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The Observer Paper 12/22/14

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Outdoors & Rec

Klondike derby delivers

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Scouts from troop 586 build a fire at the Klondike Derby. (EMILY QUEBBEMAN photo)

The annual Klondike Derby was a success with a medieval flair 

Water balloons and winter usually don’t mix, but for nine local scouting troops it was all part of the fun. Throw in sleds, jousting and catapults and the scouts’ winter wonderland kept getting better and better. 

The Klondike Derby is an annual scouting event that occurs late in the month of February.  


Elk health check

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Brian Dick, area manager with the U.S. Forest Service, checks over a cow elk as it moves through a state-of-the-art wildlife handling facility at the Starkey Project site. In a matter of minutes, the elk will go through a series of health checks, often getting ear tags and radio collars for ongoing research. Several hundred animals are handled at this site each winter. (JIM WARD photo)

Things are always buzzing up at the Starkey Project — a 40-square-mile wildlife research facility about 22 miles west of La Grande. In the spring, summer and fall, researchers fan out each morning to one of several ongoing and new projects throughout the study area. But, in winter, things really heat up. 


23 wolves killed in Idaho's latest wolf control action

Idaho Fish and Game, in cooperation with the USDA Wildlife Services, has completed another wolf control action in northern Idaho’s Lolo elk zone near the Idaho/Montana border to improve poor elk survival in the area.

In February, Wildlife Services agents killed 23 wolves from a helicopter. The action is consistent with Idaho’spredation management plan for the Lolo elk zone, where predation is the major reason elk population numbers are considerably below management objectives.


NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE: Spring is great time to take kids for a snow day

I’m not a huge fan of spring, particularly March and April. Trying to will away the overcast skies and will in the beautiful weather must take a toll on my kids and me. In the valley the signs of our mild winter are quickly disappearing. If only we could easily see beyond the hills to be reminded that the mountains still have plenty of snow, beckoning us to continue to come and play.


Virtue Flat: Not flat, but lots of virtues for hikers

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Sagebrush is plentiful in the Virtue Flat Off-Highway Vehicle Area, a 3,500-acre swath of public land near Baker City. (S. JOHN COLLINS/Baker City Herald)

The BLM calls Virtue Flat near Baker City an off-highway vehicle area, and indeed the 3,500-acre swath of public land is well-suited for all sorts of vehicles.

Whether you prefer zipping up nearly vertical slopes on a dirt bike, tooling around at a more placid pace on a four-wheel ATV, or navigating boulder fields in a Jeep with tires taller than a third-grader, you’ll find a route in Virtue Flat to suit you. 


Brush Beat for February 28, 2014

Brush Beat for February 28, 2014

Catching the big one includes catfish

Until lately, catfish have been a lot like the repeated punch line for the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, who always joked about getting no respect. Restaurant chains have created entire menus around the ubiquitous whisker fish, though most of today’s restaurant catfish are farm-raised.


Sowing the seeds to feed local families

The concept is simple — grow a row to help a neighbor in need.

This summer, gardeners will have the opportunity to plant an extra row of produce and deliver the harvest to Community Connection for distribution to families that are in need.


BRUSH BEAT: Shooting ranges can apply for grants

SALEM —Nonprofit shooting ranges based in Oregon are invited to apply for a cost-share grant to improve their facilities. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. on March 17.

The application can be found online at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/education/hunter/range_development.asp

ODFW grants $80,000 to Oregon shooting ranges each year. Among other projects, last year’s grants were used to help Douglas Ridge Rifle Club in Eagle Creek purchase a portable classroom and for Siuslaw Rod and Gun Club in Florence to purchase and install a covered building near the firing line.

The program is funded through the Wildlife Restoration Act, a federal excise tax on hunting equipment that is distributed to states based on their number of licensed hunters. Grants are available for shooting ranges that maintain a nonprofit status and provide access to the general public and hunter education class instructors and participants.

Decisions on which projects to fund are made by the Shooting Range Development Advisory Committee, which includes members from sportsman and shooting groups, ODFW and Oregon State Police.

Projects eligible for reimbursement include backstops, berms, target holders, benches, baffles, protective fencing, signs, lighting, field courses, platforms, roads, parking areas, sanitary facilities, storage rooms, shelter buildings and classrooms. All range construction must be on lands owned by the applicant or lands controlled by the applicant by a use permit, lease or easement that ensures use for a minimum of 10 years.

Ineligible projects include clubhouses, employee residences, similar or other facilities not essential to the operation of the shooting range or the conduct of hunter education classes; maintenance expenses; portable items that are easily stolen or lost; and items that do not have an expected life of at least 10 years.

For more information, contact ODFW Hunter Education Coordinator James Reed at 503-947-6016 or by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


Dave Clemens has crossed Wallowas 7 times in winter

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David Petrie skies across a steep slope near Little Eagle Meadows in the 1980s. (DAVE CLEMENS photo)

Dave Clemens knows about avalanches in the Wallowa Mountains.

He has skied across their remnants.

He has seen the shattered subalpine firs left in their wake.


Raising avalanche awareness

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David Petrie along the West Fork of the Wallowa River. (DAVE CLEMENS photo)
 Wallowas In Winter: Spectacular But Potentially Dangerous

Avalanche Center offers training for skiers, sledders 

JOSEPH — Backcountry skiing and snowmobiling, once reserved for a few adventurous souls, are gaining popularity throughout North America. With more people recreating in avalanche-prone territory, the risk of getting caught in a snow slide is also on the rise.


Judge's ruling has big implications for region's fish, anglers

Read more... A federal judge has stepped into the middle of Oregon’s wild-versus-hatchery fish debate, ordering federal officials to do more to ensure hatchery fish planned for release this year don’t harm wild fish on the Sandy River, a key Columbia River tributary.

The decision has big implications for fish and anglers, not only on the Sandy, but throughout the West Coast. Similar lawsuits have been filed on other rivers in Oregon and in California.


BRUSH BEAT: Rewards offered to anglers

SALEM — Anglers who turn in their 2013 combined angling tag and/or hatchery harvest tag before May 16 could win one of more than 100 outdoor products or gift cards from Bi-Mart.

ODFW is sponsoring the promotion to try to increase the number of returned tags. Currently, the department estimates, only about 20 percent of anglers return their combined tags, which are required to fish for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and Pacific halibut.

The information is used to determine harvest rates and effort rates in Oregon’s salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut fisheries. The information is also posted on the ODFW website, where anglers can check the harvest rates in their favorite water bodies.

Anglers who return their tags by the May 16 deadline will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win prizes that include Bi-Mart gift cards and Okuma rod and reel combos.

Completed tags can be returned in person to any ODFW office or license agent. 



Sharp findings

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Tom Claycomb shows off his Havalon Piranta knife. Itís a small, easy-to-carry knife. (TOM CLAYCOMB photo)
 

Claycomb discusses knives that may be flying under the radar

As with most outdoorsmen I’m into knives. I teach a lot of knife related seminars. In January I conducted one at the Dallas Safari Club Convention and Expo, in February and at the Safari Club International Convention in Vegas and in March.  


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