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Wednesday, October 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Field reports: Construction of Priest Lake Outlet Dam moving forward

Options for commercial whale watching rules are under consideration from the WDFW.  (WDFW/courtesy)
Options for commercial whale watching rules are under consideration from the WDFW. (WDFW/courtesy)

The Idaho Water Resource Board has given Strider Construction, the contractor selected to enhance the Priest Lake Outlet Dam structure and replace the Thorofare breakwater at the north end of the lake, the green light to proceed with the Priest Lake Water Management project, officials said Monday.

Based in Bellingham, Strider Construction was the low bidder on both projects. The board’s existing design/engineering contractor, Mott MacDonald, will serve as the construction manager for the project.

Construction is scheduled to begin in early November and finish in spring.

Priest Lake waterfront owners and boat owners are encouraged to remove their boats and docks in September as a 3-foot drawdown will occur, beginning Thursday, to lower the lake level for construction activities.

Public boat ramps may become unusable by mid-October.

White sturgeon fishing allowed on limited basis on Columbia River

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced sport white sturgeon retention is allowed on a limited basis on the Columbia River, from Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam. White sturgeon from 44 inches minimum to 50 inches maximum fork length may be retained.

The opportunity is effective Tuesday and Saturday.

WDFW announced the reason for action was the legal-size population is large enough to allow for a limited retention fishery within the lower Columbia River. Catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon will continue to be allowed on all nonretention days.

Daily white sturgeon limit is one fish, annual limit of two. Retention of green sturgeon is prohibited. Information contact: Region 5 office: (360) 696-6211.

State requests opinions on commercial whale watching rules

WDFW is looking for feedback on the environmental analysis of options for commercial whale watching rules designed to protect Southern Resident killer whales while considering license holders’ economic viability.

The new rules, prompted by Senate Bill 5577 passed in 2019, would be intended to reduce impacts of vessel noise and disturbance on Southern Resident killer whales so that they can effectively find food, rest and socialize.

The rules are expected to take effect in 2021.

“We’re using the best available science to support the conservation of these iconic animals,” said Julie Watson, WDFW killer whale policy lead. “The environmental impact analysis is a valuable tool in understanding the tradeoffs among various options we have been exploring in the agency and with our advisory committee.”

The public is invited to attend a virtual public meeting Oct. 19, 6-8 p.m., to learn more about the environmental analysis and provide comments on the draft environmental review.

Comments as part of the SEPA process can be submitted through Oct. 23 online at wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/environmental/sepa/open-comments or by mail to Lisa Wood, SEPA/NEPA Coordinator, WDFW Habitat Program, Protection Division, P.O. Box 43200, Olympia, 98504.

WDFW is also seeking public input on its draft periodic status reviews for gray and humpback whales.

Draft periodic status reviews for both the gray whale and the humpback whale are available for review at WDFW’s publications webpage.

The public can provide comments on the drafts through Dec. 21.

Written comments on the review and recommendation can be submitted via email to TandEpubliccom@dfw.wa.gov or by mail to Taylor Cotten, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 43141, Olympia, 98504-3200.

Mount Rainier seeks public comment on management plan

Mount Rainier National Park is in the early stages of developing a Visitor Use Management Plan for the Nisqually to Paradise Road Corridor, and is seeking public comments through Oct. 5 to help identify key issues and potential management strategies.

The Nisqually Corridor is a popular year-round transportation corridor in the southwestern section of the Mount Rainier National Park on Paradise Road, starting at the Nisqually Entrance near Ashford and ending at Paradise.

The roads along the Nisqually Corridor are significant cultural and historic resources and lie within the Mount Rainier National Historic Landmark District.

Surrounding the corridor are vast areas of federally designated wilderness.

It’s also a piece of the larger habitat network the park is working to maintain, restore, and connect through the Cascades to Olympics program. Species including fisher, recently returning wolverine and elk frequently move through this landscape. The hope is that wolves will join that list in the future.

The plan will consider key issues related to visitor experiences, natural and cultural resource protection, and vehicular crowding and congestion along the historic road from the Nisqually Entrance Station to Paradise.

Public comments can be left at parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=105822.

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