Latest from The Spokesman-Review
OUTDOORS TRAVEL — If you're looking for an outdoors-related road trip, complete with opportunities for hiking, fishing and wildlife watching, consider the drive to Oregon's Steens Mountain.
Zach Urness, outdoor writer for the Statesman Journal, notes that it's been called the most spectacular drive in Oregon.
The Steens Mountain Loop Road departs the tiny, historic town of Frenchglen and climbs Oregon’s eighth-tallest mountain on a tour of massive gorges, vast panoramas and one of the most spectacular lakes in the Pacific Northwest.
The 52-mile loop is the state’s highest road and found in its southeastern corner, rising above the high desert like an alpine island, he says.
Last year, Urness wrote a story about backpacking and hiking into the gorges of Steens Mountain.
This year, he's written a detailed report focusing on the family-friendly highlights that can be enjoyed right along the road.
WILDLIFE — Idaho Fish and Game Department regional habitat biologists will discuss southern Panhandle wildlife management areas at the monthly informal Coeur d'Alene Sportsmen's Breakfast, 6:30 a.m., Tuesday (May 21) at Lake City Senior Center, 1916 N. Lakewood Dr.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Sinlahekin Wildlife Area manager Dale Swedberg doesn't just preach the gospel of rejuvenating wildlife habitat with controlled prescribed fires — he'll let you see for yourself.
A website with an eye-opening collection of photos compares historic photos of the Sinlanhekin Wildlife Area with photos of the same locations made in recent years.
While the northcentral Washington landscape near Loomis has been improved in some ways, the most glaring observation is the increase in tree cover due to fire supression in the past 90 years. Trees are good, but too many of them clogging the landscape eliminates the habitat diversity needed by wildlife.
Fire has been around as long as life because fire depends on living things to produce the fuels fire needs to exist. A person would think that there might be some important connections developed in such a long relationship. — Dale Swedberg
Resources for learning more about prescribed burns include:
PUBLIC LANDS — The last gasp before winter. Justin Haug of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife captured this photo of Forde Lake in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area of northcentral Washington in October.
PUBLIC LANDS — Be sure to check ahead for possible fire restriction before setting out for a hunting or camping trip this weekend. Closures are in effect in some areas as fires continue to burn in the absense of fall rains that normally would have wet the landscape by now.
A vast tract of state land including the Colockum area and Stemilt basin are closed to hunting and other recreation due to danger from the Table Mountain Complex fires.
Sgt. Kent Sisson of Chelan County Emergency Management said fire personnel are in the process of posting information boards in the area and signs alerting hunters and other recreators. Fires, including campfires, are also prohibited until further notice.
NO GREENUP COULD IMPACT BIG GAME
The lack of September rain has left big-game without a “fall green-up,” the sprouting of green vegetation in the warm “Indian Summer” after a September rain shower. This greenup is very important to game putting on fat for fall.
The green-up or lack of it factors into their winter survival.
Keep your fingers crossed.
PUBLIC LANDS — Citing extreme fire danger in Eastern Washington, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has just issued emergency restrictions — including a restrictions on target shooting, smoking and open fires — for all state wildlife lands.
Many of these restrictions already are in place on national forests.
Read on for the details.
HUNTING — An Asotin County ranch purchased by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife last winter is open to public walk-in access this year with the exception of some big-game hunters.
Deer and elk hunters are allowed on the newly-acquired addition to the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area only if they drew “4-0 Ranch” special hunting permit, officials said this week.
“The restriction is an effort to provide high-quality hunting opportunities and was something the rancher wanted as a condition for sale of the property,” said Madonna Luers, agency spokeswoman.
The 2,180-acre 4-0 Ranch parcel – the first of a multi-phase, multi-year public land acquisition project – was purchased in January with the approval of the state Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The ranch is within Game Management Unit 172 (Mountain View). But neither GMU 172 permit holders nor general season deer and elk hunters are allowed to hunt the parcel this year.
Read on for more details.
PUBLIC LANDS — The public and wildlife soon will be sharing a new chunk of an elk-friendly ranch and Grande Ronde River access in southern Asotin County. The 2,200-acre parcel bordering the Grande Ronde River was approved for acquisition Saturday by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The land, accessible off the Grande Ronde Road between Boggan’s Oasis and Troy, Ore.,will be the first phase of what is planned to be an even larger acquisition over about 10 years from Milton (Mike) Odom II and the 4-0 Livestock and Land Company LLC.
The area is tentatively being called the Mountain View Project, said Bob Dice, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife area manager in Clarkston.
The acquisition brings the total acreage in the Blue Mountains Wildlife Area Complex to more than 68,000 acres, Dice said. The other units in the complex include the Chief Joseph, Asotin Creek and Wooten wildlife areas.
Read on for more details.
PUBLIC LANDS — The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved an expanded permit program for state wildlife areas starting January 2012.
The program will require either a $7 daily parking permit or a $22 annual permit, and will be phased in over three years at several wildlife areas.
As in Washignton, the permit would be included at no additonal charge with season hunting and fishing license fees. A Washington wildlife lands parking access permit costs $10 for people who do no have hunting or fishing licenses.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game has considered a similar fee for its wildlife management areas, but it has never been enacted.