A “Walk” Through FLSRV’s 2018 Activities

by Tina Wynecoop Enlarged membership boundaries on each side of LSR from 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 mile.  Met with Barry Greene, Spokane County traffic planner to discuss adding a trail from Colbert Road to Midway Road.  Discussed trails/roads in planning stages for “Village At Midway” and learned that road construction at Northside Aquatic Park will continue now that funding to complete the park has been received.  Sent letter to WDFW supporting addition of their parcel to the Waikiki Springs natural area north of Mill Road.  Invited David Schaub, Director of Inland Northwest Land Conservancy, to speak to our board about efforts to protect open space in the LSRV.  Received approval to have a cross walk painted at Pine River Park enabling safe passage when crossing the road from the pedestrian trail to the park.  Prepared annual budget for 2018.  Pursued grants.  Opposed proposed changes to low-density (LDRS) standards for county.  Hiked with naturalist/historian/author Jack Nisbet at the confluence of Latah/Hangman Creek and the Spokane River. (Wonderful as usual.)  Picked up litter along WSDOT’s Children of the Sun Trail – from Wandermere Frontage Road to Highway 2 – four times.  Reported finding a transient camp along Children of the Sun trail near […]

Living Water: Salmon’s Presence

by Tina Wynecoop We walk side by side with our history. We would have had to be centenarians to have witnessed the extraordinary salmon runs in the Little Spokane River. Spokane Riverkeeper, Jerry White, Jr.’s description of the fish is perfect: “Chinook salmon with tails the size of tennis rackets and weighing up to 100 pounds returned every spring, [summer and fall].” The male Chinook salmon (King) in the photograph left the Pacific Ocean, traveled up the Columbia River, swam eastward into the Spokane River, and bumped into a concrete obstacle where it could migrate no further. Little Falls Dam (1911) blocked its passage. “It was caught immediately below the dam, during the summer of 1938, the year before the Grand Coulee Dam blocked salmon migration into all the Upper Columbia Basin. The fish looks like a male because it appears to be starting to develop a spawning kype (hooked upper snout) and is starting to develop spawning colors.” (Allan Scholz – personal communication). This behemoth salmon’s destination was to one of the tributaries of the Spokane River.  Perhaps the Little Spokane River was calling him home.  A “Calling Home the Salmon” ceremony is conducted every June at traditional fishery […]

Wolverine Walkabout = Wolverine Wanderlust

By Tina Wynecoop The prime habitat in Spokane County for the elusive wolverine is the old growth forest atop Mt. Spokane. Imagine Little Spokane Valley residents, Mike and Jen Childress’ surprise when they spotted a wolverine last Thanksgiving near Perry Road and Little Spokane Drive! Jen Childress describes this remarkable sighting, which she prefaces with “while we are pretty sure the animal had to have been a wolverine, that was not our immediate assumption — we just knew it was something out of the ordinary. We definitely knew right away what it wasn’t, but we only determined what it had to be after looking in the guidebooks and on YouTube.” Here is her report to the Wolverine Foundation which tracks wolverine sightings:  “Yesterday as we drove out to the folks’ for the Thanksgiving holiday, it was daylight and both my husband and I got a pretty good look at this odd creature. My husband spotted it and thought at first it was a wild cat because it leaped from a tree at some wild turkeys on the ground. We were so surprised, we quickly pulled over to get a better look. The sound of our car startled the creature, which […]

Bird Watching

Washington Department of Fish And Wildlife  600 Capitol Way North  Olympia, WA 98501-1091  http://wdfw.wa.gov Help us all learn more about local birds with “eBird.”  Backyard (and other) birdwatchers in the Pacific Northwest can now enter their bird observations into eBird Northwest ( http://ebird.org/content/nw/ ), a newly launched regional system of information sharing about birds. Your entries help Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and other wildlife biologists better understand bird species locations, population densities, seasonal movement patterns, and conservation needs.  Your entries and those of fellow local birdwatchers also help each other learn where birds are, and are not, in real time. This regional portal of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s international eBird program is sponsored by WDFW, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 1 (Pacific), the Klamath Bird Observatory, and other local conservation partners.  eBird Northwest contributes to nationwide bird conservation priorities outlined by the North American Bird Conservation Initiative ( http://www.nabci-us.org/ ). An eBird Northwest Content Committee is generating articles, notes, and other tools of interest to birders and conservation practitioners in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, northern California, British Columbia).  Regularly check the website http://ebird.org/content/nw/ through the holidays to find updated birding hot spots to plan your outings with family and friends, […]

Wildlife Highway

By Jack and Ro Bury Moose migrating from Mount Spokane aren’t the only wildlife safely and secretly passing through the new tunnel under the Newport Highway. The new passage helping animals move from one side of the highway to the other is part of a growing momentum for large-scale preservation of wildlife habitat and the corridors that connect them.  The local work is significant because northeast Washington and North Idaho are on the western edge of what eco-biologists consider possibly the most important interconnected habitat in North America. The so-called “western wildway” along the spine of the Rockies, Alaska and Northern Mexico is the focus of large and small efforts to preserve places where native plants and animals can thrive.  Our highways bisect wildlife highways, and vehicle impacts cause road kill; eighty elk in five years on Snoqualmie Pass. But those are not the only literal impacts. Each year more than 200 motorists are killed by animal-vehicle collisions, according to the Wildlife Society.  Nationally the average cost of auto-deer collisions is $2,000.00. If North America is going to sustain life, humans have to learn how to literally cross paths with wild animals. Critter crossings got legitimate funding and strategic planning […]

Beavers on the Little Spokane River

By Ro Bury I thought it was a small bear perched on the ice shelf that jutted into the Little Spokane River. It was dark brown and black in color and moved slowly across the ice and up onto the shore. Since we had never seen beavers (or evidence of beavers) on our property in the 25 years we have lived here, it was a surprise when the view through the binoculars showed a broad, flat tail attached to the back of the animal. Beavers are America’s largest rodent, and the adults are up to 4 feet long and 60 pounds. This guy was at the extreme end!  Further investigation revealed a well concealed lodge just upstream from the sighting. Most lodges are made up of sticks and mud and can be up to 10 feet tall. They usually have 1 large, central chamber and 1 or 2 entrances. The floor of the chamber is a little above the water line and covered with wood chips to absorb moisture. The chamber is vented for fresh air. Some beavers build burrows in the banks of rivers (“bank dens”) and may or may not build lodges over them. “Our” beavers had a […]

Birds Falling From The Sky

by Tina and Judge Wynecoop Last January Bald eagles were witnessed falling out of the sky in an area bounded by Little Deep, Deadman (Peone), and Spring Creeks and the Little Spokane River. The first disturbing report came New Year’s Eve as the temperature was hovering at zero degrees. A sub-adult eagle was found face down in the snow at the river’s edge by the Michaelis family. Rescue and capture was difficult because the bird managed to flounder into the river and dark was falling.  Success was measured by the bird’s rehabilitation at Ponti’s Veterinary Clinic in Otis Orchards and its release three days later. Still, this wasn’t a single event: an eagle was seen falling from the sky at the busy intersections by Wandermere Golf Course. There were three other reports during the month and then near month?s end a school bus driver saw a forlorn looking adult Bald eagle standing alongside Dartford Road. After an amazing rescue that could have only been accomplished with the help of a young man living nearby, the bird was rehabilitated and released.  Blood samples, x-rays, checks for e-coli and poisoning, as well the clinic staff’s familiarity with injured birds in general, did […]

An Amazing CBC (Christmas Bird Count) Adventure Story

by Jeanne Dammarell On first sight, it looked like a brown plastic bag snagged on a low branch hanging over the Little Spokane River. The branch was encrusted in icicles and the river repeatedly grabbed and released the branch, causing a severe bobbing motion. Our CBC team strained to look through the gloomy light to see more clearly. “I think it’s a bird caught on the branch,” said Gary Kuiper. Rachel Brabeck and I turned to examine his find. It was such an improbable site for a bird to choose for a perch. Binoculars confirmed that we were looking at a Western Screech Owl perched inches above the river on a branch that bobbed up and down incessantly. We strained to see well enough to determine why it might choose to sit there and could see nothing. We went back for my camera and shot off a few photos, hoping that the big lens would pick up details we were missing, and then resumed the Count work. As we worked through the day, the conversation would return to the owl and possible explanations for the bizarre perch. That night I downloaded the photos into the computer and felt sick. Even […]

Nesting Ospreys

By Lindell Haggin – Photos courtesy of Jeanne Dammarell The Osprey is a bird of prey whose main source of food is fish. At one time they were heading toward extinction due to the heavy use of DDT. The pesticide caused the eggshells to become so thin they would break under the weight of the adult as it tried to incubate it.  Now we are fortunate enough to see them nesting successfully along the Spokane and Little Spokane Rivers. As their numbers increase and as Bald Eagles are also expanding their nesting range, trying to find a satisfactory nesting site can be more of a challenge.  The preferred nesting site has a top that is flat enough to build a large nest on and is taller than any other nearby trees. They don�t want possible nest scavengers to have a perch from which to observe the nest.  Over the years, Osprey have discovered that utility poles frequently fill both of these criteria. The one major drawback is that either the nesting material or the outstretched wings can on occasion reach across the span of wires resulting in either a fire in the nest and/or death of a bird.  Since Osprey […]