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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Pacific Crest Trail to be closed briefly north of I-90

HIKING — From Sept. 19-22, hikers on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail No. 2000 just north of I-90 can expect delays of one or two hours while crews work to remove a large log jam and reconstruct the trail. 

The project area is 3½ miles north of Snoqualmie Pass.

The trail crew will post details at the trailhead be on the trail to prevent hikers from entering the project area while work is in progress, Forest Service officials say.

Info: Cle Elum Ranger Station, (509) 852 1100.

New salmon fishery opening below Chelan powerhouse

SALMON FISHING — Starting Wednesday (Sept. 14), Washington anglers will get their first chance to catch summer chinook salmon in the tailrace of the hydroelectric powerhouse operated by the Chelan County Public Utility District in Chelan.

“This opening will test whether we can conduct a fishery in such a small area,” said Jeff Korth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional fisheries manager. “Starting this year, a lot of hatchery-reared fish will be moving through the tailrace, and we’d like to give anglers a chance to catch some.”

The new fishery, scheduled to run through Oct. 15, is restricted to the outfall area extending one-third of a mile downstream from the safety barrier near the powerhouse to the railroad bridge at the Columbia River.

Read on for details.

Three Yellowstone grizzlies monitored for role in mauling death

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Three grizzly bears have been captured and fitted with radio collars in Yellowstone National Park to help investigators determine which bear might be responsible for last month's mauling death of a Michigan man.

Park spokesman Al Nash said Wednesday that two adult male bears were captured Sunday in the Hayden Valley area, where 59-year-old John Wallace of Chassell, Mich., was killed on Aug. 25 while hiking alone in the park’s backcountry.

Another bear captured last week also was released after being radio collared.

Nash says hair samples were taken from the animals for DNA testing. The bears were fitted with radio collars for tracking and released.

Park officials have said they will kill the bear that mauled Wallace if they can confirm its role through DNA analysis.

Sporting clays shooters aim at Boy Scout fundraiser

TARGET SHOOTING — Boy Scouts will be benefitting next week from the enthusiasm competitive shotgun shooters have for vaporizing clay targets.

The fourth annual Boy Scout Sporting Clays Tournament, set for Friday (Sept. 16) at Double Barrel Ranch southeast of Spokane already has signed up 115 shooters.

That makes the event the third largest sporting clays tournament in Washington, said Chris Baker, who's organizing the event for the Boy Scouts.

Info: (509) 242-8235

Here we go again: court asked to reverse Congress on Rockies wolves

PREDATORS — As hunters have begun shooting gray wolves in the first weeks of the wolf hunting seasons in Idaho and Montana, wildlife advocates are once again urging a federal appeals panel to restore endangered species protections for wolves.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, WildEarth Guardians and other groups argue the judicial branch needs to “zealously guard” against a move by Congress that lifted protections in defiance of earlier court rulings, according to the Associated Press.

They sued the government after Congress in April approved a budget rider taking wolves off the endangered list in five states.

The filing of their briefs in the case comes as wildlife agencies on Friday reported hunters have killed 11 of the predators since wolf seasons opened in Idaho and Montana last week.

Initial attempts to stop the hunts were denied last month by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A November hearing in the case is expected.

Landers looks down on the world … and likes what he sees

HIKING — Sorry I've been a bit out of touch this week. My wife, Meredith, and I had to focus on what we were doing:  Above Lake O'Hara, Yoho National Park, British Columbia.

If you've been waffling on whether to go backpacking into the high country this weekend, get over it. Go!

The nights are cool, the days are perfect, huckleberries are ripe and the crowds and bugs are gone!

Forest fires restricting road, trail access on Idaho Panhandle

NATIONAL FORESTS — Restrictions on campfires, smoking and use of chain saws have kicked in at most of the region's national forests. Hot, dry weather will continue through the weekend as firefighters work to contain forest fires caused by lightning strikes.   See the latest on the region's forest fires here.

In the St. Joe River watershed, several small fires — some prescribed for forest health — are restricting access to several roads and trails. Temporary closures include:

  • Forest Road 201 from Bathtub Meadows to the junction with Forest Road 1258.
  • Forest Road 762 from its junction with Forest Road 1258 to the end of the road.
  • Trail 631 between Twin Lakes and Conrad Crossing Campground.
  • Trail 28 between Twin Lakes and Fly Flat Campground.
  • Trail 2 between its junction with trail 28 and Walo Point.
  • Trail 629 between Twin Lakes and Fly Flat Campground.
  • Trail 89 between Twin Lakes and Beaver Creek Campground.
  • Trail 88 between its junction with Trail 89 and Trail 629.
  • Forest Road 320 between Forest Road 218 and Heller Creek Campground.

Six small fires are currently burning in the upper St. Joe River watershed. None of the fires pose any threat to communities or infrastructure and are being managed to provide forest health benefits. The fires range in size from less than one acre to 20 acres and are expected to continue burning until fall rains and cooler temperatures extinguish them.

Lake Coeur d’Alene drawdown has begun

LAKES — Avista began the annual fall drawdown of Lake Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday.

The lake will be gradually lowered approximately a foot from full pool by the end of September, and an additional 1½ feet per month thereafter until reaching its winter level. Property owners and boaters should take measures to secure docks and boats for the winter season during this period.

As part of Avista’s FERC license to operate its Spokane River Hydroelectric Project, which includes Post Falls Dam, Avista is required to maintain the level of Coeur d’Alene Lake at summer full-pool elevation of 2,128 feet from as early as practical in the spring until the Tuesday after Labor Day.

The slow drawdown will increase flows of the Spokane River downstream of Post Falls, and will slightly decrease river levels between the lake and Post Falls bridge. Spill gates at Post Falls Dam will not be opened for the drawdown, and the river should remain open for recreation until November; however, river users should be aware that water levels can fluctuate at any time depending upon weather and dam operations.

Avista has a 24-hour telephone information line that provides notification of anticipated elevation changes on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Lake Spokane and the Spokane River during the subsequent 24-hour and one-week periods. In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357; in Washington call (509) 495-8043.

Steelhead surge and hold back at Lower Granite

STEELHEAD FISHING — The surge of steelhead moving up the Snake River over Lower Granite Dam slowed down dramatically as the flow and spill of cool water into the Clearwater River was reduced upstream out of Dworshak Dam this week.

But significantly more fish have moved over Lower Granite this week compared with the same week last year.

Priest Lake subdivision approved despite public objections

LAKES — Bonner County commissioners approved a 14-lot subdivision at the north end of Priest Lake on Wednesday despite a torrent of objections from neighboring landowners, their attorneys and two environmental groups, according the the Bonner County Daily Bee.

*The board’s votes followed a public hearing that spanned nearly four hours. More than 20 people testified, but only one person voiced support for the project.
Sandpiper Shores is located between Mosquito Bay and the channel leading to Upper Priest Lake.

Opponents of the expansion contend the project will displace a dwindling amount of critical wildlife habitat and harm the hydrology of a high-quality wetland.

Lochsa River boater access to be upgraded

RIVER RUNNING — The U.S. Forest Service is planning to upgrade facilities at four Lochsa River access points in the next year.

Site #1 Fish Creek Boat Launch:  Work includes addition of stairs on the north side of the existing launch. Stair shall be similar to existing south side stairs. Other work includes adjustment to the slide and replacement of several existing steps. Work includes building of new 27’ x 15’6” double unit changing room located adjacent to existing restrooms.

Site #2 Split Creek Stairs:  Work includes removing and replacing all steps for the existing access. New steps shall be 12’ wide and a railing shall be added on the up river side.

Site #3 Bald Mtn. Boat Launch:Work includes construction of a full boat launch with a slide and steps 8’ wide on each side.

Site #4 Knife Edge Changing Station:Work includes building of new 14’ x 15’6” single unit changing room located behind to existing restrooms.

Globetrotting sportsman writes survival manual for worldwide hunters

INTERNATIONAL HUNTING — Planning a big hunt to an exotic locale outside the United States?

"World Hunter's Info Manual" by John Lowery offers an inside look at global political climates, first aid and how to recognize hazards before going abroad for a hunting trip

Read on for details from the publisher.

Sunday event puts families in realm of beavers

WILDLIFE EDUCATION – The third annual Picnic with the Beavers – an educational event especially geared to families — is set for Sunday (Sept. 11) starting at 1 p.m. at Liberty Lake County Park, sponsored by The Lands Council and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

Info: (509) 209-2851 or email aswan@landscouncil.org

Groups will rotate through three learning stations.

Read on for details.

Spokane River Cleanup seeks team leaders for Oct. 1 event

STEWARDSHIP — Organizers of the annual Spokane River Clean Up, set for Oct. 1, hope to at least match the 800 volunteers who collected six tons of debris from along the rive shores last year.

In addition to the effort in the Spokane River Gorge and the University District, the cleanup will have groups working in the Spokane Valley, too.

Volunteers should pre-register.

To sign up as a team leader, contact Stephen Barbieri, (509) 953-6437 or email stephenbarbieri@msn.com

Outlawed in Idaho, cow decoys work elsewhere for goose hunters

WATERFOWL HUNTING — Jump-shooting waterfowlers might be able to beef up their success by devising a cow “blind” for stalking birds in the field.

The practice once used by market hunters is not legal in Idaho.

But it's legal in Washington, according to  Capt. Mike Whorton of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department.

Plow through the first part of the video above to the third segment, which shows three waterfowl hunters using a cow silhouette to stalk amazingly close to a flock of snow geese.

The subject of cattle silhouttes as hunting blinds came up in a Q&A feature from Idaho Fish and Game.

Read on for more details.

Wise words from people who learn from wildlife

WILDLIFE WATCHING — In the spirit of ongoing bird migration, Colbert area birdwatcher Tina Wynecoop shares this poem she clipped from a newspaper while working near the mouth of the Skagit River in 1969.

The Owl
While hitchhiking to Seattle, two Indians gave
me a ride from La Conner to Mt. Vernon in a pickup truck.
On the way I told them I was an artist, and showed them
a folio of bird drawings I had with me. 
The Indians looked at them with some interest,
then the one driving asked me to draw a picture of a Bluejay for him.
He told me that the Bluejay is the only bird that will help another
bird of a species different than its own.
I asked the Indian how they did this. 
He said that Bluejays will always surround a hungry bird, even an Eagle, and feed it.
I said I would give him a picture of a Bluejay the next time I saw him. 
Then the Indian sitting next to me who had been silent, turned and said, "I can hear the Bluejays talk." 
I asked him what they said. 
He replied, "Right now they are talking to an owl they've got riding between them in a truck. 
 ~ Charile Krafft (1969)

Hunters on OHVs urged to stay on designated trails

HUNTING — The Idaho Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Public Outreach Campaign is urging people who use ATVs or motorbikes during hunting season to stay on designated trails and do their homework to ensure that the trails they plan to ride are open.

Officials with the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Managementand Idaho Department of Fish and Game say hunters riding off-trail on ATVs or motorbikes continues to be a problem on public lands during hunting season.

"We are most concerned with instances where a hunter drives off-trail to scout for game or retrieve game," said Andy Brunelle, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. "One set of tracks through the brush or in a meadow can invite others to do the same, and the impacts add up, damaging vegetation and causing soil erosion into streams."

According to several surveys, more than half of the approximately 240,000 people who hunt in Idaho (residents and non-residents) during the fall months are using motorbikes or ATVs to access their hunting areas.

Officials with the U.S. Forest Service encourage hunters to obtain copies of Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM's) from the national forest where they plan to hunt. Hard-copy maps are available from national forest ranger district offices, and in some cases, they are online.

The Panhandle National Forests have published new MVUMs for the Coeur d'Alene River Ranger District and the Kaniksu Zone. These are available from Panhandle National Forest offices, and they are online on the forest's web site.

Panhandle National Forest officials are still working on the map for the St. Joe National Forest. The Idaho OHV Public Outreach Project's web site, www.stayontrails.com, has a link to online Forest Service MVUM's on its where to ride page

BLM officials encourage hunters to check BLM district office web sites for info. Hard-copies are available at district offices.

Under the Forest Service's National Travel Rule, "it's incumbent on the user to know if the trail is open or closed" regardless if the trail is signed appropriately, forest officials said. That's because people have been known to shoot signs full of bullet holes, remove signs or vandalize them.

Hunters also should check Idaho Fish and Game regulations to check on trail or road restrictions in their hunting areas. The Idaho OHV Public Outreach Project produced a YouTube video that helps explain how to sort through MVUM maps and Fish and Game regulations to see if trails are open or closed.  

 A new Idaho law requires youths who do not have a driver's license to take a free safety course before they ride OHVs on forest roads, and that youths under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet when riding on an OHV or driving one.  

  • Check out 10 hunting tips for OHVers.
  • Idaho Fish and Game also has a brochure that reviews motor vehicle and ATV regulations pertinent to hunting. 

The big lake has a Superior sunrise

OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY — One of my best college friends lives in Duluth, Minn., on the shore of Lake Superior. 

His back yard is a premium spot for outdoor scenics ranging from ice formations in the minus 30 degree winters to this moody, wonderful sunrise shot last week.

This morning was one of the more spectacular skies I've seen in awhile.  What you can't see is the lightning storm to the north of me over the city.  I was seeing it a an angle so i had wonderful views of an incredible electric storm, with this gorgeous sunrise in front of me.  The photo does not do it justice.

— Scott Wolff

Three wilderness myths addressed

CONSERVATION — In the wake of conspiracy theorists taking over Colville National Forest public meetings, Aaron Theisen of Spokane takes a shot at busting three common misconceptions about wilderness. 

Get wide open feeling in Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness

BACKPACKING — Bob Clark of Missoula shared this photo from his recent backpack trip inthe Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness near Anaconda, Mont.

The photo looks down the west ridge of Mount Tiny on the summit approach.

NIC seeking climbers to spruce up Q’emiln Park

Who:  For local climbers and outdoors enthusiasts, organized by North Idaho College Outdoor Pursuits

What: Adopt a Crag climbing area cleanup

When: 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10

Where: Q’emiln Riverside Park in Post Falls.

How: Free and open to the public. Call to sign up. (208) 769-7809.

Tonight: Trout Unlimited to discuss fishery impacts of Alaska’s Pebble Mine

FISHING – Efforts to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay fishery from a huge proposed copper sulfide mine will be discussed at the Spokane Trout Unlimited meeting tonightsept. 5, 7 p.m., at the Northern Lights Brewery, 1003 E. Trent Ave.

A program will be presented by Dwayne Meadows, TU’s outreach director for Bristol Bay area, known for its world-class fisheries.

Fishing guide’s tip: Don’t spare the rod on kids

FISHING — Chelan-area guide Anton Jones, who fishes with families almost every week, has a bit of advice for adults who take kids out fishing, especially as the kids get older.

"I see all too often, parents stepping in and “rescuing” a 14-year-old kid that is struggling with a bigger fish or a slightly more difficult task," said the owner of Darrell and Dad's Family Guide Service.

"I know you don’t want them to fail, but you’ve got to let them work through some adversity to build confidence and competence.We had an 11-year-old that handled a 20-pound fish on a heavy outrigger rod. It was difficult for him, but you could see him mature a bit more in that moment." 

Washington advances lead restrictions to East Side pheasant release sites

ENVIRONMENT - Lead is gradually getting the boot in Washington's hunting and fishing circles.

Starting this season, hunters will be required to use non-toxic shot in their ammunition while hunting at pheasant release sites in Eastern Washington.

The nontoxic shot rule has been in effect at refuges and release sites for several years in Western Washington.

The pheasant release areas and boundaries of those nontoxic shot zones are defined in maps available online at the agency's website.

It was a federal rule that banned lead shot for use in waterfowl hunting starting in 1986.


Fall chinook making their move up Columbia

SALMON FISHING — The Columbia River is getting busy again. Chinook and coho runs are building, and the fortunes of both anglers and gill-netters improving as well.

The catch and fishing pressure in the lower Columbia (from Bonneville Dam 146 river miles down to the mouth) has grown steadily and more growth is expected.

Daily counts of upriver fall chinook passing over Bonneville had slowly ticked up from 100 fish on Aug. 1 to 6,830 on Wednesday.

By the end of August a total of 57,688 upriver fall chinook had passed over Bonneville. 

About 399,600 adult “upriver brights” are predicted to will make it back to the mouth of the river on their way to the mid-Columbia’s Hanford Reach, the Snake River and elsewhere.

A click a day: Help The Lands Council win a grant

CONSERVATIONThe Lands Council of Spokane is ranking high in a national online contest for a grant from Tom's of Maine the help reforest areas of Spokane — to provide much-needed shade, reduce traffic noise and beautify our city.

But the group needs more supporters to go online daily through Sept. 13 and click to give the effort a vote.

The Lands Council website has details on the contest and how you can help the reforestation campaign — but mainly, go here to vote for the Lands Council.

Volunteers clear Selkirks trail to Beehive Lakes

HIKING — Trail 279 to Beehive Lakes got a facelift last weekend, tanks to nine volunteers from the Idaho Trails Association.

The group camped up the Pack River Road in the Selkirk Mountains and worked under the supervision of three Forest Service trail crew leaders to clear brush from the popular 4.5-mile trail.

This year the Sandpoint Ranger District budget for trails was approximately $10,000.  No other funding was available for maintaining hiking trails on the district this fiscal year.

“The work these volunteers did was priceless,” said MaryAnn Hamilton, Sandpoint Ranger District Trails Coordinator.  “It’s great to see hikers helping out with the trails they enjoy.”

The Idaho Trails Association incorporated in 2010 to, in part, help trail managers maintain hiking trails in the state, said
“We would like to express our gratitude for the volunteers that turned out to help keep this trail safe, sustainable, and enjoyable,” said Brad Smith, a member of ITA’s Board of Directors.

The group organized five other trail projects this year across Idaho.  ITA’s mission is to promote the continued enjoyment of Idaho’s hiking trails.

Free steelheading seminars set on September Saturdays at Westlope Fly Shop

FLY FISHING — A series of free spey casting and steelhead fishing seminars have been scheduled for every Saturday in September at Westslope Fly Shop, 1003 E. Trent Ave., Suite 145, in Spokane.

The schedule includes a variety of classes geared to both novice and experienced anglers. Pre-register for limited seating by calling the shop, (509) 838-0252.   The offerings include:

Spey casting seminar and instruction, 10 a.m.-noon (except Sept. 17). Held on the Spokane River. Equipment will be furnished as needed, however participants must provide their own waders and wading boots (or wet wading “water shoes”). No limit to the number of attendees for the seminar, but only the first six people to sign up may participate in the casting instruction.

Knot tying and rigging, 1 p.m. -2 p.m. Discusses basic knots that any angler should know as well as how to rig lines, tie oversize loops for Spey set ups and build custom sink tips.

Single-handed casting instruction, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. An FFF-certified casting instructor will help you improve your skills. For novice and experienced anglers. Special emphasis on heavier rods/lines and nymphing techniques for steelhead.

Steelhead fly tying seminar, 4 p.m.-5 p.m. Fly-tying expert Clark demonstrates techniques for tying innovative steelhead flies for Inland Northwest Waters. Each week will focus on a different pattern.

Montana game takes hit; economy will feel pain of bad winter

HUNTING — Last winter took a serious toll on deer and pronghorns in parts of Eastern Montana. 

The ripple effect has translated into a sharp decline in sales of big-game tags in some areas.   The next hit will be to local economies that rely on the traditional spike in business hunters normally bring to small Montana towns.

Read the story from the Billings Gazette.

Cyberspace loose with facts or flat out lying about Jeremy Hill grizzly case coverage

ENDANGERED SPECIES — People want to hear what they want to hear about the Jeremy Hill grizzly bear shooting case, and some of them aren't letting facts get in the way of spreading their agenda on the Web.

My down-the-middle factual column on the issue last week pointed out the various considerations the case brings up as it heads to trial.

Now I'm seeing righteous people lie about what I said to discredit the column.  Here's one excerpt from a Idaho Freedom Foundation blog post by Wayne Hoffman (emphasis mine):

Not everyone is taking Hill’s side. Spokesman-Review columnist Rich Landers was quick to stick up for the grizzly and the feds, writing that while federal law lets people shoot wolves that are threatening people, but not so with grizzlies. … Thus, Landers justifies and gives cover to the federal stance that has enabled Hill’s prosecution.

That's a total fabrication to make it look as though the law - and me, too - would find fault with a person protecting human life. Here's what I wrote:

Shooting a grizzly bear is serious business. The law says a wolf can be shot if it’s actively threatening pets or livestock, but no such caveat exists for shooting a grizzly.  Self-defense or the defense of another person are the only legal justifications for shooting a grizzly.

I clearly pointed out that Hill has legal justification to shoot a grizzly if it was threatening him or his children.

But Mr. Hoffman's words and those of others are circulating quickly in cyberspace for unquestioning people to consume and repeat with no regard for the truth.