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Device helps women stand up when nature calls

July 25, 2014 6:19 a.m.

CAMPING — The females in my family have never had a problem squatting in the woods to relieve themselves — this video seems to suggest it's a problem for some outdoorswomen.

But the Pee Pocket device the video promotes has real value in outdoor applications.

For instance, by being able to stand a pee like a man, a woman can urinate more easily into a bottle in a tent, for instance, so the urine can be disposed of in an outhouse or away from camp the next morning.  This would be a big advantage in a storm or when in grizzly country  — or for simply keeping pesky deer away from camp that are otherwise lured by the salt.

While floating the Grand Canyon this winter, several gals on the trip were envious of my “pee bottle,”  which I used at camp rather than having to hike to the river from the tents — sometimes a long way — every time the urge struck, day or night.

I'll let you outdoor women size this up for yourselves, but I'll bet you'll be able to find a few good uses for it.

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Backcountry skiers commenting on Forest Service plan

July 24, 2014 10:08 a.m.

WINTERSPORTS — The public comment period for the U.S. Forest Service’s draft Over-Snow Vehicle (OSV) Travel Rule ends Aug. 4.   This rule will affect all national forests, including the Idaho Panhandle and Lolo National Forests, which are favorite winter destinations for both backcountry skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers.

“The proposed OSV Travel Rule is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough,” says John Latta of the Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance. The group has been working to sort out conflicts between snowmobilers and muscle-powered recreation in the Lookout Pass area and other special areas.

 Latta said nordic skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and winter mountaineers should be weighing in to ensure the Forest Service adopts a rule “that meets its obligation to minimize the impacts of winter motorized use, and finally bring balance to the winter backcountry.”

Following is the group's recommendation for commenters:

PLEASE COMMENT ON THE OVER-SNOW VEHICLE RULE BY AUGUST 4

STEP 1: Review the WWA informational webpage about the draft rule HERE to get up to speed. Basically, we need to tell the Forest Service that the winter travel management rule should be consistent with the summer travel management rule.

STEP 2: Submit your comments online HERE. You can write your comments in the online form. OR if you prefer (and you’re computer savvy), you can modify and submit the WWA’s comment letter template (a Word document) that you can find HERE.
Let the Forest Service know how management of the winter backcountry has the potential to improve your experience on National Forest lands — or how a lack of management has degraded your experience.

You may want to make sure that you include these important points in your comments:

  • Winter travel management needs to take a “closed unless designated open” approach to OSVs, which is how the Forest Service currently manages off- road vehicles (ORVs).
  • Past administrative decisions about over-snow vehicle use that apply to only part of a forest or that do not consider the impacts of OSVs on other users or the environment, should not be “grandfathered in” and must be reexamined.
  • The draft OSV Rule defines an “area” differently than the existing ORV travel management rule. This change is unnecessary and the definition should be consistent in ALL seasons.

Please include information about your own experiences and local playground, be it the Stevens Peak backcountry area and/or any other backcountry area that you use.

STEP 3: Share your tracking number with WWA. When you submit your comments on the Regulations.gov website, it gives you a tracking number. Please copy that number <Ctrl C>, then paste the tracking number <Ctrl V> in the appropriate field, along with your name and email address, at the bottom of the WWA page HERE and click Submit.

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Great Blue Heron stalks dining diversity

July 24, 2014 6 a.m.

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Here's a great glimpse into the versatility in hunting and feeding skills of a great blue heron, known to eat a lot of fish and amphibians geared to water.

Watch it to the very end.

Nothing but the freshest food for this fella.

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Photos: birder focused on pileated woodpeckers

July 23, 2014 11:16 a.m.

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Birder/photographer Ron Dexter has made sure improvements to his property in the foothills of Mount Spokane haven't spoiled the neighborhood for some of his most colorful neighbors.  In posting these photos, Dexter said:

A pair of pileated woodpeckers has nested in a snag in the woods behind us at least 3 times now. The loggers were careful to not knock the snag down, so the woodpeckers may add more holes in the future.

These are the largest woodpeckers in the United States, possibly the world. Their length is up to 18” and wingspan up to 30”.  An ornithologist dissected one and counted approximately 2,500 carpenter ants in the stomach. So you can see, they help save the forests and maybe your house.
 
They chop out large rectangular holes in trees to get to the ants and grubs, but their nest holes are shaped like a raindrop as you can see in the photo. They actually spend the majority of their feeding time on the ground or on fallen trees, snags or stumps that contain grubs, ants. etc. 

I see and hear them every year in our woods. They are in the area year round.

  

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Open house, guided hikes at Dishman Hills Saturday

July 23, 2014 8:27 a.m.

CONSERVATION — Here's a prime opportunity to become acquainted or reacquainted with the Spokane Area's standout wild gem.

Members of the Dishman Hills Conservancy will be leading short hikes each hour, noon to 5 p.m., on Saturday, Jully 26, to help the public become familiar with the Spokane Valley natural area and see changes that are underway.

The open house activities will be based out of Camp Caro — south of Appleway on Sargent Road.

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Feds doubt climate change‚Äôs impact on wolverines

July 23, 2014 5:48 a.m.

 

THREATENED SPECIES — The wolverine, perhaps the coolest critter you've never seen, is threatened, according to considerable research, by global warming that's likely to reduce the snow packs vital to the species' denning needs.

But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service isn't going out on the climate change limb to support wolverines.

In case you missed it this month, here's a good summary of the wolverine's status by the Associated Press:

By MATTHEW BROWN/Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. — A top federal wildlife official said there’s too much uncertainty about climate change to prove it threatens the snow-loving wolverine — overruling agency scientists who warned of impending habitat loss for the “mountain devil.”

There’s no doubt the high-elevation range of wolverines is getting warmer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Noreen Walsh said. But any assumption about how that will change snowfall patterns is “speculation,” she said.

Walsh told her staff to prepare to withdraw a proposal to protect the animals under the Endangered Species Act.

Wildlife advocates said the move was a bow to pressure from Western states that don’t want wolverines protected. Walsh said her stance “has not been influenced in any way by a state representative.”

More broadly, it points to the potential limitations in the use of long-range climate forecasts to predict what will happen to individual plant and animal species as global temperatures rise.

Walsh’s comments were contained in a May 30 memo obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Chris Tollefson confirmed that Walsh authored the document.

Agency Director Dan Ashe will have the final say, with a decision due Aug. 4.

Wolverines max out at 40 pounds and are tough enough to stand up to grizzly bears. Yet some scientists warn they will be no match for anticipated declines in deep mountain snows, which female wolverines need to establish dens and raise their young.

Federal biologists last year proposed protections for an estimated 300 wolverines in the Lower 48 states. At that time, Walsh said “scientific evidence suggests that a warming climate will greatly reduce the wolverine’s snowpack habitat.”

In the recent memo, she expressed the opposite view: “Due to the uncertainty of climate models, I cannot accept the conclusion about wolverine habitat loss that forms the basis of our recommendation to list the species.”

Walsh, also a biologist, said she reached that conclusion after reviewing the latest science on wolverines and consulting with other agency officials.

Most of that science already was available when protections were first proposed, leading the Center for Biological Diversity to criticize the about-face.

The likelihood of climate change harming wolverines was too great to delay action because of any lingering uncertainties, said the group’s climate science director, Shaye Wolf.

The government already has declared that global warming imperils other species, including polar bears, ringed seals and bearded seals.

“Climate change is driving some iconic species toward extinction, and many species are in trouble,” Wolf said. “It’s a very bad turn of events that the Fish and Wildlife Service has chosen to ignore the expertise of its own scientists” on wolverines.

Agency officials said Monday that Walsh’s memo was just one step in its deliberations on the animal.

Once found throughout the Rocky Mountains and in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, wolverines were wiped out across most of the U.S. by the 1930s due to unregulated trapping and poisoning campaigns. In the decades since, they have largely recovered in the Northern Rockies but not in other parts of their historical range.

In some areas, such as central Idaho, researchers have said suitable habitat could disappear entirely.

Wolverines are found in the North Cascades in Washington and the Northern Rocky Mountains in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Wyoming. Individual wolverines have also moved into California and Colorado but have not established breeding populations. Larger populations persist in Alaska and Canada.

Officials from states including Montana, Utah and Idaho have objected to more protections, saying the animal’s population has been increasing in some areas.

Two members of an independent peer review panel also raised questions about the science behind last year’s proposal. They suggested that no direct link could be made between warming temperatures and less habitat.

Panelist Audrey Magoun, a researcher based in Alaska, said shifting weather patterns could mean more snowfall, not less, in the mountains where most wolverines den. She said Monday that she was not taking a position on whether protections were needed and that there was enough time to determine that through additional research before any long-range threats come to pass.

Wolverines were twice denied protections under the Bush administration. In 2010, the Obama administration delayed action and said other imperiled animals and plants had priority over wolverines.

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Hanford Reach fall chinook salmon fishery enhancements

July 22, 2014 10:32 p.m. - Updated: 10:50 p.m.

Read up on the latest from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife on the fall chinook salmon fishery enhancements on the Hanford Reach.

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Long-range shooting events at Rock Lake range

July 22, 2014 7:49 a.m.

SHOOTING — Long-range shooting enthusiasts continue to test their skills in a four-event series at the new Rock Lake Rifle Range, 2356 Glorfield Rd., St. John, Washington

A the next shoot in the series is set for Saturday, July 26. Check in 7:30-8 a.m.

The Northwest Precision Steel Series Challenge has divisions for tactical and hunting class shooters, says organizer Doug Glorfield.

Tactical competitors will engage targets at distances of 175-1,250 yards in seven stations.  Hunting and youth shooters will do five stations at 150-600 yards.

Shooters will compete for cash prizes on Saturday and in the other series shoots set for June 28, July 26 and Aug. 30. 

“My dad and I built the range last year, Rock Lake Rifle Range LLC,” he said, noting that the site is west of the south end of  Rock Lake. “We built it to host long-range rifle shoots to bang away at steel.”

Info: (509) 939-7855.

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Oregon Congressman seeks wolf buffer around Yellowstone

July 22, 2014 6:02 a.m.

WILDLIFE —  An Oregon congressman is asking the Interior Department to work with states to curb gray wolf hunting around Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana.

Rep. Peter DeFazio is the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.

Hunters have legally killed Yellowstone wolves that have roamed out of the park after becoming familiar with wolf-watching tourists. Some of these wolves have been radio-collared by wildlife scientists. While killing them is legal under hunting regulations, the loss is significant to research on the species.

DeFazio said in a recent letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell that hunters killing wolves just outside Yellowstone’s boundary could hurt the overall health of the park’s ecosystem.

DeFazio asked for a “wolf safety zone” or buffer around the park, which includes parts of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. He also asked Jewell to establish a task force to devise protections for wolves around other national parks.

State officials have resisted prior calls from wildlife advocates seeking an outright ban on wolf hunting around the park. However, quotas in some areas limit how many can be killed annually.

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McDowell Lake among waters proposed for rotenone treatment

July 21, 2014 9:03 a.m.

FISHING – McDowell Lake, a prized fly-fishing water in Stevens County is, among 11 lakes in Eastern Washington proposed for treatment to optimize the waters for trout.

 Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials want to treat three lake systems with rotenone, a naturally occurring pesticide commonly used to remove undesirable fish species from lakes and streams.

McDowell Lake, a standout trout fishery on the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, has gone downhill as nongame fish such as tench have proliferated.

Other trout-management waters proposed for treatment this fall include the Hampton Lake chain and Sago, Hourglass, and Widgeon Lakes in Grant County to remove species including bass, bullhead, stunted panfish and tench.

The Hampton Chain is made up of Upper and Lower Hampton Lake, Hampton Slough, Hen Lake, Dabbler Lake, Marie Lake and Juvenile Lake.

“The goal is to restore trout populations by removing competing species that have essentially taken over the lake's resources,” said Bruce Bolding, warmwater fish program manager.

“Illegally stocked fish compete with trout fry for food and prey, rendering efforts to stock trout fry ineffective.”

Public meetings to discuss the  proposed treatments are set for Wednesday, July 23, at two locations starting at 6 p.m.:

  • Ephrata, at the WDFW Region 2 Office.
  • Colville, at the WDFW District 1 Office, 755 S. Main St.

The decision on whether to go ahead with the treatments will be made in September. 

The agency says, “Rotenone is an organic substance derived from the roots of tropical plants, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved for use as a fish pesticide.” It disrupts the ability of fish’s gills to process oxygen from the water.

WDFW has used rotenone in lake and stream rehabilitations for more than 70 years, and is used by other fish and wildlife management agencies nationwide. 

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