Here’s the scoop on two momentous events capturing a lot of attention today:
- A deal that ended the federal government shutdown Wednesday night reopened national wildlife refuges and parks Thursday.
- Saturday’s opening of the pheasant season.
Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area boat launches were reopened Thursday after Congress voted to end the shutdown, Superintendent Dan Foster said.
“Our people are on furlough but on short notice to be back to work as quickly as possible once we get the directive,” he said. “Our business is not to be closed.”
Nobody is happier than Foster to see the national parks reopened. Word has been spreading that some anglers were told they had to stay off water managed by the National Park Service.
All public boat launches on the reservoir had been closed since Oct. 1, but some anglers were legally launching at Two Rivers Marina, which is managed by the Spokane Tribe.
A few boaters were told — it’s not clear by whom — that they had to remain on the half of the reservoir closest to the Spokane and Colville tribal lands as long as the national parks were closed.
Technically, it would have been a violation of the park closure to be on land or water managed by the Park Service, Foster confirmed.
It has nothing to do with the legal limbo over where state or tribal fishing licenses are required, he said, noting, “Fisheries are not our jurisdiction.”
He said he didn’t have the manpower during the shutdown to enforce the closure on land and on the water and that rangers weren’t directed to go out looking for boaters.
Pheasant hunting opens Saturday in Eastern Washington, where the good ol’ days faded away with the advent of bigger machinery and cleaner farming.
In a tradition that started in the late 1990s, pen-raised pheasants are being released at 23 designated East Side sites. Despite the non-toxic shot requirement, these sites are popular with hunters who don’t have permission to hunt private land.
The first releases of the year occurred at all sites before the Sept. 21-22 youth upland bird season. The next releases will be this week.
However, only about half the sites will be stocked with birds for the opener, said Joey McCanna, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist.