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Outdoors What's going on

Capitol Forest opens May 1 for camping, ORV & horses

From the Washington Department of Natural Resources in Olympia

ORV and horseback riders and campers longing to get out and play in Capitol Forest this April will have to wait another month. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which manages the forest, has permanently changed the opening date to May 1.

The decision to move the date back one month came about last year as a result of discussions with representatives from user groups in the area and feedback from the recreating public. This new season brings Capitol Forest’s season in line with the Yacolt Burn Start Forest season, which was changed five years ago at the suggestion of user groups.

“We know from the Yacolt Burn season change that there will be an immediate positive impact on the protection of natural resources,” said Brian Poehlein, a recreation manager with DNR’s Pacific Cascade Region.

DNR staff also expect the season change will reduce the amount of maintenance needed on the trail systems in Capitol Forest by keeping traffic off saturated soils during the typically rainy month of April. This, too, was a lesson learned from Yacolt Burn.

The new season open and closure dates had unanimous support from the user group representatives. The closing date was moved back one month to December 1, which still offers seven months of outdoor recreation opportunities for ORV users, horse riders, and campers.

Trails in Capitol Forest are open all year for non-motorized use, except for horses.

For more information about recreation in Capitol Forest, contact Brian Poehlein at 360-575-5021 or brian.poehlein@dnr.wa.gov.

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Outdoors What's going on

Wanted: Your vision for recreation in Washington

From the Washington Department of Natural Resource. Help Keep our sport alive and attend your local workshop

Wanted: Your vision for recreation in Washington

Help DNR chart a course for recreation in Washington

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be looking to user groups and individuals to help create a new vision for recreation on DNR-managed forestlands, aquatic lands and natural areas. Throughout the month of September, DNR will host nine workshops across the state to gather input from interested citizens.

We invite you to come share your thoughts on the direction of recreation in Washington. Where do you recreate? What kinds of recreation activities do you enjoy? How easily can you access recreation on state-managed lands? Drop by various topic stations at one of the workshops, talk to staff and provide your thoughts on these and other questions.

DNR will bring your answers to these and other questions to the newly formed Sustainable Recreation Work Group. This group was established by the 2008 Legislature to assist DNR in developing a long-term vision that ensures safe, sustainable, and enjoyable outdoor recreation on DNR-managed land.

Meeting dates and locations (All meetings are from 6 to 9 p.m.):

· September 9 – King County Library Service Center, Issaquah (Kick-off meeting)

· September 10 – Omak Community Library, Omak

· September 10 – Longhouse Educational and Cultural Center, The Evergreen State College, Olympia

· September 11 – Deer Park Library, Deer Park

· September 15 – Hoquiam Library, Hoquiam

· September 15 – Vancouver Water Resources Education Center, Vancouver

· September 16 – Port Angeles Library, Port Angeles

· September 16 – Burlington Library, Burlington

· September 17 – Grupe Conference Center, Central Washington University, Ellensburg

Why this new focus on recreation?

The last time the state officially addressed recreation issues on DNR-managed lands was 37 years ago with the passage of the Multiple Use Act in 1971. This act is based on the concept of state lands being available for multiple uses where appropriate, including various types of recreation. Since then, the face of recreation has changed significantly beyond what anyone envisioned. New forms of recreation have come on the scene including paragliding, mountain biking and paintball. Motorized off-road vehicle use has more than doubled in the state in the last 10 years. And, the overall volume of visitors to state lands has grown dramatically.

The Multiple Use Act still provides a solid foundation for recreation in Washington. Your input will help identify ways to better take into account the changing nature of recreation, pressures from a growing population, and the need to ensure the environmental health of DNR-managed lands.

Look for future e-mail messages with more information about the Sustainable Recreation Work Group, including a Web page address. In the meantime, if you’d like directions to any of the workshops, call Jana Greer at 360-902-1730 or send an e-mail to jana.greer@dnr.wa.gov.

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What's going on

Public lands patrol yields drug case

From: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Public lands patrol yields drug case

An aerial and foot patrol of the Saddle Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in south Grant and Adams counties this week by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement officers turned up a large marijuana-growing operation.

The drug case was turned over to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), but wildlife officers also plan to investigate public-lands abuse and fish and wildlife poaching by two men who were living off the land.

“We located a buried plastic irrigation line running over a half mile from a local canal system to the growing operation of over 12,000 marijuana plants,” said WDFW Northcentral Region Captain Chris Anderson.  “We also found many dead birds, rabbit carcasses and fishing poles, indicating they had been supplementing their long-term camp’s food supply with illegal game.”

Anderson noted this isn’t the first marijuana-growing operation to be found on the remote 80,000-acre wildlife refuge.

“A large part of the refuge along the Columbia River near Vernita is closed to public access, providing the privacy and isolation illegal gardeners prefer,” he said.

After first spotting the illegal crop from the air, a foot-patrol team found two men, the suspected growers, fishing from the bank of Saddle Lake. The lake is closed to fishing.

WDFW Enforcement Program Deputy Chief Mike Cenci said that unfortunately such abuse of state and federal public lands has become more common.

“Our patrols are looking for poaching, squatters, vandalism, off-road habitat destruction, and other illegal activity,” Cenci said. “We take all these abuses of the public’s land very seriously.”

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Trail Runs What's going on

What we are up against

In a recent article by the Seattle Times titled “Off-roading turned meadow into mud hole” it was reported that 6 individuals have been charged with malicious mischief for the destruction of a natural meadow near Wenatchee, Wa.

WENATCHEE — One night of destructive fun has altered the course of nature in a peaceful meadow south of the city and left six off-road truck drivers mired in legal trouble.

It reports that underground springs were opened and irrigation piping that feeds many of the local orchards were damaged. One of the suspects has already been sentenced to 22 months in prison for his participation in the destruction. The remaining 5 (one is a minor) will be in court in the coming weeks.

This highlights the uphill battle groups like the Blue Ribbon Coalition, Tread Lightly and the PNW 4WD Association have to fight to even keep open the areas we already have for our sport and hobby. If you haven’t already, take a look at these groups and consider donating.

When you are out on the trail and see it, try getting pictures of that kind of behavior and forwarding to Local, State or Federal agency in charge of the area AND the Department of Wildlife. Make sure you get license plates. Some of these drivers are so cocky and stupid, you cad even get them to pose with the truck IN the mud hole. Be sure to identify your self with your club or organization so they know this report is being made by an off-roader. We need the regulators and enforcers to know that WE are not the ones causing this kind of damage.

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Trail Runs What's going on

DNR to hold Safety Summit for Off-Road Riders

DNR will be hosting a safety summit and a trail clean up.

Follow this link for more information DNR to Hold Safety Summit for Off-Road Riders

March 15th event at Straddleline ORV Park will feature free equipment inspections, safety tips, and classes

OLYMPIA – With warmer weather and longer hours of sunlight just around the corner, the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will present an ORV Safety Summit. The free event will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at Straddleline ORV Park, which is on State Route 8 between McCleary and Olympia.

The safety summit will give off-road vehicle (ORV) enthusiasts and those new to the sport opportunities for free:
• Rider skills testing
• Noise and equipment inspections of their ORVs
• Test rides of new ORVs
• Safety seminars
• Search and rescue tips
• Drawings for prizes donated by local ORV dealers and local agencies

No advance registration is required for the day-long event which also includes a free lunch provided by local sponsors.

“This is a chance for adults and kids, newcomers and experienced riders alike, to learn important safety skills,” says Larry Raedel, DNR’s Chief of Law Enforcement Services. “DNR wants everyone to have safe, enjoyable, and sustainable recreational experiences on the more than 3 million acres of state trust lands we manage.”

Chief Raedel says the event is part of DNR’s commitment to teaching the public about safety, enforcing state regulations, and ensuring safe and enjoyable recreation experiences.

Following the four-hour safety summit, visitors are invited to join other DNR volunteers from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on a project to restore an ORV trail in the Capital State Forest, adjacent to Straddleline ORV Park.

Regulations for recreation and public access
Chief Raedel urges ORV riders to stay current on safety rules, such as state laws that require ORV users under age 13 to be supervised by a licensed driver age who is 18 years or older when operating an ORV on nonhighway roads designated for off-road vehicle use.

DNR law enforcement services
Chief Raedel joined DNR in September of 2005. He retired from the Washington State Patrol after 26 years of service.

The Law Enforcement section has officers in DNR’s six regions. Their enforcement activities include:

• Monitoring recreation to avoid injuries and property damage
• Checking and monitoring permits
• Investigating accidents
• Controlling vehicle speeds
• Preventing the theft of natural resources, such as timber, bear grass, salal, cedar boughs and wood

DNR – land manager and protector of natural resources
DNR, led by Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland, manages more than
3 million acres of state-owned trust forest, agricultural, range lands and commercial properties that earn income to build schools, universities and other state institutions, and help fund local services in many counties. In addition to earning income, trust lands help protect habitat for native plant and animal species, clean and abundant water, and offer public recreation and education opportunities statewide.

Doug Sutherland is Washington’s 12th Commissioner of Public Lands since statehood in 1889.