Parks foundation unveils new website

The Washington Parks Foundation launched a new website (waparks.org) aimed at connecting people with parks and enabling them to share their experiences.

An improved interactive map and new trip reporting platform allow users to more easily find parks and provide information for other visitors. Additionally, virtual tours for many parks, including Yakima Sportsman State Park, offer walkthroughs with 360-degree views and other navigation tools.

A partnership with The Credit Union for Washington supports the foundation’s new site, which came out during Fall since it’s one of the most popular times to visit state parks. The foundation’s executive director, John Floberg, said as the new trip reporting tool grows it will help people find hidden gems and discover the best places to go in all 124 of Washington’s state parks.

Last week for Yakima County trails survey

Yakima County residents have until Oct. 24th to take the Yakima County Trails Plan survey to provide input for the prioritization of projects in the County Trails Master Plan.

The survey should take no longer than five minutes and will help determine the final list of upcoming projects. County funds may aid in constructing new trails and pathways, but maintenance and operations will be provided by sponsoring agencies such as the Yakima Greenway Foundation and the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy.

Goals of the master plan for trails include identifying projects with the potential to enhance bicycle and pedestrian facilities, improving user safety, and promoting connectivity with neighboring transportation systems. All projects in the plan, which will be finalized later this year, could be completed in the next five to ten years.

For more information or to take the survey, go to YakimaTrailsPlan.com.

BIRD ALERT

A strikingly beautiful LaConte’s sparrow was spotted at the McNary National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters in Burbank this week. This is only the eighth Washington state record of LaConte’s sparrow, which is normally found in wet meadows with tall grass and is known to be secretive and difficult to see. If you want to try to see this sparrow follow the new asphalt trail that starts near the bird blind, and check the weeds and wild rose by the south pond. Look for a sparrow with a bright orange-buff face with silvery cheek, spotted gray nape, and crisp black streaking on buffy under parts.

A pair of Yakima bird enthusiasts headed up to Conrad Meadows in search of grouse. They dipped on the grouse but were rewarded with close-up views of a beautiful male American redstart as it actively fed on insects that appeared to be on the bare ground near vegetation. This bird is about three weeks behind in its typical southward migration; hope he makes it. Other birds of note included hairy woodpecker, Canada jay, mountain chickadee, red-breasted nuthatch, varied thrush, hermit thrush, golden-crowned kinglet, brown creeper, red crossbill, pine siskin and golden-crowned sparrow.

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

ON THE CALENDAR

THURSDAY: Yakama Nation sockeye reintroduction program manager Brian Saluskin will be the featured speaker at the Yakima Fly Fishers Association monthly meeting at 7 p.m. at Magic’s Pizza in Selah. He’ll discuss work to restore the salmon to the Yakima Basin, from which they were eradicated in the early 1900 when dams were put in for irrigation water storage with no regard for fish passage. The Yakama Nation hopes to restore passage to Cle Elum, Kachess, Keechelus and Bumping lakes to create a self-sustaining run for both tribal anglers and residents of the Yakima Valley.

SATURDAY: Girls with Grit and Mahre Athletic Development Experience will host the second annual Pirate Red Hop 5K at Bale Breaker, in partnership with North Star Lodge. All proceeds will go to four local families battling cancer. Pirate costumes are encouraged for the race that starts at 1 p.m. and runs along Hop Field 41’s dirt before heading back to the brewery. Registration is $40 or $30 for kids ages 8-18 and free for kids seven and under. To sign up or find more information, go to the event’s Facebook page.

TUESDAY: Washington Department Fish and Wildlife director Kelly Susewind and south central regional director Mike Livingston will host an online Q&A from 7-8 p.m. for residents of Yakima, Kittitas, Benton and Franklin counties. The two men will share updates on several issues, including land management and the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, habitat projects, WDFW’s budget challenges, and the Yakima elk herd. To watch and ask questions, go to wdfw.wa.gov.

WEDNESDAY: The Cascadians are offering a first aid class from 6-9 p.m. for all members at a cost of $15, payable when you show up at the Meyer Auditorium at Living Care Retirement Center at 215 N. 40th Avenue.

GETTING OUTDOORS

THURSDAY: The Cascadian Pathfinders will hike approximately 3.5 miles with 500 feet of elevation gain in the Kloochman Rock Area near Rimrock Lake. Call Bob at 509-457-2014 for meeting time and place.

TUESDAY: The Cascadian Free Spirits will hike eight miles with 650 feet of elevation gain at White Bluffs North in the Wahluke National Wildlife Refuge, DNR Priest Rapids map, and the Trekkers will hike nine miles with 900 feet of elevation gain along the Tieton Nature Trail’s lollipop loop from the Oak Creek bridge. Departure will be from the Chesterley Park parking lot at 7:30 a.m. for the Trekkers and 8 a.m. for the Free Spirits. Drivers with the Free Spirits need a Discover Pass and should contact Jacqui at 509-834-9863 or jacquib781@msn.com with any questions. Call Kim Hull at 509-853-8698 with any questions for the Trekkers’ outing.

WEDNESDAY: Join the Cascadians for the fifth fall conditioning hike in the Yakima River Canyon, at Rattlesnake Dance, with 1,400 feet of elevation gain over the 2.5-mile round trip. These six steep, strenuous hikes will help prepare your legs for the coming ski season, and participants should plan to move at their own pace. Fall weather can be cold in the mornings, so bring layers, gloves, a rain jacket and water. Check the calendar in case of inclement weather and plan to depart from the Chesterley Park parking lot at 8:30 a.m.

THURSDAY, OCT. 24: The Pathfinders will hike three miles with 500 feet of elevation gain to the lower and upper views of Twin Falls near North Bend. They’ll follow the South Fork Snoqualmie River upstream through a lush rainforest of club moss and sword fern with a stop for coffee at Snoqualmie Summit on the way home. Call Carol at 509-833-7989 for meeting time and place.