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Wet your appetite for water sports and Pend Oreille County festival Saturday

WATERSPORTS — Learn more about your favorite water sport and be introduced to a wide variety of new water-based outdoor activities at the Pend Oreille River Water Sports Festival on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the boat launch/water park in Cusick from noon until 8 p.m. 

The festival coincides with the 33-rd annual two-day Poker Paddle.

The festival, organized by the Pend Oreille County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, is FREE and offers a line-up of water sports seminars, demonstrations, agency information booths, food and beverage booths, contests, prizes and live music.

Visit with representatives from Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Boundary Dam Recreation Area, Albeni Falls Recreation Area, Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Pend Oreille River Water Trail Committee, the County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and more.

Check out the offering the county parks department describes:

Food, summer-time snacks and beverages will be available for sale or bring your own picnic basket. Enjoy the lovely riverfront park picnic areas, swimming beach, walking trails and the four live bands that are also scheduled to play throughout the afternoon. As an added feature, this Festival is also the final destination for Day One of the ever popular Poker Paddle and participants will be arriving throughout the afternoon. The awards ceremony will take place at 4:00 p.m.

Sixteen free half-hour seminars are scheduled from noon until 7:30 p.m. Topics include “Making Your Own Fishing Lures”, “Snorkeling and Scuba Diving”, “Waterfowl Hunting”, “Teaching your Kids to Fish”, “Boating Safety”, “Beginning Fly Fishing”, “Paddle-boarding”, “Bass Fishing”, “Kayaking Techniques”, “ The Pend Oreille River Water Trail”, “Water Skiing and Knee Boarding Basics”, “Ice Fishing”, “Purchasing Paddling Watercraft & Equipment”, “Beginning Sailing”, “Lake Fishing in Pend Oreille County” and “Winterizing your Boat”.

Children’s activities will include a Water Safety Photo Booth and Bucky Beaver from the Corps of Engineers and everyone will enjoy day-long demonstrations on how to make survival bracelets from paracord. Bring your duck and goose calls and participate in the duck and goose calling contest. Load up your entire family along with lawn chairs and other summer outdoor necessities and enjoy the day. Activities will take place rain or shine and everyone should be prepared for changeable weather.

The Festival is sponsored by Ben Franklin and Seattle City Light and all proceeds of the festival will be used to promote parks and recreation within Pend Oreille County.

For additional information about the Festival or Poker Paddle contact Mike Lithgow at the Pend Oreille County Community Development Department at 509 447-6457 mlithgow@pendoreille.org.

Northern pike can’t get food stamps

FISHING — An angler took a shot at me in the Sunday Sports Letters regarding my Thursday column updating the northern pike suppression effort on the Pend Oreille River downstream from Newport. 

That's fine. All opinions are welcome.

But he insinuates that I “didn't tell you” something. 

Actually, I expected anglers to understand that if northern pike were left to proliferate in the river with consumption rates of more than 17 million forage fish a year, ultimately they would deplete the food base not only for themselves but also for the largemouth and smallmouth bass that anglers enjoy catching.

Leaving the non-native pike population to go unchecked had a brief window of excitement and prosperity and was already beginning to deteriorate into a lose-lose deal for everyone when pike suppression was enacted.

Fish, wildlife recreation to get boost from Boundary Dam license approval

UPDATE:  State fish managers say the small fish hatchery to be built under this licensing agreement will be devoted to restoring native cutthroat and bull trout.  Fish for stocking in northeast Washington lakes under the agreement will come from existing hatcheries under a contract between the utility and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

RIVERS — The license for Boundary Dam has met the requirements for approval with no appeals submitted, according to Seattle City Light, and that spells the beginning of projects to improve wildlife habitat, recreational facilities and fisheries along the Pend Oreille River.

The license was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in March, but utility officials said today that the final hurdles had been cleared. 

Under the new 42-year license, City Light will be required to mitigate the impacts of the dam to the surrounding environment in Pend Oreille County. These measures include long-term water quality monitoring programs, terrestrial habitat improvements, and wildlife monitoring programs for bald eagles, peregrine falcons and other species.

For example, Mill Pond Dam on Sullivan Creek will be removed under the agreement, clearing the way for fish passage — and kayakers — for the first time since 1909.

A native trout conservation hatchery is planned to raise cutthroats and bull trout that will be planted to help restore the native species in tributaries to the Boundary Reservoir. Required habitat restoration in these tributaries will benefit westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout and mountain whitefish.

Contracts will be signed with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to provide fish of various species from other hatcheries to stock in area lakes.

The utility is required to make avariety of recreational improvements in the Boundary project area including:

  • New recreational trails on the east side of the reservoir.
  • New non-motorized boat access with parking and facilities at the Metaline Falls Portage.
  • Upgrading six dispersed recreation sites along the Boundary reservoir, including sanitation systems, picnic tables, fire rings and watercraft land and tie-up areas.
  • Improvements to Metaline Park boat launch in the town of Metaline.
  • New interpretation and education sites throughout the Boundary project area.

“This has been a long and carefully managed process, drawing input from many stakeholders and taking into account wildlife protection, recreational and cultural amenities, and the water quality of the Pend Oreille River,” said City Light General Manager Jorge Carrasco.

Approval of the 42-year license is a critical economic benefit to City Light’s customers and to Pend Oreille PUD customers whose primary source of electricity is low-cost Boundary power, he said

Read on for details about the conclusion of the license renewal process, according to a Seattle City Light media release:

Colorado pike fishing issue similar to Pend Oreille River

FISHING — This story took me back to the Pend Oreille River about 10 years ago…

Northern pike have made their way into the Upper Colorado River
Utah has already put a $20 bounty on northern pike, the toothy adversary of a healthy trout population, and with a confirmed catch of the invasive predator—and, unfortunately, its live release into the Colorado River at Pumphouse Recreation Area, Colorado should consider a similar program to rid the waters of pike—which have no place in the Colorado River.

A column by Scott Willoughby, Denver Post; Aug. 7

PikePalooza continues suppression effort on Pend Oreille River

FISHING – PikePalooza is offering more than $5,000 in cash and prizes for anglers who catch northern pike in various categories during the Friday-Sunday (May 17-19) event on the Pend Oreille River.

The event on the Box Canyon stretch of the river is sponsored by the Kalispel Tribe.

Info: kalispeltribe.com/northern-pike.

The derby is part of the program to reduce numbers of the non-native species from the river.

This year, the tribe has removed around 6,000 northern pike using gillnets in the second year of a pike suppression and monitoring operation.

“The majority of these fish are age 3 or less,” said Jason Olson, the tribe’s fish conservation manager.

Pike suppression resumed last week after fish managers surveyed the river and found the spring netting had not reduced pike numbers to their target numbers, especially in the north end of the reservoir.  

The highest number caught in nets last week were a dozen in South Everett and Tiger sloughs, the tribe reported.

This spring's post-suppression survey involved a total of 197 that caught a total of 410 northern pike in a week.

However, for the first time in years of surveys and two seasons of suppression, no large pike were caught in the Box Canyon stretch survey, the tribe reports.

Boundary Dam relicensing approved; Millpond removal OKed

RIVERS — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a new 42-year license for Boundary Dam on the Pend Oreille River downstream from Metaline Falls. Boundary, built in 1967, is the largest hydroelectric dam owned by Seattle City Light and produces 25 percent of the city's electric power.

Recreationists will benefit from several conditions of the relicensing process and negotiations, underway since 2004. Kayakers in particular are applauding the concurrent federal approval for removing Millpond Dam on Sullivan Creek, a tributary to the Pend Oreille River.

Millpond Dam is a 134-foot-long, 55-foot-high concrete dam with an 850-foot-long, 10-foot-high earthen dike that creates a 63-acre reservoir just downstream from Sullivan Lake. Millpond Dam has blocked Sullivan Creek since 1909.

The Washington Department of Ecology approved a permit for dam removal last year.

Removal should be completed within the next five years.

Dam removal settlement talks began in 2008 when American Whitewater, the US Forest Service, and the State of Washington successfully challenged a federal decision to give up jurisdiction over the dam, which had not generated power since 1956, according to Kevin Colburn, writing on the American Whitewater website.

Seattle City and Light eventually agreed to a settlement in March of 2010 to fund the removal of Millpond Dam as a condition for relicensing Boundary Dam.

While maintaining Boundary Dam as an important economic engine, providing 50 well-paying jobs, generating tax revenue for Pend Oreille County, Seattle City Light has agreed to fund recreational opportunities, such as:
  • New recreational trails on the east side of the reservoir.
  • New non-motorized boat access with parking and facilities at the Metaline Falls Portage.
  • Upgrades to six dispersed recreation sites along the Boundary reservoir, including sanitation systems, picnic tables, fire rings and watercraft land and tie-up areas.
  • Improvements to Metaline Park in the town of Metaline.
  • New interpretation and education sites throughout the Boundary project area. 

The removal of Millpond Dam also is expected to benefit native redband and cutthroat trout, as well as mountain whitefish, by improving stream temperatures, restoring sediment to the areas downstream of the dam, and likely restoring fish passage.

In addition, the dam removal will expose whitewater rapids not seen for over a century. American Whitewater produced images predicting what the restored area might look like.

“Our re-licensing process was unique,” said Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco. “We undertook a process of close collaboration with all stakeholders to reach an agreement for the protection and enhancement of native fish and wildlife; the expansion of recreational and cultural amenities; and to ensure the water quality of the Pend Oreille River and its tributaries.”

 “It’s also unique because there is a second settlement agreement that includes the removal of Mill Pond Dam as part of the decommissioning of the Pend Oreille PUD’s Sullivan Project, providing valuable new habitat for threatened native fish species, as well as new recreation opportunities,” Carrasco said.
 
The decision becomes final after all settling parties have had a chance to review the documents and raise any concerns with FERC over the order that was issued Wednesday.
 
Facts about Boundary Dam:
  • Began generating power in 1967
  • Cost to build: $94 million
  • 740’ long and 340’ tall
  • A thin-arch structure, it is 32’ thick at the base and just 8’ thick at the crest
  • Produces up to 1,040 megawatts of power
 FERC's order also will require the construction of a cold-water release pipe and a new release schedule for Sullivan Dam, which will remain in place at the outlet of Sullivan Lake. These measures will improve downstream fish habitat, and will provide significant paddling opportunities in September and October in the Class IV/V canyon section of Sullivan Creek, American Whitewater says.
The settlement calls for adding wood and rock habitat structures to sections of Sullivan Creek up and downstream of the canyon and the structures will be installed with recreational boating considerations in mind.

Sign up for Tundra Swan Festival, tour and speakers

WILDLIFE WATCHING —

OUTFIELD – The celebrities already have arrived, as at least 200 tundra swans were jammed into a creek-thawed ribbon of open water in the otherwise frozen Calispell Lake on Wednesday.

The lake should be open and even more birds on hand for the annual Pend Oreille Valley Tundra Swan Festival activities March 16, based out of the the Camas Wellness Center, 1981 N. LeClerc Road in Usk.

The festival greets hundreds of swans that migrate through the Pend Oreille River Valley in February and March, resting and feeding on Calispell Lake, designated an Important Bird Area, during the journey to their breeding grounds.

Visitors will be bused from the center to view the swans at Calispell Lake followed by a lunch and presentation by bird and wildlife experts on a range of topics.

Cost: $10 adults, $5 for children under 13.

Pre-register by March 8.

Presenters during lunch include:

Gary Blevins, Spokane Falls Community College.

TOPIC: “What does Audubon Christmas Bird Count data tell us about how climate change is affecting bird population?”

Bart George, Wildlife Biologist III, Kalispel Tribe of Indians.

TOPIC: “The Selkirk Mountains Forest Carnivore Survey, 2012 - 2013”

Matt Berger, Wildlife Project Manager, Kalispel Tribe of Indians.

TOPIC: “Kalispel Tribal Lands Bobolink 2012 Project update, in cooperation with Audubon Washington”

Mike Lithgow, Director, Pend Oreille County Community Planning Department.

 TOPIC: “Birds on the Water: Legends of the River”

The festival is sponsored by the Natural Resources Department of the Kalispel Tribe of Indians and the Pend Oreille River Tourism Alliance.

May pike derby part of pike control on Pend Oreille River

FISHING — Northern pike gillnetting that started last spring on the Pend Oreille River will be continued this year in the effort to keep the pike population roughly 90 percent lower than it was at this point last year in Box Canyon Reservoir area.

Starting in early March, crews from the Kalispel Tribe Natural Resources Department will use gillnets to remove the invasive species from the reservoir and will work with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to monitor the results.

  • Sportsmen will be rewarded for contributing to the pike control effort with big cash prizes offered in a northern pike fishing derby May 17-19, sponsored by the Kalispel Tribe.  Info: (509) 447-7290. Two of the Pikepalooza events were held last year.

“Northern pike are voracious predators that pose a significant threat to native fish species,” said Bruce Bolding, WDFW warmwater fish program manager. “They can cause a great deal of ecological and economic damage.”

Click “continue reading” for more details from the WDFW media release posted this morning.

Anglers can cash in at Pend Oreille’s Pikepalooza

FISHING CONTESTS — Sign-up is underway for the season’s second Pikepalooza fishing derby on the Pend Oreille River, Friday through next Sunday, sponsored by the Kalispel Tribe.

Prizes up to $1,000 are being offered in a variety of categories to make the contest interesting to anglers of all ages. Categories include most fish, longest fish, total length of catch, smallest fish and tagged fish.

In addition, each fish caught gives a participant a ticket for raffle drawings.

During the first event June 29-July 1, about 80 anglers endured high water and windy conditions to compete catch 81 northern pike and compete for $3,000 in cash prizes and more than $500 in raffle prizes.

  • Josh Whitney won $1,000 for catching the most northern pike —14.
  • Dale Smith won $500 for catching the largest pike of the derby — 46.4 inches long.

There’s no entry fee, but participants must pre-register before they start fishing. Online registration closes at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Anglers can register on site at check stations.

The event includes the river from the Idaho state line to the Boundary Dam forebay.

Even though most of the non-native pike were gillnetted out of the Box Canyon Reservoir portion of the river this spring, pike are still available to be caught and new fish are likely coming downstream from Montana and Idaho.

Info: www.kalispeltribe.com/northern-pike.

Pikepalooza proves Pend Oreille River still holds whoppers

FISHING — The gillnets didn't get all the northern pike in the Pend Oreille River.

This spring, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department and Kalispel Tribe used gillnets to remove about 87 percent of the non-native northern pike in the Box Canyon section of the river downstream from Newport. (See story)

But results from the June 29-July 1 Pikepalooza organized by the Kalispel Tribe indicate that serious anglers not only can catch a number of northern pike in the river on an outing, they also can catch some whoppers.

  • Josh Whitney won a whopping $1,000 for catching the most northern pike — 14 — during the tournament.
  • Dale Smith won $500 for catching the largest pike of the derby — 46.4 inches long!

The tribe reports that 138 anglers pre-registered and an additional 70 anglers signed up on site.

But water and weather conditions limited participation to about 80 anglers who turned out to compete for $3,000 in cash prizes and more than $500 in raffle prizes.

Although anglers faced tough fishing conditions over the weekend including high water, wake restrictions, closed boat launches, and hit-and-miss weather, the 80 anglers harvested 81 northern pike, reports Jason Connor, the Tribe's fisheries biologist.

  • 33 people registered at least one pike.
  • Pike from 286 mm (11.25”) to 1178 mm (46.4”) were harvested with the majority (74%) being 1-2 year olds less than 18 inches. 
  • No tagged pike were caught, so prizes will roll over to the next Pikepalooza event set for Aug. 3-5.

Read on for the complete list of prize winners.

Take a gamble on Tri-Town Float down Pend Oreille River

PADDLING – A two day floating festival of canoes, kayaks and other muscle-powered craft will be playing the odds on the Pend Oreille River July 14 and 15.

The Tri-Tow Float, formerly called the Poker Paddle, will have five stations giving out cards to participants as the float 16 miles from Ruby Creek to Ione the first day.

Camping and food options are available.

The second day features a 5-mile float from Box Canyon Dam to Metaline, followed by prize drawings.

Info: (509) 442-4577.

Sign-up by July 6 for discount.

 Entry forms online at the event's Facebook page.

Kootenai, Pend Oreille rivers flowing BIG

RIVERS — Recent rains storms with more on the way combined with high flows out of Canada are prolonging the region's “spring” runoff in a big way.

The Kootenai River rose above flood stage at Bonners Ferry today, according to our S-R weather reporter. The minor flooding is expected through Friday, forecasters said. The river was about three inches above flood stage of 64 feet at Bonners Ferry.

In addition, the Pend Oreille River below Albeni Falls Dam was near flood stage. The river was at 45 feet in Newport this morning.

Cities such as Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry could break records for June rainfall with more than five inches recorded there already this month.

Big cash prizes await PO River anglers in PikePalooza

FISHING  – Sign-up is underway for the Pike Palooza fishing derby on the Pend Oreille River, June 29-July 1, sponsored by the Kalispel Tribe.

Prizes up to $1,000 are being offered in a variety of categories to make the contest interesting to anglers of all ages. Categories include most fish, longest fish, total length of catch, smallest fish and tagged fish.

In addition, each fish caught give a participant a ticket for raffle drawings.

There’s no entry fee, but participants must pre-register before they start fishing. Online registration closes at 5 p.m. Wednesday (June 27). Anglers can register on site at check stations.

The event includes the river from the Idaho state line to the Boundary Dam forebay. 

Even though most of the non-native pike were gillnetted out of the Box Canyon Reservoir portion of the river this spring, pike are still available to be caught and new fish are likely coming downstream from Montana and Idaho.

If an angler catches a Washington state record northern — a long shot, agreed — a professional taxidermist will produce a replica of the fish for the contestant.

Info:  www.kalispeltribe.com/northern-pike.

  • A second PikePalooza is set for Aug. 3-5.

Pend Oreille River’s Z Canyon a paddler’s hot spot

PADDLING — Kayaker David Crafton and friends have been exploring trips from my hiking and paddling guidebooks. Last weekend they packed their boats and  headed down the Pend Oreille River from Metaline downstream into the spectacular Z Canyon.

NOTE: The Metaline Falls and hydraulics downstream from the Highway 31 bridge near Metaline can be dangerous any time of year. Scout the waves and powerful eddies from the bridge BEFORE launching.  If they're over you head, pick a downstream launching point on the east side of the river just below the falls at Deadmans Eddy. 

Crafton's photo above show's what Peewee Falls looks like this week, still runnng pretty big.  It comes down to a trickle you can almost boat under in August of dry summers. You can reach the falls in an out-and-back trip from Boundary Dam Campground.

Here's Crafton's post-trip post on my Facebook wall with a notable observation and prompt for lingering at the trip's takeout

Rich, thanks again for another awesome weekend! We did paddle route #77 Pend Oreille River (Z Canyon) last weekend from your other guide book “Paddling Washington”. What an amazing trip

You really should mention the Dam spillways during spring run off. Anyone going up there during the spring melt needs to do the dam tour. Spectacular!

Resident volunteers needed for Pend Oreille water sampling

The Pend Oreille Riverkeeper group is looking for volunteers to help with a lake-wide water quality monitoring program.

The goal is to produce reliable, scientifically credible data from water samples collected from multiple locations throughout Lake Pend Oreille and the Pend Oreille River on a monthly basis.

Measurement will include water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations, bacterial levels, and other parameters that indicate the health of these water bodies.

Volunteers will be trained and given the supplies.

This is a great project for people and familes who live around the lake.

Sign up for the Water Quality Monitoring program in the drop-down menu at this website.

Tonight: biologists explain plan for Pend Oreille River pike

FISHERIES MANAGEMENT — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Kalispel Tribe will present their plan to reduce northern pike numbers in Box Canyon Reservoir on the Pend Oreille River at meetings, starting at 6 p.m.:

Tonight: CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley.
Thursday: Community Hall, 2442 Black Road, Usk.

Fish managers plan to put out nets this spring to begin reducing the population of non-native pike in Box Canyon by up to 87 percent.

See Sunday's S-R story about Washington's plan for dealing with non-native northern pike.

Click here to see WDFW information on northern pike and reports regarding Pend Oreille River fishery surveys.

Biologists explain plan to reduce pike in Pend Oreille River

FISHERIES MANAGEMENT — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Kalispel Tribe will present their plan to reduce northern pike numbers in Box Canyon Reservoir on the Pend Oreille River at meetings, starting at 6 p.m.:

Feb. 15: CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley.
Feb. 16: Community Hall, 2442 Black Road, Usk.

Fish managers plan to put out nets this spring to begin reducing the population of non-native pike in Box Canyon by up to 87 percent.

See Sunday's S-R story about Washington's plan for dealing with non-native northern pike.

Click here to see WDFW information on northern pike and reports regarding Pend Oreille River fishery surveys.

Is selfishness a factor in Pend Oreille River northern pike debate?

FISHING — Some anglers share at least one trait with northern pike. They apparently wouldn't hesitate to eat their own kind.

Advocates of letting nature take its course in the invasion of northern pike down the Pend Oreille River seem to have little concern for the anglers downstream in the Columbia River.

While many anglers are enjoying the chance to catch pike in Pend Oreille County, state wildlife managers are concerned that increasing numbers and distribution of northern pike could impact vulnerable native species of trout, other game fish and non-game fish and even salmon and steelhead farther down the Columbia River system.

“That’s a big concern,” said John Whalen, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department regional fisheries manager. “If northern pike start spreading down the Columbia River, they could create significant ecological and economic damage.”

Perhaps pike advocates have not been paying attention to the decades of efforts and billions of dollars devoted to restoring salmon and steelhead runs damaged by hydropower projects. 

Do they know how much interest and economic impact has been generated by bringing back these fisheries from the mouth of the Columbia up to Chief Joseph Dam?

Other western states that have non-native populations of northern pike, are facing challenges similar to Washington. Although northern pike are native to much of Alaska, they are not native to the south-central part of the state where they have been illegally stocked and are considered invasive.

According to WDFW, pike have caused severe damage to native trout and salmon runs in several south-central Alaska watersheds and Washington is trying to learn from those events in order to prevent similar damage from occurring here.

WDFW is accept comments through Dec. 30 on proposed fishing regulations changes, including liberalizing the effort to reduce pike numbers in the Pend Oreille River.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will be hearing public comment on proposed fishing regulations when it meets Jan. 6-7 in Olympia.

The commission is scheduled to take action on those proposals at a public meeting Feb. 3-4 in Olympia.

 

State asking anglers to help target Pend Oreille River pike

FISHING — It's no secret that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is more than a little concerned about the burgeoning population of northern pike in the Pend Oreille River upstream from Box Canyon Dam.

The main worry is the potential impact pike could have on salmon and steelhead smolts downstream on the Columbia River.

Today the WDFW made it official: The agency has announced it's gearing up for a spring campaign to halt the advance of the voracious, non-native fish toward the Columbia River.

State fishery managers plan to enlist anglers to remove as many northern pike as possible from the Pend Oreille River, a conduit for pike moving downstream from Idaho and Montana.

A new webpage outlines the proliferation of northern pike in the river since 2004 and the threat they pose to native fish species.

Biological surveys conducted in conjunction with the Kalispel Tribe and Eastern Washington University document a dramatic decline in native minnows, largemouth bass, yellow perch and other fish species that inhabit the 55-mile Box Canyon Reservoir.

Read on for more details from a WDFW media release, and the meat of the fishing rule change WDFW is seeking to help expedite the process:

Metaline Falls set to roar again on Sept. 20

RIVERS – Last September, for the first time in 27 years, the Pend Oreille River's Metaline Falls were exposed as workers lowered the reservoir behind Boundary Dam for dam maintenance.

Starting this week, the falls will roar again as Seattle City Light workers continue the project by replacing a 312-ton sluice maintenance gate.

The reservoir will be lowered twice, utility officials say, but the falls are scheduled to be most exposed on Sept. 20.

Read on for details.

Kalispell Tribe calls Pend Oreille pike ‘disaster’ to native fisheries

INVASIVE FISHERIES — The Kalispell Tribe's top Fish and Wildlife official called it like he sees it in a presentation on the invasion of northern pike into the Pend Oreille River. He was speaking this month to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

Deane Osterman, the tribe’s executive director for Natural Resources, said that the introduction of northern pike to Box Canyon Reservoir has quickly become “a long-term disaster to our native fisheries.”

A story by the Columbia Basin Bulletin detail's Osterman's presentation and reasoning behind the Northeast Washington tribe's effort to turn back a wave of invasive northern pike that has devastated local fish populations. Joining the concern of state and federal biologist, Osterman warns that other areas of the Columbia River basin could suffer the same consequence — and salmon and steelhead runs could be impacted.

Referring to the Columbia's confluence with the Okanogan River, he said;

“That particular piece of water is ideal as well” for nonnative pike to flourish, Osterman said. If pike got a foothold there, they very well could tarnish salmon recovery investments made by the Bonneville Power Administration and channeled through the Council to the Colville Tribes. BPA funds the NPCC’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program as mitigation for impact of the federal Columbia-Snake river hydro system on fish and wildlife.

Cast your opinion on Pend Oreille River Water Trail plan

BOATING — Officials pondering the Pend Oreille River Water Trail Concept Plan are seeking comments through the month in an online survey.

The plan would help develop and promote water access, activities and tourism on a 70-mile stretch of the river from the Newport area downstream to Boundary Dam.

The PORTA website  includes a summary of the plan along with an interesting map and description of the Water Trail. 

Public comments and suggestions about the project can be directed to Mike Lithgow, Pend Oreille County Community Development Department or Susan Harris, Executive Director, Pend Oreille River Tourism Alliance (PORTA) until Sept. 1.

The Water Trail has been a three-year project. 

Agencies and organizations participating in the Water Trail development currently include the USFS, BLM, National Park Service, Towns of Newport, Cusick, Metaline and Metaline Falls, Ione, WDFW, DNR, PUD, Pend Oreille County Community Development Department, WSU Extension Office, Map Metrics, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Kalispel Natural Resources Department, SCL Boundary Dam Project, and Pend Oreille River Tourism Alliance.

Northwest Power Planning Council to hear about Pend Oreille pike

FISHERIES — Northern pike will be on the program when the Northwest Power and Conservation Council holds its Aug.  9-10 meeting at the Kalispel Tribe’s Northern Quest Resort in Airway Heights.

On the meeting agenda is the Kalispel Tribe's report on the problem of invasive northern pike in the Pend Oreille River. The report starts at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Among other items, at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, Dr. Pete McGrail of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will report on progress with an experiment to inject carbon dioxide into basalt formations deep underground as a means of reducing emissions into the atmosphere.  The experiment site is at Wallula near the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers.

             

PDO Water Trail to be unveiled at open house

BOATING — Three years in the making, a Pend Oreille River Water Trail plan covering 70 miles of the river in northeastern Washington will be served up — along with snacks and beverages — at an open house meeting Thursday (Aug. 4), 5 p.m.-7 p.m., at the Camas Center, 1821 N. LeClerc Rd., northeast of Usk, Wash. (See map.)

This the plan focuses on the Pend Oreille County stretch of the river, including Z Canyon and Peewee Falls. The entire river is 130 miles long originating from Lake Pend Oreille in the Idaho Panhandle flowing northwesterly — unusual for a major U.S. River — until it joins the Columbia River in southeastern British Columbia.  

Maps of the Water Trail will be on display and smaller maps will be shared.

Kayaks will be displayed by Bear Naked Adventures of Newport, Wash..

Other exhibitors include U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, PORTA, WSU Extension, Map Metrics, National Park Service, Kalispel Tribe and Pend Oreille PUD — all partners of interest to future Water Trail users.

The concept plan for the Pend Oreille River Water Trail will be available.

Take a survey during the August public comment period.

Info: Susan Harris of PORTA (509) 447-5286, email susan@porta-us.com.

Oh-oh: Northern pike caught in Lake Roosevelt

FISHERIES — A fisherman on upper Lake Roosevelt Friday caught a northern pike, a non-native predator species fishery managers worry will spread down the Columbia River system.

According to Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine, the fish was landed by walleye angler Davey McKern of Kettle Falls.

Fisheries biologists have feared that the pike explosion in the Pend Oreille River would find its way downstream, where it could eventually raise havoc with salmon and steelhead runs in the Columbia River system. A major pike buffet at the mouth of the Okanogan River, for example, could be devastating.

Biologists from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Kalispel Tribe have been studying the Pend Oreille fishery to get a handle on the situation — if they can.

Pend Oreille Poker Paddle postponed

RIVER RUNNING — Due to high water and related health and safety issues, the 30th annual Pend Oreille County Poker Paddle has been rescheduled from July 16-17 to Aug. 27-28.

Info: Greater Newport Area Chamber and Visitors Bureau website.

Boundary Dam campground closed during dam repairs

CAMPING/BOATING – A second season of maintenance at Boundary Dam has forced the closure of the dam’s forebay campground, possibly through August.  But the work also brings the prospect of another major draw down of the Pend Oreille River reservoir that could once again expose Metaline Falls in August or September.

Click here for my slide show of last summer's drawdown and the rapids it exposed.

Meantime, Seattle City Light expects to keep access to the boat launch open Seattle City Light expects to keep access to the boat launch open throughout the work this summer, though some short restrictions might be needed.

Specially designated parking areas will be available within the recreation area, but parking spaces closest to the boat launch and construction area will be closed.

 Read on for more details.

Tonight: Last of two public meetings on Pend Oreille River northern pike

FISHING — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife  and the Kalispel Tribe of Indians Natural Resources Department  will hold the second of two area public meetings tonight to discuss non-native northern pike in Pend Oreille River and other Eastern Washington waters, and take public input on options to control them and minimize their impacts on native fish.

A pair of Sunday Outdoors stories detailed the dilemma with the boom fishery and the plans for more gillnetting surveys, which start next week.

Tonight's meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Center Place, 2426 N. Discovery Place, in Spokane Valley

Read on for more details about the meetings and surveys that are monitoring the boom of pike in the river.

Ben Stein: Osprey On Rail Bridge

Many of you will remember actor/commenter Ben Stein (pictured in AP file photo) as the monotone science teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day off.” But did you know that he regularly visits Sandpoint? In a recent post for CBS News, Stein writes that he doesn’t know how why gold prices are soaring while prices for everything else is stagnant. Or how the U.S. will keep Iran from having a nuclear bomb. Or why the U.S. Treasury is riding high when investors are nervous. Then he adds this: “I do know that on the south end of the railroad bridge across the mighty Pend Oreille River here in North Idaho, a family of osprey have built a magnificent, sturdy nest and sit unmoved as freight trains a mile long go by, shaking the whole town. I know they are fearless, majestic, a glory to see. They fly next to my little boat and dive on trout and bring them back to their nest, and I could watch them all day. I cannot figure out this wicked, cunning world of men”/Ben Stein, CBSnews.com. More here.

Question: Do you lose site of the beauty around us as a result of the various crises in this country and the world and the nastiness of partisan politics?