The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will do controlled burns to restore habitat in the Oak Creek Wildlife Area in Yakima County starting as early as next week.
With cooler temperatures and higher humidity reducing wildfire danger, WDFW lifted fire restrictions on most department-managed lands on Oct. 1, allowing prescribed burns to move forward, dependent on weather conditions.
Matt Eberlein, WDFW Prescribed Fire Program Manager, said burn crews will be cognizant of wildfire conditions. Fire activity will be limited to areas with lower smoke impact to the public and communities, and take into consideration upcoming hunting seasons.
“Burning activities could continue into October, but with the intent to be completed prior to the opening of modern firearm elk season,” Eberlein said.
The area to be burned is 120 acres approximately 10 miles up the Oak Creek Road/drainage.
Portions of the wildlife area may be closed during the controlled burns, and people may see smoke for a couple of hours after the burns.
WDFW uses controlled burns to reduce uncharacteristic fuels that would otherwise burn hotter than they are adapted to withstand in wildfires. Prescribed fire also destroys invasive plants, improves wildlife habitat and rejuvenates existing foliage.
“Fire is a natural part of both forest and grassland ecology, and controlled fire can be an extremely effective tool for foresters,” Eberlein said.
This proactive work is part of the state’s 20-year forest health strategy and is intended to support the ability of the landscape to survive and thrive when wildfires occur.
Yakima River open for fall salmon fishing
The Yakima River opened to fishing for fall salmon on Oct. 1. The fishery is open from the Hwy. 240 bridge in Richland (river mile 2.1) to the Grant Avenue Bridge in Prosser (river mile 47.0), approximately 1,000 feet downstream of Prosser Dam.
The minimum size is 12 inches, with a daily limit of two adults. There is no limit on jacks.
All salmon other than chinook and coho must be released. Hatchery and wild salmon can be harvested. Anglers must cease fishing for salmon once they have retained their adult daily limit. Night closure is in effect and barbless hooks are required.
Fishing remains closed from 200 feet downstream of the USBR Chandler Powerhouse/Spillway to 200 feet upstream of the USBR Chandler Powerhouse.
The fishery is expected to remain open through Oct. 18.
Idaho land managers move to new offices
The Idaho Panhandle National Forests and the Bureau of Land Management’s Coeur d’Alene District began moving Monday from their offices at 3815 North Schreiber Way into a new complex just a mile west at 3232 West Nursery Road.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-North Idaho Field Office will also move to the new complex from its offices in Spokane Valley.
The entire move should be complete by Oct. 16.
There will be no interruptions to public service during this time. To comply with CDC social distancing guidelines, the offices continue to provide service virtually or over the phone and are not open to walk-in business.
The agencies plan to host an open house for the general public once it’s safe to hold a large-group gathering. In the meantime, the public can contact front-desk staff with questions and for service by calling the Forest Service at (208) 765-7223 or the BLM at (208) 769-5000.
Idaho pheasant season opens this weekend
Idaho pheasant season opens Saturday or Oct. 17 depending on the area, and stocking will be expanded in 2020.
Hunters will get more opportunities to hunt released pheasants thanks to increased pheasant stocking locations from nine to 22, including each region of the state. Pheasant season opens Saturday in North Idaho and Oct. 17 in southern and eastern Idaho. See area maps for opening dates on Page 11 of the Idaho Upland Game, Turkey and Furbearer seasons and rules.
In addition to more release sites around the state, Fish and Game will stock about 34,000 pheasants this year, up from about 21,000 in 2019.
“Pheasants are the most popular game bird species for upland game hunters in the state,” said Jeff Knetter, Upland Game and Migratory Game Bird Coordinator. “Hunters and supporters of pheasant hunting asked us to expand the pheasant stocking program to include additional properties, and we now provide that opportunity.”
Hunters can see a full schedule of where and when pheasants will be released statewide on the pheasant stocking webpage.
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