Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Washington Outdoors Report

Outdoors Roundup


FREE Lifetime Recreation Passes for veterans and Gold Star Families

The America the Beautiful Pass allows you to enter National Parks, U.S. Forest Service Recreation Areas, National Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Land Management properties and other federal lands requiring an entry fee. It’s available as a lifetime pass for Seniors over 62 for $80 and now, thanks to a National Defense Authorization Act signed into law by President Biden in December of 2021, this lifetime pass is now available for free to military veterans and Gold Star family members.  This includes veterans who served in the National Guard or Army Reserve.  

Ideally, you would pick up this pass for free today at National Forest or BLM district and headquarters offices around our state.  Unfortunately, they are not yet printed or available. In the meantime, you should ask for an annual America the Beautiful Military Pass which you can now get as a veteran at no charge. This pass is good for one year. By next year, you should be able to get the actual veteran’s lifetime pass. Because of lingering covid pandemic issues many of these offices are only open by appointment only so call ahead and make sure they have the military passes in stock and are aware of this program before you make the drive.

When you arrive to pick up this pass in person you will need to present one of the following forms of identification as a veteran:
1) Department of Defense Identification Card
2) Veteran Health Identification Card
3) Veteran ID Card 
4) Veterans’ designation on a state-issued U.S. driver’s license or identification card 

Another option is to pay $10 and get the pass online.  You can do so at  Simply click on the “Determine Eligibility” tab, put that pass in your shopping cart, create an account, upload a photo of your ID card and order it.   Then, explore our federal public lands for the rest of your life, no entry or parking fees required, though you do still have to pay for overnight stays.
Wolf numbers continue to rise in the Pacific Northwest

Washington’s wolf population continues to grow.  The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Colville Tribe have released their annual survey report which saw a 16 percent increase to Washington’s wolf numbers over the last year. As of Dec. 31, 2021, WDFW, partner agencies, and tribes counted 206 wolves in 33 packs in Washington. Nineteen of these packs included successful breeding pairs. This is up from 178 wolves in 29 packs and 16 breeding pairs in the 2020 count.  

Oregon is also reporting a rise in wolf numbers.  The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that at the end of 2021 there were at least 175 wolves in the Beaver State, an increase of two over last year. In Oregon wolves initially found only in the northeast part of the state, are moving to areas throughout Eastern and Southern Oregon and into California. In Washington, the packs by and large remain east of the Cascade Crest with the largest concentration of packs remaining in the northeast quadrant of the state.

Conservation Banquets

The Colockum Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will be holding a big banquet, usually attended by several hundred people, at the Chelan County Fairgrounds in Cashmere on May 21st. The event kicks off at 4:30 p.m. Purchase tickets online here.

The Okahogan Trails Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation will hold a fundraising banquet at the Elks Lodge in Oak on May 21st from 5 to 10 p.m. You can purchase tickets online here.

A guided wildflower hike
Washington State Parks is offering a guided hike amongst the wild flowers at Alta Lake State Park near Pateros on May 21st from 3 to 5 PM. The “Flower Power Hike” starts at the Welcome Booth at the park and takes you on a short but steep hike around the campground and up the bluffs surrounding Alta Lake. Bring water and some sturdy shoes or boots for this hike. The event is free but you will need a Discover Pass to park for the day if you are not already camping there. If you have any questions, call the park staff at 509-923-2473.

John Kruse – and

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