Snowshoe Star Party scheduled

Utah Skies and the Swaner Nature Preserve are teaming up for an encore snowshoe star party, just before the next new moon. Scheduled Sat. Feb. 12, beginning at 7:30p.m., guests will take a guided snowshoe through the preserve under a blanket of stars.

Following views of the local wildlife, Utah Skies will be on hand with telescopes to point out the wonders of the winter sky. Highlights will include the Orion Nebula, the Double Cluster in Perseus and the planet Saturn.

From Kimball Junction at Park City, head north over I-80, turn right, heading east, onto Bitner Road and take the third left, which is Glenwild Drive. The office is the red stone house you face just as you turn on to Glenwild. For more information or to reserve a spot, contact Carolyn Alder at (435)640-3948.

Construction begins at East Canyon

Renovation begins this month at East Canyon State Park as a series of improvement projects are scheduled over the next few years. The entire project is a 50/50 matching program between Utah State Parks and Recreation and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Phase one begins February at the north end of the park. Improvements will include a renovated campground with shelters, power and water hook-ups, and new restrooms with showers. Plans also include a new boat ramp, park concession building, expansion and improvements utilities, all parking areas and interior roads.

During phase one construction, no camping is available at the north end of the park. Camping at the south end is available on a first-come, first-served basis only. Sullivan reports that the new campground should be open for Memorial Day Weekend.

Park Manager John Sullivan, commented, "East Canyon State Park visitation has grown extensively over the years. In order to meet the needs of our visitors, we must improve facilities and infrastructure. It will be a temporary inconvenience, but will benefit our customers in the long run."

Phase two improvements, scheduled to begin in October, include a new entrance road, park office, new group-use camping area, and improvements to existing day-use areas. Phase three construction begins spring 2006, and will include expansion and improvement of Big Rock Campground at the south end of the park. A tent only area will be constructed and all roads will be paved.

The Rivers Edge Area will see limited improvements with designated campsites and paved roads. Sullivan suggests that this area will remain more natural for visitors preferring a more primitive camping experience. Selected vehicle pullout areas around the lake will be paved, creating safer access to the reservoir, with interpretive signs displayed to educate park visitors about the area.

East Canyon became a state park in 1967, with the first park improvements in 1971. Since then, the park has seen little renovation or improvement. For more information, call (801) 829-6866.

Tips offered for avoiding Deer on the Highways

Almost every Utah motorist, who drives through rural Utah has either hit a big game animal or knows someone who has. It's difficult to drive between Price and Helper without seeing deer that have been killed by vehicles. It's next to impossible to drive State Highway 6 without counting a handful.

According to wildlife biologists, here's no easy way to solve this problem. Changes to roads, fencing and deer crossing accommodations can cost millions of dollars for very short distances of road. The cost of re-configuring hundreds of miles of state roads, where wildlife-vehicle collisions occur, is staggering. Fortunately, there are several things drivers can do to avoid hitting big game animals.

For individual motorists, the best defense is vigilance. Keep a sharp look-out for anything in or near the road. Drive at or below the speed limit. In high deer-use areas, the slower the better. Reduce your speed as you approach curves. Your vision is obstructed when you drive around curves and animals can appear out of nowhere.

At night, be alert for "eye shine." Animals' eyes reflect light and seem to glow in the dark. If you see a pair of reflective spots, slow down. Reflective tape on road markers can impair your ability to identify an animal, so you need to watch closely for eyes.

Another good night strategy is to watch for any interruption in the light from on-coming traffic. A dark "blip" signals some type of obstruction. Slow down. It could be an elk or deer crossing the road.

Every collision or near collision is unique and requires split-second decision-making. If you are about to hit a deer, brake hard until the last second, then let up on the pedal. Braking causes the front end of a car to dip. Releasing the brake allows the vehicle to level before impact. This reduces the chance of a deer coming through your windshield.

For elk, moose, horses and cattle, other strategies must be considered. Hitting a large animal dramatically increases your chance for injury. If there's a safe way to avoid a collision, do so. The road's shoulder and easement may make suitable escape routes. This evasive maneuver can be extremely hazardous, however, if you lose control.

Another alternative might be "passing" the animal by moving into the left or opposite lane of traffic. In doing so, don't risk hitting or cutting off another vehicle. If you do hit an animal, steer your vehicle off the road as soon as possible to avoid a secondary collision. Call 911 and advise the public safety dispatcher of the accident and your location. If safety and physical abilities permit, move the animal to the side of the road. In the interest of public safety, please report any dead animals you see on the road that may pose a hazard to other drivers.
Reward Offered in Elk Poaching Case

The Division of Wildlife Resources is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for poaching a 6-point bull elk around the first of January at the mouth of San Arroyo Canyon in the Book Cliffs near the Colorado border.

The elk was shot and left to rot. The person who provides officers with key information in this case will be eligible to receive either a limited entry mature bull elk permit for the Book Cliffs or a monetary reward.

"This type of illegal activity on the Book Cliffs elk unit will limit sportsmen's opportunities to hunt these magnificent animals in the future," says Carl Gramlich, sergeant in the DWR's Southeastern Region.

Anyone with information on this or any other poaching incident is encouraged to call the DWR office in Price at (435) 636-0277. The caller's identity will be held in strict confidence or may remain anonymous. The DWR asks that the caller provide enough detail to help substantiate the validity of the information.
Ice Fishing Clinic Hooks New Women

Sixteen new ice-fishing fans were born at Rockport Reservoir during a recent Division of Wildlife Resources' Becoming an Outdoors Woman ice-fishing clinic. Instructor Mickey Anderson, commented, "When any one of them got a fish on, all of them let out hoops and hollers and they all cheered for each other. It was great!"

Anderson, owner of Fish Tech in Salt Lake City, and assistant, Dan Eliason, walked the ladies out to a pre-selected spot they had scouted the day before the event. Using hand-operated and electric augers to drill holes for the women, the instructors patiently set each student up with ice-fishing rods and bait. They also gave personal instruction on how to bait the line, jig for fish and reel in the fish they caught.

"Some of the ladies were catching fish the minute they dropped their lines in," reported Nancy Hoff, BOW coordinator. Although Hoff only caught one fish, it was the biggest one caught all day -- a beautiful 14-inch trout that went back through the ice after everyone cheered and admired it for a brief moment.

Participant, Judy Eoff, remarked, "The instructors were very patient and knowledgeable." At first she was nervous about learning something new and afraid she might be the only "grandma" there. She was happily relieved to find herself among a friendly group of women of all ages and backgrounds. "It was sure different kissing my husband goodbye and telling him, 'I'm going fishing,'" she said, laughing. "I would encourage any woman who wants to understand the fascination that keeps her husband going back out on the ice all the time to give this a try!"

Another first time participant, Kimberlie Smith, working mom with two young daughters, realized that it would be beneficial for her to take some time out of her busy schedule to do something for herself. She explained, "My husband and father are wonderful men who have taught me a lot over the years, but going hunting and fishing with them always makes me feel like a tag-along. But with BOW you are part of a great group of women, and you really fit in." In addition to her eight fat perch and one rainbow trout, Kimberlie snagged some wonderful memories, new friends and a few pointers she hopes to share with her husband soon.

When the ladies were done fishing, the two men prepared a delicious fish feast on the ice. Anderson boiled fish fillets in butter and bread crumbs, while Eliason grilled fillets on a skillet with vegetable oil and seasonings. The ladies were very impressed with the instructors' culinary abilities and tried coaxing recipes from them.

"I've been teaching fly-fishing for 27 years," Anderson relates, "and I've been doing the B.O.W. clinics for as long as they've been around, which is about ten years. These BOW clinics are always my very favorite."

Anderson observes that when there are no men around, the groups of women feel more relaxed and less pressured to "do it right." They're eager to learn, ask lots of questions and aren't afraid to make mistakes. He also notices that there is no competitiveness at the BOW clinics. In fact, the women cheer each other on and enjoy each other's successes. He says this makes everyone feel comfortable, even if they aren't exactly doing well with the task at hand.

The students, on the other hand, appreciate the opportunity to learn new skills under the guidance of positive instructors who are skilled, not only in their field of expertise, but also in sharing that knowledge patiently and calmly.

Another BOW ice fishing clinic is scheduled for Feb. 19. For more information or to register, contact Nancy Hoff, BOW coordinator, at (801) 560-9650 or nancyhoff@utah.gov.

Provided is a calendar of Upcoming Outdoors Events for Women:

Feb. 12 - 14: BOW Valentine's Day Sleigh Ride and Dinner at Hardware Elk Ranch

Feb. 19: BOW Ice-Fishing Clinic. Location TBA.

March 13: BOW Ladies Overnight Pheasant Hunt in Gunnison

March 5 - April 9: BOW Six-week Ladies Shotgun Clinic. Meet every Saturday, 9 a.m., at Lee Kay Center in Salt Lake City.

June 4: 'Women on Target' and BOW Trapshooting Clinic at the Heber Valley Gun Club. RSVP to Wendy Mair (435) 671-2365 or wendymair@earthlink.net.

To register for these BOW events, call Nancy Hoff, BOW coordinator, at (801) 560-9605 or email at NancyHoff@utah.gov. You also can visit http://www.utah.wildlife.gov and click on "Outreach." BOW is sponsored by the Division of Wildlife Resources.
Hunter Safety Instructors Needed in Northern Utah

Volunteer hunter education instructors are needed to teach young hunters to be safe, responsible and ethical sportsmen and sportswomen. The Division of Wildlife Resources is now conducting training sessions in Salt Lake City on Mon. and Tues. evenings from 6 - 10 p.m. at the Department of Natural Resources Room 1060, located at 1594 W. North Temple. Instructor training runs two nights a week, for three weeks.

The instructor training is free. To be an instructor, a participant must be at least 21-years-old and must be cleared through a background check. Prior experience in teaching is not required. Lenny Rees, hunter education coordinator for the DWR, added, "In addition to getting people familiar with what the course teaches, we also teach people how to be good teachers. We focus a lot on teaching techniques and how to relate to the young audience instructors typically teach."

After being certified, new instructors must teach, or assist another instructor in teaching, at least one student course each year. Instructors also must attend a four-hour training seminar each year, with seminars conducted throughout Utah. Those interested in attending the instructor training are encouraged to preregister by calling 1-800-397-6999. They may also register the first night of class.

Instructors aren't paid for teaching, but they do receive a lot of rewards."I think the biggest reward a hunter education instructor receives is the knowledge that they've had a positive impact on the life of a young hunter," Rees said. "The information in the course is very positive and ethics and safety oriented. The knowledge that the instructor has played a role in teaching a young hunter those things, you can't put a price tag on that."

Rees also said that instructors are doing much to further the sport of hunting. "Responsibility and ethics are taught throughout the course, and being able to tie everything that's taught in the course back to one's ethical conduct is very, very important and something these young people will carry with them forever."