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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Saturday, June 6, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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From Sprague To Liberty, Some Answers

By Rich Landers The Spokesman-Revi

Judging from the calls and letters, praise and brickbats, it’s time for correction, clarification and rumination on recent outdoors topics.

Plus a couple of encouraging updates on fish and feathered friends.

Sprague fish kill: TV news raised a stink this week about “thousands of fish” turning belly up at Sprague Lake.

The rest of the story is that hundreds of thousands of fish in the lake are doing just fine, thank you.

Ray Duff, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department regional manager, explained that winds packed blue-green algae into one of the lake’s shallow bays, depleting enough oxygen to kill swarms of fish. Most of the kill involved bullheads and perch 2-4 inches long.

“It’s a fairly common natural occurrence that’s no big deal in terms of the overall fishery,” said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman.

Fight for Liberty: Good news for the anglers who called to grumble about the short notice on last week’s meeting regarding changes to the fishing access on Liberty Lake.

I goofed.

The meeting is at 9 a.m. Aug. 6 at the Spokane County Public Works Department.

Kudos to anglers who showed up for the non-meeting, but used the opportunity to write letters for the public record supporting the state Fish and Wildlife Department’s plan to spend $175,000 to improve the lake’s only public boat-launching ramp.

Some Liberty Lake property owners are seizing the permit process as an opportunity to close the public access.

Numerous callers pointed out that the Liberty Lake Homeowners Association, which has been active against fishermen for more than a decade, comprises only a fraction of the people who live around the lake. Some homeowners are anglers, and they want the access.

Another Liberty Lake resident applauded my effort to preserve the access, but said the battle is uphill. “You’ll notice that they’ve already taken down all the signs directing you to the public access,” he said.

Fishermen are not the problem with the access, several other callers pointed out. It’s the partiers who park on the access late in the night and whoop it up.

One caller said justice is catching up with greedy Liberty Lake residents who have orchestrated the demise of the lake’s once-great trout fishing.

“They thought fishermen were a blight on the lake,” the caller said. “But by getting rid of most fishermen, they only made room for something a hundred times more obnoxious - Jet Skis.”

Pheasant fiasco: It’s no surprise to learn that about 60 percent of the calls to the Fish and Wildlife Department favor the new $10 fee hunters must pay for a new program to raise and release pheasants in Eastern Washington.

We’re Americans, and we like quick fixes for complicated problems, even if the cost is $7-$10 a bird.

To voice your opinion on the new $10 fee - 80 percent of which MUST be spent on releasing pheasants - leave a message for Dave Ware, state upland bird manager, at (360) 902-2525.

Peregrine debut: The first confirmed peregrine falcon nest in Spokane has produced at least two offspring, which have been learning to fly near the Sunset Highway bridge over Latah Creek.

Peregrines were listed as an endangered species in 1970. Thanks to breeding programs and the ban on DDT 25 years ago, the falcon’s recovery throughout North America is nearly complete.

By using high-powered spotting scopes, falconers read numbers on the bands of the adult peregrines Wednesday. Bill Heinrick of the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise confirmed the adults came from peregrine releases on the Clark Fork River delta between 1992 and 1994.

Similar releases of young captive-reared peregrine falcons from the Washington Water Power building near Riverfront Park in 1988, ‘89 and ‘90 produced no known nesting pairs, Heinrick said.

Falconers have watched the peregrines hunt from the railroad bridge between I-90 and the Sunset Highway bridge.

The deep gorge with flowing water is a classic site for peregrines. The adults put on amazing aerial displays to catch prey ranging from stocky pigeons to agile white-throated swifts.

, DataTimes MEMO: You can contact Rich Landers by voice mail at 459-5577, extension 5508.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review

You can contact Rich Landers by voice mail at 459-5577, extension 5508.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review

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