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Special waterfowl hunt Set for Saturday

Youth, veterans and active military can take advantage of a special statewide one-day waterfowl hunt this Saturday.

A release from the wildlife department notes the hunt includes all regular season opportunities, including coot, all ducks and all allowable geese. Bag limits will be the same as those allowed during the regular season and all species with special authorization and mandatory harvest report card requirements still apply.

Several wildlife areas and US Fish and Wildlife national wildlife refuges will remain open in designated areas, including the Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge. To learn more, go to wdfw.wa.gov or call Kyle Spragens at 360-902-2522 or Sam Montgomery at 360-688-0721.

Miller, Klingele win Button Shoot

Perfect scores dominated the day in week 4 of the Yakima Valley Sportsman Association W.K. Button Shoot.

Ron Miller and John Klingele in the men's division, senior shooter Mark Peterson and super senior shooter Glen Lowrie all broke 25 to earn their buttons. Shara Green won the Ladies competition.

Wildlife commission approves land purchase

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a 92-acre land acquisition for the wildlife department in Yakima County, next to the Oak Creek Wildlife Area west of Naches.

The agency bought the land from the LaPierre family for $513,600 with a grant from the Washington Recreation and Conservation Wildlife and Recreation Program. Discussions with private landowners in the surrounding area are ongoing and a news release from the wildlife department noted the property would improve public access for hunting and wildlife viewing.

South side access to Umtanum Ridge closed

The wildlife department announced the implementation of its winter closure of four vehicle and walk-through gates at the Wenas Wildlife Area in Yakima County to protect nearby private properties and minimize disturbance to the local elk herd.

Gates at Ridge Road, Black Canyon, Hessler and Kelly Hollow will be locked until as late as March 31. The public can still reach Umtanum Ridge Road via Sheep Company and Durr Road, although snow can make driving difficult.

For more information, go to wdfw.wa.gov or call Wenas Wildlife Area manager Cindi Confer Morris at 509-697-4503.

BIRD ALERT

The wetlands along Old Goldendale Road, at the western edge of the Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge, had some good birds this week including over 100 mallards, northern pintail, American wigeon, northern shoveler, gadwall, northern harrier, red-tailed hawk, bald eagle, short-eared owl, northern shrike and, most surprising, five American tree sparrows, a medium-sized sparrow that breeds and nests on the ground in tundra or the northern limits of the boreal forest.

Sarg Hubbard Park is one of those little gems of Yakima that always has a good selection of bird life. This week one birder found 23 species. Highlights included gadwall, American wigeon, bufflehead, common goldeneye, common merganser, Virginia rail, belted kingfisher, downy woodpecker, black-capped chickadee, Bewick's wren and our state bird, the American goldfinch.

A quick birding trip along the Ridge and County Line Roads of the Horse heaven Hills turned up some pretty cool birds for one local birder. Highlights of his trip included gray partridge, northern harrier, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, merlin, northern shrike, common raven, horned lark, an early arrival mountain bluebird and Townsend's Solitaire.

Sometimes you get the surprise of an unexpected sighting of a good bird. A Yakima resident was surprised to see a barred owl fly over the road in his neighborhood and another birder spotted a great egret at the Valley Marina as he drove by on the freeway.

Please email your bird sightings to kdturley@embarqmail.com and be sure to like us on our Facebook page or visit yakimaaudubon.org.

ON THE CALENDAR

FRIDAY AND SATURDAY: White Pass will host its second annual craft brew fest with eight different regional breweries on tap. A brewer's race will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday followed by live music from Cody Beene and the Crooks from 4-7 p.m.

SATURDAY: The Hardcore Runners Club will host its annual Frosty Four Miler at noon on Maple Court next to Terrace Heights Elementary School. Online registration is $15 for members, $20 for non-members and $10 for children 12 and under with a registered adult. Race day registration at the Terrace Heights Evangelical Presbyterian Church is $25 and must be done between 10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.

GETTING OUTDOORS

THURSDAY: The Cascadian Pathfinders will ski or snowshoe four miles with minimal elevation gain at North Wenas Creek in the Wenas-Cascade Camp on the LT Murray Wildlife area. Call Greg at 509-453-2374 for meeting time and place.

SATURDAY: The Cascadians will ski or snowshoe 5.5 miles with 1,000 feet of elevation gain at Sand Lake, where climbing skins are helpful for the ascent. Intermediate backcountry skiing ability is needed for the descent on the Pacific Crest Trail. Contact Jeff and Joyce Hagen at 509-966-5432 for details and be aware the wilderness limit of 12 people per group applies. This is a Cascadian Centennial outing.

TUESDAY: The Free Spirits will snowshoe or ski six to six and a half miles with minimal elevation gain at Hell's Crossing off of US Highway 410, Green Trails map 271, with departure at 8 a.m. from the Chesterley Park parking lot. Drivers need a Sno-Park permit. Call Rudy at 509-248-7304 with any questions.

ALSO TUESDAY: The Cascadians will ski or snowshoe at a destination to be determined, with departure at 8 a.m. from the Chesterley Park parking lot.

THURSDAY, FEB. 6: The Pathfinders will ski or snowshoe six miles with little elevation gain at Pleasant Valley Trail North near Chinook Pass, Green Trails map 271. Call Rudy at 509-248-7304 for meeting time and place. Drivers need a Sno-Park permit. This is a Cascadian Centennial event.