Wildlife area to be feted

Sinlahekin to celebrate 75th

The 75th anniversary of the state’s first wildlife area will be celebrated June 7 at the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area.

The anniversary kicks off a summer-long series of public events sponsored by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife at the area southwest of Tonasket.

State Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson will be joined at the celebration by local, state, tribal and federal officials, including Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The event will begin at 11 a.m. at the wildlife area headquarters on Sinlahekin Road south of Loomis.

The public is invited to participate in all of the activities on June 7, including a barbecue lunch by the Mule Deer Foundation, dedication of a hiking trail and fishing clinics at lakes in the wildlife area.

At about 1:30 p.m., a hiking trail will be dedicated in the memory of Dave Brittell, a state wildlife biologist and former head of the department’s Wildlife Program, who was instrumental in the development and stewardship of the department’s 33 wildlife areas across the state.

After the dedication, state Department of Fish and Wildlife Okanogan Lands Operations Manager Dale Swedberg and Sinlahekin Wildlife Area Manager Justin Haug will lead conversations about living and working in the Sinlahekin area. Both events will take place at the Sinlahekin headquarters.

Later in the afternoon, local anglers and department personnel will conduct clinics about how to fish the lakes in the Sinlahekin as part of Washington’s annual Free Fishing Weekend on June 7-8, when no licenses are required.

Sinlahekin events later this spring and summer will include free public field trips and presentations by state personnel and other experts on the area’s diverse wildlife, vegetation, geology and history. Those events are scheduled for June 14-15, July 5-6, July 26-27, Aug. 23-24 and Sept. 6-7.

The Sinlahekin celebrations will conclude with a fun run through the wildlife area and events recognizing Washington’s hunting and fishing heritage on Sept. 27, which is National Hunting and Fishing Day and National Public Lands Day.

The Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, which covers 14,314 acres west of U.S. Highway 97 between Loomis and Conconully, was established in 1939 to protect winter range for mule deer. The first parcels were purchased with revenue from a federal tax on sporting arms and ammunition.

Vanessa VanderWeide of Okanogan will be working on a few fundraisers in the coming weeks to raise money to attend a bowling combine in Arlington, Texas.

The combine brings bowlers and college coaches together.

“I’m hoping to walk out of it with a scholarship of some sort,” she said.

VanderWeide, a junior at Okanogan High School, holds a 190 average.

She recently won the state’s Junior Masters in Spokane, finishing seeding at No. 3 in qualifying before winning two rolloffs.

There will be a golf and bowling benefit tournament June 22 at Okanogan Valley Golf Club and Omak’s Valley Lanes, she said.

You can enter at either place or by calling VanderWeide at 509-557-8578.

She’s also working on a spaghetti feed.

The cost of getting to and from the combine with a family member and coach Dale Dunckel is estimated at around $2,000.

Fishing is heating up, much like the weather, at the Conconully lakes, said Gene Bussell at Liar’s Cove Resort.

“Fishing has been fantastic at Conconully Lake,” he said. “They have been catching their limit of kokanee, rainbow and a few triploids. We even have had some 15-inch smallmouth bass caught.”

Bussell suggesting using a Wedding ring with white corn.

The water level on the Conconully Reservoir is within 18 inches of going over the outlet dam, Bussell said.

Omak High School recently announced April athletes of the year – German Ramirez and Danielle Berntsen.

Ramirez, who is on the soccer team, finished had seven goals heading into May.

He is one of two seniors on the team, said Athletic Director Nick Popelier in announcing the two athletes.

“His leadership has been much needed on a team of lower classmen,” Popelier said.

Berntsen plays No. 1 singles or No. 1 doubles with Alex O’Dell on the tennis team.

“Danielle (10-2 in matches this year) is a leader on the team and is a big time encouragement to her teammates,” Popelier said.

Shaylee Tonasket won three Special Olympic medals at Regional Track and Field competition May 3 at Eastern Washington University.

Tonasket, 13, attends Paschal Sherman Indian School.

She’s competed at Special Olympics for six years.

She won a gold in the 400-meter run, a silver in the 200 and a bronze in the long jump.

The state 1B/2B/1A tennis tournament will remain at the Yakima Tennis Club despite a recent fire that damaged the facility’s clubhouse.

Al Camp is the sports editor for The Chronicle. Email him at sports@omakchronicle.com.


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