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Volunteer planters needed at old dam site

Volunteers are needed to help plant hundreds of willow shoots and other plants Saturday along the Rogue River's former Tolo Slough as part of the latest effort to stabilize banks exposed by the removal of Gold Ray Dam from the Rogue in 2010.

It will be the eighth time trees have been planted at the old dam site and at the mouth of Bear Creek, where areas were exposed for the first time in 106 years by removal of the dam built in 1904.

Volunteers will work from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and then be treated to lunch.

So far, the restoration project has attracted the equivalent of $43,000 worth of volunteer labor and donated materials, says Craig Harper, natural resources program manager for the Rogue Valley Council of Governments.

The various plantings have averaged two dozen volunteers, primarily from the Seven Basins Watershed Council, Harper says. Other groups regularly sending volunteers include the Middle Rogue Steelheaders and Rogue Flyfishers Association, he says.

Saturday's work will focus on the upper end of Tolo Slough off Gold Ray Road just upstream from the old dam site. Volunteers are asked to call 541-261-7796 ahead of time to get directions and give organizers an opportunity to plan for lunch.

Participants are urged to wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and boots that will get muddy. Rain jackets and work gloves also are recommended.

The planting projects have been organized by the watershed council, RVCOG and the Rogue Basin Coordinating Council.

The return of snow to the upper Umpqua River Basin means visitors to the popular Umpqua Hot Springs will have to hoof it a bit farther.

Umpqua National Forest rangers have closed a gate just past the junction of Forest Service Roads 34 and 3401 to prevent vehicles from getting stuck in the snow on their way to the hot springs.

This temporary gate was erected at the request of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, whose search-and-rescue teams logged 165 calls for help at the hot springs between 2003 and 2010, Umpqua Forest spokesman Cheryl Caplan says.

The temporary gate was first used last year, and no rescue calls came from the hot springs, according to Caplan.

But that means visitors will have to walk, snowshoe or use cross-county skis to traverse the 2.5 miles from the plowed parking lot at the gate's base to the hot springs, Caplan says.

A misprint in Oregon's Game Bird Regulations booklet has created an extra day of hunting for young guns chasing wild turkeys this spring.

This year's youth spring turkey season will run April 7-9. The booklet says the hunt dates are April 8-9, says Michelle Dennehy, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The youth turkey hunt is always the weekend before the regular spring turkey hunt, which starts annually on April 15. Due to a staff error, the regulations listed April 8-9, which are a Sunday and a Monday.

To fix it, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on Jan. 6 adopted a rule to have the season open on April 7, creating the first three-day spring turkey hunt for youths, Dennehy says.

The youth season is open to licensed hunters age 17 and younger. Kids who don't fill their tag during the youth season can go on to hunt the general season that opens April 15 and runs through May.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.