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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Poster reminds dog owners to bag it

PUBLIC LANDS — Looks like Spokane isn't the only city in the USA where people think it's OK to let their dogs leave calling cards wherever the urge strikes.

Cayuse Pass, Mount Rainier ready for travelers

PARKS — Cayuse Pass, the scenic route to Mount Rainier, is open and ready for traffic.  And the park is ready, too, as the Paradise area opened on Wednesday.

If you've never driven Highway 410 over Cayuse Pass you're in for a treat: Mount Rainier looks like it's going to smack you on the lips.

Click here for updates on current conditions at Mount Rainier National Park or go to the Visit Rainier tourist information site.

Snow still plugs Mount Spokane summit road

STATE PARKS — Roads and trails are clearing at Mount Spokane, but there's still plenty of snow in the upper elevations and timber.

Warren Walker rode his bike Thursday and was able to accumulate 8,000 feet of climbing — but he wasn't able to pedal all the way to the top of the mountain.

“The Summit Road is still snowed in,” he said in a post with the photo above.

Washington seeks ideas on transforming outdoor recreation

The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation is accepting comments and ideas on how to engage and transform outdoor recreation throughout Washington. 

This effort, launched by Gov. Jay Inslee, involves state parks as well as other state lands, including wildlife areas.

Best to pay attention here. Your input is important.  

Please comment here. 


Unethical marksmen shooting sport in the foot

SHOOTING — Shooters have a widespread issue to deal with, regardless of their perspective on the mind-boggling surge in firearms sales in recent years and movements that have liberalized the application of firearms in national parks and college campuses.

No one can deny that there's an unethical element out there trashing public and private lands with their makeshift shooting ranges.

Most recently, the jerks have eliminated places to shoot in Spokane County and they're on the verge of eliminating a traditional shooting site in Idaho's Kootenai County.

It's little solace to learn that Canada is having the same issues:

Makeshift shooting ranges in S. Alberta anger cattle ranchers
Target shooters are setting up targets around southern Alberta, putting ranchers, their herds and backcountry hikers and riders at risk of stray bullets, but law enforcement officials said there few regulations on firearms in Kananaskis Country, making shutting down such ranges difficult.
— Calgary Herald



Yellowstone Park roads opening to vehicles

PARKS – Snowplows at Yellowstone National Park opened the main road into Old Faithful over the weekend, marking the beginning of the spring tourist season.

The East Entrance is scheduled to open May 2 and the South Entrance May 9. 

Volunteer for Palisades Park cleanup Saturday

TRAILS – Volunteers are needed for the annual Palisades Park Cleanup starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Meet at the intersection of Greenwood, Rimrock and Basalt roads.

A tailgate party lunch for volunteers is set for noon.

The city park, which is near Indian Canyon, features Rimrock Drive, now a non-motorized route overlooking Spokane, plus hiking trails in a natural conservation area.

RSVP: membership@palisadesnw.com.

Deep Creek hike has potential for discovery

HIKING — My story about the visual pleasures of day hiking in April was published in the Sunday Outdoors section.  One of the hikes mentioned was Deep Creek Canyon in Riverside State Park.

As if to emphasize the timeliness of hiking that area, Crystal Gartner and members of the Upper Columbia River Group of Sierra Club were on the trail finding more to see than spring wildflowers.

If nesting bald eagles might tickle your fancy, take this hike — No. 82 in Day Hiking Eastern Washington — and be sure to hike all the way to the benches on Pine Bluff.

Hint:  Bring binoculars!

Banff Park to close road at night to protect wildlife

WILDLIFE — Canada is taking a bold step to protect Banff National Park wildlife from the most common killer of critters:

Parks Canada to implement overnight travel restriction in Banff NP
As first recommended in the two-year, $2-million Banff Bow Valley Study in 1997, Parks Canada has announced that it will implement seasonal travel restrictions on the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park in Alberta that will close 10.5 miles of the nearly 30-mile highway from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. between March 1 and June 25 to give wildlife undisturbed space in the spring.
Rocky Mountain Outlook;

Great winter walking on plowed Rimrock Drive

HIKING — Spokane has a choice snow-free place for a winter walk at Palisades City Park thanks to a maintenance issue that prompted plowing of Rimrock Drive overlooking Spokane Falls Community College area.

After Monday's snow storm, Fairchild Air Force Base crews plowed the road, which is gated to prevent public vehicle traffic. The Air Force has a pump in the area that delivers water from the Spokane River to the base.

Cross-country skiers out to take advantage of the rare winter windfall were disappointed to see the mostly snow-free pavement on Wednesday, but the rare plowing event is a boon for winter walking on a flat surface with one of the best views you'll find overlooking Spokane.

The trailhead is off Greenwood Road up from Indian Canyon Road. (See Hike 78 in Day Hiking Eastern Washington.) 

Outdoor historic places saved-lost in 2013

Montana sites make national list of historic places saved, lost
The National Trust for Historic Preservation released a list of 10 sites saved and 10 lost in 2013, with the Upper Missouri River Breaks in Central Montana making the saved list, and Pompey's Pillar in Montana, making the lost list due to vandalism that occurred in October during the government shutdown.

— New York Times

Yellowstone reports first gun-related death in 35 years

PARKS — A 3-year-old girl camping with her family in Yellowstone National Park died after shooting herself with a handgun on Saturday, the first gun-related death in park since 1978, according to the Associated Press.

The shooting, reported by the Casper Star Tribune, occurred four years after Congress approved the possession of handguns in National Parks and federal wildlife areas. The law, which was attached as an amendment to a credit card bill, allows concealed and loaded weapons in parks provided they are allowed by state law.

Related stories:

Yellowstone’s tallest geyser blows for first time in 8 years

PARKS — It's not the most faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park, but on the rare occasion that it blows, it's the world's tallest.

Steamboat Geyser erupted on Wednesday for the first time in more than eight years.

The nine-minute blast sent steaming hot water an estimated 200 to 300 feet in the air, park geologist Hank Heasler said.

Unlike the park’s popular and famous Old Faithful geyser, which spews water like clockwork every hour-and-a-half, no one knows when Steamboat will erupt next.

In the past, it’s gone as long as 50 years without a major event. In 1964, it erupted a record 29 times. The last blast came in 2005.

Steamboat is one of more than 500 geysers at Yellowstone, which boasts the largest collection of hydrothermal features in the world.

The geyser is in a popular viewing area known as the Norris Geyser Basin. According to the Associated Press, its eruption at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday drew dozens of excited onlookers who were at the right place at the right time, said Robb Long, a freelance photographer from Sioux Falls, S.D., who was visiting the park with his fiance and her family.

“It was an amazing experience. This thing sounded like a locomotive,” Long told AP. “Everybody was frantic, taking pictures. People were running down there trying to get to it before it went away, and park rangers were running around trying to gather up people so they didn’t get too close.”

Yellowstone’s geysers are fueled by cold water that feeds into a natural underground plumbing network, where heat from the park’s volcano forces chemical-laden water to the surface and causes the periodic eruptions, Heasler said.

Early accounts of Steamboats eruptions came from first-hand observations, with the first recorded in 1878. 

Mount Rainier facilities opening earlier than normal

PUBLIC LANDS — The recent summer weather around the Pacific Northwest has melted snow and allowed for Mount Rainier National Park staff to open multiple facilities ahead of schedule.

The Sunrise Road, Sunrise Lodge and Sunrise Visitor Center all opened to the public Friday, according to Mount Rainier Superintendent Randy King.

Other openings that are ahead of schedule include Cougar Rock Campground, Narada Falls Trail and White River Campground, which also opened on Friday. Mowich Lake Road is set to open Wednesday.

The other areas in the park already open include Ohanapecosh, Paradise, Longmire and Carbon River.

Geese fouling Lewiston-Clarkston beaches

WILDLIFE — Asotin resident Charlotte Tuttle detoured from the usual Asotin County Commissioners meeting Monday to let them know what's on the mind — and feet — of people visiting parks along the Snake River near Lewiston and Clarkston:

“We’ve got goose poop up to our ankles and mandates up to our eyeballs,” Tuttle said, according to the Lewiston Tribune.

Tuttle said there are so many geese along the river near Swallows Park that people can no longer swim at the park or walk on the bike path without encountering gobs of goose waste.

Butch Aiken - emergency services director for the county - said anytime there’s a trouble-making goose in the Seattle-Tacoma area, it’s brought to eastern Washington, and now those geese are causing problems on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property near the river.

Children cannot swim at Swallows Park because it’s contaminated by the geese, Aiken said.

Residents asked the commissioners to explore possible solutions, such as allowing people to hunt geese during a certain time period.

“It’s worth looking into,” said Asotin County Commissioner Jim Fuller.

Slip on snow kills Washington hiker in Glacier Park

HIKING — A Washington man hiking early season in Glacier National Park slipped on a snowfield and fell about 100 feet to his death on Wednesday.

Charles Fred Huseman of Packwood died from trauma suffered in the fall from the Highline Trail, which was still closed because of the snow patches leading to steep dropoffs.

Witnesses told park rangers that Huseman was hiking the trail when he slid on a snow field and fell, landing along the Going-to-the-Sun Road about a mile west of Logan Pass. Huseman died at the scene. 

Comment:  An ice ax is essential equipment for hiking high slopes and passes early in the season.

Boating facilities open early at Post Falls

BOATING – Below normal spring runoff has allowed Avista to stabilize Lake Coeur d’Alene at summer levels and expand boating opportunities about a week earlier than normal.

The Spokane River was opened Wednesday to recreation between the Spokane Street Bridge and the boater safety cables upstream of the Post Falls Dam.

The Post Falls boat launch and swim beach at Q’emiln Park also has opened.

 You can also check weather and water flow information on the Avista Utilities website.

Spokane conservationist Robbi Castleberry, dead at 80

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UPDATED WITH VIDEO 5:45 p.m. on June 11, 2013

CONSERVATION — Robbi Castleberry, a pillar of Spokane-area conservation efforts since the 1970s, died today of an apparent cardiac arrest in her home near Indian Canyon, her husband, Vic, has confirmed.

Castleberry, 80, was on the original city-county committee that spearheaded development of the Spokane River Centennial Trail.

Her many conservation leadership roles include her current committee services for the Spokane County Conservation Futures Program. She's been the energizer behind the improvements and additions to the city's Palisades Park and the closure of Rimrock Drive so it could be enjoyed by walkers and bicyclists.

“Robbi was involved with groups like the Backcountry Horsemen and the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club, and when it came to issues such as trails and river access she could be counted on as an absolute driving force to keep them open for all users,” said Julia McHugh, another original member of the Centennial Trail committee. 

Memorial service arrangements are pending.

Oregon town still struggling with geese in parks

WILDLIFE — An infestation of Canada geese has been converting  portions of Bend, Ore., parks into latrines for years. Frustrated parks staff and health officials raised the ire of animal rights activists when they killed about a hundred geese a few years ago — probably some of the same folks who at turkey at Thanksgiving.

So the battle continues.  Read on how everything from vegetable oil to kayaks is being used to control the problem.

Volunteers to give key outdoor sites TLC this weekend

PUBLIC LANDS — Volunteers are planning to pick up and spruce up a couple of prized outdoors recreation features in the Spokane area this weekend.

Unveil the (Centennial) Trail, Saturday (April 20), 9 a.m.-noon

About 350 volunteers have pre-registered for the annual clean-up, working in sections to cover the entire 37.5-mile Centennial Trail from the stateline to Nine Mile Falls. The trail attracts two million visits a year.

Dishman Hills Service Day, Sunday (April 21), 9 a.m.-noon

Volunteers are signing up for the annual Earth Day cleanup and trail work in the Dishman Hills Natural Resource Conservation Area in Spokane Valley based out of Camp Caro. Organized by the Dishman Hills Conservancy, new signs and kiosks are set to be installed and trail projects are being planned.

Olympic Park not taking campsite reservations by phone

BACKPACKING — Olympic National Park is accepting reservation requests for wilderness camping areas with overnight use limits by fax or postal mail only. Phone reservations are no longer accepted.

Limits on overnight use in high-use wilderness camp areas are in effect May 1-Sept. 30 to help minimize the impact from humans and provide a quality wilderness experience. Reservations for these sites are recommended, park officials said in a news release.

Reservations for camp areas without overnight use limits are not required and are not accepted. Permits for these areas are not limited and may be picked up at a permit office just before a hike.

A wilderness camping permit is required for all overnight stays in the park’s backcountry areas. Permit fees are $5 to register a group and an additional $2 per person per night for anyone 16 or older. The full permit fee will be charged for all reservations. The fee is nonrefundable.

Overnight use limits are in effect for these high-use wilderness camp areas:

Ozette Coast, Royal Basin/Royal Lake area, Grand Valley and Badger Valley area, Lake Constance, Upper Lena Lake, Flapjack Lakes, Sol Duc/Seven Lakes Basin/Mink Lake area, Hoh Lake and C.B. Flats, Elk Lake and Glacier Meadows and the group and stock camp sites along the Hoh River Trail.

Here's the proceedure:

  • Download the campsite reservation form.
  • Mail reservation requests to Olympic National Park, WIC, 3002 Mt. Angeles Road, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or
  • Fax reservation requests to (360) 565-3108.

 Click here for additional information.

Wash. state parks face grim future under Senate proposal

PARKS — State Parks were hurting when the 2013 Washington Legisature convene, and a bunch of them will be closing if the Senate doesn't scratch up some money to keep these valuable assets solvent.

The state budget as proposed by the Senate on Thursday — SSB 5034 — would CUT the state parks budget by more than $5 million and force the closure of some state parks.

A lot is at stake for Spokane area, where the quality of life is vastly enhanced by Mount Spokane and Riverside state parks, which also manage the Centennial Trail and Little Spokane Natural Area.

But under deep cuts inflicted on the agency over the past few years, Mount Spokane already has no ranger on duty two days a week. That situation would likely get worse under the current budget proposal, not to mention the 30 or so parks that would have to be closed.

The governor’s proposed budget is much kinder to State Parks,” said Cris Currie of the Friends of Mount Spokane State Park.

State Parks needs $27 million from the General Fund to keep the system functioning reasonably, said Jeff Lambert, conservation chair of the Spokane Mountaineers.  At this point, he said, “There is no long-range financial plan for State Parks.”


Wash. state parks celebrates 100 years with free entry Saturday

PARKS — Washington State Parks were founded 100 years ago this month. In one of many treats and celebrations to come this year, the park system has designated Saturday a “free day:” vechicles will not be required to display the Discover Pass to visit a state park.

The State Parks and Recreation Commission selected most of its 2013 “free days” in conjunction with the National Park Service’s free days. State Parks’ remaining free day schedule for 2013 is as follows:
  • March 30 – in honor of Washington State Parks’ 100th birthday month
  • April 27 and 28 – National Parks Week
  • June 1 – National Trails Day
  • June 8 and 9 – National Get Outdoors Day
  • Aug. 4 – Peak season free day
  • Sept. 28 – National Public Lands Day
  • Nov. 9 -11 – Veterans Day weekend.
The “free days” are in keeping with legislation that created the Discover Pass, a $30 annual or $10 one-day permit required on state-managed recreation lands managed by Washington State Parks, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources.

Sequestration curbs plows, delays Yellowstone’s spring opening

PARKS — The giant yellow snowplows that wake Yellowstone from its winter slumber every March are idled, waiting for the sun to make up for federal budget cuts that are forcing the park to open late for peak season.

According to a Washington Post story, mandatory cuts kicked in three days before the plows were to start clearing snow and ice from 300 roads at altitudes that reach 11,000 feet.

Faced with an order from Washington to slice $1.8 million from his budget, the park superintendent, Dan Wenk, had considered his options, and delaying the plows was a better choice than cutting his already barebones staff of rangers and seasonal employees.

National Parks are just one of many agencies weighing choices being forced by the budget reductions known as sequestration.

Saturday’s highlights

At It’s a Soccer Life in Spokane Valley, the Spokane Shadow U13 team practices Monday. The soccer center has an enclosed turf field and a smaller futsal pitch. Weekdays at the center are usually filled with practices and weekends are packed with league play from morning until night. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

It's a sunny if somewhat nippy Monday morning out there, so lets take a look at some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Correspondent Jill Barville checked out a new indoor soccer facility in the Spokane Valley Industrial Park called It's A Soccer Life. The business opened in January and hosts games and practices for area teams.

The city of Spokane Valley got some input on the future of parks in the city during a public meeting last week looking for input on the city's proposed Parks and Recreation Master Plan. A recent survey showed that local residents are most interested in urban trails, splash pads, outdoor aquatic facilities and indoor recreation facilities.

Reporter Nicole Hensley has a story on the newest West Valley School District board member Adam Mortensen, a 1997 West Valley High School graduate. Richard Chan, husband of longtime Front Porch columnist Deborah Chan, has a column about how he has been dealing with his wife's cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The Spokane Valley City Council spent more than two hours talking about the future of trash in the city during their daylong winter retreat last week. They have teamed up with Spokane County to do a study on the costs of various disposal options in the future.  

Video: National parks a hit for Valentines

PUBLIC LANDS — If your recent Valentine's Day didn't go as well as you'd hoped, maybe you need a change of scenery.

When the National Park Service posted an online request for videos and photos of proposals in parks across the country, it had no shortages of replies, as you'll see in the video above.

Editorial points to success of Wildlife & Recreation Program

CONSERVATION — If you use parks, trails or public open spaces in Spokane County, you have been a beneficiary of the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program. (Click on this link and check out the more than impressive projects list under “campaigns.”)

It's a state program worth funding, as today's S-R editorial points out.

Requiem for Bam Bam, park’s head-butting bighorn

WILDLIFE — Bam Bam, the bighorn sheep whose penchant for butting cars made him an international star, died of natural causes in Wyoming last week.  He was believed to be 12.

Bam Bam was the last of the Wheatland-area Sinks Canyon State Park bighorn herd, surviving a plague of pneumonia that wiped out the park’s sheep population in the middle of the last decade. Friends said he loved a scratch on the ear, Doritos and a good head butt.

I don't post this to support anyone's notion that feeding wildlife is a good idea.  It's lucky no one was hurt by this ram.  But I like the rest of the story as described nicely here by Benjamin Storrow in the Star-Tribune.