Outdoors: Iron Mountain trail closures

Visitors to Iron Mountain will encounter occasional trail closures from Sept.16 through Oct. 31 due to construction of a new viewing platform. The platform is designed to enhance recreational services available atop Iron Mountain, one of the district’s most popular hiking destinations.

The site was once occupied by the Iron Mountain Lookout, a structure that began aiding forest rangers in fire detection and suppression in 1976. The lookout was dismantled last fall after careful consideration by district staff regarding concerns for public safety and insufficient funding needed for facility maintenance.

The Iron Mountain trail, Cone Peak Trail and sections of surrounding trails will be closed to public access for safety reasons throughout the construction period. Contract crews will be using a helicopter to transport building materials to the peak during the week of Sept. 15.

Closure signs and staff will be posted along affected trails during helicopter operations. Brian McGinley, Recreation Planner for the Sweet Home Ranger District, expresses that “the community’s patience and understanding during the platform’s construction is greatly appreciated.”

For more information call the Sweet Home Ranger District at (541) 367-5168 or visit http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/willamette/general/conditions/index.html.

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The 2008 picking season for Matsutake mushrooms has opened in the Deschutes, Fremont-Winema, Umpqua and Willamette national forests in Oregon. The season runs through Nov. 2.

Anyone picking Matsutake mushrooms on national forest lands must purchase a commercial harvesting permit. Permits cost $200 for the season, or $8 per day with a five-day minimum (picking days need not be consecutive). Also available is a $100 permit for half season (31 consecutive days).

An informational sheet and map are included with each permit to show areas open to picking. Currently, areas closed to picking include Crater Lake National Park, Panhandle Late-Successional Reserve (LSR), Newberry National Volcanic Monument, HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, Research Natural areas, wildernesses, campgrounds and other posted closed areas.

Permits are available at various ranger district offices in the national forests where picking is permitted. Permits purchased on any of these forests are valid interchangeably.

The U.S. Forest Service requires commercial pickers to have written permission from the agency to camp on any national forests, except in camping areas already designated for this purpose. A campground for pickers has been established at Little Odell Camp near Crescent Lake Junction.

Cost of camping is $7 per person per day, $30 per week, $80 for half season (31 days) or $100 for the season (62 days). In addition there is a refundable $25-per-camp cleaning deposit.

For more information about the Matsutake mushroom program contact the Middle Fork Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest at (541) 782-2283.

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Last Foster stocking will be 5,000 trout on Monday, Sept. 29. As reported on page 1, Foster is being lowered to under 600 feet, far below its normal level, for dam repair.

Recycling of summer steelhead in the South Santiam from the Foster Dam trap was last conducted on Sept. 9.

Starting Sept. 1, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers increased flows out of Foster and Detroit Reservoirs to meet the downstream spawning needs of spring chinook. These flow increases will influence steelhead distribution and should result in improved prospects in the upper portions of the rivers below their respective dams.

Anglers can receive recorded updates on Foster trap counts and recycling activities by calling (541) 367-3437.

All streams above Willamette Falls, except for the Molalla River, are closed to the retention of any chinook.

ARCHERY HUNTERS are finding bull ELK starting to enter the rut and bugling bulls are heard on occasion. The hot weather this week will keep elk moving mainly during the cool evening and early morning hours. Hunters able to locate and set up stands along trails leading from a preferred feeding area into the cooler daytime bedding areas on north slopes, along creeks and wetlands will have the best success.

DEER are widely scattered and archery hunters looking to fill their deer tags need to find those isolated patches of green forage that will concentrate deer. The deer know where the old abandoned apple or pear trees are located and will spend more time at these locations as the fruit ripens and falls to the ground. Find these isolated fruit trees and set up nearby during the evening or early morning to improve your chances to harvest a deer.

COUGAR hunting is tough during this time of the year and most cougar will be harvested by people out pursuing other big game species. Hunters report that cougar can be attracted into bow or rifle range by using elk calls. If you use this technique be prepared because cougar can respond quickly. Find your shooting lanes and set up accordingly. Hunters headed for the northern end of the Willamette Valley to hunt cougar should concentrate their efforts in the Cascade Mountains. Dry weather conditions will concentrate the cougars prey species where food sources are more abundant and palatable such as around lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands. Hunters should spend time scouting these areas to increase their opportunity for success. In the South Willamette Watershed cougars can be found throughout the area with the exception of the Willamette Valley Floor. Remember cougars must be checked in at an ODFW office within 10 days of harvest.

The general fall BLACK BEAR season is open, and check-in of harvested black bears is increasing. Huckleberries are ripening in the Cascades and bears can be found nearby. Hunters need to find the more isolated patches of berries where bears are not disturbed by human activities. Be there early and stay late for the best chances to find a feeding bear. Hunters are now required to check-in the skulls of any bears harvested. Notify your local district ODFW office to set up an appointment to ensure that can complete the check-in within the required 10 day period.

For hunters wanting to be more mobile and explore new areas away from berry patches, their best success would be using predator calls. Bears tend to respond best when hunters use a constant calling strategy. It can take a long time for a bear to respond to a predator call and hunters are advised to spend up to an hour at each calling location. Hunters are also advised to hunt with a partner when using predator calls. These are large animals that are expecting a meal when they arrive, so use caution.

GROUSE and QUAIL hunting has been slow due to the poor chick production this year and the overall low numbers of adult birds available. Hunters will need to thoroughly cover large amounts of preferred habitat to find these scattered grouse and quail. A well trained dog will greatly improve your odds in locating and flushing birds.