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Field reports: Priest Lake drawdown opens river to paddling

PADDLING – Priest Lake’s slow drawdown to winter level began Saturday evening. Flows were increased from Outlet Dam to lower the lake 3 feet from its full pool at elevation 2,437.6 feet.

The drawdown should be complete by Nov. 1, but rainstorms can change plans.

The drawdown marks the unofficial beginning of a two- or three-week paddling season on Priest River.

Generally too low and rocky for canoes during summer, Priest River takes on new life as flows are increased. Currently the flow is about 400 cubic feet per second, twice the level flowing at this time last year.

Ideal flows for experienced canoeists are in the range of 1,200-4,500 cfs (recorded at the gauge near Priest River, Idaho).

However, inexperienced paddlers running inflatable boats can have a safer, enjoyable float at flows in the 600-1,000 cfs range in the Eight Mile Rapids stretch from McAbee Falls downstream.

Local outdoor clubs list public programs

CLUBS – Public programs by area outdoors groups this week:

Cycling nutrition by Mike Nilson and Touring the Pacific Coast by Scott Schnell (two programs), 6:30 p.m., Monday at 6021 E. Mansfield, Spokane, for Spokane Bicycle Club.

Birds of the Clearwater, by Brett Haverstick, 7 p.m., Tuesday, at Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey Road in Coeur d’Alene, for Coeur d’Alene Audubon.

Unsung Montana fly streams, by Molly Semenik, 7 p.m., Wednesday, at St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy, for Spokane Fly Fishers.

Birding Mount Spokane, by Ron Dexter and Cris Currie, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, at Riverview Retirement Center, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave., for Spokane Audubon.

Tiva to Tekoa, a rescued dog on a rail trail bike tour, by bicycling guru Willie Weir, 7 p.m. Thursday at Mountain Gear Corporate Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield Ave. in Spokane Valley. Benefit for Friends of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Donation requested.

Elk group opposes anti-trapping initiative

INITIATIVES – A measure on Montana’s November ballot will ask voters to immediately ban trapping on all public lands in the state.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation based in Missoula says it opposes Initiative 177.

“Managing wildlife at the ballot box is extremely dangerous for our wildlife and should remain in the hands of state wildlife agencies,” the group said Tuesday in a release.

“Trapping is a highly regulated and effective means of harvest with controlled seasons. It is used for a variety of reasons including wildlife management, research, food, hunting, public health and safety, and pest control.”

Park summit road closing

PARKS –The Summit Road to the top of Mount Spokane will close for the season on Friday evening.

Construction on the lower main state park road prohibited general vehicle access for most of the summer. The Summit Road wasn’t open to the public until last Monday.

Turnbull sets work day

REFUGES –The annual community work party to plant and improve habitat at Turnbull National Refuge will run 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday, based out of the refuge headquarters south of Cheney. A potluck lunch will follow.

Sign-up: (509) 235-4723.

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4 favorite Gonzaga basketball teams

The basketball court at the McCarthey Athletic Center is photographed before an NCAA college basketball game between Gonzaga and BYU, Feb. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Young Kwak) (Young Kwak / AP Photo)

While we look ahead to future seasons of Gonzaga Bulldog basketball , it’s fun to look at highlights from past years.