Out and About, Aug. 1

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Fish and Wildlife Commission to discuss waterfowl seasons

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adopting 2013-14 hunting seasons for migratory waterfowl and additional protective measures for giant Pacific octopuses in Puget Sound during a public meeting Friday and Saturday in Olympia.

A public hearing is also scheduled to discuss several proposals to amend state wildlife interaction rules to incorporate measures from Washington's Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and implement 2013 legislation.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the WDFW, will convene in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

An agenda for the meeting is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission.

Washington State Park announces ban on campfires

Washington State Parks announced this week that campfires in all state parks will be prohibited until further notice to help prevent human-caused wildfires during the hot, dry season on both sides of the Cascade Mountains.

Campers will be allowed to use devices that allow for control of combustion, including propane and liquid gas stoves appropriate for camping and backcountry use; propane barbecue devices that do not use solid briquettes; propane or pressurized white gas warming devices that have a shield or base; and solid fuel citronella or other candles in a metal bucket or glass container.

In prescribing the ban on campfires, Washington State Parks is following the lead of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which Tuesday notified the public of a ban on all outdoor burning on lands protected by DNR. That agency has fire protection responsibility on approximately 50 percent of state park lands. The State Parks ban on open fires and campfires in all state parks is intended to minimize public confusion and cooperate in DNR's effort to prevent wildfires.

DNR has said that significant demands are being placed upon fire suppression resources from regional and statewide firefighting efforts. Wildfires are often ignited by lightning, but most fires are caused by human activities, including carelessly tended outdoor fires.

Commercial huckleberry permits available on Aug. 12

Commercial huckleberry permits for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest will be available beginning Aug. 12.

Berries at lower elevations are starting to ripen. At higher elevations, berries will ripen a little later.

Huckleberry harvest for personal use remains free, and no permit is required. Personal use consists of three gallons of huckleberries per person per year.

Anyone harvesting more than three gallons, or selling any quantity, must obtain a commercial huckleberry permit. These permits are available at Ranger Districts and the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Headquarters.

Columbia River Kayaking offers tours in Lower Columbia

Kayaking coach Ginni Callahan has returned to the Columbia Pacific Region for the 2013 season to join her five partners who own and operate Columbia River Kayaking out of Skamokawa near the mouth of the Columbia River.

The company offers sea kayaking instruction and tours on the Lower Columbia River and Pacific coast. Thus far, the region has experienced a sunny summer, allowing Callahan and her fellow owner-coaches to offer over 30 beginner-to-advanced classes and tours so far this season.

One of the most popular classes, taught by Callahan, is "Babes in Boats." This year, the class will run the weekend of August 24-25th and can be taken as a one or two day class.

The class is a lighthearted approach to kayaking safety, efficiency, grace, and power, particularly tailored for women. "I find it fun to work with groups of gals," Callahan says. "They tend to relax and be playful together more than in a mixed group."