Friday, November 27, 2015

Winter weather to close some Dworshak recreation facilities

AHSAHKA, Idaho - Dworshak Dam and Reservoir recreation staff will close Viewpoint restrooms, Dam View Campground, Canyon Creek Campground and Merrys Bay Day-Use Area for the winter season on Dec. 1, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials at the dam.

Dent Acres campground will remain open until Dec. 15 at noon, weather permitting, to accommodate hunters. If winter conditions create unsafe access, staff will close the campground earlier. Notices will be posted in the campground and on Dwoshak Dam's Facebook page The cost of off season camping at Dent Acres is $10 a night. 

Big Eddy, Bruce's Eddy and the fishing wall area below the dam will remain open for use during the winter season. Seasonally closed facilities are slated to reopen in the spring of 2016 as weather conditions allow.

As always, safety is the Corps' greatest concern - boaters should wear lifejackets and avoid drinking alcohol while boating. The road leading to the recreation areas, especially the boat ramps can be icy and potentially hazardous during the winter, so please drive safely.

For more information about Dworshak facilities and current conditions, call 208-476-1255 during business hours. The Dworshak Dam Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Winter-fallen trees and Bark Beetles

Massive wind storms hit the Inland Northwest on Nov. 17. During high wind events such as this, it is very common to see trees falling over at the roots or breaking off mid-bole, particularly if there is a deformity or fork in the bole.

Downed and broken trees are more common on sites that have recently had timber harvest, are exposed to more wind, or have root disease issues.

Many landowners correctly begin to ask questions about bark beetle hazards when they see downed trees. Given the date these trees fell down, they may well be green enough in the spring for bark beetles that breed in downed trees to successfully complete their development, emerge, then attack nearby green trees. 

If enough trees have fallen to make a timber sale viable, that can solve the problem if the stemwood over three inches in diameter is removed before the next June. 

But what if the volume is too small to justify a timber sale? The downed trees may not have to be removed to prevent bark beetle problems, and downed trees do a lot of good in a forest, providing nutrients and adding to forest soil structure.

They also provide food and habitat for insects and other organisms that further benefit soil fertility and structure.

Downed trees must be of a specific species and size to breed beetles that present a hazard to standing trees. Three bark beetle species are most likely to breed on downed trees in Idaho’s family forests: pine engraver beetle, Douglas-fir beetle, and fir engraver beetle.

Pine Engraver Beetle

Pine engraver beetle (Ips pini) (also referred to by its genus name “Ips”) is responsible for most of the occasions in Idaho family forests where insects emerge from downed trees to attack and kill standing green trees. Pine engraver beetles and their larvae feed on lodgepole and ponderosa pines. They usually focus on sapling to pole sized trees or tops of larger trees. In late spring, pine engraver beetles will attack pines that have fallen in the winter, breed, and then emerge later in the summer to attack standing green pines. 

The key issue with Ips beetles is to remove or treat bole wood (larger than three inches in diameter) from winter fallen trees. Either debark it, burn it, or remove it from the site. 

Douglas-fir Beetle

As the name implies, the Douglas-fir beetle (Dendroctonus pseudotsugae) is a bark beetle that feeds predominantly on large diameter, mature, Douglas-fir (it rarely attacks larch). In the spring, Douglas-fir beetles attack and breed in trees that fell in the previous winter’s storms.

A year later in the following spring and summer, they emerge from the fallen trees to attack standing green trees, individually, or in groups (which become larger during epidemics). They have one generation per year. Standing green trees do not usually fade until one year after attack. 

If you have winter-fallen Douglas-fir that are larger than 8 inches in diameter, remove, burn, or debark them. You can also monitor them for attack. 

If you see trees on the ground this size, with red-orange boring dust in bark crevices, and upon cutting away the bark find larval galleries, they have been attacked and should be removed, burned, or debarked.

Fir Engraver Beetle

The primary host for fir engraver beetles (Scolytus ventralis) are grand fir. While they are not as commonly a problem with downed stems as Ips or Douglas-fir beetles, fir engraver beetles sometimes breed in wind thrown grand fir and tops of grand fir (over four inches in diameter), then emerge to attack new trees from June to September, most often during droughts. 

Not all of the attacks of standing trees are lethal – some simply kill patches of tissue, or kill tops. If you have winter-fallen green grand fir larger than four inches in diameter, and upon cutting away the bark from those trees in the early summer, find main galleries scoring the wood and running 2-4 inches perpendicular to wood grain, remove or debark them to prevent attacks to standing trees.

Generalizations about Bark Beetles and Winter-fallen Trees

There are a few rules of thumb that can be deduced from the biology of the bark beetles that breed in winter fallen trees:

Winter broken tops and trees smaller than 3 inches in diameter are never a bark beetle hazard. Occasionally Ips or other minor bark beetles will attack smaller diameter materials, but the material usually dries out, starving the larvae before they develop fully.

Winter fallen trees from some species are almost never a bark beetle hazard. There are bark beetles that breed in fallen cedar, and hemlock, but they do not emerge to attack standing green trees.

Trees dead longer than one year are not a bark beetle hazard. Even if those trees were at one time infested with bark beetles, the offspring have already left. You will often find insects in them that are superficially similar to bark beetles, but they are not usually insects that kill trees. The same goes with large wood boring insects (commonly found working in dead trees or firewood). 

These insects rarely kill trees. In fact, they are beneficial to forests, to the extent they start tearing apart dead trees, making them less of a fire hazard and recycling their nutrients back to the forest. They also provide food for a variety of wildlife species.

Beyond these types of winter-deposited materials, hazard from bark beetles also depends on the size and species of the trees in the immediate area that might be attacked. 

For example, you may have fallen Douglas-fir of appropriate size, species, and freshness, but if the standing green trees in the immediate area are all too small or of a different species (say ponderosa pine), you do not have a potential bark beetle problem. 

A final note; sometimes landowners cut green trees that have fallen in their forest into firewood sized pieces, and stack it up in the woods to cure. Cutting green stemwood into firewood-sized pieces often has little effect on its suitability as bark beetle habitat (particularly for pine engraver beetle). 

Bark beetles that breed in downed stem wood will still do this successfully in firewood-sized pieces. If it is a green enough to be a bark beetle hazard, remove it or debark it.

For more information on bark beetles and other forest insects, your local University of Idaho Extension office has a number of publications with more information. 

For on-site technical assistance regarding whether you are likely to have bark beetle problems as a result of trees that have fallen or broken during winter storms, contact your local Idaho Department of Lands Office. Thanks to Sandy Kegley, USFS and Tom Eckberg, IDL, for their review of this article.

Friday, November 13, 2015

“SAXsational” free concert with OJSHS band Nov. 17

Rob Verdi, SAXsational, will perform with Orofino’s Junior/Senior High School Tuesday, Nov. 17.

Clearwater Community Concert Association (CCCA) on Tuesday, Nov. 17 is presenting a free concert to the community. This free concert was made possible through grants that were awarded to CCCA this year from U.S. Bank, King’s Store Foundation through the Idaho Community Foundation, the Greatest Needs Fund through the Idaho Community Foundation, and an On the Spot Grant from the Idaho Community Foundation.

These grants were made possible, in part, due to the tireless work of CCCA grant writer and vice president, Barbara-Lee Jordan. Included as part of the grant is a student outreach program (which is required to receive these grants).Through cooperation of Kathleen Tetweiler, Music Director for Orofino Junior/Senior High School, Orofino’s own junior/senior band will be performing with Rob Verdi in SAXsational! Additionally, musicians from the community will be performing along with them. 

Verdi will participate in a two-hour rehearsal with the band members the day of the concert. He will then play lead on a variety of saxophones at the concert itself Nov. 17 beginning at 7 p.m. at Orofino Junior/Senior High School. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Student outreach programs are a wonderful tool that introduce young audiences to an eclectic mix of rare and unusual saxophones, famous saxophonists and well known popular melodies associated with Adolphe Sax’s 1846 invention. Educational content is designed for each academic level and may include clinics, masterclasses and all school assemblies.

Presentations for high school and college students include hands on participation as further advanced techniques related to jazz improvisation are explored. In our case, students will be invited to perform in the formal concert presentation. Rob Verdi’s unique teaching style and passion for music education is guaranteed to inspire young students.

Back in the early 1920’s, Vaudeville shows were the hot ticket. Saxophone virtuosos Rudy Weideoft and Adrian Rollini, along with famous saxophone ensembles such as the 6 Brown Brothers and the Schuester Sisters, were achieving great success and notoriety. The saxophone was the most well-liked instrument and a popular choice for young, aspiring music students to play in school band. 

Then, in the late 20’s, Vaudeville fell out of favor and the saxophone declined with it. With the drop in saxophone sales manufacturers such as Conn, Buescher, King, and Selmer were forced to create new designs to stimulate interest in the saxophone. What they conjured up was quite extraordinary.

In 2006 Rob Verdi launched an exciting new show entitled SAXOPHOBIA, which offered audiences a glimpse at some of the most unusual saxophones ever manufactured and paid tribute to legendary artists who contributed to the development of jazz and the popularity of the saxophone. Some of the instruments featured were a tiny curved soprano sax, straight tenor, C melody, connosax, slide sax, Grafton plastic alto, and a 6 1/2 feet tall contrabass. 

SAXsational, Rob Verdi's latest musical endeavor, has given Orofino’s high school band the opportunity to share the stage with him and his rare collection of saxophones. This guest artist program includes custom arrangements and puts our student’s center stage.

Together, Rob and Orofino’s talented musicians will explore a repertoire covering a half century of musical styles including toe tapping songs of the Roaring 20’s, hits from the swing era, and popular jazz standards. Throw in a little Pink Panther, Tequila, and Yakety Sax just for fun, and you’ve got an educational, historical and entertaining presentation.

Rob received his Music Education Degree from Arizona State University in Tempe. While in Arizona he was a featured soloist with the Phoenix Symphony, performed in a variety of musical ensembles and enjoyed the excitement of teaching junior high music. In 1983 he was a founding member of the Side Street Strutters Jazz Band, which went on to become the house jazz band of the Disneyland Resort for 22 years. Rob continues to be a regular performer at Disneyland, conducts jazz workshops for the Disney Magic Music Days Guest Talent program and works as a freelance musician in the Los Angeles area.

His passion for collecting saxophones has resulted in a collection of over 100 saxophones and an additional 150 rare wind, brass, and percussion instruments. In 2008, Rob was featured playing his six-and-a-half-foot tall contrabass sax on the soundtrack of “Horton Hears a Who.” He hopes to someday establish a musical instrument museum where visitors of all ages can see, hear, and even play some of his rare instruments.

If you would like further information about CCCA or would like to join the CCCA you can do so by calling Sheila at 208-476-3895 or go to

Friday, November 6, 2015

Help for wildfire victims

By Dave Summers, Idaho Department of Lands

If you were impacted by the Kamiah wildfires this summer, be aware that the Natural Resource Conservation Service, NRCS, has cost-share money to help with wildfire rehabilitation, grass seeding, reforestation, slash abatement, erosion mitigation, and a host of other post fire issues.

This program offers landowners an excellent opportunity to begin the rehabilitation process on properties damaged by the devastating wildfires this summer, but in order to participate, you need to sign up with your appropriate county district conservationist.

In Idaho County, Richard Spencer is the contact and can be reached at 208-983-1046, extension 3.

In Clearwater County, Amber Reeves is the contact and can be reached at 208-476-5313, extension 3. 

The deadline for signing up for this program is Friday, Nov. 20.

If you choose to participate in this program, a Natural Resource Conservation Service employee will visit your property and determine what the needs are, and how the program can best meet those needs.

Landowners will have a management plan developed for their property, with a three to five year time frame for completing the identified work. 

This is a reimbursable program which means the landowner must spend the money up front, and then the NRCS will reimburse the landowner at the appropriate cost-share rate, once the project has been completed and inspected. 

The following example may help explain the process. Currently the cost to plant a tree seedling with a contract crew is approximately $2 per tree. The cost includes purchasing the tree, having it planted, and installing a vexar tube to protect the tree from browsing damage. The NRCS cost-share rate for tree planting is currently set at $1.45 per tree.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Idaho Army National Guard proposes reducing number of sites, facilities across the state

For the third year, the Idaho Army National Guard has submitted a proposal to Congress that would result in not only modernizing local Idaho National Guard facilities across the state, but also reducing the number of armories – or readiness centers. 

The Idaho National Guard now has facilities in St. Anthony, Rexburg, Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, Pocatello, Preston, Burley, Twin Falls, Gooding, Jerome, Hailey, Mountain Home, Nampa, Caldwell, Emmett, Payette, Grangeville, Orofino, Moscow, Lewiston, Post Falls, Bonners Ferry, Rigby, Driggs, Twin Falls, Wilder, and Boise.

This proposal, which is part of a nationwide Readiness Center Transformation Master Plan, involves setting priorities 30 to 40 years into the future, contingent on congressional approval and funding. 

In 2011, Congress asked the National Guard Bureau to study readiness centers across the nation to determine if those facilities – including some constructed nearly 60 years ago – remain viable today. The average age of Idaho’s readiness centers is 44 years. Size, safety, energy efficiency, maintenance costs and location were some of the factors considered. 

The 54 states and territories submitted their results to the National Guard Bureau and the final report was submitted to Congress on December 19, 2014. The Idaho Army National Guard’s study determined that all but two of the existing readiness center sites — Mountain Home and Gowen Field in Boise —have insufficient acreage for expansion. That means 24 of the 26 sites do not suitably accommodate soldiers and unit equipment, and as a result are being considered for closure. 

The proposal would leave Idaho with nine readiness centers in the vicinities of Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Twin Falls, Post Falls, and the Lewiston-Moscow area, as well as four in southwestern Idaho’s Treasure Valley. 

“When we construct facilities, they’re built with the next 67 years in mind, and during that lifespan we can plan to conduct one major and two minor remodels in order to keep conditions safe and efficient for our personnel,” said Maj. Lee Rubel, a planning officer with the Idaho Army National Guard’s Construction Facility Management Office. “For our buildings that were constructed in the 1950s and 60s, we need to plan the end of their life cycle.” 

Encroachment is another factor. Many of these facilities were built on remote tracts of land donated to the Guard by the city or county and away from town centers. But in many cases the communities have grown and now envelope the sites, limiting their ability to expand. Additionally, federal guidelines now include new mandates regarding storage, square footage per soldier, and distances between perimeters and structures – all requiring additional space. 

“If the Guard needs to remodel a building, most likely there’s a need for additional land to expand and in most cases, the current lots are too small for additional square footage, force protection perimeters and even vehicle parking,” Rubel said. 

Current personnel and future recruits also are considerations, and the demographics have changed. Recruiting populations have shifted over the past 50 years to larger regional population centers. The plan attempts to establish sites within 50 miles of these population centers. In some cases the Guard’s study found readiness centers located in communities without a single local soldier being assigned there. 

South-central Idaho’s Magic Valley is considered the first to undergo consolidation because that region spans such a large area. 

“It is a command and control issue for leaders of units that sprawl across a large geographical area,” said Col. Farin Schwartz, Construction Facility Management Officer for the Idaho Army National Guard. “A commander uses so much of his or her precious time just commuting while circulating though the units. This proposal would reduce that. It would also facilitate a commander’s ability to rapidly coordinate and respond to a state emergency by having personnel and equipment consolidated in regionally strategic locations.” 

Each transfer of property during the transitioning process for readiness center sites will be individually evaluated. The arrangement between the State and federal governments in funding readiness center sites requires the State to provide at least 25 percent of the cost and the land, while the federal government provides 75 percent of the total cost. That amounts to a community getting a $20 million facility for a State investment of $5 million.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A look back at the 2015 fire season

Submitted by the Idaho Department of Lands

(BOISE) - As the end of October nears, a five-month long fire season - one of the worst on record for northern Idaho - slowly cools off.

The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) and two timber protective associations have been fighting fire since May and are still mopping up fires this week. Together we have put out close to 300 fires that burned 75,000 acres, racking up close to $80 million in fire suppression costs - about $60 million of which Idaho taxpayers will pay. Fire managers are still encouraging the public to report fires as soon as they see smoke.

Nearly half the fires fought were human caused.

The total number of fires on lands protected by the State of Idaho was a fairly typical 89 percent of the 20-year average, while the number of acres burned was huge - 594 percent of the 20-year average.

The vast majority of wildfires are put out before they reach ten acres. However, but the fires that escape initial attack cost taxpayers the most money to suppress. That's particularly true when the fires require the use of an incident management team.

Fourteen IDL fires required the use of 27 incident management teams. The teams are interagency groups of fire management professionals specially trained and experienced in managing complex wildfires.

Agencies order a team when a fire escapes initial attack and is expected to exceed the agency's local district resources. There are high costs associated with the use of Type 1 and Type 2 incident management teams.

The largest, most expensive fires were the Clearwater Complex fires that destroyed 48 homes and 70 other buildings near Kamiah in Idaho County in August. Those fires cost more than $25 million to suppress and burned more than 68,000 acres.

A total of 63 residences and 79 other structures were lost this year in fires fought by the State of Idaho.

Approximately 740,000 acres burned across the state in 2015, nearly 80 percent owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, Idaho's two largest land managers.

Approximately 28,000 acres of endowment lands managed by IDL burned. Of that, 7,000 acres of endowment timber land burned, creating opportunities to make more money for public schools through 15 planned fire salvage sales that will produce 88 million board feet of timber and 5,500 acres of regenerated forests into the future.

The other 1,500 forested endowment lands that burned are too rocky and steep or hold minimal volume to be cut and then replanted. Fourteen of the 15 IDL fire salvage sales will be sold by the first of the year and harvest operations already have started on one of them.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Weitas Creek Bridge across the North Fork of the Clearwater River re-opens

The historic Weitas Creek Bridge, closed in 2009 has been re-opened. The bridge was placed across the North Fork of the Clearwater River in the late 1930s as part of a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project. 

The impromptu ribbon cutting ceremony and signing of the order to open the bridge occurred on September 28 during a field tour for Forest and Regional recreational program staff. 

In addition to Forest staff, Alex and Julia Irby were at the bridge site for the ceremony. Alex and Julia have a long history of enjoying recreational opportunities along the beautiful North Fork River; Alex is currently co-chair of the Clearwater Basin Collaborative (CBC) Recreation Sub-Committee and a founding member of the Public Lands Access Year round (PLAY) group.

Don Ebert, Clearwater County Commissioner extended his regrets for not being able to attend the ceremony. However, he let Forest staff know how much he appreciated the invitation and the fact that the bridge had been restored to a serviceable condition.

He noted that his appreciation was not only personal but that of the county government and the people of the area. He thanked all of those folks that had a part in the success.

Clearwater County and surrounding communities will benefit from reopening the bridge as it restores access to the Weitas Creek Campground. Access is also restored to recreational opportunities that have not been available in recent years including access to the lower Weitas Creek for OHVs, motorcycles, stock users, outfitters, fisherman, and hikers; and access to an approximate 100-mile looped single track motorcycle route. 

The bridge was closed six years ago due to public safety concerns. The original estimate to repair the bridge was approximately two million dollars; a price tag the Forest just couldn’t afford. Over the years, Forest staff along with community partners explored alternative funding sources while Forest engineer, Travis Mechling, explored ways to lower the cost of needed repairs. 

In January of 2013 the Forest completed a preliminary engineering analysis on how to best repair the bridge and refine the repair estimate provided by the earlier study. From this study, it appeared that repairing the bridge was an economically feasible option.

This more economical proposal included completing a fracture critical inspection and a subsurface scour investigation to determine scour potential. As part of the proposal, inspections of all steel tension members and connecting pins to insure soundness were completed, and no unforeseen concerns with the steel superstructure were found. This left only the two primary safety concerns regarding the bridge pier caps and footings to repair. 

In 2014, the North Central Idaho Resource Advisory Council (RAC) approved $195,000 of Title II funds to complete the less expensive repair. With these funds, the Forest contracted Engleman Steel Erection from Boise to repair the bridge.

To complete repairs, the bridge was lifted off the pier caps so new concrete pier caps could be cast in-place then the bridge lowered back down onto the new caps; other repairs included removing and patching deteriorated concrete, and placing rip rap around the pier footings to mitigate for possible scour during high flows.

Cheryl Probert, Forest Supervisor, signs the order to open the bridge after the repairs. Also in attendance are Alex Irby (left), CBC Recreation Sub Committee Co-Chair, and Andrew Skowland (right), District Ranger on the North Fork Ranger District. Photo by George Bain, Regional Office Recreation Program Director.