Latest from The Spokesman-Review
PUBLIC LANDS — The entire Wenas Wildlife Area has been closed to target shooting until Oct. 1 after several wildfires have burned the property near Ellensburg, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today.
The closure bans target shooting 24 hours a day at the wildlife area. Public notice of the closure will be posted at all entry points and established target shooting sites.
WDFW adopted the closure in cooperation with the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which owns lands within the 114,150-acre wildlife area.
Cindi Confer Morris, who manages the WDFW wildlife area, noted the agency restricted target-shooting to morning hours earlier this month, a step WDFW has taken the last three years to reduce wildfire risk.
“Even with the restrictions, four wildfires have been started on or near the wildlife area already this year,” Confer Morris said.
The most recent fire, which scorched nearly 10,000 acres, is believed to have started at a nearby Cottonwood Creek shooting area and spread across the wildlife area. Two other fires at the Wenas Wildlife Area were sparked by target shooting; fireworks started a fourth.
According to wildfire experts at DNR, people cause 85 percent of Washington's wildfires. Common causes include unattended campfires, fireworks, hot vehicle mufflers on dry grass, target shooting and careless disposal of cigarettes.
“This area and the rest of eastern Washington are experiencing drier than usual conditions, which call for added precaution,” Confer Morris said. “It's important for the public to take steps to preserve public recreation lands and wildlife habitat.”
Confer Morris said the ban applies to this year's fire season only. WDFW will continue to involve the public in developing rules for target shooting on the wildlife area.
Like all of WDFW's wildlife areas and water-access sites across the state, the Wenas Wildlife Area also has restrictions on campfires and prohibitions on fireworks and incendiary devices, including tracer rounds and exploding targets, to reduce the risk of wildfire.
After years of discussions and negotiations over regional garbage disposal, Spokane Valley is going its own way.
City Council members decided unanimously tonight to contract with Sunshine Disposal & Recycling to handle disposal of the Valley’s estimated 45,000 tons of garbage each year. The decision follows years of discussions with Spokane and county officials as the region’s existing solid waste system is set to expire this fall.
“We’re acting in the best longterm interests of our citizens,” said Mayor Dean Grafos.
Spokane County had struck a deal with Spokane, which has controlled the regional system for two decades, to take over the existing transfer stations and had hoped to create a countywide system it would control.
Commissioner Todd Mielke made a last-minute push tonight to persuade council members to postpone a final decision and give the county a chance to beat Sunshine’s rate. Mielke said the city of Spokane was trying to work out a reduced disposal rate at its energy-producing trash incinerators on the West Plains, which would enable the county to offer a tonnage rate nearly $4 lower and could amount to millions of dollars in savings over the next decade.
But Valley leaders rejected the delay request, with some noting that the Valley had openly sought a partnership role in a regional system but was repeatedly offered only an advisory role. They also noted that Sunshine stepped up with a guaranteed rate while the county provided only estimates and contingencies.
Additionally, Sunshine officials said it needs to get started immediately with planned expansion and improvements it is promising in order to be ready by mid-November when the new arrangement takes effect.
For residents, little will change. Waste Management still will handle curbside pick up, but instead of dumping the garbage at county transfer stations they’ll drop their loads at Sunshine’s facility on University Road north of Interstate 90. The garbage then will be loaded for long-haul to regional landfills in Central Washington.
Valley officials estimate the cost of solid waste disposal will be cheaper with Sunshine than under the county system. County officials contend the savings, if any, would be minimal.
TRAILS — The Inland Northwest Trails Coalition has rounded up more than a dozen local leaders in trails-related efforts for the annual “state of the trails” presentations Thursday, June 12, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield Ave. in Spokane Valley.
“Every year the coalition invites land managers to give a report on what is happening with our hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, biking, kayaking, canoeing outdoor adventure areas,” said Lunell Haught, INTC coordinator. “We all come together in one big meeting so that you do not need to go to 10 different meetings to find out the latest news.”
Trail users can hear the status of trail issues and learn where they can get involved in trail projects.
Natural areas will be covered, including updates on Spokane County Conservation Futures areas – a new Antoine Peak trail and access plan is developing – and progress on the proposed Dream Trail corridor heading north from the Dishman Hills.
The useful Spokane River Water Trail website will be updated and the Washington Trails Association will detail this season’s trails maintenance projects from Spokane County to the Salmo-Priest Wilderness.
The Beacon Hill mountain biking trail system and terrain park will be covered.
Geological routes through the region’s Channeled Scablands will be summarized by the Ice Age Floods Instutue and local U.S. Bureau of Land Management managers will highlight plans for new trails in the Fishtrap Lake area.
Haught said the consortium of outdoor recreation and conservation groups has pulled together to encourage city and county governments to engage in regional trail planning.
The group’s vision, she said, “is a system of paths, trails and open space corridors that connect neighborhoods, community and regional parks and conservation land in our region to engage people in muscle-powered recreational and conservation opportunities, promote active transportation and preserve open space to enhance our region’s quality of life.”
PUBLIC LANDS — Spokane County Parks Department has created an access and management plan for the 1,066-acre Antoine Peak Conservation Area in Spokane Valley. The plan will be presented in an open house meeting tonight, May 28, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., at Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6012 E. Mansfield.
- See map of proposed trails and access sites in attached document.
- Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Antoine Peak was purchased in three phases, 2007 - 2012, with half of the funding coming from the county Conservation Futures Program and half from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (Urban Wildlife Habitat Category).
So far, a small trailhead has been developed on the east side of the property off of Lincoln Road. Other access points are undeveloped.
Although unauthorized motor vehicles are not allowed on Antoine Peak, about 20 miles of road, trail, and ATV tracks have been built or formed over several decades before the land was secured by the county. This network has created erosion and encouraged illegal motorized access and disturbance to wildlife, said Paul Knowles, county parks planner.
The proposed access and trail plan strives to balance recreation and wildlife needs as much as possible, Knowles said, noting that it calls for:
- Creation or preserving several loop trails
- Creating larger areas of undisturbed habitat
- Developing adequate off-street parking on the west side of the park
- Preserving several routes necessary to maintain access for stewardship and emergency response
- Cosuring roads and trails that are little used by the public, fragment habitat unnecessarily, are steep and facilitate erosion, and/or serve little to no maintenance function.
Next Steps: After receiving public input and finalized, Knowles says Spokane County Parks will pursue grant funding to implement the trail plan. Once finished, Antoine Peak will become a destination for hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and many other passive recreation uses.
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.
- See the current no-shooting zones map for Spokane 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
TRAILS — The big effort recently invested in updating Spokane County's 2008 Regional Trails Plan has resulted in maps and details important to everyone from hikers to developers.
The Spokane County Commissioners approved the updated plan on Tuesday.
The goal of the plan has always been to develop an interconnected system of trails, whether they're simple single tracks or major rail-trail projects such as the Fish Lake Trail. The plan also seeks to assure adequate maintenance and high standards while promoting the growing trail system as an economic development tool.
The updated plan, with input from Spokane County Parks and Recreation staff and the Inland Northwest Trails Coalition, includes a mapped inventory of 677 miles of trails, new trail strategies, an analysis of demand and needs and much more detail throughout.
Sure, I knew the deputy sheriffs union had it in for Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. The sheriff believes anyone worthy of wearing a badge should be able to hold off from doing the dance with no pants until after the shift ends. While the union’s attitude is more like … “Don’t come a-knockin’ if the squad car’s a-rockin’.” Differences this vast are bound to cause, um, friction. Sarcasm aside, never in my wildest imaginings did I think these union reptiles would crawl so low as to try to use the sheriff’s choice of churches against him. But read it and weep, my friends. The ugly truth is found on page 3 of an unfair labor practice complaint that the Spokane County Deputy Sheriffs Association filed recently against Knezovich. The action comes in response to the sheriff’s firing of Scott Kenoyer last summer for having sex on duty/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: I totally agree that an individual office holder's faith — and family, for that matter — are out of bounds? What say you?
A Spokane County woman in her 40s has died from influenza.
She had underlying health conditions and had been hospitalized, according to public health officials.
She was the fourth Eastern Washington person killed by the flu. Her name and other specifics about her illness are being withheld, said Kim Papich, spokeswoman for the Spokane Regional Health District. The others who died of the flu include a Lincoln County man in his 40s; a Grant County man in is 40s; and a Tri-Cities woman in her 50s.
This year’s early arrival of the flu season has put 135 people in Spokane hospitals, exceeding the norm and far outpacing last year’s 31 flu hospitalizations at this time.
There have been 7 people with the flu admitted to Kootenai Medical Center.
This year’s flu strain is a type of the H1N1 virus - commonly called swine flu – that created a pandemic in 2009.
Um. No one in my household gets a flu shot. And uh, everyone has been sick for the past week…. Gulp!
Do you get flu shots?
TRAILS — An update to the 2008 Spokane County Regional Trails Plan will help integrate routes for walkers, runners, skaters, cyclists and equestrians into planning and development as the population grows, officials say.
The draft plan, up for county approval this month, identifies 677 miles of routes ranging from single tracks to the 12-foot-wide Centennial Trail, said Parks Department planner Paul Knowles.
The plan will help the county preserve and maintain existing trails while identifying links for an interconnected network of user-friendly trails, he said.
But don't take our word for it: check it out for yourself:
- See maps, ask questions and comment on updates to the Spokane County Regional Trail Plan at an open house meeting Tuesday, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., at REI, 1125 N. Monroe St.
- See the Regional Trail Plan documents on the County Parks website.
The county Planning Commission is set to review the draft plan on Jan. 16.
Outdoor groups in the Inland Northwest Trails Coalition helped fund the trail planning, map trails and propose possible links and expansion throughout the region.
The new Centennial Trail segment through Kendall Yards is indicates the benefits that can be achieved through trail planning Knowles said. The proposed Dream Trail running north-south completely through the Dishman Hills is another goal.
The plan could facilitate public access from Five Mile Prairie to the Little Spokane River.
Read on for more information about the plan.
T.J. Williams Jr., the director of photography, frames up a shot with a digital movie camera in Fairfield, on Wednesday, while shooting a feature film assisted by North By Northwest. At right is Adam Miller, the first assistant camera operator. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley
Oh, it's Monday again. Pardon me while I shake off the weekend cobwebs. As we start the work week there are some Saturday Valley Voice highlights to greet us, as always. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a report on the safety of Mountain View Middle School in the East Valley School District. Building and fire inspectors recently toured the building to make sure it was safe after parents raised concerns about the partially boarded up building.
The small town of Fairfield hosted a movie crew from North by Northwest last week. Portions of the movie “West of Redemption” starring Billy Zane were filmed there while grain trucks lumbered by on their way from the nearby grain elevators.
Lisa stopped by University High School during the morning on the first day of school when freshmen had the run of the buliding. The school had a special program that morning to help the students acclimate to the school and get to know each other.
The City of Spokane Valley and Spokane County had a joint meeting last week to discuss solid waste options under a new regional plan. The city would like to own the Valley transfer station, but County Commissioners seem to favor a plan that has the County owning and running the facility.
The Spokane Valley Fire Department is considering spending a budget surplus on remodeling several fire stations, two of which are decades old. Problems include leaking roofs, failing floors and kitchen cabinets in disrepair.
Kelly Hamill tries to detect the faint aroma of vanilla found in the bark of a mature ponderosa pine during a class for teachers at the Dishman Hills Natural Area on Tuesday. Hamill was among the elementary schoolteachers taking a class about how to use the popular park for educational purposes. SR photo Jesse Tinsley
Happy Thursday, everyone. We're another step closer to Friday. We've got some good highlights from today's Valley Voice, including more details on the replacement of the west Sullivan Bridge over the Spokane River. The bridge that carries southbound traffic was built in 1951 and has been rated structurally deficient. Construction should begin in early 2014.
Reporter Pia Hallenberged tagged along on a recent field trip for teachers in the Dishman Hills Natural Area. The teachers were learning how to incorporate plants, animals and geology of the area into their classrooms.
The eastern edge of Spokane County has a lot of what is known as no man's land - areas not served by a fire district. Residents living in those areas can't count on a fire department coming to their rescue if their house catches on fire, though in some cases the firefighters come anyway. A recent fire in a no man's land area north of Otis Orchards drew a response from three surrounding fire districts.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger dropped by a special Zombie Day at the Spokane Valley Library recently. The library has been having various events for kids all summer and in this one they put on makeup to make themselves look like zombies, ate zombie treats and learned about zombie books.
Spokane County could count as much as 90 percent of the ballots for the primary tonight.
Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said county elections staff have processed and readied for tabulation all ballots received by this morning. That leaves only the ballots being placed in the drop boxes today and those that come in the mail Wednesday and beyond.
Turnout is light, but mail delivery on the day after the election is usually heavy for ballots.
As of this morning, the county had received 36,564 ballots out of the 194,626 mailed out, or just under 19 percent.
McLaughlin estimated the final turnout will be around 40,000.
They'll release a single tally tonight just after 8 p.m., and another on Wednesday around 5 p.m.
If you still have your ballot and plan to vote, see the post below.
TRAILS — The Spokane County Regional Trails Plan, which provides guidance for local, state and federal agencies in developing new trails and maintaining existing routes, is open to public comment through an online survey.
The plan seeks to coordinate trails throughout the region, identified corridors for trails and wildlife, aim for road and trail standards and promote the system.
The inventories and organization of the multi-partner plan already has helped the region secure more than $7 million in funding for trails and conservation areas, said Lunell Haught of the Inland Northwest Trails Coalition.
The plan includes the Spokane River Centennial Trail, Fish Lake Trail and other major trails as well as a network of smaller trails on agencies ranging from county parks and state parks to U.S. Bureau of Management Lands.
The public input will be incorporated into the plan as it's updated this year, Haught said.
Spokane Valley Tech students run though the large room that used to be a Rite-Aid during a sports medicine class taught by Keith Eggleston on Wednesday. Eggleston was teaching the students how to analyze body movements and make corrections for injury prevention and efficiency. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland
Welcome to a blistering hot Monday. If you start hearing a lot of noise tonight and tomorrow, that's me whining about the lack of air conditioning in my house. But I'm nice and cool for now and ready with some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice.
Residents on both sides of the southeastern Spokane Valley city limits had some tough questions and comments for Spokane County representatives presenting information on their plan to restore wetlands in the Saltese Flats. The flats are located just outside Spokane Valley east of Barker Road. The area used to be a lake before it was drained for farming and ranching in the late 1800's.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by the new summer school classes being offered by Spokane Valley Tech. The free 13 day sessions cover everything from cosmetology to fire science to biomedical science. Students who attend the entire session can get credits. Lisa also has a story the new name for Contract Based Education - Dishman Hills High School.
Correspondent Steve Christilaw talked to The Pearl Snaps, a Spokane Valley blugrass band that recently competed in the National Old-Time Fiddlers Contest and Festival in Weiser, Idaho. The group has several performances lined up this summer and has put together a CD.
Spokane County will host a public meeting tonight to talk about their planned wetland restoration project in the Saltese Flats. The meeting will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Valley Real Life Ministries, 1831 S. Barker Road. This project doesn't involved any treated wastewater being piped in, it's the redirection of natural runoff. You can find more information on the project online at www.spokanecounty.org/salteseflats.
SHOOTING — Shooters trashing state lands and terrorizing adjacent private property owners are blasting their way out of a place to shoot.
And they're forcing unwanted restrictions on hunters.
Spokane County Commissioners are scheduled to consider proposals for two new no-shooting zones during their 2 p.m. meeting today.
The problems stem from state Department of Natural Resources lands off Koth Road near Newman Lake and off Starr Road south of Mica Peak.
See the map and proposal for the Koth Road no-shooting zone.
See the map and proposal for the Starr Road no-shooting zone.
See the overall Spokane County no-shooting zones map.
Property owners are calling for the action on the two new proposals after more than a year of effort to curb the abuse and safety concerns. Despite increased enforcement and citations for littering, damaging trees, using motorized vehicles in closed areas and failure to have a Discover Pass, shooters continued to trash the public land, said DNR lands manager Loren Torgerson.
“Organized shooting clubs tried to help out; they even went out and cleaned things up,” Torgerson said, but new messes were soon created.
“We tried to make it work, but it’s overwhelming.”
Proposals would allow shotgun shooting during appropriate hunting seasons but no rifle or pistol shooting at any time, said Bob Brueggeman, county engineer. Archery is OK.
Fish and Wildlife officials said they’d prefer a rule that allowed use of rifles for hunting. But Brueggeman said county ordinances do not allow that option to be considered in a no-shooting zone.
“Most shooters are responsible, but a subset of that group isn’t being responsible,” Torgerson said, noting they use garbage as targets and leave the trash. Semi-automatic weapons are used to blast and “saw down” trees, he said.
BOATING — Boaters are being asked to stay off Newman Lake until Friday as Spokane County plans to treat Eurasian water milfoil infestations with 2,4-D herbicide during the week.
Milfoil clogs waterways for everything from fish to boats and poses the danger of entrapping swimmers, the county's Newman Lake Milfoil Control Plan points out.
Good news! It's almost Friday. The arrival of Thursday, of course, means from Valley Voice highlights. This week photographer Colin Mulvany took some fabulous photos of high-angle rope rescue training put on by the Spokane Valley Fire Department. Deputy Chief Andy Hail volunteered to be “rescued” from a water tower and be lowered 200 feet to the ground in a gurney.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on West Valley High School student Tonya Lewis. Her iPod photo titled “Pathway to Happiness” won first place in the landscape category of the Photographic Society of America's international photo contest.
Spokane County recently submitted a 100-year flood plain map of the Saltese Flats area to the Federal Emergency Management Agency so the county can move forward with a project to rechannel runoff from Mica Peak to restore wetlands. The County submitted the map without the participation of the city of Spokane Valley, which is involved because any floodwaters from the flats would end up inside city limits. The city has concerns about some of the data included in the county's analysis.
PUBLIC LANDS — A proposal to purchase a 9.5-acre addition to an access site for the 1,066-acre Antoine Peak Conservation Area is on the agenda for today's Spokane County Commission meeting.
Antoine Peak is the mountain north of East Valley High School and east of Forker Road in Spokane Valley.
The Spokane County Parks, Recreation, and Golf Department will ask permission to spend $300,000 in county Conservation Futures funds to purchase the site owned by the Johnson Family Trust. The family has been allowing the public to use some of the property since the county secured the land in three phases concluding in 2011.
Public use is growing in the area, which is part of the voter-approved conservation program to protect wildlife habitat and open spaces for passive public recreation.
The property the family is offering to the county — before listing it for sale to the public — includes the existing public parking area on the east side of the mountain along with a 2,800 square foot residence with detached garage. The site is critical to the county because it's the only place available near the trailhead for public parking.
The residence could be used as a park ranger or maintenance worker residence. Acquiring the subject property would also allow Spokane County Parks to expand the existing lot as needed to handle increasing use.
Another parking site is being researched on the west side of the peak.
The state AP office provided Wednesday's update on April's Washington state jobless rates.
Washington state’s unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent in April, and the state added an estimated 3,800 jobs last month, according to data from the state Employment Security Department.
The March jobless rate for the state was 7.3 percent.
The state has now regained about 78 percent of the more than 200,000 jobs lost during the recession, according to ESD numbers.
The state “labor market is continuing to improve at a moderate but accelerating rate, somewhat faster than the nation,” Scott Bailey, a labor economist for Employment Security, said in a written statement.
The national unemployment rate for April was 7.5 percent.
Spokane County and other individual county unemployment rates will be reported next week.
Since April 2012, when Washington state’s unemployment rate was 8.4 percent, the state has gained a total of 67,200 jobs.
The latest figures show that economists significantly revised job loss numbers for March from an initial estimate of 5,500 down to 1,600 jobs.
Industries that saw the greatest job gains in April included retail trade, up 3,800 jobs; leisure and hospitality, up 1,600 jobs; and professional and business services, which gained 1,500 jobs.
Job losses were seen in education and health services, which lost 2,500 jobs; construction, down 1,100; and transportation, warehousing and utilities, which lost 500 jobs. Wholesale trade saw a decrease of 300 jobs.
UPDATED 12:30 p.m. with info from Idaho Fish and Game.
WILDLIFE — May is family time for bald eagles, which have been steadily gaining a greater foothold in the Inland Northwest as they're considered one of the shining examples of Endangered Species Act recoveries.
This bald eagle family was photographed at Lake Coeur d'Alene over the weekend by Larry Krumpelman and posted on the Coeur d'Alene Audubon Society website.
Idaho will conduct a bald eagle nesting survey next year, the first since 2008, when more than 50 breeding territories were documented in the Panhandle from Lake Coeur d'Alene and northward. Surely there's that many or more.
Spokane County alone has 15-20 active nests, said Howard Ferguson, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department area wildlife biologist.
The bald eagle, one of the first species to receive protections under the precursor to the Endangered Species Act in 1967, was been removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants in 2007. After decades of conservation efforts, the bald eagle exhibited a dramatic recovery, from a low of barely 400 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states in 1963, to more than 10,000 nesting pairs.
Nesting bald eagles can be resiliant.
A bald eagle nest surveyed near Post Falls Dam blew down during an early July 2008 windstorm. The nest was home to 3 chicks at or very close to fledging. All chicks were observed after the windstorm and presumed to have successfully fledged.
The eagle pair rebuilt their nest in the same tree in December 2008, according to the IFG survey report.
Spokane County had fewer businesses in 2011 than it did in pre-recession 2007, new Census figures show. Annual payroll was down and the number of businesses in all size categories had fallen — except one. That category is businesses with more than 1,000 employees.
There were nine businesses with 1,000 or more paid employees in 2011, up from seven in 2007, Census data shows.
The report, called “County Business Patterns: 2011,” doesn’t break down employers by name.
But according to the Journal of Business Book of Lists, the over-1,000 crowd for 2011 includes Spokane’s two big hospitals and Rockwood Clinic; URM and Wal-Mart; Avista; Northern Quest Casino; West Corp., the big call-center company; and Gonzaga University. The Census table doesn’t include most government employees.
Spokane County had 12,151 business establishments in 2011, compared with 12,961 in 2007. The largest category is very small businesses, with one to four employees. There were 6,410 such businesses in 2011, down from 6,648 in 2007.
For not the first time, the state unemployment report for Spokane left us dealing with mysteries.
The story, appearing Wednesday, reported March's county unemployment rate went down from 9.8 percent to 9.1 percent.
But, using different data from a different survey, the state also said Spokane lost 1,100 jobs. That will happen sometimes, when the two data sets move in different directions.
But the second bigger mystery involves a question about 500 positions lost in Spokane during March among the three higher ed institutions, WSU, EWU and the Community Colleges of Spokane.
We sent off a note to the WSU Spokane folks, asking if they were part of the 500 job decline.
We did get an answer, thanks to solid efforts by former newsman Doug Nadvornick.
Doug tracked down the numbers and came up with the basic response, that the state's tracking system found that WSU had lost eight “covered” positions and 23 “non-covered” positions. Essentially, around 31 jobs were eliminated or lost at WSU.
About a handful of those would have been from the transfer of the Interdisciplinary Design Program moving from Spokane to Pullman.
Which leaves the implication that the other 470 lost positions have to be from CCS and from EWU.
And that's going to be another story. Stay tuned. We'll see how this turns out.
Employment Security Department Regional Labor Economist Doug Tweedy said in the story that these numbers are preliminary, and that revised additional data in the next four weeks should clarify the picture.
We hope so, and we'll report what we get.
CONSERVATION — About 200 volunteers chipped in today to start a major revamping of the Dishman Hills Natural Area trail system.
Groups such as the Spokane Mountaineers and Gonzaga University student programs turned out in the Spokane Valley for the annual service day organized by the Dishman Hills Conservancy.
Regular trail users will soon notice a big difference as new trails are built to connect a series of four larger loops while some other trails, including sections of a few well-used ones, will be decommissioned.
The effort seeks to reduce the criss-crossing of trails and provide more resting areas for wildlife.
More signs will be posed as the project continues.
Other groups today planted hundreds of trees to reforest an area near the Camp Caro parking lot off Appleway and Sargent Road.
PUBLIC LANDS — The Spokane County Conservation Futures Program is asking county commissioners to preserve 920 acres on the west flank of Mica Peak and15 acres at a geological site between Badger and Williams lakes south of Cheney.
If approved, the acquisitions would bring Conservation Futures Program holdings to more than 7,000 acres through 29 acquisitions.
To date through the program, Spokane County Parks and Recreation manages 14 properties and the City of Spokane Parks Department manages an additional 11 properties within city limits.
From the state Employment Security Department:
Washington added an estimated 4,000 jobs in February, while the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 7.5 percent for the third month in a row.
Individual county jobless numbers will be released on Tuesday.
“February was relatively uneventful,” said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, a labor economist for the Employment Security Department. “The job growth was close to the monthly average for the past year, with no big surprises.”
The state has added about 65,000 jobs in the past year, averaging about 5,000 per month. So far, the state has regained about 70 percent of the 205,000 jobs that were lost due to the recession.
Industries with the most estimated job gains in February were education and health services, up 3,000; manufacturing, up 2,900; professional and business services, up 1,200; wholesale trade, up 600; information, up 400 jobs; other services, up 400 jobs; and government, up 400 jobs.
Industries showing the most job losses last month included construction, down 3,600 jobs; leisure and hospitality, down 1,100; and transportation, warehousing and utilities, down 400.jobs.
Spokane County engineers will host an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. today at Pasadena Park Elementary School, 8508 E. Upriver Drive, to discuss upcoming projects on or near the Argonne Road corridor north of the Spokane Valley city limits. Projects to be discussed include a sidewalk at Pasadena Park Elementary, the Argonne Road grade separation project for the Centennial trail, work on the Argonne/Upriver Drive intersection and the reconstruction of Argonne Road from Wellesley to Bigelow Gulch.
Additional upcoming projects are the Bruce Road preservation project from Stoneman Road to Peone Road and the Bruce Road reconstruction project from Peone Road to Day-Mount Spokane Road.
People will be asked to give their input on the projects, some of which are contingent on getting grant funding.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Unless there's a stray report still to come in, Inland Northwest Birders and Spokane Audubon tallied 238 species in their 2012 Spokane County “Big Year” effort to spot as many types of birds as possible.
Following are highlights compiled by Tim O'Brien of Cheney:
Black Scoter found by Jim Acton on West Medical Lake - October 25.
Gyrfalcon found by Terry Little on the West Plains - January 5.
Northern Hawk-owl found by the McKanns on the West Plains - January 7.
Red-breasted Sapsucker found by Becky Goldner near Mount Spokane - December 10.
American Three-toed Woodpecker found by Warren Walker on Mount Spokane - December 13.
Black and White Warbler found by Terry Little on Holcomb Road - September 3.
Tennessee Warbler found by Lindell Hagin at their residence by the Little Spokane - August 16.
Purple Finch by Terry Little at Peone Prairie - November 22.
Hoary Redpoll by Greg Falco near Cheney - November 23.
BIG MISSES: quite a few shorebirds such as Black-bellied Plover and Semipalmated Plover. Great Egret. Well, you can't find them all!
O'Brien said he's already started compiling reports for the 2013 Spokane County Big Year as well as documenting first found dates and locations for all species.
“2013 looks promising with a lot of winter birds around including snowy owl, common redpoll and pine grosbeak,” O'Brien said. Contact: email@example.com
RECORD SPOKANE COUNTY BIG YEARS247 species in 2006 — cumulative list from everyone all birders making sightings in the county during the year.230 species in 2006 — single birder record by Craig Corder.
Turnout is an important statistic in any election, but it's not always the key statistic because precincts with small registration can have a high turnout but not produce many votes.
Elections turn on ballots, and the precincts with the most ballots are the most important. This map shows where the votes were in the 2012 election.
Scroll down to see maps of the turnout and the presidential breakdown of votes in Spokane County.
Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers easily won re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, and defeated Democrat Rich Cowan in all the counties in the Eastern Washington District, including Spokane County.
For a closer look at the Spokane County results, check out the PDF version of the map below