Festival to highlight Snow Mountain colors

The annual Fall Colors Festival at Snow Mountain Ranch, a day of guided hikes to take advantage of the changing colors of autumn, has been set for Saturday, Oct. 26. (Please note the date — that’s not this coming weekend, but the following weekend.)

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day, Cowiche Canyon Conservancy docents will be leading a variety of hikes, from easy to long, some of which will be suited for the entire family. Visitors may also wander the area on their own, though anyone doing a longer hike should consider bringing a lunch.

To reach Snow Mountain Ranch, follow Summitview to Cowiche Mill Road, turn left and drive 2.5 miles to a fenced lot on the left marked with Cowiche Canyon Conservancy Signs.

For more information, call 509-248-5065.

Steelhead seasons open in upper system

Fishing will open for hatchery steelhead Wednesday on the mainstem upper Columbia, Wenatchee, Icicle, Methow and Okanogan rivers, with the Similkameen in line to join those rivers on Nov. 1.

Some 14,000 adult steelhead are expected to return to the upper Columbia River this year, enough to allow the department to open area steelhead fisheries — though fishing will be more tightly regulated than last year because protected wild steelhead are expected to make up a higher proportion of the run.

Anglers should check WDFW’s website (wdfw.wa.gov/) throughout the season for possible changes in the fishing regulations.

Daily limit on each river w2ill be two hatchery steelhead (those with clipped adipose fins) of at least 20 inches in length. Wild steelhead must be released immediately without removing the fish from the water. All steelhead fitted with a floy (anchor) tag and those with one or more round quarter-inch holes punched in their caudal (tail) fin must also be released.

4-H archery club sets debut meeting tonight

A new youth archery 4-H club will hold an informational meeting tonight to introduce itself to prospective new members and volunteers. The club will be for ages 8 to 18, third grade through high school.

Interested persons are invited to attend the meeting at 7 p.m. at the Yakima County Resource Center (2403 S. 18th St., Union Gap). For more information, call Alison White, 4-H youth development regional specialist with the Washington State University Extension program, at 509-574-1588.

AROUND AND ABOUT

KLICK LIMIT UPPED: The daily limit for fall chinook was increased on the Klickitat River through Nov. 30, during which up to four adult chinook may be returned daily out of a six-salmon daily limit. This includes the Klickitat from 400 feet upstream of the No. 5 fishway (about three miles from the mouth) to the boundary markers below the hatchery.

UPCOMING CLAM DIG: A six-day coastal razor clam dig will begin Thursday at Twin Harbors and extend through Saturday there and at Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks, continuing through Sunday at all but Copalis and through Monday at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks. Diggers must have a valid fishing license (or a three-day razor clam license) and can take 15 razor clams were day, always the first 15 they dig.

BOATING HONORS: Tumwater resident Jim French, a longtime employee of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission’s Boating Program, has received the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators’ Lifetime Achievement Award for his long devotion to recreational boating safety. Notable among his achievements is the production of 1992’s “Adventures in Boating with Bill Nye, the Science Guy,” featuring a young and not-yet-famous Bill Nye.

BIRD ALERT

The attraction of all those kokanee in Rimrock Lake continues to enhance the birding there. While most of the gulls were California gulls, along with a few Bonaparte’s gulls, ring-billed gulls and herring gulls, the best birds were two first-year Thayer’s gulls.

Also attracted to the kokanee feast were hooded and common mergansers, plus horned, eared and western grebes. There were also nine bald eagles, either attracted by the kokanee or by the large population of overfed birds.

An osprey was spotted at nearby Clear Lake, a late sighting for this species in Yakima County. Birders heard a northern pygmy owl tooting softly above Clear Creek near the bridge on the northwest side of the lake. Below the dam, the birders counted at least nine American dippers, apparently also enjoying the kokanee salmon feast afforded by the large number of fish eggs along the creek.

The four to eight inches of snow at the Clover Flats campground didn’t prevent one local birder from spotting a flock of pine siskins, a pine grosbeak and, best of all, an immature white-winged crossbill among a group of 12 red crossbills. Further down the slope towards Tree Phones campground was a mixture of white-crowned and golden-crowned sparrows and a group of 12 or more gray-crowned rosy-finches.

Please email bird sightings to the Yakima Valley Audubon at birds@yakimaaudubon.org or leave a message at 509-837-6930.

— Kerry L. Turley

ON THE CALENDAR

THIS MORNING: The Cascadian Free Spirits will head out from the 40th Avenue Bi-Mart south lot at 8 a.m. on their way to hiking Skyline Ridge, a seven-mile trek with 1,500 feet of elevation gain. The Cascadian Trekkers will also head out at 8 a.m. for a different destination, which at last notice was expected to be Dumbbell Loop off White Pass, a hike of up to nine miles with 1,000 feet of elevation gain. If you’re hiking with either group, bring lunch, lots of energy and the 13 essentials.

THURSDAY: The Cascadian Pokies will hike the trails around Bumping Lake, where the fall colors should be getting spectacular. For meeting time and place, call Joyce Whitney at 574-8331.

— From staff reports