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Paddlers carefully eye Priest River flows

RIVERS – The best time to float the Priest River comes and goes, but the next couple of weeks will be worth checking out.

At its extremes – up to 10,500 cubic feet per second and down to 165 cfs – the river is basically too high for safe passage except for experts or too low to float without dragging a vessel over the rocks.

  • Ideal flows for experienced canoeists are in the range of 1,200-4,500 cfs (recorded at the gauge near Priest River, Idaho).

During summer through early fall, when most people would be lured to portions of the river downstream from Priest Lake, the water generally is too low to float without bouncing and scraping along the rocks.

However, inexperienced paddlers running inflatable boats can have a safer, enjoyable float at flows in the 600-1,000 cfs range in the Eight Mile Rapids stretch from McAbee Falls downstream.  (See description below.)

Prime times for experienced paddlers farther upstream are:

  • Spring runoff period of May and early June, but be especially ready for cold water and alert for new log jams or strainers.
  • Early October, a glorious, fall-color period when mosquitoes are gone and flows pick up to the 1,200 cfs range as water is allowed to flow over Outlet Dam to lower Priest Lake to winter levels.

Read on for more details and notes on flows from Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club diaries.

Priest River Draws Mushroomers

The Spokane Mushroom Club’s annual fall foray is set for Oct. 5-7 at the Priest River Experimental Forest based in Priest River. Experts lead daily group hikes to identify mushrooms collect specimens for educating the groups when they convene. Participants who can’t spend the entire weekend can join the Saturday foray, which leaves promptly at 9 a.m., and attend Saturday’s Pot Luck set for 6 p.m./Rich Landers, SR Outdoors blog. More here.

Question: Have you ever eaten mushrooms that you picked yourself? Do you feel lucky?

Priest River prime for paddling starting Oct. 8

PADDLING — The drawdown of Priest Lake to its winter level will begin Oct. 8.

The drawdown generally is complete by early November and brings the lake down three feet from a summer elevation of 3,427.64 feet to the winter level of 3,424.64, said Karl Duncan, the dam operator.

The lake’s drawdown also launches the unofficial beginning of the paddling season on Priest River. Generally too low for canoes during the summer season, Priest River takes on new life as flows are increased.

Wannabe Sheriff Hosts Cross Burning

It's unlikely that any other Bonner County sheriff candidate spent their Friday night like Shaun Winkler. At his compound just outside Priest River, Winkler and other family members of the northern Idaho Ku Klux Klan lavern held a get-together that included a nighttime cross lighting. Winkler, 33, is also tied to the Aryan Nations and Church of Jesus Christ-Christian. He has participated in racially-charged Kootenai County protests. According to Winkler, cross lighting, more commonly known as cross burning, often provokes strong reactions from most people. Given that fact, the ceremony is generally conducted in private within the compound once a month or so. “Generally, for a cross lighting, it's extremely rare we'd let any media there at all,” he said. However, after discussing the matter with his family and associates, the group agreed to allow outside observation for the ceremony. Winkler said the evening was meant to express both camaraderie and religious devotion/Cameron Rasmusson, Bonner County Bee. More here. (SR 2004 file photo of Shaun Winkler, center)

Thoughts?

Correction: Priest River JVs Sue

A HucksOnline headline on Monday listed the wrong high school JV team involved in a player suit against the West Bonner County School District. The high school JV team involved in the suit is Priest River. The headline was corrected soon afterward. But HucksOnline wants to make sure that readers know which high school and school district are involved. You can read the story again here.

Priest River JV Footballers Sue District

The West Bonner County School District is being hit with a pair of negligence lawsuits over injuries to junior varsity football players. One suit alleges a JV coach flung a partially full water bottle at a player’s face, causing a laceration and a concussion. The other alleges an improperly equipped player suffered permanent vision impairment after being struck in the eye with a football during practice. Both suits were filed in 1st District Court on Thursday. Each suit seeks damages in excess of $10,000. School district Superintendent Mike McGuire could not be reached on Friday. A message seeking comment was not returned. Sandpoint attorney Brent Featherston filed the suits on behalf of student athletes Michael Clayton Ludolph and Thomas Reynolds, who were injured in separate incidents in Priest River last year/Keith Kinnaird, Bonner County Bee. More here.

 

Thoughts?

INW: Grouse ♥ Priest River Retirees

The ruffed grouse that has befriended Pete Renkert occasionally hops onto his shoulder as he walks or rides his ATV along the gravel driveway leading to his Priest River-area home. Rich Landers' SR story here. (SR photo: Rich Landers)

Drawdowns begin at Inland Northwest reservoirs

LAKES — Avista Utilities and the Corps of Engineers are beginning fall drawdowns that change the look of the lakes and rivers downstream.

Lake Coeur d’Alene’s annual drawdown began Tuesday to gradually take the summer level of 2,128 feet down to 2,127 by the end of September. The winter level of 2,122 feet should be reached by the end of December.

Priest Lake’s drawdown begins in the middle of October, marking the unofficial beginning of the paddling season on the Priest River. Generally too low for canoes during the summer season, Priest River takes on new life as flows are increased.

Priest Lake is lowered relatively quickly by 3 feet to its winter level by early November.

Lake Pend Oreille’s slow drawdown is set to begin soon, but not until Idaho Fish and Game, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration meet this week to negotiate a target level. Idaho Fish and Game mainly is concerned about maintaining water levels for optimum kokanee spawning. 

Preliminary results from late summer surveys indicate the lake’s kokanee continue an encouraging recovery from their crash, officials said Friday.

Woman gets 15 years for fatal shooting

SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) — A 45-year-old Clark Fork woman has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the shooting death of her boyfriend during an argument in a recreational vehicle north of Priest River last fall. 

Lorraine Kathryn Kenitzki was sentenced Thursday in 1st District Court and must serve at least five years before becoming eligible for parole. Kenitzki entered an Alford plea to a charge of voluntary manslaughter in January.

Erik David Foust, 41, died Oct. 6 after being shot in the chest with a 9-millimeter pistol.

Police say Kenitzki and Foust had used meth before the shooting.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports that during her sentencing Kenitzki says she misses Foust and wishes she could undo the tragedy.

Beardmore Architect Wins Nat’l Award

Architect Brian Runberg, an Idaho native who now lives in Seattle, is shown outside the revamped Beardmore Building in Priest River. The Beardmore Building has been part of Priest Lake since the 1920s. Runberg has won a major national award for his achievement. Idaho Statesman story by Anna Webb here. (SR file photo: Rajah Bose)

Question: Have you visited the Beardmore Building in Priest River since it was revamped?

Prom Night On Priest River

At As The Lake Churns blog, Pecky Cox provides this photo of girls from Priest River Lamanna High School preparing to celebrate prom night with dinner at Priest Lake’s Hills Resort.

  • Question: Do you remember the person who went with you to your prom night?