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Trail cams stolen from I-90 wildlife collision study

WILDLIFE — I don't have numbers, but I have enough information from hunters, wildlife watchers and wildlife researchers to confidently say that theft of trail cameras has reached epidemic levels.

I've seen posts from a few anonymous thieves rationalizing their behavior by saying they don't want people snooping into land they love or they don't want other hunters figuring out what they already know. 

But the greedy creeps are still thieves, any way you look at it.

Here's news of another assault on ethics, research and public safety.

Nine wildlife cameras used to track elk near North Bend have been stolen.

The Transportation Department was using the cameras in a project to prevent elk collisions on Interstate 90.

Workers noticed nine of the project's 18 Reconyx cameras missing on November 10th. The cameras had protective steel boxes, media cards, and shielded padlocks. Some were camouflaged into their surroundings to deter people from stealing them.

Crews removed nine other remaining cameras as a precaution.

One of the cameras took a picture (above) of a possible suspect, a man with a bandanna over his face.

“These cameras were doing important work that were able to help us build something that could really stop these collisions from happening,” said Harmony Weinberg, DOT public information officer. “It was really crucial work.”

Gonzaga ranked in top 10 colleges — for skiers!

WINTERSPORTS — In addition to the weekly diet of national ratings for basketball teams, Gonzaga University this week has made a list of top 10 colleges for students and their quest for “higher shreducation.”

Holy sitz-mark!

The list has been posted by Freeskier Magazine in a story that evaluates colleges based on 16 factors, including distance to winter resorts, number of resorts within 100 miles, average annual snowfall of closest resort, transportation offerings, number of ski movies on campus and number of courses related to snow.

Some emphasis also is afforded to normal education advantages in the criteria, including percent of students winning grant aid, professor-student ratio and graduation rate.

Accounting for the tight ranking with Montana State University in Bozeman was the the Zags' ability to score in the relatively exclusive category titled “Is Weed Legal?”

Says the magazine:

Gonzaga University, home to the Bulldogs, is a private Roman Catholic university located in Spokane, Washington, on the southern edge of the rugged Selkirk Mountains. While Spokane only receives an average of 11 inches of annual snowfall, Mount Spokane, a mere 26 mile distance away, receives 300-plus, and resorts like Schweitzer, Lookout Pass, Silver Mountain and 49 Degrees North are all within driving distance.

The survey appears to be a snub at Eastern Washington University, where the money students save on tuition would allow them to buy season passes at all the nearby resorts, including Schweitzer.

But Western Washington University proudly represents Washington state schools on the list, boosted by the prolific snowfall at nearby Mount Baker.

The No. 1 school for skiers received this glowing review:

The University of Utah is the undisputed king of ski colleges. Located in Salt Lake City, almost every ski area in the state is located within 100-miles, each of which offer up Utah’s abundant, bone-dry snow. The closest resort—Snowbird—is a quick 16-mile drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon, so if you schedule your classes right, you can be nipple deep all morning and still make it back in time for Biology 101.

Here's the full list:

  1. University of Utah
  2. Sierra Nevada College
  3.  University of Colorado at Boulder
  4. Westminster College
  5. University of Alaska Anchorage
  6. Montana State University
  7. Gonzaga University
  8. University of Nevada Reno
  9. Western Washington University
  10. University of Denver

Schweitzer sets limited opening for skiers on Saturday

WINTERSPORTS — Schweitzer Mountain Resort will open for the season at 9 a.m. on Saturday officials say. A lift will operate through Sunday with 150 acres available for skiing out of the resort's 2,900 acres of terrain.

Skiers will be limited to Midway, with the Basin Express chair lift scheduled to operate from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during opening weekend.

“Even though we’re only opening with limited operations, we’re very excited to get the season started in the Inland Northwest,” says President/CEO Tom Chasse.  “The fact that we have anything to offer is a direct result of pre-season brush cutting, our snowmaking capability and our dedication to the skiers/boarders of the region.”

Schweitzer will close mid-week and then re-open on Friday, Nov. 28, for the weekend. 

With new snow in the forecast over the weekend, the resort hopes to expand the terrain and add the Musical Chairs lift for Thanksgiving weekend.

Lift tickets this weekend will cost $40 for everyone except for children 6 and under who will ski free. 

Schweitzer’s Sunday-Friday passholders may also ski this Saturday and next, at no charge.

Sunday Solution tickets will be available on Sunday, half day ticket are $25 if purchased in advance online, or $35 at the ticket window.

Schweitzer has received only 5 inches of natural snow so far this season in the village but colder than usual temperatures in the last week provided optimal snow making conditions, officials said.

Skiing and snowboarding is recommended on groomed trails as early season conditions exist with variable snowpack.

On mountain parking will be free this weekend and the shuttle from the “Red Barn” parking lot will be running on the midweek schedule. 

Info: (208) 263-9562.

  • 49 Degrees North officials say they're still waiting for more snow before making an announcement.

Idaho farm-raised elk get loose near Yellowstone

WILDLIFE —  State officials say 28 domestic elk escaped from a hunting ranch in eastern Idaho near Yellowstone National Park but only one is unaccounted for and it’s wounded, according to the Associated Press.

Veterinarian Scott Leibsle of the Idaho Department of Agriculture says Broadmouth Canyon Ranch near Firth reported within 24 hours the Sunday escape.

States have strict rules regarding fencing and treatment of domestic elk to prevent the health and genetic influences they might have on wild elk.

Ranch owner and former NFL player Rulon Jones told The Associated Press on Wednesday that 12 elk escaped and five had to be shot. He put the loss of the five elk at $10,000.

The reason for the discrepancy in the number of escaped elk isn’t clear.

Leibsle said Wednesday the agency is waiting for a final report. He says the ranch has met all state requirements for disease testing of captive elk.

Route to Olympic Hot Springs reopened

TRAILS — Olympic National Park has reopened a road and trailhead leading to Olympic Hot Springs.

The Kitsap Sun reports Olympic Hot Springs Road and the Boulder Creek Trailhead had been closed for three years while workers dismantled the Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River. The trail leads 2.5 miles to the undeveloped springs, where nudity is common.

The park says the hot springs underwent ecosystem restoration during the closure. Visitors are asked to camp only in designated areas, avoid stepping on plants and pack out whatever you pack in.

The Seattle Times has more info here.

Poachers kill two trophy bighorn rams in Asotin County

POACHING — Two trophy class bighorn rams were illegally killed up Asotin Creek on the Asotin Creek Wildlife area last weekend.  

“One was shot and wounded and we just found it (Tuesday),” said Paul Mosman, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police sergeant in Clarkston. He said the ram  probably died Saturday or Sunday and was possibly seen last Wednesday with an injured shoulder. 

“The second ram had a radio collar and the only thing we found was the collar cut off and thrown in the brush,” he said.

Tips on the cases can be made to Officer Matt Sabo, (509) 780-9843 or to Mosman, (509) 710-5707.

Only one permit for bighorn sheep was offered this year for this coveted area.

“This level of harvest is unsustainable on the Asotin Creek herd over the long run,” Mosman said.

A third ram was killed in the same vicinity last weekend by a Nez Perce tribal hunter exercising his tribal hunting rights, Mosman said, noting that a Nez Perce Tribal conservation officer dropped off the research collar the animal was wearing.

Study: Polar bears decline 40 percent in a decade

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The heat is on this indicator species. Who's next?

Study finds 40% decline in polar bear numbers in E. Alaska, W. Canada
A study done by researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and Environment Canada, as well as other groups, followed polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea from 2001 to 2010, and found that numbers declined 40 percent during that decade.
—Los Angeles Times

Anti-wolf group initiates Spokane billboard campaign

PREDATORS — A newly organized anti-wolf group says it's targeting Spokane with a billboard campaign “to inform  residents about the reality of an increasing number of wolves in Washington State,” according to a media release posted today.

Four billboards featuring a snarling wolf are being put up, according to Washington Residents Against Wolves, an activist group that says it's promoting “sound management of the predator.”

Billboards are up at Lincoln Road and Division Street and Lincoln Road and Market Street.

“The aim of the billboard campaign is to encourage people to ask more questions about what having wolves in Washington really means,” said Luke Hedquist, WARAW member.

“People need to consider the challenges associated with wolves. Wolves can and will attack people, livestock will be killed and maimed, private property will be compromised and local economies will be impacted. We want to make sure people thoroughly understand the issue, so we started by trying to get people’s attention with the billboards.”

The initial billboard message features a photo of a wolf, teeth bared, and the text: “Endangered? No. Deadly? Yes. Good for Washington? Absolutely not.“ A total of eight billboard posters are planned to be up by the end of the month, Hedquist said.

“One of the key items not being discussed is how quickly wolves will deplete wildlife herds in the state,” Hedquist says in the media release.

Washington has about 14 identified wolf packs and had a minimum of 52 wolves before this year's breeding season.

“We know by watching wolves in other states that it is common for the population to increase by 38 percent on average each year,” said Hedquist.

This is bad news not only for predators who must compete for available prey in the affected ecosystems, but also for the communities that depending on seasonal hunting revenue, he said.

“As the elk and other ungulates are impacted by wolves, we will see fewer animals for other predators like cougar and bear; a decline in the number of animals available to hunt and significant impacts to local economies as hunters go elsewhere,” Hedquist said.

“It’s also important to remember that at this point, wolves are not moving across Washington and WDFW is making no moves to either reduce the number of wolves or translocate the Eastern Washington excess to other parts of the state. So we should be prepared for Eastern Washington to bear the full brunt of the cost. Frankly, that cost is unacceptable.”

Northern lights photo has star power

SKYWATCHING — Craig Goodwin, pastor of Millwood Community Presbyterian Church and outdoor photographer, gave us the heads up on Saturday that the weekend was sizing up to be a good opportunity to see the Northern Lights.

Indeed, the aurora borealis did put on a dance, although it wasn't up to great performance standards.

So the photographer juiced it up for the photo above: a composite of 150 individual, 25-second shutter clicks at Sullivan Lake.

Look closely and you can see several shooting stars, he noted.

  • Note: that's the North Star in the center of the circle.  Navigators and photographers have long known that the rotation of the earth offers the “time exposure” effect of all the stars rotating around the North Star.


Goodwin posted this and other fall photos on the S-R's Reader Outdoor Photos page on our website. 

Check them out — and add your best shot to the standout collection.

Lower turnout at area deer checkstations

HUNTING — Fewer hunters turned in to hunter check stations north of Spokane over the weekend compared with last year, but the ratio of deer taken during the late whitetail buck season appears to be about the same.

Some hunters reported the cold snap that clicked in last week coupled with the upswing of the rut had deer moving.

It's not clear whether the cold weather had something to do with the lower turnout of hunters.

Here's the check station report from Kevin Robinette, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional wildlife manager:

The final Northeast Washington Deer Check Stations concluded this weekend with voluntary check stations at the Chattaroy weigh station on Saturday and at the Deer Park weigh station on Sunday.

Weather was sunny and cold.  WDFW Biologists Dana Base and Annemarie Prince  led the efforts with assistance from other agency staff and a cadre of volunteers.

At Chattaroy (Nov 15) the crew interviewed 52 hunters and inspected 11 white-tailed deer (2013 numbers were 88 hunters with 22 whitetails).

At Deer Park (Nov 16) 93 hunters were interviewed with 25 white-tailed deer (2013 – 134 hunters with 30 deer).

Eastern Washington's late buck hunt continues in selected units through Nov. 19.

Mount Spokane nordic warming hut takes shape

WINTERSPORTS — The cozy warming hut destined for the outer reaches of the sprawling 60K Mount Spokane Cross-Country Ski Park was taking shape this weekend, thanks to volunteers from Selkirk Nordic.

Telluride films in Sandpoint to boost conservation

CONSERVATION — Outdoor films with a message are coming to Sandpoint on Thursday, Nov. 20.

The Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour features thrill-seekers climbing the towering limestone cliffs of China and braving a beast of a wave in California plus other flicks that explore adventure, culture and preservation of the environment.

The show starts at 7 p.m. at the Panida Theater, 300 N. First Ave. Advance tickets are available for $10 at Eichardts and Outdoor Experience in Sandpoint or online at: www.panida.org. Tickets left over will be $12 at the door.

The action-packed evening features award-winning independent documentary films from around the world designed to educate, inspire and motivate audiences about issues that matter, according to Nancy Dooley of the Idaho Conservation Leauge.

The 11 films coming to the Sandpoint screening also include films about the struggle of a community in Namibia to save its lions and itself, the epic attempt to highline from hot air balloons, a cowboy, buffalo and the Nature Conservancy, a heartbreaking and inspirational story about a fly fisherman’s journey, and an seat-gripping downhill mountain bike video.

“This festival has it all – films that examine the beauty of the human spirit, high-octane adventure films and intriguing environmental documentaries,” said Dooley, ICL's North Idaho Coordinator.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the ICL and its mission to protect Idaho’s clean air, water and extraordinary landscapes, she said.

Local beer from Laughing Dog Brewery and wine from the Pend d’Oreille Winery will be on tap and a raffle and door prizes are planned.

Info:  (208) 265-9565.

Free snowmobiling film Tuesday at NIC

WINTERSPORTS — An action flick on snowmobiling — 509 Snowmobile Films Vol. 9 — will be screened at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at McLain Hall Outdoor Center at North Idaho College.

The movie is free but donations of two or more nonpersishable canned food items will be appreciated, campus organizers say.

The award-winning film was produced with two crews and 25 riders filming in three countries.

Info: (509) 560-9290.

International Selkirk Loop motor route detailed in new book

OUTDOOR TRAVEL — A photographic journey encircling the Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho, eastern Washington and southeastern British Columbia has been compiled into a new book.

“Selkirks Spectacular” (Keokee Books) highlights the International Selkirk Loop, a 280-mile scenic route named by Rand McNally as one of five “Best of the Roads.”

The book features more than 300 images by photographers Jerry Pavia and Tim Cady along with chapters written by Canadian Ross Klatte on the history, geology, communities, natural features, attractions, and the flora and fauna showcase this beautiful corner of the earth.

A book publication party with the authors and photographers is set for 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 21, at The Pearl Theater, 7160 Ash St. in Bonners Ferry.

The book captures highlights from Lake Pend Oreille to Kootenay Lake to endangered woodland caribou and ruffed grouse as well as the region's mining and logging legacies.

The book has two front covers, one for the U.S. side and one for the Canada side. Halfway through, readers flip the book over and start again from the other side.

Watch for northern lights tonight

SKYWATCHING — This is a good weekend for sky watching, with increased solar activity coinciding with clear skies.

Craig Goodwin, pastor of Millwood Community Presbyterian Church and outdoor photographer, captured the photo above at Sullivan Lake and posted this comment Saturday:

The Aurora is active. Should be better tonight and tomorrow, but as always, who knows for sure. This is taken from the shores of Sullivan Lake. Note the shooting star half way through. The moon came up at the end so I shut it down. Yes, that's snow in the foreground.

$15,000 reward offered in Washington wolf shooting case

ENDANGERED SPECIES —  Conservation groups announced today a $15,000 reward for information that helps convict a poacher who killed a federally protected wolf near Salmon la Sac.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials confirmed this week that a female gray wolf from the Teanaway pack in Upper Kittitas County died last month from being shot.
 
The public is being asked to report any information or sightings from Oct. ​17 to Oct. 28 dealing with the case. Information can be reported by phone at (425) 883-8122.  Tips also can be reported on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recorded poacher hotline, (877) 933-9847.

Groups contributing to the reward include Conservation Northwest, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Woodland  Park Zoo and the Humane Society of the United States.

  • After a wolf from the Smackout Pack was found dead Feb. 9 near Cedar Lake in northeast Stevens County, conservation groups joined with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to offer a $22,500 reward for information about the case. However, the case still has not been solved.
  • The investigation continues into the October shooting of a wolf in Whitman County.
  • Twisp ranching family members were ordered to pay fines totaling $50,000 in 2012 for killing two Lookout Pack wolves in 2008.

The carcass of the breeding female recovered Oct. 28 in the Teanaway Pack’s habitat area was found on the north side of the Paris Creek drainage in the Salmon la Sac area north of Lake Cle Elum, says Brent Lawrence with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland. The area is within the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

  • The person who killed the Teanaway wolf could set back state de-listing of wolves from endangered species protections. Washington's wolf management plan sets a goal of having wolf packs in three areas of the state. The Teanaway Pack ranges very close to the last of the three zones — the southern Cascades — which is still unoccupied. Wolves ranging out of that pack could be the ticket to de-listing.

The wolf was fitted with a radio telemetry collar and was recovered by federal wildlife officials and those with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Gray wolves in the western two-thirds of the state (with U.S. Highway 97 the boundary) are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act and a similar state law, Lawrence said.

The Teanaway River valley and the area north of Lake Cle Elum is in the part of the state where wolves continue to be under both state and federal protection.

East of the highway, wolves have been taken off the federal endangered list but continue to be protected by state law. The federal agency is the lead investigator of wolf mortalities in the western two-thirds of the state.

Lawrence said the wolf’s telemetry collar signaled that it wasn’t moving, which led to the search and recovery of the carcass. The preliminary necropsy revealed the wolf was shot in the hindquarters. He had no additional information to share about the investigation or a possible suspect.

Video: research camera catches cougar killing deer

PREDATORS — A camera fixed on a deer's neck to study what it eats also gave University of Washington researchers a glimpse of how the deer was eaten — by a mountain lion.

The short video below shows the whitetail feeding in the snowy woods as a mountain lion attacks and takes the prey down for the kill. The real-time action is quick. A 1/4-speed slow-mo replay in a YouTube post by American Hunter offers viewers time to clearly see the predator.

Experts say most cougar attacks are ambushes, as this video shows.  But it's also notable that the attack is head-on rather than from the side or rear.

Justin Dellinger, a PhD candidate at the University of Washington, has been conducting the research that seeks to document the impacts Washington's growing wolf population has on deer.

  • Dellinger currently is fundraising on his website to keep the research going through 2017.  His online effort, which already has raised more than $12,000, ends Saturday, Nov. 15.

As gray wolves are naturally recolonizing Washington State, Dellinger's project is taking advantage of the rare opportunity to study ecosystem responses when a top predator returns.

So far, the project has placed neck cams on 48 deer and GPS collars on 43 deer.  Dellinger's goal is to collar another 280 deer for the research.

Although the project has been on the ground for only two years, it's generated considerable interest among scientists and the public.  Public TV already has zeroed in on the study with a documentary, “Wolves and the Ecology of Fear.”
Click here to watch the video

$15,000 reward offered in Washington wolf shooting case

ENDANGERED SPECIES —  Conservation groups announced today a $15,000 reward for information that helps convict a poacher who killed a federally protected wolf near Salmon la Sac.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials confirmed this week that a female gray wolf from the Teanaway pack in Upper Kittitas County died last month from being shot.
 
The public is being asked to report any information or sightings from Oct. ​17 to Oct. 28 dealing with the case. Information can be reported by phone at (425) 883-8122.  Tips also can be reported on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recorded poacher hotline, (877) 933-9847.

Groups contributing to the reward include Conservation Northwest, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Woodland  Park Zoo and the Humane Society of the United States.

  • After a wolf from the Smackout Pack was found dead Feb. 9 near Cedar Lake in northeast Stevens County, conservation groups joined with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to offer a $22,500 reward for information about the case. However, the case still has not been solved.
  • The investigation continues into the October shooting of a wolf in Whitman County.
  • Twisp ranching family members were ordered to pay fines totaling $50,000 in 2012 for killing two Lookout Pack wolves in 2008.

The carcass of the breeding female recovered Oct. 28 in the Teanaway Pack’s habitat area was found on the north side of the Paris Creek drainage in the Salmon la Sac area north of Lake Cle Elum, says Brent Lawrence with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland. The area is within the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

  • The person who killed the Teanaway wolf could set back state de-listing of wolves from endangered species protections. Washington's wolf management plan sets a goal of having wolf packs in three areas of the state. The Teanaway Pack ranges very close to the last of the three zones — the southern Cascades — which is still unoccupied. Wolves ranging out of that pack could be the ticket to de-listing.

The wolf was fitted with a radio telemetry collar and was recovered by federal wildlife officials and those with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Gray wolves in the western two-thirds of the state (with U.S. Highway 97 the boundary) are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act and a similar state law, Lawrence said.

The Teanaway River valley and the area north of Lake Cle Elum is in the part of the state where wolves continue to be under both state and federal protection.

East of the highway, wolves have been taken off the federal endangered list but continue to be protected by state law. The federal agency is the lead investigator of wolf mortalities in the western two-thirds of the state.

Lawrence said the wolf’s telemetry collar signaled that it wasn’t moving, which led to the search and recovery of the carcass. The preliminary necropsy revealed the wolf was shot in the hindquarters. He had no additional information to share about the investigation or a possible suspect.

Hunting stresses wolves, research indicates

PREDATORS — Wolf research in the news includes a report on a study revealing indications that wolves suffer stress when heavily hunted.

OK….

I wonder if moose and elk are stressed when wolves are in the neighborhood?  Some research indicates yes.

My English setter is stressed when I leave home in the morning if I don't invite him along to go pheasant hunting — however, I'm sure some pheasants and quail are stressed when I let my dog loose on Palouse farm ground.

Seriously, I don't discount any research that might have evolutionary implications in wildlife.

On the other hand, maybe we could conclude that a little stress in our increasingly crowded world is unavoidable, and move on from there.

Dec. 1 deadline for comment on Columbia Basin fishing proposals

FISHING — Proposed changes to fishing rules for the Columbia River Basin are open to written public comment through Dec. 1 in an extension announced by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Proposals include:  

  • Closing all rivers, streams and beaver ponds in the Columbia River Basin to fishing unless otherwise stated in the rules pamphlet, and implement additional conservation measures to provide greater protection for juvenile anadromous fish.
  • Changing open dates for most year-round lakes to March 1 through Oct. 31 for lakes in Asotin, Franklin, Kittitas, Yakima and Walla Walla counties.
  • Eliminating the retention of sturgeon on the Snake River and its tributaries. Catch-and-release sturgeon fishing would be maintained.
  •  Modifying the definition of “Fly Fishing only” waters to include the lines used in Tenkara fly fishing gear.
  • Changing walleye statewide rules to a minimum size of 12 inches and a daily limit of 8 fish.
  • Eliminating chumming rules on Lake Rufus Woods.
  • Changing catch-and-release steelhead fishing rules in southeastern Washington streams, including the Grande Ronde, to require more hatchery steelhead to be kept.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposals at its Dec. 12-13 meeting in Olympia.

The commission, which sets policy for WDFW, is scheduled to take action on the proposed rule changes in a January meeting.

Fisheries managers have recommended 32 of the proposals submitted by the public and staff in May move forward for additional review. 

A department webpage has more information about the proposals as well as those not recommended for further consideration.

Appalachian Trail tale tops 2014 Outdoor Book Awards

OUTDOOR READING — They call her Grandma Gatewood.  She carries an umbrella, wears a checked skirt, and she loves to hike. 

In fact, she is the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.  After her first 2,000-mile hike, she did it again, becoming the first person - man or woman - to hike it twice.  And then for good measure, she hiked it a third time.

Grandma Gatewood is the subject of a new book which is one of the award recipients of the 2014 National Outdoor Book Awards, announced today.

The awards program is sponsored by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Idaho State University and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.

Her remarkable Appalachian Trail hikes took place in the 1950's and 60's, and they would have been largely forgotten had it not been for Ben Montgomery who chronicled her life in “Grandma Gatewood's Walk.”

“Montgomery is a first rate story teller,” said Ron Watters, the chairman of the Awards program.  “He weaves the facts of her life into a moving narrative.  We really come to know and understand this amazing woman who found deliverance in the simple act of walking.”

Montgomery's book is the winner of the History/Biography category, one of ten categories which make up the National Outdoor Book Awards. 

The winner of the Outdoor Literature category is “Small Feet, Big Land.”  Authored by Erin McKittrick, the book is about her family and their experiences in Alaska.  She and her husband Hig, and her two children live in a 450-square foot yurt near Seldovia in the Southcentral portion of the state.  McKittrick writes of her family's endeavors on wilderness hikes, visits to remote Arctic villages, and their stay for two months atop one of the world's largest glaciers. 

“It's a beautifully written account,” said Watters.  “It is, quite simply, what exceptional outdoor literature is all about: an honest, perceptive, and graceful account of life close to nature.” 

One of the winning books this year received two awards.  “Life on the Rocks” won the Nature & Environment Category and also tied for first place in the Design & Artistic Merit Category.  This double win represents the first time in the history of the National Outdoor Books that a title entered in two categories has won both. 

“Life on the Rocks,” written and photographed by wildlife biologist Bruce L. Smith, is all about mountain goats: their habitat, life cycle, behavior, and the challenges they face in an Alpine environment. 

“This is a stunning book,” said Watters, “with dramatic photographs of mountain goats perched on rocky outcrops.  From the very first page, Smith draws us into, and shares with us, that unique high mountain world inhabited by those resplendent white creatures.”

The other winning book in the Design category is “Salt: Coastal and Flats Fishing.”  It's a coffee table sized book richly illustrated with photographs by Andy Anderson and accompanied with essays by noted fishing expert Tom Rosenbauer.  The Design judges were impressed.  At least two of the judges labeled Anderson's photography as “dazzling.”

“Anderson's artistic and dramatic photos combined with an equally dazzling design has created a book that is utterly exhilarating in its depiction of the sport of coastal fishing” Watters said.

Winning the children's category is a book about a mother and son taking a short, early morning canoe trip.  The book, for the 4 to 8 year age group, is entitled “Good Morning Loon” and is written by Elizabeth Varnai and illustrated by Kate Hartley.

The story is told through the eyes of the boy.  While canoeing across a lake, the two spot fascinating wildlife:  a frog, mergansers, beaver, osprey, and a great blue heron.  Just before they are ready to turn back, they finally come across what the boy was hoping to see: a loon.

“It's an enchanting story,” said Watters, “and educational.  With each new discovery, the boy learns a little more about the natural world.  It's a perfect bedtime read.”

Here is a list of the 2014 winners. 

Outdoor Literature.  Winner.  “Small Feet, Big Land:  Adventure, Home and Family on the Edge of Alaska.”  By Erin McKittrick.  Mountaineers Books, Seattle. 

Natural History Literature.  Winner.  “The Small Heart of Things: Being at Home in a Beckoning World.”  By Julian Hoffman.  The University of Georgia Press, Athens. 

History/Biography.  Winner.  “Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail.”  By Ben Montgomery.  Chicago Review Press, Chicago. 

Classic Award.  Winner.  “Not Without Peril: 150 Years of Misadventure on the Presidential Range of New Hampshire.”  By Nicholas Howe. Appalachian Mountain Club Books, Boston. 

Nature & Environment.  Winner.  (Also tied for first place in the Design & Artistic Merit category).  “Life on the Rocks:  A Portrait of the American Mountain Goat.”  Written and photographed by Bruce L. Smith.  University Press of Colorado, Boulder, CO. 

Nature and the Environment.  Honorable Mention.  “Feathers: A Beautiful Look at a Bird's Most Unique Feature.”  By Stan Tekiela.  Adventure Publications, Cambridge, MN. 

Design & Artistic Merit.  Winner.  “Salt:  Coastal and Flats Fishing.”  Photographs by Andy Anderson.  Essays by Tom Rosenbauer.  Rizzoli International Publications, New York.

Children's Category.  Winner.  “Good Morning Loon.”  By Elizabeth S. Varnai.  Illustrated by Kate Hartley.  Vista Court Books, New Hope PA.

Outdoor Adventure Guidebooks.  Winner.  “Chattahoochee River User's Guide by Joe Cook.”  University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA.

Nature Guidebooks.  Winner.  “The Warbler Guide.”  By Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle.  Princeton University Press, Princeton. 

Instructional Category.  Winner.  “Training for the New Alpinism:  A Manual for the Climber as Athlete.”  By Steve House and Scott Johnston.  Patagonia Books, Ventura, CA. 

Instructional Category.  Honorable Mention.  “Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod & Reel.”  By Yvon Chouinard, Craig Mathews and Mauro Mazzo.  Paintings by James Prosek.  Patagonia Books, Ventura, CA.

Work of Significance.  “Fieldbook: Scouting's Manual of Basic and Advanced Skills for Outdoor Adventure.”  By Robert Birkby. Boy Scouts of America , Irving, TX.

Steelheading success picks up in Hanford Reach

FISHING — Better news for steelheaders in the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River in this report from Paul Hoffarth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist in the Tri-Cities:

Over the past six weeks an estimated 574 hatchery steelhead have been harvested in the Hanford Reach.  Steelhead fishing picked up during the past two weeks after having been very slow in October.  WDFW staff interviewed 139 anglers last week that reported 68 steelhead caught, 62 of these were hatchery origin (adipose clipped). Anglers averaged a steelhead for every 3.3 hours of fishing. An estimated 219 hatchery steelhead were harvested during the week. 

The Columbia River is open to fishing for hatchery steelhead upstream to the wooden powerline towers at the old Hanford townsite through March 31, 2015.  On Thanksgiving a second section of the Hanford Reach will open for steelhead fishing, Vernita Bridge (Hwy 24 bridge) upstream to Priest Rapids Dam.

Ice fishermen tap mobile phone apps

FISHING — The sudden rush of below-freezing temperatures reminds us that ice-fishing season isn't far off.

Time to starting gearing up; make sure the ice auger blades are sharp.

Cold weather is the bane of high-tech gadgets, but some companies are offering interesting stuff, especially geared to portions of the country where anglers cozy up in elaborate shelters and where state rules allow anglers to fish through multiple holes.

  • In Washington, anglers may not Fish with a rod not under your immediate control,
    or leave your gear unattended. Anglers are restricted to one rod unless that angler possesses a two pole endorsement and the lake being fished allows two poles.   Winter-only fishing lakes in the Spokane area (Hog Canyon and Fourth of July) allow two poles for those possessing a two-pole endorsement.  Other lakes do, too, but not all of them. Check the regulations pamphlet for each lake. Those lakes where two poles are not allowed are marked as such with an emblem showing two crossed fishing poles with the word NO above it (all highlighted in yellow).
  • In most of Idaho, there are no restrictions on the number of holes, but an angler can fish with up to five poles or lines at a time, and up to five hooks per line. The fishing setups must be attended.

But check this out, cold-weather techies: Products offered by a company called  ICE FORCE include the MarCum PanCam underwater camera unit, which syncs to anglers’ mobile devices through an app that allows them to monitor multiple holes at once via a live video feed.

Check out the video demonstration:

Last chance to comment on game management plan

HUNTING — Trends in controversial issues such as big-game baiting, lead shot restrictions and wolf management are mapped out in Washington's draft 2015-21 Game Management Plan that was revised in October.

The plan is online and available for public comment through Monday,  Nov. 17.

The plan, which must be approved by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, will guide the Washington’s game-management policy over the next six years.

Dave Ware, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife game manager, said the revised plan includes a number of changes proposed by the public during the initial comment period.  Key issues addressed by those changes include predator/prey relationships, deer and elk predation, and wolf, cougar and bear management, he said.

“These changes were significant enough that we wanted to give the public another chance to comment on the plan before we recommend it to the commission,” Ware said.  The commission is scheduled to consider adoption of the plan during a public meeting in December.

The main issues identified by the public were categorized into several key areas:
• Scientific/professional management of hunted wildlife
• Public support for hunting as a management tool
• Hunter ethics and fair chase
• Private lands programs and hunter access
• Tribal hunting
• Predator management
• Hunting season regulations
• Game damage and nuisance
• Species-specific management issues

New issues or emphasis areas that surfaced during the initial comment period and meetings include:

• Wildlife Conflict Management
• Recruitment & Retention of Hunters
• Disease Impacts
• Non-toxic Ammunition
• Re-introduction of pronghorn
• Wolf Management

Note: The Game Management Plan is separate at this point from the three-year package of hunting regulations proposals for  2015-17. The deadline for comment on the initial proposals ended earlier this fall.

However, the hunting regulations proposals touch on some of the same topics, including possible restrictions on baiting for big game.

Other issues under consideration by the department for upcoming seasons include:

  • Setting spring and fall black bear seasons.
  • Early archery elk seasons.
  • Modern firearm mule deer seasons.
  • Hunting equipment, including non-toxic ammunition, expandable broadheads and crossbows.
  • Special permit drawings.

Specific recommendations for 2015-17 hunting seasons will be drafted and available for further review in January. 

Final recommendations will be presented to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for adoption next spring.

 

Feds list Gunnison sage grouse threatened

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Gunnison sage grouse will be listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today.

The listing was a downgrade from an earlier agency recommendation — and an acknowledgement of work by Native American tribes and private land owners in Colorado and Utah to cut the threats to the bird in an effort to avoid an endangered listing, according to a Salt Lake Tribune story by Brett Prettyman.

“Efforts by Utah and Colorado, private landowners and tribes have reduced the threats to the bird,” said wildlife service director Dan Ashe. “These investments and protections that have been put in place will pay enormous dividends in the future.”

Wednesday’s announcement left conservationists and state wildlife managers disappointed, but for different reasons. Utah wildlife officials want no federal protection and the wildlife conservation groups want the endangered listing.

The listing comes with an option for a special rule that allows federal officials to relax some ESA restrictions to allow ranchers, farmers and landowners in Colorado and Utah committed to grouse conservation to continue their practies without new restrictions.

Gunnison sage grouse were recognized as a separate species from Greater sage grouse in 2000 and were soon after designated as a candidate for listing under the ESA.

A small percentage of the estimated 4,700 Gunnison sage grouse population inhabits two areas in San Juan County near Monticello. The majority of the birds live in southwestern Colorado.

Conservation advocates say “threatened” status does not provide enough protection for the birds.

“Imperiled by irresponsible grazing, oil and gas drilling, residential development, roads, powerlines and the cumulative impacts of these threats, the fewer than 5,000 remaining Gunnison sage grouse need the strongest possible protections to ensure they survive and recover,” said Erik Molvar, wildlife biologist with WildEarth Guardians. “The science is clear: This spectacular dancing bird is endangered and should be afforded the highest level of protection.”

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Director Greg Sheehan, however, says more can be done to protect the birds without a federal listing.

“Placing the bird under the oversight of the federal government will greatly reduce our ability to help the bird,” Sheehan said. “Putting the bird under the management authority of the federal government will create roadblocks that will make it difficult to complete work to help the species.”

While Utah and Colorado have provided impressive efforts to restore the species, Ashe said the Fish and Wildlife Service is bound to make listing decisions based on the best available science.

“The law asked us to consider the current and foreseeable future,” Ashe said. “We believe the best science points that while not facing an emminent risk of extinction, which would warrant an endangered listing, that a threatened listing under the Endangered Species Act is the appropriate conclusion.”

Colorado governor John Hickenlooper indicated earlier this week his state would sue if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the grouse as endangered or threatened.

The birds, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, were historically found in the Four Corners area of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.

Gunnison sage grouse are about 1/3 smaller than Greater sage grouse and males show distinct, white barring on their tail feathers.

 

Cold weather gives late buck hunters a break

HUNTING — The cold snap sending shivers through the region is a boon to hunters out for Eastern Washington's late buck hunt, which runs in selected units through Nov. 19.

“It was 9 degrees this morning and the deer were moving,” said my hunting buddy John Elliason in a text message with the photo above from his hunt in northeastern Washington.

11.8-pound record coho caught in Clearwater

FISHING —  Idaho Falls angler Steve Micek landed an 11.8-pound coho from the Clearwater River on Sunday, Nov. 9, to set an Idaho state record for ocean-run coho salmon.

The catch tops the record set last month as Idaho's first designated coho season kicked off in the Clearwater. Both record fish were caught by anglers casting spoons.

Here's the scoop on the new record from Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune:

An Idaho Falls man caught an 11.8-pound coho that is a pending state record on his last cast into the Clearwater River this weekend.

If verified by record keepers at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Steve Micek will end the short reign of Moscow’s Ethan Crawford as Idaho’s coho king.

Micek landed the fish while casting a KO Wobbler Spoon for steelhead Sunday near Orofino. He was fishing with his son, Greg Micek, who saw an article last month about Crawford’s 9.4-pound coho, which set a record in the opening weekend of Idaho’s first-ever sport fishing season for coho. The younger Micek speculated they might have a shot at the record if they got into coho.

“My response was, ‘Yeah right,’ ” Steve Micek said.

They did find some coho, but the fish were in poor shape.

“Most of the ones we saw were pretty well beat up,” he said. “They had been spawning heavily. The tails were damaged, the sides were damaged, but this fish was really clean, like it just arrived,” he said.

The father-son fishing team landed a few female cohos and had good luck with steelhead during their weekend trip to the Clearwater. Late Sunday morning, they decided to quit for the day and head for home rather than wait for the afternoon bite.

“I said I was going to take a few more casts and, on the second cast, I hooked this fish,” he said.

The coho hit hard and pulled strong, but didn’t fight for long.

“I wish I could say it hard-boiled me across the river, but it didn’t,”

Steve Micek said.

It was the first male they landed and required a quick consult with the World Wide Web to verify it was indeed a coho.

“There are so many chinook in the water you have to be really careful,” he said.

 From there, he had the fish measured at the department’s check station and then headed to Harvest Foods to have it weighed on a certified scale. He then had the species verified by Conservation Officer John McClain.

Micek is in the process of filling out the record application and plans to mail the package to Boise. If everything is in order there, he will hold the state record.

Idaho opened the Clearwater River to coho fishing Oct. 17, following a surprisingly large return of the fish declared functionally extinct from the Snake River basin in 1985. The Nez Perce Tribe started a coho recovery program in 1995, using eggs from coho that return to tributaries of the lower Columbia River. After making steady progress, the run hit new highs this fall. Through Monday, more than 17,800 coho were counted crossing Lower Granite Dam. Anglers have caught about 80 coho since the start of the season, which runs through Sunday.

Veterans’ sign-up for CdA bald eagle cruise Friday

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A special cruise boat is being reserved for veterans, military personnel and their families for a tour on Lake Coeur d'Alene on Nov. 29 to view the annual congregation of bald eagles that come to feast on spawning kokanee.

The yearly event is so popular, two tours will be offered, advance registration is required and priority will be given to veterans, active military personnel and their families who have not previously joined one of the cruises, said Suzanne Endsley, Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman.

The BLM, in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, offers the Veteran’s Eagle Watch Cruise on Wolf Lodge Bay free of charge. Registration is required and party size is limited to six persons.   

Reservations will be accepted by telephone starting Friday at 7:45 a.m.

Reservation can be made for either the morning cruise that departs at 10 a.m. and returns by noon or the afternoon cruise that sails at 1 p.m. and returns by 3 p.m. from the Coeur d’Alene Resort Lake Cruises boat dock located on the east end of the Resort.

The general public can book eagle-watching cruises with Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises, (208) 765-2300 ext. 5623. The boats will run weekends Dec. 6-28 and Monday-Friday from Dec. 26 to Jan. 4.

The two-hour cruises cost $15-$23, with the cheaper tickets for kids and seniors.

Biologist opposes detail in catch-and-release proposals for Grande Ronde steelhead

FISHING — Comment are due on Dec. 1 for a proposed a rule that would require anglers to keep all hatchery steelhead they catch on most of southeastern Washington, including the Grande Ronde with the exception of the first 2.5 miles up from the mouth.

See story here for the explanation of why the state is seeking the rule change.

To say the least, the proposal is causing a lot of discussion among anglers:

  • Catch-and-release enthusiasts would see good fishing days shortened if they had to stop after the second or third hatchery fish was taken into possession as required.
  • Wild steelhead advocates say anglers should participate in the effort to keep hatchery steelhead from fouling the spawning areas of wild steelhead.

Check out this and other proposals and make comments online.

Zero in the the stream strategy proposals here.   Look under Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, Walla Walla, and Whitman counties.

Some anglers are confused as to why the proposed rule would be more lenient on catch-and-release fishing in the 2.5 miles of the Grande Ronde up from its mouth to the county bridge.

Glen Mendel, a recently retired Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist who devoted much of his career to steelhead in southeastern Washington waters, supports catch and release in the lower section of the Grande Ronde but opposes the rule as proposed

He says he supports continuing catch-and-release in the lower Grande Ronde.  “I am recommending against harvest in the lower 2.5 miles,” he said.  

To help anglers understand what's at stake, he put together the following explanation of his thoughts on the proposal. Read them ALL THE WAY TO THE END.

(Slide through the images above to see the graphics to which he refers in his text.)

As the recently retired fish management biologist for SE WA, I would like to provide some perspective regarding the current steelhead regulations in the lower 2.5 miles of the Grande Ronde River, as well as explain why I don’t think the regulations should change there to allow retention of steelhead.

In the 1970s, steelhead returns to SE WA were very poor and restrictions (including closures) were put in place in an effort to protect wild steelhead populations.  Public meetings occurred regarding steelhead regulations and fishery options for the Grande Ronde River within Washington.  Anglers were in disagreement, with some anglers wanting only catch and release fisheries and others wanting harvest opportunities.  These meetings were apparently contentious.  The lower  2 ½ miles set up as a catch and release fishery for steelhead as early as 1975, and later in the mid 1980s the remainder of the river was opened to provide opportunities to harvest returning hatchery steelhead produced as part of the Lower Snake River Compensation program in WA and OR.   Suggestions regarding changing the steelhead fishing regulations in the Grande Ronde have continued to come in nearly every year by various fishing interests that propose either allowing harvest throughout the entire Grande Ronde River within WA, or changing it all to catch and release and/ or fly fishing only.

The current fishing opportunities have proven to be popular and the Grande Ronde steelhead fisheries in southeast Washington (SE WA) attract anglers from all over the northwest and the nation (see figs. 1, and 2 from WDFW for anglers interviewed in both the upper portion of the Grande Ronde River in WA, and Fig. 3 from the lower 2 ½ miles).  These fisheries are nationally renowned and promoted in most regional and national fishing magazines.  Anglers are known to stay to fish the Grande Ronde for 3-30 consecutive days.  Therefore, it should be obvious that the Grande Ronde steelhead fisheries provide substantial contributions to the state and local economies.              

Many anglers are attracted to the relatively unique steelhead fishing opportunities in the lower 2 ½ miles of the Grande Ronde River (from the mouth to the County Road Bridge), plus many (~39% in 2013) of those anglers have extended fishing trips of 7 days or longer in this area (Figure 3).  This lower river section is bordered on both sides by easy road and river access, plus it is relatively close to population centers at Lewiston, ID, and Asotin and Clarkston, WA.  This area is also adjacent to fishery areas on the Snake River and upper portions of the Grande Ronde (within WA and OR) that allow harvest opportunities and provide other steelhead fishery options (e.g. use of drift boats on both rivers, and power boats on the Snake River) that are not available in the lower zone of the Grande Ronde.  Quality steelhead fishing exists on the lower 2 ½ miles of the Grande Ronde River during September through early November, with some anglers having reported catching as many as 10-20 steelhead in a single day there.  Few holes and preferred fishing areas exist in this 2 ½ miles and fishing can be crowded at times during the peak fall months.  This zone provides a highly valued, quality, fishing experience for steelhead anglers because of its lower river location where fish tend to stack up, its close proximity to other adjacent fishing areas with different fishing opportunities, and its regulations that require selective gear catch and release fishing.  The proposed change to the regulations and the fishery in this zone of the Grande Ronde River is not necessary to allow harvest or to try to maintain consistency of the mandatory hatchery steelhead retention requirement  because the fishing regulations in this 2 ½ mile zone of the Grande Ronde will not make, break, or substantially contribute to, recovery or restoration of wild steelhead populations as it comprises less than 1% of all the river miles open for steelhead fishing within SE WA (including the Snake, Grande Ronde, Tucannon, Touchet and Walla Walla rivers). 

However, current regulations do provide a highly valued and unique steelhead fishing opportunity in SE WA.  This area should continue to be managed as it is under current regulations to provide a quality fishery and to provide different fishery experiences within about a 5-10 mile radius of the mouth of the Grande Ronde.  It is not uncommon for Fish and Wildlife agencies to attempt to provide different types of hunting or fishing opportunities for the public by changing the timing and area of open seasons, as well as adjusting the gear type or harvest regulations to address the desires of different hunting or fishing publics.  Not all these types of changes are intended as conservation actions. 

As examples of efforts to create different opportunities, different hunting seasons and regulations (e.g. archery, muzzleloader and modern firearm) are offered to meet different management objectives and public hunting preferences in WA, plus about 35 miles away from the lower Grande Ronde the Idaho Department of Fish and Game provides catch and release steelhead fisheries each year in the lower Clearwater River until October 15 in order to maintain a highly valued, and relatively unique, fishing experience prior to opening that area for crowds and harvest.

I strongly recommend that WDFW reconsider the proposed change and maintain the current steelhead regulations and the catch and release steelhead fishery in the lower Grande Ronde River.  I see no need to change the current regulations for that lower zone. 

I am very concerned that allowing harvest in this 2 ½ mile zone, with its easy access on both sides of the river, limited number of preferred fishing areas available, and the very large crowds of anglers that take up residence during the fall months in adjacent areas at Heller Bar (as well as within a 30 minute to 4 hour drive) would likely destroy this great fishery and a great combination of adjacent fishing opportunities that currently satisfy differing recreational fisheries. 

This area is likely to become very crowded under the proposed harvest option and it may increase the frequency of angler disputes there. 

I recommend maintaining the current very high quality, and highly valued, catch and release fishery in the lower 2 ½ miles of the Grande Ronde River, at least during the three primary fall fishing months of September, October and November.

State buys wildlife land, updates rules on work near waters

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to buy more 4-0 Ranch land along the Grande Ronde River and updated rules for work that impacts state waters during a meeting last week in Olympia.

The commission approved the purchase of 2,005 acres of riparian and high meadow lands in Asotin County, the latest deal in a six-phase decade-long real estate program to buy nearly 12,000 acres of the Odom/4-O Land & Livestock, LLC.

The land will be purchased with $3.6 million in state and federal funding and be added to the the 6,431 acres the state already has acquired from rancher Milt (Mike) Odom II. The funding sources include the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office and a grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is acquiring the land to expand the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area of the Blue Mountains Wildlife Area Complex and preserve critical habitat for threatened salmon, steelhead and trout, as well as deer, bighorn sheep and elk.

The new acquisition, when closed with the 4-O Land & Livestock, LLC, will include a mile-long section of the Grande Ronde River and stretches 1.5 miles on either side of Wenatchee Creek.

“This acquisition contains some of the best wildlife mosaic currently available. Historically, the property has been managed as a working ranch with a focus on wildlife habitat providing trophy big game hunting opportunities. Management practices include scattered dry land farming, moderate cattle grazing and timber production. The value of this property includes riparian habitats beneficial to endangered fish species and forestland and high meadow complexes beneficial to ungulates including bighorn sheep, deer and elk,” said Julie Sandberg, WDFW real estate manager.

Past stories related to the 4-0 Ranch acquisitions include:

The commission also approved dozens of changes in the statewide hydraulics rules during a public meeting on Friday and Saturday. Common projects requiring approval under the state's hydraulic rules include work on bulkheads, culverts, piers and docks.

Miranda Wecker, who chairs the commission, said the revised hydraulic code rules reflect developments in environmental science, technology, and state law since the last comprehensive update in 1994.

The updated rules also “reflect the department's efforts to streamline the application process for permits required to conduct work in and around state waters,” she said.

Some of the rules proposed by WDFW set new standards for projects ranging from culvert design to decking materials that allow light to penetrate to the water below. Others clarify existing policies, including a statewide ban on the use of creosote in aquatic areas.