-6366, extension 102 at Kettle Falls.