Federal Agencies are Planning for the Infrastructure Bill

In August 2021, the House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), also known as the “Infrastructure Bill”. While the $1.2 trillion dollar bill is geared toward improving roads, bridges, airports and ports, broadband internet, and water and energy systems across the nation, it also contains around $20 billion aimed at natural resources management, enhancement, education, and protection.

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The Quest for Columbia River Chukar

I knelt on the edge of the precipice with my knee dug into a sandy spot beneath a massive aromatic sagebrush while Finn ravenously lapped water from a small, green collapsible bowl. Behind and below us, the Columbia River wound lazily between lush, orderly, emerald orchards, rock faces, and scree slopes – a peaceful and extravagant scene. My friend Chas stood slightly downhill to my left with his upland vest in hand, packing away a massive wild chukar that he had come to harvest with a combination of Finn’s good work and a peck on the cheek from Lady Luck.

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Western Monarch Butterflies See an Inspiring Rebound

In April 2021, I wrote a piece for Harvesting Nature on what appeared to be the imminent extinction of the western Monarch butterfly population. Only about 2,000 butterflies arrived on their southern California winter range in 2020 where approximately five million once clouded the skies and trees. When a population sees decline of this magnitude, coming back from the brink is rare, particularly in one breeding season, but it seems there is more to the story on the western monarch butterfly.

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Chronic Wasting Disease Reaches Capitol Hill

asting Disease (CWD) was first identified in Colorado in captive mule deer in the late 1960s. Nearly 40 years later in approximately 2002, the first utterance of CWD was heard among the ranks of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (VDWR). With a case turning up in nearby West Virginia, the VDWR began research and planning to prevent the disease from crossing the state line. I was an employee at the time and recall sampling and the agency releasing regulations on transporting carcasses into the state, but it was likely too late. CWD was detected in Shenandoah County, Virginia within a year or two.

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Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon See Record High Returns

In a year when salmon and steelhead returns were seeing historic lows across the Pacific Basin, Bristol Bay, Alaska noted record-high sockeye salmon returns at over 66 million fish, shattering the 2018 record of nearly 63 million. Bristol Bay salmon returns have been studied since the 1940s, and this year was only the third time a sockeye return has broken 60 million fish. Conversely, Alaska’s Yukon River saw some of the lowest Chinook and chum salmon returns on record.

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Grilled Tandoori Kokanee

There are worse things in life than kicking back on the boat on a gorgeous spring morning while the downriggers troll a small squid bait in the vicinity of a kokanee school. Birds are nesting and singing. Trees and flowers are in full bloom, casting brilliant hues from the lake canyon walls. You notice a sizable blob appear on the depth-finder and prepare for the strike. Moments later, you reel up a kokanee, chrome-bright and destined for the cooler. You can already taste that bold blend of curry-like flavors, coriander, chili pepper, with a sharp hint of lime. Paired with a crisp rose or chardonnay, the complexity of flavors puts this recipe at the top of the list to share with friends and family, or not, as kokanee are a prize not to be squandered.

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Ruffs on the Rim

Upon the September grouse opener calls a particular mountaintop covert. The eastern aspect was burned out years ago, but a few mature pines remain. The understory boasts mixed grasses, dense burgundy ninebark, the occasional rose thicket and Oregon grape, and large snowbrush clumps encircled by all of the above. Beneath the sun’s resplendence on the shoulders of the day, the brushy cover exudes a unique vibrance against a backdrop of rugged river canyon, home to moose, elk, Rocky Mountain bighorn, and the “King of the Woods”, the ruffed grouse.

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Mourning Smoke

The dove opener is a fancied event in many states across the U.S., including my Virginia hometown. While I personally looked forward to October squirrel and whitetail seasons most, I always made time for a few sultry evening tree line sits with friends, awaiting a passing shot at a dodgy mourning dove as it traveled between cut silage corn and farm ponds.
Fast forward 20 years to living west of the Rockies in southeast Washington, my interest in mourning doves had increased tremendously, largely due to a growing passion for upland bird hunting in general. Throw in the Eurasian collared dove and you’ve got the makings of a connoisseur of the dove species. Interestingly, my daily and season bags remain comparable to those of my youth, although my wingshooting has improved somewhat over the years, but 2020 had some tricks up her sleeve that led to the most memorable mourning dove season on record.

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Northern Long-eared Bats Survive White-nose Syndrome in Man-made Habitats

of the muzzle, ears, and wings of hibernating bat species across 35 states and seven Canadian provinces at present1. The fungus thrives in cold, damp conditions, perfectly suited for winter cave hibernacula. As it grows, the fungus causes changes in hibernating bats that make them become more active than usual and burn fat they need to survive the winter2.

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