Pheasants Forever banquet set March 15

The Yakima Valley Chapter of Pheasants Forever will hold its 24th annual fundraising banquet on Saturday, March 15, at State Fair Park.

The banquet, which will be in the Modern Living Building, will feature a prime rib and chicken dinner along with a live and silent auction, raffles and games. Among the prizes to be won at auction or raffle will be 22 different rifles, shotguns and pistols.

Over those two dozen years, the Yakima Valley chapter has raised well over $700,000 and has used that money around the Valley to help plant and improve habitat for upland game birds. Over 90 percent of the proceeds from local fundraising events such as this one is spent on projects benefitting wildlife habitat in this area, many of which will be highlighted during the banquet.

Tickets are $70 for a single or $100 for a couple, and include an annual membership in Pheasants Forever. (Admission for ages under 18 is $30.) Tickets are available at the door, and doors open at 5 p.m. with dinner to follow at 7.

For information or tickets, call Kyle Phillips at 509-961-3668.

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Mitchell, Rogers go perfect for buttons

Snowy conditions didn’t stop Jeff Mitchell and Tom Rodgers from breaking perfect 25x25 rounds to earn the men’s division buttons in the ninth Sunday of the 10-week W.K. Button Shoot, hosted by Yakima Valley Sportsmen Association at the Pomona trap range.

Other men’s winners were Clinton Vandeventer, John Klingele and Verne Baker, while Zack Gabriel took home the button in the junior division.

Dale Klingele was the last man standing in the Annie Oakley.

After this Sunday’s final round of the W.K. series, all button winners will shoot off on March 16 to determine club champions in each of the various classes. Shooting will start at 10 a.m. with the youth and ladies divisions first. All button winners are also eligible for the club Annie Oakley after completion of the class shooting.

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AROUND AND ABOUT

The Trails and Wilderness Interest Group (TWIG) meeting gets under way at 7 p.m. in the conference room at the Naches Ranger Station. Participants/spectators should park in the rear lot and enter through the back door. Acting resource assistant Marge Hutchinson, Kevin Hill, recreation planner Sue Ranger and Michelle King will host the meeting.

Three spring-quarter noncredit classes being offered by Yakima Valley Community College on its Yakima campus will be of particular interest to outdoor enthusiasts:

Beginning Fly Fishing, on Thursday evenings (7-9 p.m.) April 3 through May 1. The $80 course (plus $20 usage fee to be paid during class) will cover equipment, castings, knots, flies and where-and-when to fish, and includes two field trips.

Intermediate Fly Fishing, on Thursday evenings (7-9 p.m.) May 8 through June 5. Yes, it’s a continuation of the beginning class, with the same fees, and in this one students will have to supply their own fly-fishing gear — and, after learning how to fly-fish in the beginner class, you’ll already have gone out to get that, right?

Basic Mountaineering, on Monday evenings (7-9:30 p.m.) April 21 to June 28. Fee is $15, but there’s a suggested donation of $150 to Central Washington Mountain Rescue, whose experts are teaching the course. This will cover eerything from basic equipment and basic rock climbing to setting up top-rope systems, glacier travel and crevasse rescue techniques. You have to be fit enough to carry a pack with overnight gear three miles uphill over uneven rocky and snowy terrain or the field sessions will be pretty difficult.

Beginning this Saturday, Mount Rainier National Park will be extending the evening weekend hours to 6 p.m. (when the uphill gate closes) and 7 p.m. (when the downhill gate closes and the road is closed). Weekday closure hours (4 p.m. uphill gate, 5 p.m. downhill gate) will remain the same through March. Longmire gate-opening will remain at 9 a.m. The road between the Nisqually entrance and Longmire is open year-round except when closed for extreme conditions.

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BIRD ALERT

The Birding Basics class being held jointly by the Yakima Audubon and the Yakima Area Arboretum held its first field trip, this one focusing on waterfowl and beginning at the Arboretum pond. Students noted Canada goose, mallard, and a pair of wood ducks there before heading to the Costco pond, where they had sightings of a beautiful Eurasian wigeon that had joined a small group of American wigeon. They also saw good numbers of lesser scaup, and the horned grebe that seems to have become a regular there.

Next was a tour of the Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge, where the class noted tundra swans, scads of northern pintails, American green-winged teal and American coot. At the refuge headquarters, great horned owls were on an old nest in one of the big deciduous tree south of the visitor center. Raptors noted at the refuge included bald eagles, northern harriers, red-tailed hawks and American kestrel.

A mixed group of male and female western bluebirds were observed preening atop some aspens along North Wenas Road. Beautiful powder-blue mountain bluebirds were seen and heard on the hillside before the upper parking area of the Umtanum Falls Trail.

A large flock of cedar waxwings, spotted in the trees along the slough near the Poppoff Trail, held a single Bohemian waxwing. A lone tree swallow was spotted with a group of violet-green swallows on Cherry Hill near Granger.

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

— Kerry L. Turley

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ON THE CALENDAR

The Cascadian Free Spirits plan to head out to Clear Lake Loop for a 5- to 7-mile trek with an elevation gain of about 200 feet. Bring lunch and the 13 essentials, and don’t forget camera (with batteries) and poles. The group will meet at the 40th Avenue Bi-Mart south lot and be on the road by 8 a.m. The Cascadian Trekkers will head out at the same time from the same place to a destination to announced that morning by the trip leader.

With the recent snow, the Cascadian Pokies’ destination plans are up in the air until later in the week, just in case the original destination site turns out to be too mucky or muddy. For destination, meeting time and place, call Mary Belzer at 509-966-7921 or Debbie Cornue at 509-966-3085.