PBS program on Idaho roadless debate paints a bleak picture for Idaho wilds

The PBS program Friday night on Idaho's roadless areas and the issues facing wild areas in the state painted a bleak picture.
Industry will win out over protecting Idaho's vast roadless areas.
That's what I came away with from the program that aired on Idaho Public Television.
I was disappointed to see the phosphate mining operations tearing the tops off mountains in Southeast Idaho and the cutthroat trout streams that I used to fish being degraded with selenium from mining operations.
The Clinton Administration protected 9 million acres of roadless areas in Idaho in 2001.
The rule protects Idaho wilds from most road-building, mining and logging. The policy affects U.S. Forest Service-managed roadless lands, which are outside formally designated wilderness areas.

More parking for snowshoeing and skiing

Is this the winter of discontent?
We got several calls last week after we ran a feature story on snowshoeing in Idaho Outdoors Magazine and one of the photos had snowshoers in the wrong place on a groomed trail.
When we shoot outdoor feature stories, we shoot the real outdoors. And, that's what people are doing. It's like every time we shoot boating photos at Lucky Peak Reservoir, none of the boaters are wearing life jackets. If we waited around to find someone wearing life jackets, it would take a month to shoot the photos and we'd miss our deadlines.
So, we shoot the real outdoors. The one thing about shooting the real outdoors is that it generates discussion.

A deal is a deal, it's time to delist wolves

I remember all the debate before wolves were reintroduced into Idaho. There was some crazy talk going on back then, from fears that wolves would eat kids at bus stops to fears that wolves would starve to death because they couldn't find food.

None of those fears were realized, and now, 13 years later, it's time to put another irrational fear to rest – that all the wolves will somehow perish if they are delisted.

Wolves are not the mythical, evil beast as some portray them, nor are they an animal that should be put on a pedestal. Wolves are flesh, bone and fur, just like any other animal, and should be treated the same.

When will the Middle Fork of the Salmon River peak?

When will the Middle Fork of the Salmon River peak this year?
It's a question that's going to be pretty tough this season with Idaho's abundant snowpack.
The contest has been revived by Robert Lilly of Boise as "purely for the enjoyment of the boating community and those with a love for the Middle Fork of the Salmon River."
You've got to submit the date, time and level when you think the Middle Fork will peak.
The gauge at the Middle Fork Lodge will be used to determine the official reading.
Prizes are being offered and they're pretty good. Idaho River Sports is offering a Yeti cooler. Others are a Silverback Pad from Maravia, "The Outdoor Dutch Oven Cookbook" by Sheila Mills from Rocky Mountain River Tours, a $25 gift certificate from Salmon Air for a flight, the book "River Rescue" by Les Bechdel from Canyons, Inc., and more. Lorali Simmons of River Shuttles has donated a Middle Fork shuttle.

PBS program focuses on Idaho roadless debate

If you're all confused on Idaho's roadless areas debate, you might want to watch NOW ON PBS at 7:30 p.m. Friday on Idaho Public Television.
A NOW ON PBS team traveled to southeastern Idaho recently to see how Idahoans interpret the 2001 rule created by President Bill Clinton's administration.
The rule protects about 9 million acres statewide in Idaho from most road-building, mining and logging. The policy affects U.S. Forest Service-managed roadless lands, which are outside formally designated wilderness areas.
The NOW ON PBS piece features interviews with ranchers, outdoorsmen and officials with the J.R. Simplot Company, which has phosphate mining interests in the area.

Check out meetings on roadless plan

Idaho has more than 9.3 million acres of backcountry national forest areas or roadless areas, which provide habitat for wildlife, a source of clean water and recreation.
They were protected in 2001 but now the Bush Administration has proposed Idaho Roadless Plan could open millions of those acres to road building, logging and mining.
Is your favorite hunting, hiking, fishing or camping area in danger?
Several important public meetings are scheduled on the roadless area proposal where you have a say in what happens to your favorite recreation area.
They are:
- Cascade - 7 p.m., Feb. 25, Valley County Commission Room, 219 N. Main St., Cascade.

It may be sunny, but it's not spring

Mother Nature is pulling some mean pranks. I went for a hike near my house on Saturday. I decided to walk a ridgeline because I figured an exposed ridge would probably be pretty dry. Not only was it muddy in spots (yeah, I know, bad hiker!) but there was still snow in several sections.

My wife, Shelley, and I managed to hike a mile or so before turning back. I never seem to figure out it takes more than a few days of sunny weather to truly dry out the terrain. Lesson learned, again.

On Sunday my friend, Dave, and I hit the Snake River near Jerome for some fly fishing. We thought we were headed for the banana belt, but it didn't feel tropical. In fact, the ferrules on my fly rod were icing up until late morning.

Pick up after your dogs - it's that simple

Dog owners have to get a clue about using the Boise Foothills.
Trail workers are finding 350 pounds of dog poop a week and dogs are running loose and not under control.
Before you know it, some trails will be closed to dogs.
There's a meeting to discuss dog problems on the 126 miles of Ridge to Rivers Trails in the Foothills from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday on the third floor of Boise City Hall, 150 N. Capitol Blvd.
Interested dog owners should attend.
There's a simple solution to the dog mess problem. Owners should just pick up after their dogs. It's that simple. However, enough garbage cans need to be placed at good locations on trails to take care of the poop bags, and the garbage cans need to be emptied with regularity.

Steelhead returns are good news, but it could be better

We hear a lot of bad news about our salmon and steelhead runs, which often over shadows the good news. If you’re tired of doom and gloom, check this out. The average steelhead run since 2000 has more than doubled the average of the previous seven years.

Steelhead runs spike and drop from year to year, but they never got above 87,000 fish between 1993 and 1999.

Between 2000 and 2007, runs averaged 179,000 fish, from a high 269,000 to a low of 115,000.

It’s easy to get Chicken Little when it comes to anadromous fish and think we’re watching one of Idaho’s greatest game fish swirling down the drain.

Hitting the road to Sun Valley

In 30 some years of driving to Sun Valley from Boise on the same route through Fairfield, I had to make a major change over the weekend and it was a pleasant discovery.
I love driving U.S. 20 out of Mountain Home and cruising over Cat Creek Summit and across the Camas Prairie. But U.S. 20 was closed over the weekend because of blowing and drifting snow.
So, we had to take another route - I-84 to Bliss; U.S. 26 to Shoshone; Idaho 75 to Sun Valley. It looks a lot longer on the map but was really only about 12 miles longer on the odometer.
It was a lot quicker because of the freeway speeds.

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