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Sunday, September 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

In brief: Spokane River access at TJ Meenach is open

Thanks to a partnership between the Spokane River Forum, Spokane Riverkeeper and Spokane Parks and Recreation, river access and parking are open at T.J. Meenach.

Located upstream of Downriver Golf Course, T.J. Meenach is one of the Spokane River’s most popular put-in and take-out locations as it supports tubers and paddlers enjoying the Great Gorge all summer long.

With the pandemic stretching the Spokane Parks and Recreation small maintenance team thin, a shout out came for some helping hands. Said Jerry White, Executive Director of Spokane Riverkeeper, “The Forum and Riverkeeper responded by adding it to the Get Up, Get Out volunteer cleanup program we launched last month. Volunteers will keep it looking good all summer.”

In other river news, in response to the three fatalities on the Spokane River this summer, Paul Delaney, a co-founder of the Northwest Whitewater Association, decided some action needed to be taken.

Delaney contacted the Forum about putting life jackets on kiosks it maintains at Stateline, Harvard Road and Barker Road.

“It’s simple. If you’re going on the river and forgot or need a life jacket, grab one. No excuses,” Delaney said. “We just ask you to put it back when you’re done. Hopefully it catches on, and we can work with people to do this at other locations.”

Anyone who wants to donate life jackets to the cause can do so by contacting Delaney via email at or call/text him at (509) 220-8018.

Lebovitz named state DNR wildland fire liaison

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz has named Allen Lebovitz as the Wildland Fire Liaison for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources .

Lebovitz will be tasked with building, nurturing and growing relationships with communities around Washington and strengthening communication and coordination as he shares information and exchanges perspectives on how to best shape the state’s response to wildfires.

Lebovitz previously worked for the agency as an aquatic habitat restoration manager, a field position that saw him implementing river restoration projects across Washington. An interest in wildland fire ecology spurred him to experience it on the front lines as a DNR wildland firefighter, a job he grew to love over the years.

Before his time with DNR, Lebovitz worked as a forester and ecologist in the private and nonprofit sectors, and ran his own timber and logging company.

Fuelwood areas to open on CdA River District

The USDA Forest Service will temporarily open two additional fuelwood cutting areas on the Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District, allowing for public personal firewood gathering in order to reduce fuel loads in areas that otherwise may be gated.

The Blue Alder fuelwood area located in the Wolf Lodge-Fourth of July vicinity and the White Beaver fuelwood area on the west side of Beaver Creek will be open until Aug. 5. Each designated area provides access to multiple preferred fuelwood cutting sites.

Personal firewood cutting will be free to the public for the remainder of 2020, but a free hard-copy use permit is required as of June 1. To obtain a permit by mail, contact the Fernan Office at (208) 664-2318 or the Silver Valley Office at (208) 783-2363.

Detailed maps and driving instructions for these preferred fuelwood areas are available on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests homepage at

Blue Alder Fuelwood (Wolf Lodge-Fourth of July vicinity)

  • Roads 814 and 1510: This preferred fuelwood area is located on the west side of the district. These two roads are off of Forest Service Road 202 and will be signed for firewood gathering.
  • Roads 359 and 413N: This preferred fuelwood area is located on the west side of the district. These two roads are off of Forest Service Road 413 and will be signed for fuelwood gathering.

White Beaver Fuelwood (west side of Beaver Creek vicinity)

  • Roads 1586, 933, 957, 933F, 1586H, 1586J, 1586C: This preferred fuelwood area is located on the east side of the district along the west side of the Beaver Creek drainage and is accessed by Forest Service Road 933. These roads will be signed for fuelwood gathering.

Road improvements create delays near Bonners Ferry

Road improvement work on the Bonners Ferry Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests that began Monday will cause temporary driving delays on several Forest Service roads in the Boulder Creek/Twentymile Creek area. Drivers can expect short delays in most cases, but several planned culvert replacements could delay traffic up to 4 hours at a time.

Work will take place on Forest Service Roads 408 and 274 , continuing to include Forest Service Roads 427 and 2624, and is expected to conclude by Aug. 21.

These improvements are part of the Boulder Creek Restoration Project and in support of the Black Boulder timber sale, undertaken on National Forest System lands by the Idaho Department of Lands under a Good Neighbor Authority agreement.

The activities will include brushing, ditch cleaning, drainage improvements, culvert installations and replacements, and driving surface improvements.

For additional information, please contact your local ranger station or visit

Emerald Creek Garnet Area to remain closed for 2020

The Emerald Creek Garnet Area, administered by the St. Joe Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, will remain closed for the remainder of the 2020 season.

This popular site historically receives large groups of visitors (over 5,000 in a single season from Memorial Day to Labor Day), resulting in eager crowds looking for the state gem, especially in the digging and sluicing areas, which would not meet social distancing guidelines for the public or Forest Service staff at the site. In the interest of safety and welfare for the recreating public and staff, the site will remain closed.

The Forest Service reminds visitors that sluicing and digging for garnets is not allowed in the Emerald Creek area when the Emerald Creek Garnet Area is closed.

For additional information on rock hounding and permit requirements on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, please visit:

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