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Target shooters wear out welcome on DNR land near Newman Lake

STATE LANDS — Shooters are creating a safety hazard and trashing a section of state land near Newman Lake, Department of Natural Resources officials say.

Complaints from area landowners have prompted more enforcement and citations for littering, using motorized vehicles in closed areas and failure to have a Discover Pass, said Loren Torgerson of the agency’s northeastern Washington staff.

The property– section 36 off Koth Road just northeast of Newman Lake – has been promoted as a good place to shoot in blogs and brochures left at gun shops, including Cabela’s, Torgerson said.

“Most shooters are responsible, but a subset of that group isn’t being responsible,” he said. Shooters have been using garbage as targets and leaving the trash as well as using semi-automatic weapons to blast and “saw down” cedar trees, he said.

Washington Fish and Wildlife police and Spokane County Sheriff’s Department have been assisting the DNR’s one enforcement officer covering seven counties, he said.

“Citations have been written and we’re starting to see a reduction in the number of bad actors up there,” he said.

Improving barriers to driving off the main road is helping with the problem, he said.

DNR has been working with the county’s shooting area advisory committee to consider a petition that would close the area to shooting, he said.

“We certainly want holistic view of the issue. We know that closing one area to shooting simply moves the problem somewhere else,” he said.

“Ultimately the community needs to look at the options.”

OK given to remove Mill Pond Dam from Sullivan Creek

STREAMS — The Washington Department of Ecology has issued a permit that allows the Pend Oreille County PUD to remove Mill Pond Dam, which is downstream from Sullivan Lake. This long-planned project would improve miles of fisheries habitat.

Another two years of planning will be needed before the work can begin.

Read on for history and details from the Department of Ecology.

Tussock moth infestation found in Blue Mountains

FORESTS — The Washington Department of Natural Resources has discovered a new infestation of Douglas-fir tussock moths that occurred last summer in the Blue Mountains of Washington and Oregon.

Light defoliation caused by the moths was mapped across 9,000 acres of the Umatilla National Forest, with Washington accounting for 7,800 acres, according to a DNR press release and following report from the Associated Press.

Most of the defoliation occurred in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness Area, but it may spread and increase in severity this year, the state Department of Natural Resources said Monday.

Officials say another tussock moth outbreak that affected 1,600 acres in eastern Spokane County in 2011 will likely end this year.

In nearby northern Idaho, approximately 68,000 acres with tussock moth defoliation were recorded in 2011 and that outbreak may spread this year, the DNR said.

The defoliation can reduce growth, cause top-kill, and may make some trees vulnerable to attack by bark beetles. An outbreak typically kills up to 40 percent of the trees in an area.

The outbreak in the Blue Mountains primarily affects grand fir, subalpine fir, Douglas-fir, and some spruce.

Recreation can be affected in areas with tussock moth present because the hairs found on caterpillars, cocoons, and egg masses are a skin irritant to many people, the DNR said.

The last outbreak in the Blue Mountains occurred from 2000-2002.

Outbreaks typically collapse within two to four years due to a buildup of natural enemies, such as disease and parasites.

The Washington DNR said new damage becomes most noticeable in July and is often worst in the tops of trees.

Discover Pass required starting today at state parks and other state lands

 STATE LANDS — Starting today, the new Discover Pass authorized by the Washington Legislature will be required for vehicle access to nearly 7 million acres of Washington state-managed recreation lands – including campgrounds, parks, wildlife areas, trails, natural areas, wilderness areas and water access points.

The $30 seasonal vehicle permit ($10 daily) will be required at state parks and lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

The passes are sold at face value at state parks. A $2 dealer fee is added at sport retailers.  Fees totaling $5 for the $30 annual pass are added when purchased online.

Sportsmen who have hunting and fishing licenses automatically get a pass for fish and wildlife lands and boat access sites.  But that Fish and Wildlife Vehicle Access Pass does not work for state parks and DNR lands. 

Read my recent story for more details.

Check this story for answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Click here for a summary of other passes one might need in the Pacific Northwest for outdoor recreation on private, state and federal lands.

Discover Pass sales pick up; enforcement begins Tuesday

STATE LANDS — Employees from three Washignton state agencies will spend the Fourth of July weekend reminding people they need the pass for their vehicles, according to Virginia Painter, spokeswoman for the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

Enforcement of the new Discover Pass will begin Tuesday at state parks and state land managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources. 

Vehicles already have been required to have state vehicle passes at Washington Fish and Wildlife access sites, such as Libert Lake boat launch.  There's no grace period at those sites.

At least 8,745 annual Discover Passes and 30 one-day passes had been sold as of noon Thursday.
Painter said an additional $550,000 came from dealers outside of the Fish and Wildlife system, who bought them to resell to customers.
She said total revenue from all sources so far is $813,000. The money is needed to keep state parks open and fund management of other state recreation lands, she said.

State agencies swap East Side land

PUBLIC LANDS — The Washington departments of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife swapped thousands of acres in a deal signed today.

Generally, the trade helps each agency consolidate lands. It gives DNR more land to put to work for the benefit of state schools while Fish and Wildlife will take control of lands better suited to wildlife management.
The properties that WDFW receives will become part of the Asotin, Colockum, Cowiche, Klickitat, Methow, Oak Creek, Sinlahekin, Skookumchuck, Quilomene and Wenas Wildlife Areas.
DNR will receive properties located in the L.T. Murray, Oak Creek and Sinlahekin landscapes.
Read on for details and maps.