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Wanapum Reservoir begins filling over coming weeks

After nearly 10 months of working around the clock to repair and strengthen Wanapum Dam’s spillway, Grant County PUD will soon be able to raise the reservoir behind the dam.

Subject to the approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the river level will begin to gradually fill sometime between November 24 and December 11 based on river flows and structural-integrity measurements. When complete, the river will be restored approximately 17 feet above current levels.

This partial refill will take between six and 18 days to reach the target elevation. This increased reservoir level will allow fish ladders to resume normal operations and allow the utility greater flexibility in managing hydroelectric generation over the winter months.

While the reservoir increases, shoreline enforcement patrols will remain in effect and the Wanapum shoreline will remain closed. Once engineers, law enforcement, and cultural resource workers have determined it is safe to restore access to the shoreline, the utility will notify the public.

EPA calls outdoor burn bans for several Indian Reservations in Washington

EPA calls outdoor burn bans for several Indian Reservations in Washington

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is calling a burn ban for the Spokane, Colville, and Yakima Indian Reservations due to stagnant air conditions and high air quality monitor readings. The burn bans for these reservations will continue until further notice.

The burn ban applies to all outdoor and agricultural burning, including camping and recreational fires within reservation boundaries. Ceremonial and traditional fires are exempt from the outdoor burn ban.

EPA requests that reservation residents reduce all sources of air pollution, including excess driving and idling of vehicles, and the use of woodstoves and fireplaces, unless it is your only source of heat.

Air pollution can have significant health impacts. Cooperation from the community will help people who are at risk during this period. Those most at risk are children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with difficulty breathing and with heart and lung problems. Those at risk should avoid outdoor exercise and minimize exposure to outdoor pollution as much as possible.

Conservation groups offer $15,000 reward after endangered wolf killed in Washington

Conservation groups are offering up to a $15,000 reward for information leading to conviction of those responsible for the illegal killing of the breeding female wolf of the Teanaway pack in Washington’s Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. The killing is one of several in the past year jeopardizing the recovery of Washington’s gray wolves, which are fully protected under the federal Endangered Species Act in the western two-thirds of Washington and throughout the state under state endangered species law. 
 
State and federal officials recovered the dead Teanaway pack breeding female on Oct. 28 near the Salmon la Sac area north of Cle Elum. Based on GPS collar data, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents believe the animal was killed around Oct. 17.
 

State Parks invites people to go ‘deep’ into Rockport State Park

State Parks invites people to go ‘deep’ into Rockport State Park

This winter, staff and volunteers from the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will offer guided hikes through the ancient, old growth forest at Rockport State Park.

The Deep Forest Experience hikes take place between 10:00 a.m. And 2:00 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from December 5 through February 15, at Rockport State Park. The park is located just off the North Cascades Highway (Hwy 20), .06 miles west of the town of Rockport.

Leavenworth one of the most affordable for leaf peeping this fall

Leavenworth one of the most affordable for leaf peeping this fall

If you're looking for a fall getaway without breaking the bank, vacation specialists at TripAdvisor have named Leavenworth one of the top spots in the country to take in some colorful sights.

According to TripAdvisor, 83 percent of those surveyed plan to take a leisure trip this fall, with 31 percent planning to travel for the joy of viewing fall foliage. To help travelers plan, TripIndex compared the cost of a weekend getaway for two in 15 of the most popular leaf-peeping destinations in the US, including the combined average cost of a two-night stay in a bed and breakfast, a full tank of gas, apple picking and a meal at a restaurant.

Leavenworth came in at an affordable $476.89, but you'd better make your reservations now before the winter flakes start to fall.

Dept. of Natural Resources lifts statewide burn ban

Dept. of Natural Resources lifts statewide burn ban

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources announced Friday that the statewide burn ban on DNR-protected lands has been removed. Fire danger has been reduced by the recent rainfall and moderating temperatures.

Restrictions set by local authorities are not affected by DNR's actions. Additionally, while conditions no longer warrant a statewide burn ban, some local areas may still remain dry. Anyone who plans on burning should check with local authorities beforehand.

You can also always find the latest on your local fire restrictions here.

USDA offering financial assistance for farmers impacted by wildfires

USDA offering financial assistance for farmers impacted by wildfires

The United States Department of Agriculture wants to help farmers impacted by this year's brutal wildfire season in central and eastern Washington.

The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Services is now accepting applications from agriculture producers in Kittitas, Grant, Chelan, Okanogan and Douglas counties impacted by wildfires in 2014. Financial assistance is offered through the Wildfire Initiative of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help resource concerns on private and tribal land.

NRCS will be offering two financial assistance options:

Option 1 – General EQIP

The key conservation practice available for assistance under this option is deferred grazing. This practice allows grasses time to recover while livestock producers seek alternate feed sources. And for the first time, NRCS is also offering broadcast seeding as part of this initiative.

Option 2 – Wildfire Special Initiative