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Thursday, October 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

In brief: Northern pikeminnow reward program extended

UPDATED: Wed., Sept. 23, 2020

This year’s Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Fishery, which for 30 years has paid anglers to catch qualifying northern pikeminnow in the Columbia River basin, has been extended through Oct. 11 at select registration stations. In addition, the program has increased incentives for anglers to help reduce the number of these predatory fish where threatened or endangered salmon or steelhead may be present.

The 2020 fishery got a slightly later start than usual amid COVID-19 restrictions. This year has seen reduced participation in general, especially as heavy smoke settled over much of the Northwest in recent weeks, said Eric Winther, project leader with WDFW.

“Catch rates have been fairly average so far this year, but we are now at the time of year when catches are historically the highest of the season,” Winther said. “Unfortunately, there have been fewer people taking part in this unique opportunity in 2020. Northern pikeminnow are the primary fish predator on juvenile salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake River systems, and managing those populations is a key element of predator management in the basin. So it’s great that we can offer these increased rewards and a longer season when fishing is very good.”

Normally, the program pays anglers $5-$8 for each qualifying fish. As of Saturday, all eligible northern pikeminnow are worth $10 per fish through the end of the season. Eligible fish are at least 9 inches in length and caught according to program rules.

So far this year, anglers have caught approximately 89,000 qualifying fish under the program., Winther said.

In another change that began Saturday, all tagged pikeminnow – normally worth $500 each – will be paid at $1,000 per fish.

These rewards are expected to return to normal amounts in 2021.

The fishery’s designated check stations will remain open through Sept. 30, which is the usual cutoff date for the annual event. After Sept. 30, only 11 check stations will remain open. Those stations include: Cathlamet, Willow Grove, Ridgefield, Chinook Landing, Washougal, Cascade Locks, The Dalles, Giles French, Columbia Point, Boyer Park, and Greenbelt.

INWC starts wildfire restoration fund

To help WDFW managers quickly begin reseeding and restoring burned wildlife habitat before winter, the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council has started an emergency restoration fund, seeded it with $5,000 and asking other clubs and wildlife enthusiasts to chip in.

The work is being done in burned wildlife habitat areas on public and private land in Lincoln and Douglas counties, said Todd Baarstad, department habitat specialist. Council officers say 100% of the funds raised will be donated directly to the effort for plantings that will curb weed infestations and provide food and cover for critters ranging from birds to deer.

Info: (509) 487-8552, www.inwc.org/donate.

WDFW hosts online digital open house

WDFW director Kelly Susewind and South Central Regional Director Mike Livingston are hosting an online meeting to discuss the vital role of public lands for people and wildlife in Yakima, Kittitas, Franklin and Benton counties from 7-8 p.m. on Monday.

The duo will be joined by representatives from two nonprofits: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Senior Lands Manager Bill Richardson and Director of Lands Jennifer Doherty, plus Forterra’s Lands Manager Collette MacLean and President & CEO Michelle Connor.

Leadership from all three organizations will share recent relevant updates and take questions from the public. While the partner matchup may seem new to some – Forterra is a non-profit more widely known for their work in the Puget Sound Region – one of the topics they’ll discuss is a recent effort to secure land along the South Fork Cowiche Creek in Yakima County. That effort protects an area where up to 2,000 Rocky Mountain Elk migrate.

Members of the public can participate in the discussion and ask questions from links on the department’s website at wdfw.wa.gov or zoom.us/j/92362051075.

Mt. Spokane announces expanded operation

The Mt. Spokane 2000 Board of Directors and Washington State Parks agreed to operate Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park seven days a week in January and February .

Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park continues its tradition of transformation and growth by developing the mountain as one of the premier family ski mountains in the region. The timing of COVID and the demand for more outdoor winter recreation has created an opportunity to add an additional 14 days of ski and snowboarding during the peak of the winter months.

Jim van Loben Sels, the General Manager, wants to create a winter destination for the 2020-21 season.

Mt. Spokane has traditionally been a five-days-a-week operation, Wednesday to Sunday. Beginning this season, Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park will operate seven days a week, starting at the beginning of Christmas break, Dec. 21, through Feb. 28.

Fishhook Creek Bridge to temporarily close

The St. Joe Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests plans to temporarily close a section of Forest Service Road 301 south of Avery, Idaho, on Oct. 6-7 to make needed upgrades to the Fishhook Creek Bridge. Motorists are advised to make alternate travel arrangements on those days because the road will be impassable during scheduled work.

Forest Service Road 301 will be closed between its terminus at the St. Joe River and the junction with Forest Service Road 753 (Lick Creek), approximately 5 miles to the south. The bridge is located at mile marker 3.

From staff and wire reports

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