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Tuesday, January 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

‘Worst conditions in 20 years’ prompt closure of Washington wildlife areas in Asotin County

From staff and wire reports

WILDLIFE – Two southeastern Washington wildlife areas totaling 11,000 acres are closed to public access through April to prevent human disturbance to deer and elk struggling through the worst winter conditions in years.

Fish and Wildlife officials on Friday closed the 4-O Ranch and Grouse Flats wildlife areas in Asotin County to all use.

Motorized travel on county maintained roads through the areas is allowed, and the land between the Grand Ronde River and Grand Ronde River Road remains open for fishing access.

Wildlife Area Manager Bob Dice and Paul Wik, wildlife biologist, report the worst winter conditions in the Grand Ronde River drainage in 20 years, with bitter cold and snow measured in feet.

“Deer and elk observed in this area have physical signs of undernourishment, including exposed hip bones and eating shrub bark,” Wik said.

“We’ve already seen a few dead animals with no signs of predation. We need to restrict any disturbance to these animals to boost their chances of survival.”

Portions of several other Eastern Washington wildlife areas have temporary closures to protect wintering wildlife from disturbance, and in some cases to keep animals like elk from damaging adjacent private lands.

Lake Roosevelt seeks public feedback

PARKS – Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area staff will discuss proposed outdoor recreation opportunities during a meeting on Monday at 6 p.m. at the Center for Clinical Research and Simulation building, 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Proposals include a disc golf course, traditional and 3-D archery ranges, a mountain bike course, trail system expansion and a Kettle River Water Trail for non-motorized watercraft.

Trail plan approved for Mica Peak

PARKS – A Mica Peak Trail Plan has been approved for the 911-acre conservation area and Spokane County Parks and Recreation planners say work could begin this summer.

The plan features a 2.65-mile mountain biking downhill flow trail and 11 miles of multi-use trails. The non-motorized routes take full advantage of area’s elevation profile, which ranges from 2,800 to 4,800 feet. The plan also calls for decommissioning miles of trails, roads and unauthorized routes, some of which were made by illegal ATV and dirt bike riding.

Eventually, routes from the Mica Peak area could extend into neighboring properties and east to Liberty Lake Regional Park.

Work on the trails could begin this summer with help from volunteer groups, said Paul Knowles, park planner.

Outdoor groups host programs this week

CLUBS – Outdoor programs of note this week:

Karelian bear dogs, by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 7 p.m., 6116 N. Market St., for Inland Northwest Wildlife Council.

Cuba birding, by Ann Brinly, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., at Riverview Retirement Center, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave., for Spokane Audubon.

Nymphing and fly fishing photography, by Skip and Carol Morris, Wednesday at 7 p.m., at St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy, for Spokane Fly Fishers.

Elk Foundation sets Spokane banquet

HABITAT – The Spokane Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will hold its annual Big Game Banquet on Feb. 18 at 5 p.m. at the Mirabeau Hotel in Spokane Valley.

Tickets are available online or call Ashley Atkinson, (509) 939-6360.

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