Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Police to host kids’ Bike Rodeo
    The Ketchum Police Department will host a fun and free Bike Rodeo on Saturday, May 25, to help kids brush up on cycling safety.
    The fourth annual Bike Rodeo will take place at the south parking lot of the Wood River YMCA in Ketchum from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The department is hosting the event in partnership with Higher Ground, a Ketchum-based nonprofit that provides recreation opportunities for disabled people.
    According to a news release from the department, the rodeo will feature an obstacle course, a “police safety course,” a free safety check from local bike shops, a helmet fitting, free helmets for those in need, bike decorating (including bells from the Blaine County Recreation District), music and snacks.
    “Have your child bring their bike and a helmet,” the release states. “This event takes place rain or shine.”
    Police Chief Steve Harkins said the rodeo targets beginner cyclists up to about age 10, but that the department will not turn kids away who are “a little older.”

Mushroom permits available
    Both commercial and individual use permits are now available for the 2013 mushroom harvesting season.
    The Salmon-Challis National Forest is issuing short-term commercial mushroom permits for the Mustang Complex burn area on weekdays from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Public Lands Center in Salmon. All commercial harvesters 12 or older are required to buy a permit. Proof of identification is required for issuance of all permits. A 14-day permit is $40, a 21-day permit $60 and a full-season permit $100.
    Individuals who are gathering mushrooms for personal use must also obtain a permit, though permits for individual use are free. Personal-use permit holders can gather up to five gallons per day, but all mushrooms gathered must be cut in half lengthwise at the time of harvesting and cannot be resold commercially.
    Individual mushroom gatherers can also gather mushrooms on the Halstead burn area, in both the Salmon-Challis and Sawtooth national forests. All gathering is limited to hand picking—no heavy equipment will be allowed.
    For more information, contact the Public Lands Center at 208-756-5100.

Study addresses cheatgrass concerns
    A new study suggests that overgrazing and other factors increase the severity of cheatgrass invasion in sagebrush steppe.
    Research from Oregon State University found that overgrazed land loses the ability to resist invasion, due to the degradation of native grasses and trampling, which disturbs the soil. The study suggests that the cumulative impacts of grazing could be minimized by better managing the timing, frequency and intensity of grazing.
    The study shows that grazing does not reduce cheatgrass abundance, due to cheatgrass’ tolerance of even intense grazing.
    The study also states that cheatgrass can increase fire frequency because it is an annual grass that dries quickly and is more vulnerable to fire than sagebrush is.

Sawtooth Society nabs grant funding
    The Sawtooth Society has received an $85,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.
    According to a news release from the Sawtooth Society, the grant will allow it to provide an expanded schedule of volunteer projects and also to expand its member services.
    “We’re very pleased and excited to receive the largest grant in the society’s history,” said Sawtooth Society President Paul Hill. “Obtaining grants from the Murdock Trust is very competitive and challenging, and we believe the award of this grant confirms the importance, direction and credibility of the society’s work.”
    The capacity-building grant is payable over three years. The grant will support a number of projects in 2013 and future years, including some specifically aimed at engaging youth and building their understanding and appreciation of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

BLM: Stop wildfires before they start
    As fire season approaches, the BLM is once again asking the public for help in reducing human-caused fires this season.  BLM Idaho State Director Steve Ellis recently signed a 2013 Fire Prevention Order designating certain activities on BLM-managed lands as illegal from May 10 to Oct. 20. They include fireworks, exploding targets, tracer ammunition and burning tires, wire, magnesium, plastic or explosive material that may cause a wildfire.
    Last year in Idaho, 2,600 square miles of land burned in wildfires. According to the BLM, more than 500 were started by people careless with fireworks, improperly shooting exploding targets or riding all-terrain vehicles through tall, dry grass.
    An average to above-average wildfire season is expected this year across the nation, and the BLM stated that dry vegetation and little spring precipitation are creating the potential for a volatile Idaho wildfire season.

Report: Vegetation clearing reduces fire risk to homes
    U.S. Forest Service researchers have found that about 90 percent of fuel-reduction treatments on national forests were effective in reducing the intensity of wildfire while also allowing for better wildfire control.
    The report, “Wildfire, Wildlands and People: Understanding and Preparing for Wildfire in the Wildland-Urban Interface,” synthesizes the latest research and provides examples of what communities in the wildland-urban interface can do to reduce their risk by becoming “fire adapted.”  Aimed at community planners, the report also underscores the roles that homeowners and local, state and federal governments play in reducing risk, and describes available resources.
    “‘The Wildfire, Wildlands and People’ report reminds us that people can and should take steps to protect their homes from wildfires,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “Communities with robust wildfire prevention programs are likely to have fewer human-caused wildfires.”
    Between 2006 and 2011, some 600 assessments were completed on wildfires that burned into areas where restoration work had taken place. In most of these cases, fire intensity was reduced dramatically in treated areas. Residents can reduce excess vegetation within and around a community to reduce the intensity and growth of future fires and create a relatively safe place for firefighters to work.

More schools adopt Coaching for Character program
    The Advocates’ Coaching for Character program, which has been adopted by the Blaine County Recreation District, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation and Wood River Middle School, will be implemented at Wood River High School and the Community School this fall.
    The program is modeled after Futures Without Violence’s nationwide Coaching Boys Into Men Program. Athletes who completed that program are more likely to recognize certain behaviors as abusive and do something when they witness disrespectful or harmful behavior.
    The local program gives sports coaches a toolkit for talking to their athletes about a variety of issues, including being a good teammate, making good decisions, building healthy relationships and stopping bullying.
    For more information or to get involved, contact The Advocates’ community educator, Travis Jones, at 788-4191 or
Make way for ducklings!
    It’s spring and ducklings and other animal babies are out and about; drivers should be alert for critters crossing the road.
    May and early June is also the fawning and calving season for Idaho’s deer, elk and pronghorn.
    With campers and other outdoors enthusiasts heading out to the woods, well-meaning folks often find baby birds and other animals that seem to be abandoned. Idaho Fish and Game is asking people to leave them alone.
    Despite the best of intentions, it is not the best thing for the animals.
    Mother animals often leave their young as they forage. If they return to their young to find people milling around, they will often leave the area and come back when the people are gone. If people have taken the baby animal, the mother will return to find its baby gone.
    During early summer, many baby animals are simply too young to survive on their own. The best option is for the young animal to stay in the wild.
    In addition, it is illegal for people to possess wild animals. People found with a wild animal without a permit can be issued a citation, and the animal will be removed from their control. Animals raised in confinement are often killed because of the possibility of disease and lack of ability to survive on their own.
    Smaller animals, like rabbits and birds, should also be left alone.

Simpson: Grouse efforts must work
    During House budget hearings earlier this month, Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who chairs the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, urged the BLM to put more of its resources into fire control in order to better protect sage grouse habitat.
    Simpson commended the BLM, which is working to meet a court-imposed Endangered Species Act listing, for its efforts on sage-grouse conservation. 
    “That being said,” he continued, “I want to make sure this investment will actually improve sage grouse habitat and prevent the species from being listed in 2015, which would be devastating across the West.”
     Simpson criticized BLM’s focus on limiting existing uses of BLM land, like grazing and recreation, to protect sage grouse, rather than focusing on what he said are the primary threats to the species.
    “As we all know after the last fire season, the greatest threat to sage grouse is wildfire,” Simpson said.

IRU hires development director
    Jerry Nielsen has been named the new development director for Boise-based Idaho Rivers United. He will be responsible for overseeing the organization’s fundraising and membership development.
    Nielsen is a native of Idaho Falls who spent 15 years as a banker and went on to log 20 years working for a variety of nonprofit organizations, most recently as senior gift planning officer for the American Red Cross. He is president of the Southwest Idaho Planned Giving Council and was recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2012 as Idaho Development Executive of the Year. He has extensive experience working on philanthropic estate planning.
    Nielsen moved back to Idaho from Washington, D.C., in 2007 and quickly fell in love again with his native rivers. He joined IRU in 2007 and in 2012 joined the IRU board of directors. But upon his retirement from the Red Cross this spring, he wanted to do more. He resigned his seat on the board to join the staff.

Salvage order issued for Little Camas
    The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has issued a salvage order for the Little Camas Reservoir in Elmore County.
    The reservoir will likely be drained by early summer for irrigation. The department stated that because the game fish in the reservoir likely will be lost, and past efforts at salvaging fish have been futile, it would like the public to use as many of the fish as possible.
    Bag, possession and size limits have been removed on the reservoir through Sept. 30. Fish may be taken by any method except firearms, explosives, chemicals or electric current.
    Anglers who participate in salvage-order fishing must be aware of possession laws that apply in other fisheries where bag limits are in effect. If they salvage 20 trout in Little Camas and move to another fishery where the possession or size limits differ, they may be cited for violating possession or size limits that apply at the second location.

ICL to host river events
    The Idaho Conservation League is holding a River and Ranch Field Trip on Saturday, June 1, to inform people about how water gets from a river to a farm or ranch and how they are allowed to use that water. The field trip is part of a trio of events focusing on the importance of water and rivers in the Wood River Valley.
    The first event, “Clean Water=Good Beer,” was held May 16 at the Sawtooth Brewery in Ketchum.
    The field trip June 1 will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Bellevue. The day will start with a visit to a river diversion with watermaster Kevin Lakey, followed by a trip to a ranch in the Bellevue Triangle, where Silver Creek Preserve Manager Dayna Gross will discuss agricultural water conservation methods.
    The third event will be a hike to the Big Wood River headwaters on Sunday, July 28, at 10 a.m. Further details will be announced at a later date.
    For more information and to register for any of these events, call Marie Kellner at 208-345-6933.

Ketchum OKs $10K for air service
    The Ketchum City Council on Monday unanimously approved an additional $10,000 for the Fly Sun Valley Alliance in fiscal year 2013.
    The nonprofit organization, whose mission is to increase air service into Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey and to pursue ground travel opportunities into the area, originally requested $50,000 from the city. However, when the council approved the budget last summer, it appropriated only $40,000.
    A staff report states that the council gave the organization less than it requested because it seemed likely that voters in the city would pass last November an additional 1 percent increase to the city’s local-option tax, which would have been used to support air service into Friedman. Hailey and Sun Valley also included such a measure on their November ballots, but the measure only passed in Sun Valley. The Sun Valley City Council has decided to wait to collect the tax until it passes in Hailey and Ketchum and the cities can collect it simultaneously. Hailey and Ketchum are expected to place the measure on their November ballots again this year.
    According to the staff report, the council expected the air tax to create additional funds for the Fly Sun Valley Alliance, but since it failed, those funds were not available to the organization.
    “Access does equal increased business,” organization Executive Director Carol Waller said at the meeting.

High Country Fusion gets kudos
    Steve Wilson and Dave Hanks of High Country Fusion Co., headquartered in Fairfield, have been named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2013 Region 10 Small Business Exporter of the Year. 
    Founded in 1994, High Country Fusion provides polyethylene piping products, fusion services and technical expertise.  According to a news release from the company, it has 52 employees and exports to every continent.
    Wilson and Hanks were honored at the Idaho World Trade Day Awards Luncheon in Boise on May 1.

‘Let’s Walk This Talk!’
    On Thursday, May 23, from 12:15-1:15 p.m., physical therapist Mary Kay Foley will talk about how to improve people’s walking with attention to posture, heart rate and cardio-walking techniques. The discussion will take place during a walk on the bike path along the Big Wood River near St. Luke’s Wood River.
    Participants will meet at the St. Luke’s Baldy Rooms. In case of bad weather, an indoor walking workout is planned. Bring walking shoes and a water bottle.
    This and other Brown Bag lectures are free and no pre-registration is required. Call St. Luke’s Center for Community Health for information on this or other educational programs at 727-8733.

Sheep festival receives award
    On May 18, the Trailing of the Sheep Festival was awarded the cultural heritage preservation award for 2013 by the Idaho Historic Preservation Council.
    Every year, Preservation Idaho hosts the Orchids and Onions Awards, designed to celebrate individuals and organizations that have made a positive contribution to historic preservation, as well as to bring awareness to projects that have shown insensitivity to the state’s cultural history. This year, the Trailing of the Sheep won an Orchid.
    The festival celebrates the century-and-a-half-long tradition of moving sheep from mountain summer pastures south through the Wood River Valley to traditional winter grazing and lambing areas.
    This year’s event, from Oct. 10-13, will mark the 17th year of the festival, which draws more than 19,000 visitors to the Wood River Valley.    
    In addition to the new award, the festival was named one of the Top Ten Fall Festivals in the World by MSN Travel and received the Governor’s Award for Cultural Tourism. USA Today has named the festival one of the Top Ten Animal Festivals in the World (alongside the Running of the Bulls in Spain).

Dry spring lowers hydro forecast
     One of the driest springs in more than a century for the Snake River basin will reduce flows into Hells Canyon, impacting hydropower generation as well as boaters, anglers and wildlife, Idaho Power Co. predicts.
    Projections estimate that 2.7 million acre-feet of water will flow into Brownlee Reservoir during the runoff season this year, ranking in the bottom 10 percent of April-through-July volumes since 1960.  Brownlee is the largest of Idaho Power’s 17 hydroelectric facilities, which typically generate more than half the electricity that the company produces for more than 500,000 customers.
    Idaho saw the fifth-lowest precipitation in 119 years during the key January-March period, according to the National Climate Data Center.
    The projected drop in hydroelectric generation is a significant factor in the 15.3 percent overall rate increase being sought by Idaho Power this year.

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