OMAK — In an office building in Omak, Dan Christensen sits in front of two computers. On one, he’s filling out a damage complaint for deer that got into a nearby orchard. On the other, he’s recovering digital photographs erased from a memory card that may contain important evidence. The $4,500 thumbdrive that helps him reconstruct a photograph was developed to investigate child pornography. But Christensen isn’t looking for people who make and distribute child porn. He’s trying to find the people who poach deer, bait bear, or kill wolves.
WENATCHEE — A judge has reversed her decision from last summer ordering the removal of three manmade peninsulas on Lake Chelan. The issue will instead go to trial, Chelan County Superior Court Judge Lesley Allan ruled.
WENATCHEE — Federal agencies will waive recreation user fees on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The forest pass, a day-use parking fee required on some federal lands, is waived at all U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation lands.
WENATCHEE — A Stage 1 burn ban is still in effect as an inversion and stagnant air is forecast to continue for all of North Central Washington at least until Tuesday. Under a Stage 1 ban, all outdoor burning and the use of uncertified wood-burning devices is prohibited, unless it is a home’s major source of heat.
WENATCHEE — The state Department of Ecology on Tuesday banned all outdoor burning and the use of uncertified wood-burning stoves, inserts or fireplaces in Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties, until further notice. Current weather conditions has resulted in stagnant air, and air quality monitors in Wenatchee and Twisp recorded moderate air quality, while those in Leavenworth and Okanogan registered air unhealthy for sensitive groups.
More than 350 spent Christmas trees were collected and composted the past two weekends at several Chelan County drop off points. Local Boy Scouts helped collect and dispose the trees at some of the locations
TWISP — A U.S. Forest Service plan to manage fuels would include logging, thinning, under-burning and constructing firelines on 47,000 acres south and east of Twisp. The Methow Valley Ranger District is seeking comments on the South Summit Forest and Fuels Project by Feb. 4.
WENATCHEE — The state Department of Ecology is offering a new fee-based program to speed up the water rights application process, and the Wenatchee Basin will be the first to try it out. Some 150 water right applicants will get letters inviting them to help hire a consultant who can sort through applications so that water for new applicants can become available. Applicants can then reimburse Ecology for hiring the state-approved contractor to process pending applications.
CHELAN — Wild bighorn sheep appear to be thriving in North Central Washington, including three herds in Chelan County, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife says. Recent surveys indicate those herds are growing at a rate of about 10 percent a year, said Jon Gallie, the agency’s assistant district biologist.
WINTHROP — When the state Department of Transportation started making safety improvements at the Methow Valley State Airport last year, nearby resident Ken Bevis didn’t think much about it. After all, the airport isn’t that close to his quiet rural residence.
WENATCHEE — It’s been an exciting year for the six people who count fish at Rocky Reach and Rock Island dams. A record-breaking 410,618 sockeye climbed the ladders at Rock Island, and 363,308 continued on past Rocky Reach on their way to their spawning beds this summer.
BRIDGEPORT — The first salmon hatchery on the Columbia River designed with the latest scientific recommendations on how to avoid weakening the naturally spawning populations is 80 percent complete and will begin producing fish in the spring. Promised to American Indian tribes decades ago, the Chief Joseph Hatchery is located directly across the river from Chief Joseph Dam — where each year salmon still return year, only to bump their heads against the massive concrete structure that prevents them from continuing their journey to spawn in tributaries northeast of Bridgeport.
NCW — Oh what a difference a little rain can make. The last of the region’s major wildfires — once managed by large interagency teams overseeing hundreds of firefighters — have now been turned back over to local agencies and ranger districts.
WINTHROP — North Cascades Heli-Skiing’s operating permit is in a probationary status after owners of the Mazama-based company admitted to cutting down or topping a few dozen high elevation trees on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest last winter to make helicopter landing safer. The Methow Valley Ranger District also warned that any new violations will result in further action which “could include removing areas from your permit or terminating your permit,” an Oct. 3 letter from District Ranger Michael Liu to owners Paul Butler and Ken Brooks said.
NCW — Residents who evacuated in the St. Mary’s Mission Road Fire east of Omak on Tuesday were allowed to return home Saturday morning. The road — where two homes and eight other buildings were destroyed and the Paschal Sherman Indian School was threatened by the wind-driven fire — remains closed to the public. Now 15 percent contained, the fire is still active, and more than 500 firefighting personnel, eight helicopters and 39 engines are working to protect the 54 homes still considered threatened on the Colville Indian Reservation, fire ...
OROVILLE — Colville tribal fishermen set up nets in the Similkameen River near Oroville last week, catching some 70 summer Chinook salmon in two days of fishing. Their fishing method — a beach seine net similar to the purse seine nets they’re using from a boat on the Columbia River near Brewster — is part of the tribe’s larger effort to selectively fish for hatchery salmon while leaving naturally-spawned salmon in the river to return to their spawning grounds.
MAZAMA — Numerous high elevation trees — some of them apparently hundreds of years old — were cut down or topped in the North Cascades last winter by a Mazama-based helicopter skiing company, officials say. The Methow Valley Ranger District says North Cascade Heli-Skiing cut the trees to create safer helicopter landing sites, but the company was not authorized to remove vegetation in its permit to bring skiers into high elevations on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest west of Mazama. Backcountry skiers reported two more areas where trees were cut after ...