Feeling cooped up these days? A lot of folks are. The pandemic and need for social distancing have affected all of our normal routines, including the need for exercise and group activities.
Getting outdoors is still critical for most people’s well being and piece of mind. One local group is offering suggestions on how to take advantage of outdoor recreation while still being mindful of the public health conditions.
The Spokane Bicycle Club is in a moratorium period due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, but, members compiled several lists – available to the general public on its website – of self-guided bike rides.
Eastern Washington and North Idaho are full of areas to explore on bicycle, with many country roads quiet enough for miles of enjoyable cycling. And with easy-to-access routes available ranging from flat to hilly, there’s something for cyclists of all experience and fitness levels to take advantage of, even if we have to ride solo or within family groups for now.
In an effort to encourage new riders, and to explore possible new routes for club members, the SBC Board and president Jim O’Hare developed a list of potential routes/rides from past leader-guided group rides.
Interested riders can visit the club’s website (www.spokanebicycleclub.org) and scroll down to an entry entitled “September-October Regional Ride Possibilities.” There you’ll find links to four lists the SBC Board has chosen for safely riding during the COVID-19 period.
The ride descriptions are in four document pages, one per each category of terrain.
- Mostly flat:
- Trails and/or mostly flat roads with a possible gentle uphill;
- Climbs are short and easy, not too numerous;
- A few short, steep hills, some moderate upgrades and/or longer gentle climbs;
- Consistent or continuous climbing.
The ”local rides” link provides still more options for folks willing to explore the region via bicycle.
State park usage safety reminders
Since Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start Washington program was implemented, use of public recreation lands has increased exponentially. Along with overloved federal lands and county and city parks, Riverside State Park has experienced high numbers of visitors.
Visits to Riverside are up 45-60% from August 2019, and the numbers have taken their toll. Park staff report seeing large numbers of dogs off leash, dangerous levels of speeding on shared use roads, illegal parking and damage to fragile ecosystems.
Washington State Parks reminds the recreating public about ways to use and not to use Riverside State Park.
- Drive the speed limit; Avoid parking illegally and stick to designated parking spots. Parking on narrow roads creates blind corners that endanger pedestrians and other drivers
- Dogs must always be leashed in state parks and
- and are not allowed in natural areas.
The Little Spokane River Natural Area is experiencing abnormally high traffic, including illegal watercraft. Plastic pool rafts and innertubes, for instance, can tear on shallow logs or branches, endangering people floating and the conservation area. Park staff remind visitors that alcohol is prohibited on the Little Spokane River from St. George’s to Hwy 291 takeout, and park staff may close the parking lot gates due to overcrowding.
Area Manager Diana Dupuis urges paddlers to stay in their boats and says swimming and beaching are not allowed in the Little Spokane River.
WDFW to remove sea lions
The National Marine Fisheries Service on Friday approved an application allowing the WDFW and partners to expand a program to lethally remove sea lions preying on threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River basin.
WDFW, along with Oregon, Idaho, and six regional tribes, submitted the application in June 2019 after Congress passed an amendment to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) in December 2018 allowing wildlife managers greater flexibility in determining when predatory sea lions may be lethally removed in areas where salmon and steelhead listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) might be present.
The new permit allows removals to take place on a portion of the Columbia River mainstem between the Interstate-205 bridge and McNary Dam, as well as any Columbia River tributary that includes spawning habitat of ESA-listed salmon or steelhead.
Sea lions congregate along the river in increasing numbers every year, including at bottlenecks like Bonneville Dam, where they consume thousands of salmon and steelhead annually.
The expanded removals could begin as early as this fall.
Emergency closure of Badger Lake
WDFW public water access site at Badger Lake in west Spokane County is closed indefinitely due to a wildfire burning out of control in the area.
Despite evacuations of residents in the area, first responders have been dealing with people trying to get to the lake to launch boats. Officials ask people to stay away from the area and off the lake for the sake of safety and to give crews space to fight the fire.
The gate to the access site, located on the south end of the lake near where the fire is burning, will be closed until further notice.
Redband Raft makes 2020 debut
The Spokane Indians Baseball Team and the Redband Rally Campaign announced the debut of the Spokane Riverkeeper Redband Raft. It recently made its maiden voyage starting at the new raft and paddle launch at Redband Park in downtown Spokane to Aubrey White takeout.
Participating on the float was the Spokane Riverkeeper staff Jerry White Jr. and Jule Schultz, three board members and fellow river conservationists and volunteers.“This is exactly what the Redband Campaign is all about,” said Otto Klein, Senior VP for the team. “This campaign is designed to bring awareness to the native Redband trout in the Spokane River and rally the community to protect and keep the river clean. Nobody does that better than Jerry and his team. This investment will pay huge dividends for our community’s primary watershed.”
The new Redband Raft, which was purchased with funds from the Redband Rally Campaign, will be used for donor, partner and supporter float tours of the river as well as river habitat research trips. The raft will also be used as a second boat for river litter cleanup, and shuttling Spokane Riverkeeper staff, interns and volunteers to assist with homeless outreach efforts on the river. An existing Riverkeeper raft will be reassigned for river litter cleanup only.
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