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Washington State Parks to offer two free days in April

Washington State Parks to offer two free days in April

 

Looking to go explore some Washington State Parks, but don't yet have a Discover Pass? Well, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will offer two free days in April.

 

Visitors will not need to display a Discover Pass for day-use visits to any of Washington's State Parks on April 4th, a springtime free Saturday, and Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22nd.

 

Free days are in keeping with legislation that created the Discover Pass, a $30 annual or $10 one-day permit required on recreation lands managed by Washington State Parks, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This legislation provided that State Parks could designate up to 12 free days each year when the pass would not be required to visit state parks. 

 

A Discover Pass is still needed to access WDFW and DNR lands on State Park free days.

 

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Hoopfest 2015 registration is now open

Hoopfest 2015 registration is now open

 

Registration for the world's largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament is now live!

 

Entry forms for Spokane Hoopfest 2015 are available online at register.spokanehoopfest.net. Hard-copy entry forms are also available at any Bruchi's Cheesesteaks and Subs or Yokes Fresh Market northwest locations. 

 

This year Hoopfest will celebrate its 26th year as a Spokane institution. Every year the tournament brings approximately 28,000 players and 225,000 spectators to the streets of downtown Spokane.

 

Registration to the tournament is guaranteed to teams that register prior to May 11th. Forms and entries to those who register late are only granted based on space availability with an additional $20 late fee through May 25th. Nonetheless, Hoopfest organizers recommend playing it safe by registering early.

 

Department of Health asks dog owners to help track ticks through online survey

Department of Health asks dog owners to help track ticks through online survey

 

Washington state health officials are asking dog owners to go online and fill out a short, anonymous survey, and to send the agency any ticks they find during tick season.

 

In Washington, taking the dog for a later winter or spring-time walk comes with the added task of checking four-legged friends for ticks. The tick season has already begun in Western Washington, and in the next few weeks, the Washington State Department of Health says ticks will emerge from their winter hideaways elsewhere in the state.

 

“Many dog owners have found a tick or two on their furry friend after coming home from a walk outside,” said Dr. Liz Dykstra, entomologist for the Department of Health. “We’d like to know more about when and where they’ve picked up ticks, and if their dog has ever been diagnosed with a tick-borne disease.”

 

Spring prescribed burning to start in the Colville National Forest

Spring prescribed burning to start in the Colville National Forest

 

Colville National Forest Fire Managers say they are keeping a close eye on the weather and moisture condition in the Colville National Forest. If moisture levels and smoke dispersion patters are within Washington State smoke management standards, crews could begin the spring prescribed burning season as early as the middle of March and continue into June.

 

Residents and motorists along Aladdin Road north of Colville can expect to see smoke on the east side of Rogers Mountain and in the Meadow Creed drainage. Motorists on Highway 395 and residents of Chewelah can expect to see smoke in the Cottonwood Creek drainage. Motorists and residents along 395 can expect to see smoke in the Renner Lake area north of Barstow, as well as in the Summit Mountain area northeast of Orient.

 

Residents in the Pend Orielle Valley and those traveling up Highway 20 can expect to see smoke of the west side of the valley from Cusick, north to lone. Crews will also be conducting burns in the Browns Lake area north of Barstow, as well as in the Summit Mountain area northeast of Orient.

 

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Stevens County Fire District 1 works to improve communication with taxpayers

Stevens County Fire District 1 works to improve communication with taxpayers

Stevens County Fire District 1 says it is taking steps to improve communications with its taxpayers. The fire district, which covers ore than 375 square miles in northeastern Washington says they are creating multiple avenues to people with this information.

 

These avenues include a quarterly newsletter, increased presence on social media, and making Fire Chief Mike Bucy available to speak with community groups.

 

"We serve eight district communities so reaching people is a challenge," said Chief Bucy. " But, we need them to know more about the challenges we are facing to provide adequate emergency services."

 

Record call volumes, a decline in volunteer firefighters and antiquated fire station are making it difficult for this mostly-volunteer fire district to keep up with the rising demand for emergency services.

 

State Senate votes to extend ban on cell phone use while driving

State Senate votes to extend ban on cell phone use while driving

The Washington Senate has voted to extend the state's ban on cell phone use while driving to cover the range of functions a smartphone can now serve.

In a 35-14 vote Tuesday, Senators sent to the House a bill that would update legislation written in 2008 that bans hand-held phone calls and texting while driving. Since then, mobile platforms for Facebook, Twitter and a plethora of other social networking and video game uses have gained millions of users. Under existing law, they're legal for drivers to use while behind the wheel, despite being distracting.

Grass fires already challenging Stevens County resources despite lack of burn bans in place

Grass fires already challenging Stevens County resources despite lack of burn bans in place

 

Stevens County is experiencing escalating calls for service on escaped grass fires.

 

According to the Stevens County Sheriff Office, the first call for an out of control grass fire occurred on February 26th- the earliest ever recorded. Since then, emergency calls have gone up from 1-2 per day, to fourteen on Sunday, March 8th.

 

Many volunteer fire districts have been responding to multiples calls per day, and the fires have ranged from two to fifteen acres. On Sunday, three of the reported grass fires threatened structures, and one home was damaged.

 

"With little snow cover or recent rain, the grass has become very unpredictable when land owners are burning. A change in terrain, a gust of wind, or a little inattention and you are in trouble," said Rick Anderson of the Stevens County Sheriff's Office and Emergency Management. "On Sunday our 911 dispatchers felt like it was the middle of August."

 

Currently there are nor burning bans in Stevens County, but the Sheriff's Office said that landowners will still be held responsible for any damaged caused by an escaped fire.