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Volunteers Building New Trail

Volunteers are helping the Idaho Panhandle National Forests build a new trail to a stunning view from a forest fire lookout overlooking the Clark Fork River and the proposed Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness northeast of Lake Pend Oreille. The Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness already has put in multiple days of routing, brushing, log cutting and carving the tread to the Star Peak Lookout over the past two years.  The peak where an historic lookout is located formerly was known as Squaw Peak. The next work party is set for Friday ( Aug. 9).   Meet at the trailhead (see map) at 9 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (10 a.m. Mountain). Following work days are Aug. 23 plus the weekend of Sept. 21-22/Rich Landers, SR Outdoors. More here.

Scotchman Peaks Wilderness friends leading group hikes

HIKING — The annual summer series of group hikes organized by the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness will begin June 4 with a trek into Thunder Creek northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.

The moderately difficult hike is just the first of 15 hikes the group is offering this summer along with three cooperative trail work projects coordinated with the Forest Service.

In addition, the friends group is offering two hiking workshops with author, naturalist and historian Jack Nisbet.

The group hikes are geared to exposing the public to the rugged and scenic 88,000-acre roadless area the group is proposing for wilderness designation. The area straddles the Idaho-Montana border northeast of Clark Fork, Idaho, and ranges into Montana.

“We have some great hikes, as usual, but we are expanding our focus to include more stewardship and education,” said FSPW program coordinator Sandy Compton.

Wolverines, fishers featured in Sandpoint program

WILDLIFE - Two researches will present what they learned from studies on fishers and wolverines in the Cabinet and Selkirk mountains in a free program Thursday, 6 p.m., at the East Bonner County Library in Sandpoint.

Idaho Fish and Game Department biologists Lacy Robinson and Michael Lucid, along with area volunteers on snowshoes and snowmobiles have been setting bait stations and cameras in remote areas to survey for the elusive members of the weasel family.

The photographs tell much of the story.

The researchers got help from snowmobilers where the machines are allowed, but when they ventured into more remote areas, they were helped by snowshoers from the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness to help install, monitor and remove bait sets designed to catch wolverines - on film.

“We didn't photograph any wolverines,” says FSPW program coordinator Sandy Compton, ” at least not in the Cabinets, but we did catch a lot of their cousins.” In both ranges, cameras caught portraits of fishers, pine martens and weasels, as well as the occasional surprise visitor. In the Selkirks, they also caught a wolverine.

In 12 study stations, remote cameras were trained on trees baited with beaver carcasses and household sponges soaked with smelly concoctions designed to attract mustelids and be hard enough to get to that the critters would have to leave a little something behind to get a bite of the beaver.

Gun brushes and double-sided sticky tape placed below the beaver gathered hair samples from each animal that went for the bait. This was collected and is being analyzed for DNA, which will give Robinson and Lucid an idea of how many individual animals visited the bait stations.

Snowshoers making tracks this weekend

WINTER SPORTS — This has been a glorious and brilliant weekend for exploring the winter outdoors in the Inland Northwest, especially for snowshoers who absorb it all at a quiet pace that seems in step with the season.

Ice shrouded everything on top of Star Peak northeast of Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho, when a Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness group arrived on a snowshoeing daytrip Saturday.  The Idaho-based wilderness advocates lead numerous group snowshoe treks into the wild and unforgetable scenery on winter weekends. 

On snowshoes that kept him afloat over the ample snowpack, George Momany of Spokane marched through a winter wonderland under brilliant blue skies up to the top of Mount Spokane on Saturday.  I joined him. We saw numerous snowshoers up and down the mountain on treks short and long.

Sno-Park requirement at Mount Spokane

Snowshoers should make a commitment to visit Mount Spokane State Park more than once a season and take advantage of the bargan.  A one-time Sno-Park permit costs $20 per vehicle  while you can enjoy unlimited entry to the lower portions of the mountain by purchasing a $40 season Sno-Park pass.

If you want access to the upper snowmobile parking lot and Selkirk Lodge parking area near the nordic ski trails, and additional $40 groomed trail system season pass is required.

Get info and purchase Sno-Park permits online here