Hunters who have resisted the lure of Sports Pac drawings as incentives to apply early for controlled-hunt tags are facing their familiar deadline Saturday for applications.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, in an effort to get Oregon's hunters to apply well before the May 15 deadline for big-game tags this year, has given away 100 Sports Pac license packages for 2011 in drawings.
But the carrot might not be as enticing as agency officials had anticipated.
As of Monday, 202,624 applications had been processed by the state's license agent, and that's fewer than the 211,980 for the same date last year without the lure of the Sports Pac draw, says Michelle Dennehy, ODFW's Wildlife Division spokeswoman.
The agency expects to process about 220,000 more applications before Saturday's deadline of 11 p.m.
The ODFW's office at the Denman Wildlife Area will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to process applications, Dennehy says.
Each year, the lion's share of applications come in during the final days before the deadline, and the high sales volume traditionally has led to long lines and bad feelings.
The past two years, the 11th-hour rush has caused computer crashes that convinced ODFW to extend the deadline so no hunters would get left out.
This year, the Tennessee-based vendor has upgraded its computer software to handle the sales volume and do it quicker, Dennehy says.
ODFW and the vendor will conduct similar Sports Pac drawings for the next two years as part of a three-year pilot program to determine whether the incentives will spur hunters to apply earlier, Dennehy says.
Two Jackson County-operated campgrounds at Howard Prairie Lake are getting upgrades thanks in part to grants issued recently by the Oregon State Marine Board.
The Grizzly Campground on the lake's northwest side has received a new bathroom, while the Willow Point Campground is in the process of getting a new boat ramp, bathroom and security lights.
The work at Grizzly, which will cost $27,000, includes $23,000 from the Marine Board.
The Willow Point upgrades cost $181,972, with all but $20,000 coming from the Marine Board, agency spokeswoman Ashley Massey says.
The bathroom was built last winter, the security lights are in and the sidewalks are almost done, Massey says. Contractors expect to complete the ramp this fall, depending upon water levels at the lake, she says.
The projects were two of 20 boating facility grants that spent $1,022,750 in state money, with another $563,809 coming from federal Clean Vessel Act grants.
In other action, the Marine Board recently adopted a temporary 10-mph speed limit for boaters in the Miller Arm of Siltcoos Lake near Florence.
The limit, which will remain in place until Sept. 30, is designed to address safety concerns for swimmers and those paddling small boats. The Marine Board expects to use this period to work on creating permanent rules for boats there.
The Marine Board also enacted a temporary boating closure on the Sandy River at river-mile 18.8 during three time periods this summer so the Portland Water Bureau can relocate water-supply pipelines that pose safety risks to boaters.
An Eastern Oregon angler has become the latest — and probably not the last — person to set a national kokanee record at Wallowa Lake, the mecca of those targeting land-locked salmon.
Bob Both of Lostine set what likely will become the new state and national kokanee record when he boated an 8 pound, 13.6-ounce kokanee that broke the most recent record — set in March — by about a half-pound.
The only kokanee known to be caught that was larger is the world record of 9 pounds, 6 ounces from Lake Okanogan in British Columbia, Canada.
Both's fish is the third state record to come out of Wallowa Lake since February.
Kokanee are land-locked sockeye salmon, and Wallowa Lake is famous for growing large ones primarily because of the introduction in the 1960s of freshwater shrimp called mysis relicta. The large shrimp provide a bonanza for kokanee.
However, the shrimp's introduction in other lakes has been linked to the wiping out of kokanee populations, so Wallowa Lake's future as the kokanee mecca could be short-lived.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.