The Wenatchee World

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Fish counting — not an exact science, but getting closer

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.
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Hatchery tour offers first glimpse of state-of-the-art facility

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.

Fire teams gone, burn bans reconsidered

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.

Probation for heli-skiing outfit that illegally cut trees

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 fires: Omak residents return home; Peavine firelines strengthened

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 ...

Colvilles set up nets to fish the Similkameen

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.
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High altitude tree cutting by heli-skiing outfit draws criticism

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 ...

Yakamas developing long-term plan for Wenatchee River coho

LAKE WENATCHEE — After working for the last decade to restore a coho run in the upper Wenatchee River, the Yakama tribe is now embarking on a long-term plan for this late-season spawner. The tribe last month closed a deal to buy 155 acres about a mile south of Lake Wenatchee, where it hopes to eventually build a small coho incubation facility and rehabilitate a dry side channel for juvenile fish.
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Okanogan County forests on state’s warning list

OLYMPIA — State forestry officials warn that insects are causing a forest health hazard across most of Okanogan County, and are calling for intensive thinning projects on private, state, federal and tribal lands. The warning issued by state Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark Thursday identifies four areas statewide — including parts of Ferry, Klickitat and Yakima counties — where forests are at serious risk of considerable damage, and where immediate efforts to save them could help.
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The Red Shed: ‘A feeding garden’

TWISP — After building up a small, local business selling organic vegetables from her Twisp farm, Kelleigh McMillan decided one day to give them away instead. Now — six years later — McMillan and a handful of volunteers are feeding hundreds of people who can’t afford farmers market prices for things like fresh, locally-grown tomatoes, carrots, lettuce or peas.
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Weir across the Okanogan River completed

MALOTT — A temporary weir that will allow fish biologists catch and release every fish swimming up the Okanogan River this fall was completed last week. Beginning lastSaturday and continuing through the end of September, biologists will observe and handle thousands of summer and fall chinook, sockeye and steelhead as they swim up the river to spawn.

Groups say state ignored Clean Water standards when certifying Enloe Dam

OROVILLE — Five environmental groups say the state Department of Ecology failed to consider key elements of state environmental standards when it certified a proposal to rebuild Enloe Dam near Oroville last month. The five groups — American Whitewater, Sierra Club’s Washington chapter, the North Cascades Conservation Council, the Center for Environmental Law & Policy, and the Columbia River Bioregional Education Project — filed an appeal this month with the state Pollution Control Hearings Board, questioning Ecology’s water quality certification.

Enloe Dam project criticized by environmentalists

OROVILLE, Wash. (AP) — Five environmental groups say the state Department of Ecology didn't consider water quality standards when when it approved plans to rebuild Enloe Dam near Oroville. The Wenatchee World (http://is.gd/R1ufUt ) reports the five groups have filed an appeal with the state Pollution Control Hearings Board.

State Parks to hear budget issues at Wenatchee meeting

EAST WENATCHEE — The Washington State Parks Commission will hear how much revenue the Discover Pass is taking in and discuss the best mix of funding for keeping state parks financially stable at a meeting in Wenatchee on Thursday. The meeting is open to the public, and begins at 9 a.m. at the agency’s eastern region headquarters office, 270 Ninth St. N.E., Suite 200 in East Wenatchee.

State slaps Chesaw’s Buckhorn mine with $395,000 fine

CHESAW — The state has fined the company that owns and operates the Buckhorn Mine near Chesaw $395,000 for repeated and continuing water-quality violations. The major violations by Crown Resources Corp., a subsidiary of Toronto-based Kinross Gold Corp., occurred last year and this year during spring runoff, when the company failed to capture all the water from rain and snowmelt to treat, according to the state Department of Ecology.

Park Service revises plan for Stehekin River

STEHEKIN — The National Park Service has revised its plans for how to deal with major flooding on the Stehekin River in response to comments to a draft plan developed following recent floods. But the plan still calls for giving the river more room to grow, and does not rely on dredging the river, building dikes, or using other methods to prevent the river from flooding from private land or State Park facilities, said National Park Service geologist Jon Riedel.

Eatonville man admits to illegally baiting, killing black bears

OKANOGAN — An Eatonville man lost his car, more than $12,000 and six days of freedom for baiting and killing black bears at his Winthrop cabin. James Erickson, 52, pleaded guilty in Okanogan County District Court Friday to 14 counts of bear baiting and three counts of unlawfully hunting big game and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, with 174 days suspended.
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Mudslides damage roads, close Highway 97

MALOTT — Torrential downpours in localized areas Sunday stopped traffic, sent mud flowing onto porches and garages, and tore away portions of several roads, including Highway 97 near Malott. “It was a crazy little storm,” said Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers. “We had mudslides everywhere, and lightning strikes. It was nuts,” he said.

Colville Tribes offer wild horses for adoption

NESPELEM — About 1,000 wild horses that are damaging rangeland on Colville Indian Reservation will be rounded up and given up for adoption over the next few years. Officials from the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation say they plan to remove between 200 and 400 horses every year until about 200 are left. A herd can increase by 25 percent a year, officials said.