Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Washington Outdoors Report | Outdoors Roundup




A good portion of the Methow Wildlife Area will be closed to public access from December 15th through March 31st.  This area is an important habitat for a large herd of mule deer and covers nearly 35,000 acres.  The wildlife area is divided into seven units and five of them (Texas Creek, Golden Doe, Big Buck, Methow and Rendezvous) will be closed. 


Brandon Taylor, the Washington State Wildlife Area Manager, explains "Human disturbance in winter range can result in deer unnecessarily expending vital energy reserves, which can directly affect survival and reproduction.” The Methow Trail system, a popular cross-country skiing venue, will not be impacted by this closure.


This same rationale explains the annual winter closure of the Wenatchee Foothills trail system west of Wenatchee.  According to Chelan County PUD, which operates the Home Water Wildlife Preserve in the Sage Hills, the Sage Hills and Horse Lake Reserve trails will be closed from December 1st until early April.  Mule deer migrate into this area beginning in December with their numbers peaking in March.


Some trails in the Wenatchee area will remain open.  This includes the trail to Saddle Rock, the Castlerock trail, the Jacobson Preserve and of course, the Apple Capitol Loop trail.




Washington State’s Recreation and Conservation Office announced it is giving out 4.7 million dollars in grants for 53 projects in 28 counties.  The funds are being used to address maintenance backlogs in local parks.  In our reading area, the following grants are being awarded:




The Chelan Parks and Recreation Department has been awarded a $100,000 grant to seal cracks, repair some areas, recoat, and stripe parking lots in three of Chelan's most significant parks: Don Morse Park, the adjacent Lakeshore Marina (together comprising Chelan's public waterfront), and Lake Chelan Golf Course.


The Manson Parks and Recreation District will receive a grant for $100,000 to repair the gravel parking lot in Singleton Park, a ten-acre, day-use park that primarily offers sports courts and fields.




A $43,000 grant is going to the Klickitat County Public Works Department.  They will use this grant to buy materials and repair deteriorating structures in Trout Lake Park. The county will repair the roof on the gazebo; replace some siding, weatherize, and paint the restroom; patch potholes in the park’s main driveway and resurface some parking stalls; repair and paint the wood picnic tables; and replace worn cedar boards on the play structure. The work will extend the life of the facilities.




$100,000 has been awarded to the City of Chewelah which will use this grant to restore the main entrance to Everett Jenne Park, which experiences high traffic because of its location off U.S. Route 395. The park has an outdoor amphitheater that seats three hundred people, recreational vehicle facilities, and a famers’ market. The park hosts festivals and other gatherings that draw fifty thousand visitors a year.


Next to the highway is a concrete plaza entrance that was cracked and replaced with gravel that now is uneven, unstable, and overgrown with weeds, and does not provide the desired barrier-free access. The city will remove the gravel and other barriers, pour concrete to create an entrance, replace the benches with accessible furnishings, and replace garbage cans. The city also will add chips to the playground and a retaining system to keep them in place.


Stevens County will receive a $100,000 grant to fix up Hunters Park.  Hunters Park, which is in a low-income community, gets little use because of a lack of restrooms and seating areas. The county will replace the restroom roof and toilet and fix a leaky pipe and the wood deck damaged by the leak. The county also will upgrade the electrical outlets, which are not to code and unable to hold a power load, install signs, trim trees around the building to allow access to walkways, replace park benches and picnic tables, fertilize and reseed a large grassy field, repair a hole in the kiosk building, and replace rotted fencing.





Brian Varrelman, a long-time guide and outfitter, died at the age of 71 on November 10th.  Brian was a rancher and outfitter who owned the Whistlin’ Pine Ranch and Sawtooth Outfitters at Alta Lake near Pateros.  I had the opportunity to meet Brian 15 years ago when I was just starting out as the host of Northwestern Outdoors Radio and writing a guide book called “Great Places Washington”.


Brian was the past president of the Washington Outfitter and Guides Association and as the owner of Sawtooth Outfitters took clients on multi-day hunting trips for deer, bear, bighorn sheep and mountain goats in the Sawtooth and Pasayten Wilderness Areas in the late summer and early fall.


In the spring and summer, he operated the ranch which boasted a number of campsites and several rustic cabins that fronted Alta Lake.  Many campers went there for the trout fishing but the wildlife watching in the area is good too.  Brian invited me up to the ranch one summer day back in 2008 to join him and a couple of clients for a four-hour horseback ride.  The ride was amazing with some epic views but the thing I remember most was when the lead horse stirred up a ground nest of hornets and the rest of us had to gallop through the swarm of angry bees as fast as we could to avoid getting stung too much!


It’s definitely a ride I’ll never forget and Brian was a true cowboy and outdoorsman I’ll never forget either.  RIP.




John Kruse – and





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