Snow clearing crews narrow the gap
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) crews clearing snow from the North Cascades Highway, working from the east and west sides of Washington Pass, were within 8 miles of each other at the end of last week, WSDOT reported.
After three weeks of work, the west side crew has cleared to milepost 155. On the east side (from the Methow Valley), crews reached milepost 163 and started work on the Liberty Bell avalanche chutes, WSDOT said.
“The clearing crew reports that the unopened avalanche pathways are still full of snow, and with persistent warm weather, there is risk of avalanche danger.,” WSDOT said in a press release. “We strongly advised those interested in recreating behind the closure points to consult the Northwest Avalanche Center for current backcountry avalanche conditions.”
The road closure remains at milepost 134 near Newhalem, and milepost 177 at Early Winters. Several weeks of clearing remain, WSDOT said.
Hearing set for Winthrop man
The case of a Winthrop man accused of assaulting and threatening two men who were harvesting roadkill in the Methow Valley in March is scheduled for a settlement hearing next month in Okanogan County Superior Court.
Jan Bagge was arrested after the incident, which took place on March 7, and charged with first-degree robbery and second-degree assault. He has been in custody in the Okanogan County Jail since then, first on $250,000 bail, then on a reduced $125,000 bail with electronic monitoring requirements if he was released.
He was accused of driving up to two men who were harvesting roadkill near Pearrygin Lake State Park and threatening them with a knife. He reportedly took a camera from one of the men, who had taken his picture.
According to court documents, a settlement hearing, which could involve a guilty plea from Bagge or another resolution to the case, is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on March 18 in Superior Court.
Outdoor burning restrictions
The Washington State Department of Natural (DNR) resources has added new outdoor burning restrictions, citing an increasing fire danger and an increase in fires caused by people burning debris.
“Warming temperatures have dried grasses, and grassy areas are more receptive to even a single spark, which can cause a wildfire,” the DNR said in a press release.
According to the DNR, 171 wildfires have been reported in the Northeast Region, which includes Okanogan County, 117 of which have occurred since April 1.
“Most have been caused by people burning debris outside,” the DNR stated.
The restrictions exclude campfires, permit burning and rule burns in the foothills, highlands and upper basin in Spokane and portions of Lincoln County north of Highway 2.
As of April 22, fire danger is still classified as low in the Methow Valley.
Woodcutting permits on sale soon
Woodcutting permits are set to go on sale May 3 for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
“Our offices remain closed in a continued effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, so the process to buy a woodcutting permit will be similar to the process we had in 2020,” Forest Supervisor Kristin Bail said in a news release.
The minimum permit costs $20, and the cost for permits over the four-cord minimum is $5 per cord. The maximum amount is 12 cords per household per year.
The permits allow woodcutters to cut wood lying on the floor, standing dead trees, but not standing habitat trees. Woodcutting is not allowed in congressionally designated wilderness areas.
Firewood permits are good through Dec. 31 the year they are purchased. To contact the Methow Valley Ranger District, call 996‑4000.
In the Winthrop area, local vendors will also sell woodcutting permits. Contact the Methow Valley Ranger District for more information on that.
Firewood is intended for personal use and not for resale.