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Summer 2024 Newsroom


Northwest Tune-Up announces music lineup

Northwest Tune-Up (NWTU), Bellingham’s three-day cycling, music and beer festival July 12-14 in Bellingham’s downtown waterfront district, just announced its highly anticipated music lineup.

Bluegrass group Yonder Mountain String Band will headline Friday, rapper Lupe Fiasco is set for Saturday, and EDM artist RJD2 will finish out the festival on Sunday.

Other acts include Indigo De Souza (who played on WWU’s campus last winter), Petty or Not and The Lil Smokies on Friday; Emancipator, Magic Sword and Protoje meets Tippy I on Saturday; and Cambodian rock group Dengue Fever, Saxsquatch and The Moondoggies on Sunday.

Festival music director Hunter Motto said this year will include longer, 90 minute headliner sets and free music stages each afternoon.

“NWTU is known for music discovery, legendary performances, and most importantly, as a big, ol’ block party in Downtown Bellingham,” Motto said. “The festival has evolved year-after-year in response to our community and will boast two big changes this year.”

For the first time, NWTU is offering free music – no ticket required – at “Tunetown,” two stages at the Exhibitor Village in the downtown waterfront district. The two-stage venue will showcase local talent each afternoon of the festival, giving listeners a chance to discover new artists from their own backyard.

For those who just want to listen to the music, and don’t need a full day of mountain biking or pump tracks, NWTU is again offering music-only tickets, with admission starting at 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are already on sale for $59 in advance, but increase to $69 when purchased at the door.

Skagit Tours returns after wildfire closures

Want to experience the beauty of Upper Skagit Valley and North Cascades National Park while skimming on top of a pristine lake? North Cascades Institute (NCI) is reopening its popular Skagit Tours’ boat tours of Diablo Lake.

Persistent wildfires on Sourdough Mt., right on the shores of Diablo Lake, forced NCI to cancel its boat tours for the summer of 2023. Starting July 2, multiple tours are offered for those looking to explore the depths of Washington’s wildest national park.

Skagit Tours offers afternoon cruises for just a few hours, “Lake & Lunch Tours” Wednesdays through Sundays until September 2, and “Fall Morning Cruises” throughout weekends in September.

Hear about the valley’s natural, indigenous and early settler history with a guided tour, while also learning about how the North Cascades provides renewable hydroelectric to millions in the Puget Sound area through the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project. The Alice Ross IV boat, provides hidden views of Diablo Lake and the North Cascades that can’t be seen by car or trail.

Once back on land, visit the historic Gorge Inn, one of the oldest standing buildings in Newhalem, for the “Dam Good” Chicken Dinner, Thursdays and Fridays beginning July 4 through August. Dinner starts at 5 p.m., and walking tours of the town are provided roughly an hour prior, provided by NCI.

For more information, visit skagittours.com.

Zodiac schooner celebrates 100 years at sea

Zodiac, the historic, 160-foot, two-masted wooden schooner that sails on the Salish Sea out of Bellingham Bay, celebrated its 100th year on the water on May 19 in an open house ceremony.

The ship was originally built for the heirs of the Johnson & Johnson corporation in 1924, and first set sail off the coast of Maine.

Zodiac changed hands multiple times over the past century, eventually making it to San Francisco by midcentury, then was purchased by the sailing enthusiast Vessel Zodiac Corporation, bringing the vessel to the Pacific Northwest with the goal of restoring the legendary ship back to prominence. By 1982, Congress enacted Zodiac into the National Register of Historic Places, and is today one of the last schooners still sailing.

Zodiac holds 29 people overnight, and offers single or multi-day cruises and private charters.

For more information, visit schoonerzodiac.com.

Deception Pass State Parks to hold folk and art festivals

Deception Pass State Park, along with a half dozen other state parks, will host concerts and cultural events all summer long, thanks to the Washington State Parks’ (WSP) Parks Folk and Traditional Arts Program.

The schedule kicks off on June 8 with Salish Sea Day on June 8, 12-4 p.m., a free event (no Discover Pass required) with the Samish and Swinomish tribes at Bowman Bay celebrating indigenous culture. The event will feature a tribal canoe journey, weaving, salmon and other coast Salish food preparation to share with the public.

Starting in July, the park will host “Deception Pass American Roots Concerts,” a series of outdoor world and roots music concerts performed by local artists. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. at the North Beach Amphitheatre, but parking near the park is limited due to winter storms, WSP said.

Deception Pass American Roots Concerts Saturdays in July and August, 7 p.m.

July 13 – Dunava

July 20 – Caleb Kaluder & Reeb Williams

July 27 – Eduardo Mendonca & Show Brazil

Aug. 3 – Tzepl

Aug 10 – Ranger & the Re-Arrangers

Aug. 17 – Chumlilies

Aug. 24 – Whiskey Deaf Quartet

The Parks Folk and Traditional Arts Program has been around for over two decades, starting at Fort Columbia with fisher poetry readings, and now hosts over 24 concerts at parks around the state, with cultural festivals throughout summer and fall.

Through funding from WSP, the Washington State Parks Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, the program has given thousands access to folk and world music, and the stories, history and cultural traditions of Washington.

For more information on concerts and tickets, visit parks.wa.gov/get-involved/folk-andtraditional-arts-events/concert-series/american-roots-concert-series.

North Cascades National Park keeps multiple campgrounds closed through summer

The National Park Service (NPS) announced on May 6 that multiple campgrounds at North Cascades National Park and its surrounding wilderness will remain closed throughout the summer, including the Golden West Visitor Center in northern Lake Chelan.

The visitor center, which can only be reached by boat, plane or foot, will remain closed due to inadequate staffing levels, budget shortfalls and a reported lack in growth of visitors to the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area and the lakeside village of Stehekin.

The press release cited a 36 percent increase in visitors to North Cascades (by far the slowest of Washington’s three national parks) over the past 10 years, but a stagnant number of visitors to Lake Chelan and Stehekin.

“The Stehekin area is an important part of the park for both staff and visitors,” said park superintendent Don Striker. “However, it receives significantly fewer visitors than other sections of the park. Budget constraints and challenges in hiring force us to focus limited resources where they can do the most good for the most visitors.”

According to the release, only 11,312 people made it to the remote visitor center annually from 2021-2023, compared to over 100,000 visitors at the North Cascades Visitors Center, which sits just off Highway 20.

“Park managers have a duty to strategically implement resources where they make the most sense,” Striker said. “We are stewards of these exceptional national public lands, and we take that mission seriously. While we wish a cadre of rangers could staff all of our remote sites, unfortunately it is simply not realistic in today’s fiscal climate.”

Over a dozen Colonial Creek South campgrounds will stay closed over the peak summer months due to “hazard trees.” Low lake levels at Ross Lake mean the boat launch will be shut down for powerboat use, and multiple campsites along the shore will be closed “for all or portions of the summer,” according to the May 6 release.

Canadians looking to enter the park via the northern Hozomeen gate will have to enter through the U.S. if traveling by car. Foot traffic and trail use is open around the area, but cars and boats will likely not be able to access the north Lake Chelan entrance until lake levels increase.

For updated information on trail, camp and road closures at North Cascades National Park and its surrounding wilderness, visit nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/conditions.htm.

Bellingham paddler Jonas Ecker to compete in Paris Olympics

Bellingham’s own Jonas Ecker, along with Seattle-born crewmate Aaron Small, will represent the United States in kayak sprint events for the upcoming summer Olympics in Paris.

The University of Washington graduates have been racing together for years in kayak sprint competitions, meeting when both were at local rowing academies. The duo began staking their claim as best paddlers in the country in 2022 when they won the K2 (kayak doubles) 500-meter event in the Pan American Championships, then placing seventh in the World Championships later that same year.

Ecker recently earned the “Top Gun” award at Ski to Sea on May 26 for his sea kayak portion of Ski of the relay race. Paddling for the Beaver’s Tree Service team, Ecker finished with a time of 37:17.6, just shy of a minute faster than teammate Small’s second-place time of 38:15.7.

Canoe and kayak sprint events in the Paris Olympics will begin with heat races on August 6 and continue through August 10. The Olympics will be televised on NBC and stream on Peacock, with sprint kayak events scheduled to air on August 6 beginning at 12:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

Ecker will compete with Small in the men’s K2 500-meter event, and solo in the men’s K1 1,000-meter event. The Olympics begin on July 26.

Washington to receive $25 million for wildfire preparation, response

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell announced the procurement of over $25 million in funding to help prevent and combat wildfires in Washington from the recently-passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

In a May 16 press release, the Washington senator illustrated where the millions of dollars in federal funding will go towards fighting wildfires, while calling for more federal relief ahead of the 2024 wildfire season.

“Every summer, wildfires threaten homes and inundate our state with dangerous smoke pollution,” Cantwell said. “These funds will help Ferry County, Spokane, and other communities clear the fuels that enable wildfires and improve evacuation routes to help save lives and property if fires do start.”

Washington experienced its second-highest number of recorded wildfire ignitions last summer, with 1,884 – just shy of the 2015 mark of 2,103 reported “fire-starts,” according to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In 2023, a total of 165,365 acres burned from wildfire according to DNR statistics.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center’s National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook, a nationwide forecast for wildfire season, potential for significant wildfire in the Olympic and Cascade ranges will be “above normal” by July.

All told, the BIL earmarked $3.4 billion for wildfire risk reduction, $1.14 billion for fuel reduction programs, and $500 million to rehabilitate burned areas. Another $1.8 billion was secured for the U.S. Forest Service Hazardous Fuels Reduction Program in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Ferry County and Inland Power and Light, will receive roughly $10 million each for fuel breaks, emergency evacuation routes, and hazard removal across hundreds of miles of power lines that can often spark wildfires. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission received $750,000 to clean up wildfire fuels, with multiple county and local governments getting hundreds of thousands of dollars to prepare for the summer.

At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on May 16, Cantwell told U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore that Washington citizens are bearing the brunt of wildfires, while more action and funding needs to come from the federal government.

“We are on the front lines,” Cantwell said. “And we all see innovative opportunities to have a better response and that’s what we want to see.”

In the North Cascades, the Sourdough Fire in summer 2023 burned thousands of acres of forest around Diablo Lake, closing multiple trails, campsites, the North Cascades Institute’s Environmental Learning Center, and nearly forcing the evacuation of the hydroelectric dams and generator facilities in Newhalem.

Bigfoot Festival

The Maple Falls Bigfoot Festival is set for Saturday, August 3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Maple Falls Town Hall, 7509 Mt. Baker Highway. The festival will feature dozens of local art, craft, clothing, food and bigfoot-themed vendors, live music and refreshments.

The festival also serves as a critical fundraiser to support the Maple Falls Community Park, the only public park serving the community of Maple Falls and Glacier.     X