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In brief: Conservation group asks for standardization of range riding procedures

UPDATED: Wed., July 1, 2020

Lake Roosevelt NRA Park Rangers are scheduled to participate in “Operation Dry Water,” an alcohol and boating awareness program on the Independence Day weekend.  (National Park Service/courtesy)
Lake Roosevelt NRA Park Rangers are scheduled to participate in “Operation Dry Water,” an alcohol and boating awareness program on the Independence Day weekend. (National Park Service/courtesy)

The Lands Council, one of several conservation groups critical of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recent decision reauthorizing lethal action against one of Northeast Washington’s several wolfpacks, issued a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee’s office this week calling upon the governor’s office to mandate WDFW’s standardization of the practice of range riding to protect native wildlife.

There are three wolf packs in northeast corner of the state that have met criteria for lethal removal: the Togo Pack, the Wedge Pack and the Leadpoint Pack.

“Current practices, particularly a lack of standardized range riding, are contributing factors that are exacerbating wolf/livestock conflict,” according to Chris Bachman, Wildlife Program Director for The Lands Council and author of the letter.

The Togo Pack lethal order documents three agencies: WDFW, Cattle Producers of Washington and NE Washington Wolf Cattle Collaborative, with range riders on the landscape at the time of conflict.

“With no definition of what range riding is, the public has little idea what is being done on the landscape to mitigate conflict,” Bachman said. … “We cannot continue to kill wolves for behaving the way we should expect them to behave.

“We need to adapt our practices and behavior and learn to live with wildlife and preserve biodiversity in the era of climate change.”

Lake Roosevelt part of alcohol awareness program

The National Park Service, in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, will be participating Friday through Sunday in “Operation Dry Water,” a national campaign to educate boaters about the dangers of boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

During this time, boaters at Lake Roosevelt will see an increased law enforcement presence from Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Police and local Sheriff departments in an effort to promote safe recreation on Lake Roosevelt.

According to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.

NSBLA reminds boaters that their voyage may be terminated, the boat may be impounded and the operator may be arrested in they’re under the influence.

Penalties vary by state but can include fines, jail and loss of boating or even driving privileges.

  • The federal blood alcohol content legal limit for operating a vessel under the influence is .08.
  • Alcohol use can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.
  • Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion – “stressors” common to the boating environment – intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications.
  • Alcohol use can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.
  • Alcohol is dangerous for passengers, too. Intoxication can cause slips, falls overboard and other dangerous accidents.
  • If you boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol you are endangering your life and the lives of others.

To report boating under the influence or other dangerous boating operations, call 911 and provide a location, vessel description and nature of the unsafe operation.

Washington fishing regulations for year online

With summer heating up, it’s a great time to get out on the water, and the 2020-2021 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet is your essential guide to fishing statewide.

The new-look pamphlet is effective through June 30, 2021, and features rules and regulations for hundreds of lakes, rivers and marine areas around the state, as well as species including trout, salmon, shellfish and many more.

The regulations are available online at www.eregulations.com/washington/fishing. This year’s pamphlet is being hosted on a new platform, allowing for easier browsing of the pamphlet online. An updated version of the pamphlet is expected to be available early next week.

Printed copies of the pamphlet should also be available at license dealers around the state . Find a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) license dealer near you at wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/dealers.

With the spread of COVID-19 still a concern in Washington, be sure to call ahead to ensure your license dealer is open and has copies of the pamphlet before making the trip.

Some of the changes to this year’s regulations that anglers should be aware of include:

Warmwater species: Daily limits for bass, channel catfish and walleye have increased in select lakes, and daily limits for those species have been removed for all rivers, streams and beaver ponds. Be sure to check specific rules for the water body where you plan to fish to see if it is managed under river or lake rules.

These changes implement recommendations and legislation meant to help recovery of the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population.

Sturgeon: Statewide night closure is in effect and sanctuary areas have been extended May 1-Aug. 31. It is unlawful to remove sturgeon with a more than 55-inch fork length from the water.

WDFW issues updates and corrections to the pamphlet as needed. Anglers can stay up to date with regulations by downloading the Fish Washington mobile app on their smartphone; more information can be found at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/app.

The department also issues emergency rules throughout the year, available at fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.

E-bike etiquette for Idaho Panhandle National Forests

The Idaho Panhandle National Forests welcomes e-bikes on motorized roads and trails, offering approximately 5,000 miles of roads and 1,500 miles of trails that are open for motorized travel. Visitors are reminded that e-bikes are still considered a “motor vehicle,” under the USDA Forest Service’s Travel Management Rule. E-bike use on nonmotorized roads and trails is restricted in order to continue to protect resources. To learn more, visit www.fs.usda.gov/visit/e-bikes.

Routes designated for motorized use on National Forest System lands are shown on the Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM). It is the user’s responsibility to ensure they are riding on an authorized motorized route by verifying the travel designations on the MVUM.

Visitors should not rely on any other maps for making decisions about motorized travel. These maps are provided free at any of Forest Service office, except the Coeur d’Alene Nursery, and at www.fs.usda.gov/main/ipnf/maps-pubs.

Lake Coeur d’Alene among best bass lakes in West

Since 2012, Bassmaster Magazine has released annual rankings of the country’s best bass fisheries. While tournament data could not be gathered because of the COVID-19 pandemic, crunching numbers gathered over the past eight years revealed a surprising Best Bass Lake of the Decade – California’s Clear Lake.

Pacific Northwest states had two fisheries on the top 25 list: Idaho’s Lake Coeur d’Alene (No. 9) and the Columbia River (No. 20) in Washington and Oregon.

In Bassmaster’s “Best bass lakes of the decade” list, Potholes Reservoir in Washington ranked No. 3 and Dworshak Reservoir in Idaho was No. 4.

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