On Tuesday, July 14, a broad coalition of outdoors-focused businesses sent a letter urging the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Great American Outdoors Act , bipartisan legislation being called a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to fund conservation and access in the United States.
The House has scheduled a vote on the bill on Wednesday, July 22.
A diverse slate of interests – including hunters and anglers, recreationists and outdoor companies – has spoken up forcefully in support of GAOA. The businesses, which signed a letter that was sent to House offices and leadership, include hunting, fishing, rafting and camping manufacturers.
GAOA would fully dedicate funds to the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million annually and address maintenance backlogs on public lands and waters at $9.5 billion over five years. Last month, the Senate passed identical legislation 73-25.
Spokane River cleanup effort succeeds
Masked up and ready to roll, the Spokane River Forum and Spokane Riverkeeper were thrilled when 71 volunteers turned out and picked up 1,050 pounds of trash up and downstream of Mission Street Bridge. “These guys rocked,” Spokane Riverkeeper Jule Schultz said.
Visit spokaneriver.net/events/ to learn more and sign up for future events.
The next public cleanup date is Aug. 1, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at People’s Park and Kendall Yards.
The American Canoe Association, Avista and the Redband Campaign provided funding for purchase of 5,000 heavy-duty trash bags to support Spokane River cleanup efforts of the Forum, Spokane Riverkeeper, Lands Council and others.
Judge denies request to halt project
On Monday, July 13, Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho denied a motion for preliminary injunction against the Brebner Flat Project on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, allowing the forest health project to proceed.
The Brebner Flat Project was developed to improve the forest’s resiliency to drought, insects and disease. The project includes logging treatments to reduce the risks of severe fire and provides timber to support local economies. As the project includes Wildland Urban Interface near the town of Avery, Shoshone County has identified the project area as an area of concern in its Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
Logging and prescribed burning are planned to occur on approximately 1,700 acres, or 14% of the 12,000-acre project area. Approximately 10.5 miles of roads will be constructed or reconstructed for the project.
The Forest Service issued project documentation in June 2019, determining there would not be a significant effect on the environment and that there would be no effect on grizzly bears or lynx due to the project activities.
Columbia River mainstem salmon fishery update
WDFW extended the season for chinook and reopened steelhead retention, effective through July 31 on the Columbia River, from a line projected from Rocky Point on the Washington bank through Red Buoy 44 to red navigation marker 2 at Tongue point on the Oregon bank upstream to Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco.
The daily limit is six, and up to two hatchery adults may be retained, of which no more than one may be a steelhead. Release all salmon other than hatchery chinook and release wild steelhead.
Salmon and steelhead fishing remains closed through July 31 downstream of the Rocky Point/Tongue point line. Beginning Aug. 1, fall fisheries start and anglers are reminded to check the 2020-21 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for area-specific seasons and regulations.
For more information, contact Region 5, (360) 696-6211; or Region 3, (509) 575-2474.
Baker Lake to open for sockeye
WDFW opened sockeye retention fishery through Sept. 7 on Baker Lake in Whatcom County.
The daily limit is two sockeye (minimum size 18 inches). Anglers may fish with two poles with a two-pole endorsement. Each angler aboard a vessel may deploy salmon angling gear until the daily salmon limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved.
The Skagit co-managers (WDFW and treaty tribes) will be closely watching sockeye returns to the Baker River upstream fish trap to ensure broodstock goals are meeting objectives. WDFW staff will be monitoring the Baker Lake fishery and numbers of sockeye hauled to the lake to ensure 1,500 sockeye remain in the lake for natural spawning.
Anglers should regularly check the WDFW emergency rule updates webpage (fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/) for the latest information. For more information, contact Mill Creek Regional Office (425) 775-1311.
Road, access improvements planned for lake
On Monday, July 13, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with WDFW, started repairing and restoring roads at the Leader Lake recreation area in the Loup Loup State Forest.
Weather conditions and increased numbers of visitors have deteriorated the access roads to the lake significantly in recent years. The repair work on the entrance road, scheduled to be finished by July 30, will considerably improve access to the lake and recreation area.
Leader Lake provides recreation opportunities throughout the year and is a popular fishing and camping destination in Okanogan County.
Users should expect delays and limited access to the lake during construction. Construction and potential delays will occur Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Roads will be open for travel on weekends and during evening hours.
WDFW to treat Mattoon Lake for noxious weeds
WDFW will use herbicide treatments to control noxious weeds at Mattoon Lake in Kittitas County for one week starting Monday.
Treatment work will not impact fishing or other recreation at the lake per the herbicide labels and the Washington Department of Ecology permit requirements. Signs will be posted at the lake advising visitors of the treatment work.
The western end of Mattoon Lake will be treated with the herbicide ProcellaCOR to control Eurasian and hybrid watermilfoils.
WDFW will also treat the lake shoreline with the herbicide imazapyr to control yellow flag iris, an emergent plant that impedes casting access for anglers.
Runner collides with bear in Glacier
On July 11, a Kalispell woman collided with what is believed to be a young grizzly bear while trail running on Huckleberry Lookout Trail in Glacier National Park in Montana. She was able to walk back down the trail with friends and met rangers just as they arrived at the trailhead. The woman self-transported to Kalispell Regional Medical Center for further treatment and evaluation.
The woman sustained minor, non-life-threatening injuries to the head and arm.
The surprise encounter occurred in the morning hours, about 4 miles down Huckleberry Lookout Trail.
There were no other reports of the bear.
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