Thursday, March 9, 2017

It's official: Everyone is sick of winter

By Andrea Dell

Ask a Clearwater County resident how they're doing this week, and you'll likely get some version of "Good, but I am sick of this weather."

After a winter that brought the most snow we've had in at least 20 years, snow and rain continue to hammer us. This week has been particularly dreary, with endless rain causing ponding in city streets and some residential areas of Orofino.

The Clearwater Basin's snowpack, unsurprisingly, is above normal for this time of year. The snowpack typically melts in May and June, and that runoff is what most affects the Clearwater River. It's hard to predict what will happen, but a high river and some ponding in Orofino City Park are definitely in the realm of possibility.

Higher elevations, including Pierce and Weippe, continue to receive several inches of snow that sticks. Orofino has seen snowfall, but it always melts the same day it falls, and is a skiff or less.

The soil is saturated from all the precipitation, causing rock slides left and right. Today, trees unable to stay rooted in the soaked soil tipped onto power lines in two different locations - once at a downtown residence, and another time along Highway 12.

The section of Highway 12 between Orofino and Kamiah has seen the most rock slides, but there have also been slides on the Lewiston side of the Highway, plus on roads in the county such as Grangemont, Highway 11, and Upper Fords Creek.

What the weather has in store for residents as we move into spring remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Clearwater County is ready for sunshine!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Gown Thunder coming October 2017

GOWEN FIELD, ID – The Idaho National Guard, along with Idaho’s Morale Welfare Recreation and Support our Troops programs held a special event Thursday evening announcing plans for an open house, Oct. 14 and 15, 2017.

The purpose of Thursday’s Gowen Thunder 2017 Premiere was to present the open house plan and to reveal the air demonstration teams scheduled to participate in October.

More than 100 members of Idaho’s leadership and business community, including Lt. Governor Brad Little and Boise Mayor David Bieter, along with many other civic leaders attended Thursday evening’s event.

“Gowen Field’s long service to our nation’s security and role in our community is worthy of celebration – Gowen Thunder is a great way to do that,” said Mayor Bieter. “I hope the whole community takes advantage of this unique opportunity to see an extraordinary show while showing our community’s great support for the men and women who serve our country.”

Gowen Thunder 2017 will feature two lead acts as well as many other ground shows, aerial acrobatics and static displays.

“I am extremely excited to announce that we will have two of the most prestigious jet demonstration teams, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and their Canadian counterpart, the Royal Canadian Snowbirds,” said Col. Tim Donnellan, 124th Fighter Wing Commander. “This will be a great event for our community, to see an impressive air demonstration, to visit Gowen Field and speak with the Airmen and Soldiers of the Idaho National Guard and learn their role in our community.” 

To learn more about Gowen Thunder 2017, please visit or the Gowen Thunder Facebook page.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Self-Driving Cars: a Boon for People with Disabilities in Rural Areas?

By Eric Tegethoff, Northern Rockies News Service

BOISE, Idaho - Idaho and the rest of the country are preparing for self-driving cars to hit the roadways, and new research says the technology could help people with disabilities.

The report explored the ways autonomous cars could improve the lives of people with disabilities, including through employment opportunities and health care. Nearly 6 million such people have difficulties finding transportation, and Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, said this population needs to be part of the discussion.

"What we're trying to say to these companies is, like, 'Hey, the technology is there, and you're going to continue to refine it and develop it, and make it better,' " he said. " 'As you do that, consider people with disabilities - because they can really not only benefit, but society can benefit.' They are the largest, untapped resource that we have in our country."

Ruderman said as many as 70 percent of people with disabilities in the United States are unemployed. Self-driving cars aren't yet a reality for consumers, although many car manufacturers and technology companies are investing in them.

A bill was introduced in the Idaho Senate in 2015 for regulating autonomous vehicles, but it failed.

The study said autonomous cars could not only improve opportunities for accessibility to work but save on health-care costs, too. It found more than 11 million medical appointments are missed every year for lack of adequate transportation, which amounts to about $19 billion in wasted health-care costs.

Kristina Kopic, who contributed to the study, said people who live in rural areas could benefit most.

"We think that, especially in rural areas that don't already have access to public transportation," she said, "self-driving technologies would be a boon, because you would really be allowing people curb-to-curb transportation."

Kopic said even paratransit, a product of the American Disabilities Act, can be exclusionary because it doesn't allow families to travel together when some don't have a disability, so, self-driving cars could become an inclusive form of transportation.

The study, commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation and Securing America's Future Energy, is online at

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Idaho marchers join hundreds in 'Sister Rallies' on Saturday

By Eric Tegethoff, Northern Rockies News Service

BOISE, Idaho -- Marches are planned across Idaho and the nation on Saturday, the day after Donald Trump's inauguration. Women are rallying in solidarity, saying they feel the need to stand up for marginalized communities that some feel were maligned by the president-elect during his campaign. 

The Women's March on Idaho in Boise is expected to draw the largest crowd in the state on Saturday, despite forecasted winter weather. The event was organized by two local high school students, Nora Harren and Colette Raptosh. Harren said being too young to vote was part of what compelled them to organize the rally.

"I think that because we were unable to vote in this past election, before it, we felt that we didn't really have the say or the influence we wanted to have when it came to our local, state and national politics," Harren said.

The march will begin at 10 a.m. at the State Capitol in Boise. Nearly 3,500 people are planning to march, according to a Facebook page created for the event. The Women's March on Washington website estimates more than 200,000 will join that event in the nation's capital. 

Sister marches are planned in other Gem State cities as well, including Idaho Falls, Ketchum and Pocatello.

The march in Boise stems from an earlier event Harren and Raptosh also organized, called "People for Unity," held the day after the election. About 500 showed up and the young women decided to keep the momentum going. Now, Raptosh said she hopes it will continue beyond Saturday's march.

"I really hope that when people leave the march, they feel empowered, and like they can make a difference," Raptosh said. "I want them to leave hoping to do something more."

Speakers at the Boise march include state Rep. Melissa Wintrow, LGBTQ activist Dianne Piggott, and Idaho's first Syrian refugee, Asmaa Albukaie. The march will end at Boise City Hall, where the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Idaho Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and other groups will have booths set up.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hunting season 2017, let the adventures begin

By Roger Phillips, Public Information Specialist

Welcome to 2017, I hope you had a great hunting season last year, and it’s understandable if you think the season is winding down. Many people think hunting seasons start in late summer, run through fall and end during winter, but there are many hunting opportunities in Idaho throughout the year. 

Since we just started the new year, you can consider this the beginning of a new hunting season, too. Get your 2017 hunting license, if you haven’t already, and keep going into the field to pursue game and have the wonderful experiences that go along with it. 

There’s a lot of options in January, and beyond. Some upland bird seasons last through January. Duck and Canada goose seasons close at different times during January depending on which part of the state you’re in, and other waterfowl hunting opportunities run later.

White-fronted goose season goes until Feb. 19 in Area 2, which includes Southwest Idaho and portions of the Magic Valley (see the migratory game bird rules for details). 

Light goose seasons (blue, snow and Ross’s) extend into March depending on the area, so again, please check the rules booklet so you can see the exact boundaries. 

Light geese are overpopulated in some areas, and biologists are concerned that their high abundance can damage Arctic habitat, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

That means there are special rules in place to reduce these high populations, including the use of electronic calls and allowing unplugged shotguns. There are restrictions on where those rules apply, so again, check the rules booklet. 

Snow geese and white-fronts are interesting and exciting birds to hunt. If you’ve ever listened to a flock of snow geese overhead, or seen a swirling mass of white-fronted geese (aka speckle bellies) landing in a field, you know what I am talking about.

It’s a sight to see, hear and experience. If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to check them out, even if you’re not hunting them.

One reason for the late seasons for these birds is they are often migrating back from the south, and following the receding snow line north, which makes southern Idaho a natural, but brief, stop over. 

When you’re done hunting waterfowl, you will barely have time to stow your decoys and clean your shotgun before spring turkey season opens on April 15. It’s a great time to be in the woods as they are coming alive with the sound of gobbling toms. 

Some hunters compare the excitement of calling a tom turkey to calling a bull elk, but with a much easier pack out if you’re successful at bringing a gobbler within shotgun range and closing the deal. 

Turkey hunting is also a great way to introduce novices to hunting because they often see and hear the birds up close, and there’s usually not the long, arduous hiking that’s involved with big game hunting. 

If you’re not a bird hunter, but still want to keep hunting, some hunters extend their season by taking on the challenge of predator hunting. Mountain lion and wolf hunting are open and continue through March in most parts of the state and beyond March in some areas.

You can find details in the big game rules booklet. Mountain lions are typically hunted with hounds, which is not an option for the average hunter, but there are outfitters available to guide you on one of these exciting hunts.

Predator hunting is also done by calling in the animals, and they all have a reputation for being wary and wily, so expect to put in some effort doing it, but you will have a trophy if you succeed.

The pelts are prime during winter, so you can have one turned into a rug, or a full-body mount. 

The end of mountain lion and most wolf seasons at the end of March dovetails with the start of spring black bear hunting in April, so you can continue pursuing big game. 

Like mountain lions, black bears are often hunted with hounds in units where it’s allowed, but hunters are also successful at baiting them, or by spotting and stalking them similar to deer and elk hunting. Spring bear hunting runs through June in many units. 

That brings us to July, and if you’re still itching to keep hunting, there are some limited opportunities for wolf hunting, but for most hunters, it’s time to start thinking about deer, elk and other seasons that start in August, September and October. 

So don’t feel like your 2017 hunting seasons should be limited to few months. If you’re willing to use your creativity and try some different quarry, and you can keep hunting nearly year round in Idaho.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Slipping and sliding in a winter wonderland

By Andrea Dell

"When I was your age, I waded through 20 feet of snow for 10 miles just to reach the bus stop!"

I exaggerate (a bit), but you're probably grinning after reading that first sentence, either because you've heard this from your parents or grandparents, or you've said something similar to your children or grandchildren.

Clearwater County's winters over the last several years have been comparatively mild. Maybe a few inches of snow here and there, and a couple weeks of near-zero degree weather. 

We'd hear stories of the east coast getting hammered with two or three feet of snow and raging wind gusts, and think, "Thank God it's not like that here."

Then came winter 2016.

No, it's still not as bad as the east coast.

But, it's had more snowfall than I can remember in several years. Even people dreaming of a white Christmas are saying, "Okay, I'm over it!"

The National Weather Service says this particular weather system comes along every four years or so. Seems like it's been longer than that since we've seen this much snow here in the valley.

Next week, yet another rare weather system is supposed to descend with a round of bitterly cold temperatures, where the HIGHS will "struggle to reach zero degrees." That's Fahrenheit, not Celsius.

The lows, meanwhile, could drop down to -15 or so a couple days next week, in some areas.

As of this writing, the actual forecast for Orofino says highs in the mid-teens and lows around zero degrees, give or take a couple of degrees.

Orofino often doesn't get hit quite as hard as other places by these extreme weather conditions. Surrounding areas often do.

Meanwhile, we can expect more snow until that cold snap arrives to welcome us to the new year.

Take a look at the photo with this post. It's the rear entrance to Orofino City Park. There's even more snow piled up there than is pictured, and this image was taken less than a week ago.

The roads aren't going to improve for the foreseeable future. Neither are the sidewalks, many of which are slick with ice or three inches of gooey slush.

The town is quiet, and business is slow, as people wisely stay off some very scary roads. Those who don't often find themselves stuck, or in a fender bender. If they're lucky, they get by with a white-knuckle, fish-tailing round trip.

Wherever you are as you're reading this, I hope your new year is the best one yet. And if you're huddling in the throes of a real winter, as we are here in Clearwater County, stay warm and safe. We at the Clearwater Tribune will see you next year.

Orofino City Park's rear entrance is pictured in late December, 2016. Photo by Charlie Pottenger.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Idaho spring steelhead season opens New Year’s Day

By Mike Demick, Conversation Information Supervisor

For some anglers, the best thing about New Year's is the start of the spring steelhead season, which opens Jan. 1 on parts of the Clearwater, Salmon, Little Salmon, Snake and Boise rivers.

But before wetting a line, anglers will need a 2017 Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit.

River sections to open include:

Salmon River from its mouth to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir, near the town of Stanley.

Little Salmon River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.

Snake River from the Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Oxbow Dam.

Clearwater River mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Clear Creek.

North Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Dworshak Dam.

South Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to the confluence of American and Red Rivers.

Boise River from its mouth to the Barber Dam.

The steelhead limit is three per day, nine in possession and 20 for the season. Once limits are reached, the angler must stop fishing, even catch and release. Steelhead anglers may use only barbless hooks, and may keep only hatchery steelhead marked with a clipped adipose fin. All other steelhead must be released unharmed immediately.

Steelhead are in the Boise River and the Snake River above Hells Canyon Dam only when stocked by Idaho Fish and Game. 

During November, over 300 steelhead were stocked in the Boise River. A steelhead permit is required to fish for and keep steelhead (rainbow trout longer than 20 inches with a clipped adipose fin). Barbless hooks are not required on the Boise River. 

Consult Idaho’s 2016-2018 Fishing Seasons and Rules brochure for exceptions and special restrictions. For additional information on steelhead fishing including the latest catch rates, dam counts, and useful instructional videos, go to /steelhead.