Friday, October 21, 2016

Work underway to reduce rockfall risk at site of Idaho 14 Elk River landslide

Crews began work Oct. 24 to address the rockfall risk at the location of a massive landslide on Idaho 14 west of Elk City. The landslide in February loosened tons of rock and debris. Another slide in the same location two months later loosened additional material.

Eventually, it took six months and more than 15,000 truckloads to remove 235,000 cubic yards of mud, rocks and trees. Depending on the density of the material, each cubic yard can equal a ton, meaning the cleanup may have required the removal of more than 470 million lbs.

Crews will perform rock scaling (identifying loose rocks in danger of tumbling down to the roadway and taking proactive steps to bring them down safely) and rock bolting (a process in which a long anchor bolt is drilled into the rock formation, transferring the load from the exterior to the more stable interior of the rock mass.)

During the work the road will be reduced to just one lane, as the lane closest to the hill will be closed to traffic. Flaggers will guide traffic. Drivers should expect up to 15-minute delays as work progresses.

West Company, of Airway Heights, Washington, is the contractor on the work.

To encourage new vegetation to take root on the hillside, help stabilize the area against further erosion, and anchor rocks and debris, crews plan to hydro-seed the area next spring.

To discourage future slides, crews may also install metal mesh netting in particular areas or build a rock catchment.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Johnson’s Mill motorcross race is Saturday

The 55th annual Johnson’s Mill XC race is set for Saturday, Oct. 15, at Johnson’s Mill, about 10 miles outside of Orofino, up Grangemont Road. Sign-up starts at 8 a.m. Riders will make their way through over 40 miles of single track, with live and dead checks.

The entry fees are $40 for pros, $30 for amateurs, and $20 for minis, plus a $5 per rider land permit fee.

Classes in this race include: Pro (with a monetary payback), lightweight, heavyweight, vet (40+), iron man, woman, and mini (bike sizes 50, 65, 85).

A mini riders meeting will be held at 8:45 a.m., with that race to begin at 9 a.m. A “big bikes” meeting is at 10:45 a.m., with that race beginning at 11 a.m.

The Orofino Motorcycle Club, who are hosting the race, invite everyone to come out and enjoy the event. They would also like to remind hunters that there will be racers in the woods that day, so please use extra caution if you’re hunting in the area.

The group also apologizes to hunters for the disruption, and adds that the race will be back to its regular June race date next year.

For more information on the race, including directions to the race site, visit Orofino Motorcycle Club on Facebook. You can also call Jim Engle at 208-816-6253.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Nez Perce Tribe: We are committed to preventing the Clearwater and Lochsa River from becoming an industrial corridor

The Nez Perce Tribe opposes the Clearwater and Lochsa River corridor becoming an industrial corridor, and has repeatedly made this known, according to a news release the Tribe issued last week.

The Tribe peacefully protested mega-load traffic in 2013 and simultaneously pursued a successful action in federal court enjoining mega-load traffic from the wild and scenic corridor of U.S. Highway 12 within the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest. 

The injunction issued by Judge Winmill in 2013 remains in place until the U.S. Forest Service completes an impact study and consults on a government-to-government basis with the Nez Perce Tribe. 

ITD’s recently proposed rule regarding 129,000-pound oversize shipments is, according to the press release, no different from the agency’s position prior to the 2013 federal court injunction.

“It does not alter the reality that the legal issues at stake are federal in nature, are the subject of a federal court lawsuit that resulted in a federal court injunction, and are subject to on-going federal court mediation. At a minimum, ITD’s proposed rule is at this time ineffectual,” states the press release.

ITD made no effort to contact the Nez Perce Tribe or the U.S. Forest Service before unilaterally proposing this rule, states the press release.

The Forest Service, the Tribe, and Idaho Rivers United are engaged in mediation under the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ mediation program.

The Forest Service, the Tribe, and ITD–which was invited into the mediation in 2015–are all bound by confidentiality from disclosing those discussions; however, the Tribe strongly disagrees with ITD’s characterization of the mediation in its FAQ accompanying this rulemaking. 

“The Tribe is committed to continuing to protect the Clearwater-Lochsa river corridor, and to working with the U.S. Forest Service and others regardless, whether ITD chooses to do so or not,” states the press release.

The Tribe will not comment at ITD’s hearing on the proposed rule, but it will submit comments on the proposed rulemaking in writing by Oct. 14.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Shopko Hometown Store grand opening is Friday, Oct. 14

Opens to customers Sunday, Oct. 2

Shopko has announced that it will open a new Shopko Hometown store located at 429 Michigan Ave on Friday, Oct. 14. Shopko Hometown provides local residents a convenient new community-focused shopping experience that features essential name-brand items.

A special grand opening event, highlighted by a $2,500 check presentation to Orofino Junior / Senior High School by the Shopko Foundation, will take place at 7:45 a.m.

All residents are invited to join the Shopko team and community leaders for the event. For those who can’t wait for the grand opening celebration, the store will be open to customers starting on Sunday, Oct. 2.

The first 100 customers in line will receive a free $10 Shopko gift card. A number of prizes will also be given out through “register to win” events.

Customers will also be encouraged to sign up for Shopko’s loyalty program to receive exclusive mailers, $10 off on their birthday and special email announcements and offers.

Every customer who uses their loyalty member card on the day of the grand opening will be entered into a drawing for a $1,000 shopping spree. Refreshments will be served inside the store.

The store will be open Monday through Sunday: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The pharmacy will be open Monday through Friday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“The excitement surrounding our grand opening isn’t just about the products we sell, it’s about making life easier for the customers we are privileged to serve,” said Peter McMahon, Shopko CEO. “It’s about the stuff that counts—the essentials that help people get ready for work or school or to enjoy the weekend with family and friends.”

Shopko Hometown combines Shopko’s strong reputation for health services and customer service with a broad and dynamic offering of national brands and private label brands at a great value. Product offerings include clothing, home furnishings, toys, consumer electronics, seasonal items and lawn and garden products – all in attractive, well laid out, easy-to-shop store format.

“At Shopko Hometown, we understand that we’re simply part of the larger community,” said McMahon. “That’s why we support local organizations, such as schools and 501(c)(3) organizations, that are vital to the well-being and future growth of the community.”

Having opened 53 stores in 2015 and 22 thus far in 2016, including the Orofino location, Shopko is projecting continued growth over the next two years with the expected opening of additional stores in markets across the country. 

Shopko provides the stuff that counts. Follow Shopko at

About Shopko

Shopko is owned by an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners, Inc., a leading private investment firm focused on leverage buyouts, equity, debt, and other investments in market-leading companies. 

Founded in 1962 and headquartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Shopko Stores Operating Co., LLC is a $3 billion retailer that operates 372 stores in 25 states throughout the Central, Western and Pacific Northwest regions.

Retail formats include 131 Shopko stores, providing quality name-brand merchandise, great values, pharmacy and optical services in small to mid-sized cities; five Shopko Express Rx stores, a convenient neighborhood drugstore concept; five Shopko Pharmacy locations; and 231 Shopko Hometown stores, a smaller concept store developed to meet the needs of smaller communities.

For more information, visit

Friday, September 16, 2016

Fall burning planned on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests

The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests will be conducting fall prescribed burns beginning as early as Sept. 10 and continuing through September and into October, until weather or air quality conditions are no longer favorable.

Roads and trail heads that lead into these areas will be posted with caution signs and a map of the prescribed fire locations. 

Powell Ranger Station is planning to broadcast burn a 20 acre unit in the Saddle Camp area along FS road 5601. Smoke may be seen along FS road 107 and FS road 500.

Machine piles in the Saddle Camp and Granite Pass areas within the vicinity of the Powell Divide Timber Sale, along with hand piles near Rocky Point Lookout and the Powell Ranger Station, are also targeted for burning.

Moose Creek Ranger District is planning pile burning in the Johnson Bar area and the Swiftwater and Iron Mountain timber sale areas.

As weather and conditions allow prescribed fire treatments may be applied to three units in the O’Hara area. Visitors may see smoke and meet forest personnel along FS roads 470 (Coolwater) and FS road 464 (O’Hara) during burn operations. 

Lochsa Ranger Station as part of the North Lochsa Face Project is planning a landscape burn in the Middle Butte area north of FS road 483. The prescribed fire treatment is estimated to be 1,000 acres.

The purpose of the burn is to reintroduce fire to the landscape, reduce woody fuel loadings which also reduces the potential for large, catastrophic wildfires, and allow vegetation, naturally found in these areas, to return. 

Additional broadcast burning is planned in late September or early October in the Dead Canyon Timber Sale area near the upper portion of Deadman Creek and Cedar Knob and in the Cabin Timber Sale area near Cabin Creek. The prescribed fire treatments will reduce woody debris to create openings for tree planting.

North Fork Ranger District is planning pile burning in the Middle Bugs Timber Sale area. Piles are located near Lean-To Ridge off of FS road 555 and Beaver Dam Saddle off of FS road 103.

Palouse Ranger District is planning to broadcast burn 30 acres in the Abes Animals Timber Sale near Bovill and an additional 15 acres in the Robo Stew Timber Sale near the community of Elk River. 

Machine piles will be burned in the Cherry Pit, located near Helmer, and Abes Animal timber sale areas. Hand piles located near Jerome Creek, near Harvard, and near the Palouse Ranger District are also targeted for burning. 

Salmon River Ranger District is scheduled to broadcast burn approximately 336 acres within the Festus, Adams Stewardship and the Buckshot timber sale areas.

Approximately 129 acres will be treated within the Festus Timber Sale southeast near White Bird Station off of FS road 9485.

45 acres located in two logging units within the Adams Stewardship Timber Sale near the Adams Work Center, FS road 221, and FS road 309.

Treatments in the Buckshot Timber Sale will total 162 acres and is located near Willow Flat off of FS road 354.

Prescribed fire treatments in various Ponderosa Pine plantations near McComas Meadows, Earthquake Basin, and in the Cove area at the head waters of Bully Creek are planned. 200-300 acres will be treated.

Red River Ranger District, weather permitting, will begin prescribed fire treatments September 12, 2016 and continue until weather and conditions no longer support burning operations. Prescribed fire treatments are scheduled in the Red River Meadows area and the Soda Creek area. 

Acres and locations scheduled include: Approximately 100 acres in the 66 Timber Sale located on the west side of Red River Meadows and below FS road 1800 (Cole Porter Road), 80 acres, Looney 2 Timber Sale, east of FS road 222 along FS road 1806 (Loon Creek Road), 14 acres, Blanco Timber Sale, and east of FS road 222.

Also north of FS road 1183 (Blanco Road), 100 acres, Jungle Trail Timber Sale, located between FS road 234 (Red River Hot Springs Road) and FS road 1172 (Soda Creek Road), and 200 acres in the French Gulch Timber Sale along FS road 9822 (French Gulch Road).

Fire personnel will work closely with the Idaho/Montana Airshed Group, the National Weather Service, and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to insure that smoke impacts are minimized. 

Smoke from these prescribed fires will be much less than what would be expected from a wildfire. If smoke concentrations approach air quality standards fire ignition may be delayed until air quality improves.

Residual smoke may be visible for up to two weeks following ignition, but most of the smoke from the fires will dissipate one or two days after ignition. 

Specific information on the location and timing of these prescribed burns are available at each of the district offices. Powell Ranger Station – Matt Young or Brandon Cichowski, 208-942-3113, Moose Creek Ranger District – Tim Schaeffer or Aaron Skinner, 208-926-4258, Lochsa Ranger Station – Sean Gaines or Neal Cox, 208-926-4274, North Fork Ranger District – Mike Lubke or TC Peterson, 208-476-4541, Palouse Ranger District – Lisa Spinelli or Alan Carlson, 208-875-1131, Salmon River Ranger District – Mike Blinn or Kevin Barger, 208-983-1950, Red River Ranger District – Josh Bransford or Tom McLeod, 208-842-2245.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Forest Proposes Adding Cabins and Lookouts to Recreation Rental Program and Increase and Implement New Fees at Several Recreation Sites Across the Forest

The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests are interested in receiving your comments on a proposal to increase the fee at one campground; and implement a new fee at two campgrounds, three group recreation sites and four cabin/lookout rentals. 

Through this proposal, if implemented, two cabins and two lookouts will be available for public rental, adding to the Forest’s popular recreation rental program. They will also bring several campgrounds, group sites and a dump station into alignment with other sites offering similar benefits and services. 

While these sites have historically been free, the forest has invested in items such as; potable water; increasing recreation site capacity and amenities, such as group sites and shelters; improved toilet facilities; and new picnic tables and other infrastructure.

A reasonable fee, paid by users of these sites and services, will help ensure that the Forest can continue maintaining and improving the sites for future generations. 

The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests is proposing to charge fees at the following sites:

· Aquarius – Purple Beach Group Site, North Fork Ranger District: Proposed fee of $15 per night and an additional $5 extra vehicle, per night fee for more than 2 vehicles. The adjacent day use picnic area will remain free to public use. 

· Cedar Flats Sewer Dump Station, Fenn Ranger Station, Moose Creek Ranger District: Proposed fee of $10 per use/waste dump.

· Elk River Day Use Picnic & Group Shelter, Palouse Ranger District: Proposed fee of $25 daily rental of the group day use facilities which includes a large group shelter with a maximum capacity of 150 persons and parking for 30 vehicles. Advance reservations for this site will be available through the National Recreation Reservation System.

· Fish Creek Group Site, Salmon River Ranger District: Proposed fee of $25 per night with a maximum capacity of 75 and 20 vehicles. Advance reservations for this site will be available through the National Recreation Reservation System.

· Gold Meadows Cabin Rental, Lochsa/Powell Ranger District: Proposed fee of $40 per night. Advance reservations for this site will be available through the National Recreation Reservation System.

· Liz Creek Cabin Rental, North Fork Ranger District: Proposed fee of $40 per night. Advance reservations for this site will be available through the National Recreation Reservation System.

· Lolo Creek Campground, Lochsa/Powell Ranger District: Proposed fee of $12 per night.

· Partridge Creek Campground, Palouse Ranger District; Proposed fee of $12 per night. 

· Scurvy Mountain Lookout Rental, North Fork Ranger District: Proposed fee of $45 per night. Advance reservations for this site will be available through the National Recreation Reservation System. 

· Wallow Mountain Lookout Rental, North Fork Ranger District: Proposed fee of $45 per night. Advance reservations for this site will be available through the National Recreation Reservation System. 

Additional construction is required at Partridge Creek Campground prior to implementation of proposed fee, and is planned to occur in 2017. No fee will be charged prior to completion. The four proposed cabin and fire lookout rentals have not been available for recreation use prior to this date. An analysis of nearby similar recreation sites indicates that the proposed sites and associated fees are in alignment with other offerings.

In 2004, Congress passed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act which allows the Forest Service to retain 95 percent of fees collected at certain recreation sites and use these funds locally to operate and maintain and improve these sites. 

Forest managers will be accepting comments until October 14, 2016. For more information, questions or to provide comments about any of these fee change proposals, please contact Diana Jones at (208) 476-8239. You can mail comments to: Diana Jones, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, 12730 U.S. Highway 12, Orofino, ID 83544 or email comments to FS-comments-northern-clearwater.

Once public involvement is complete, this proposal and public comments will be presented to the Coeur d’Alene Bureau of Land Management Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) prior to a final decision and implementation.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Clearwater County Fair: The pedestrian’s revenge

By Andrea Dell

One year, while walking home from the fair, I encountered a chalk drawing of a human outline, in the street.

It was in the middle of a crosswalk beside the old Orofino Junior High—the intersection next to First Christian Church. It looked like the type of outline drawing crime scene investigators make around a murder victim’s corpse.

My first thought was a little evil: An Orofino pedestrian bites the dust.

Obviously no one died there, or any such thing. No doubt it was drawn by someone having a little fun.

Still, being a pedestrian in Orofino isn’t easy.

Clearwater County’s Fair and Lumberjack Days weekend is the one time of year when pedestrians rule the streets in downtown Orofino. You can step casually off the curb and know you aren’t in danger of being run over, because everyone else is doing the same thing.

Normally, this is not the case.

Like me, you’ve probably been to communities where cars will basically slam on their brakes to stop for you.

In Orofino, you don’t often see such a thing from motorists. To be fair, when you attempt to cross the street, it doesn’t usually take more than a few seconds before someone will stop for you.

Even so, most pedestrians know to be extra wary if there is any traffic when they’re trying to cross the street.

Often, a couple of drivers in either direction will breeze on by as you stand there waiting. It’s hard to say if they weren’t paying attention, or simply didn’t want to spare that three to five seconds it would take you to cross their lane.

Sometimes, a driver will speed up when they see you. Perhaps they think they’ll be out of your way faster if they hurry, plus they won’t have to stop. Everybody wins!

When you’re the driver, and perfectly willing to stop for pedestrians, it’s tricky for you, too. Cars behind you may not notice a pedestrian even if you do. Do you try to stop, and risk getting rear-ended, or do you cruise on by, leaving the pedestrian to wait on someone more curteous?

The larger issue for drivers is figuring out what the heck a pedestrian is trying to do.

Because pedestrians here are conditioned to be extra wary of traffic, the way we handle that wariness is fairly confusing to motorists.

For example, one species of Orofino pedestrian you’ll notice is the timid lurker. You’ll find them hovering shyly on the sidewalk, a body length from the edge of the curb.

They’ll be tentatively glancing back and forth, hoping the traffic will clear, or at least figure out what they’re wanting and slow down.

Maybe they’re even rocking back and forth a bit, the way you do when you need to use the restroom pretty badly. It’s difficult to tell that they even want to cross the street.

When they do cross, they break into a fast walk, or even a jog, as if they feel it’s only a matter of seconds before the vehicle that finally slowed down for them decides to floor it and mow them down.

Another type of Orofino pedestrian is the one a driver does see, and does stop for, because they are standing at the edge of the curb, clearly waiting.

In this case, instead of crossing, they wave the driver on by. Do they not want to cross after all? Or, do they want to be free and clear of all traffic before they cross, so they can take their time? Perhaps they’re just being courteous.

The only way to know is to glance in your rearview mirror after you’ve driven past. Sometimes they’ll be right where they were, leaving you to wonder why they’re just standing there.

More likely, you’ll see them step into the street and cross, or waving on some other vehicle that showed up.

During the Clearwater County Fair, this timid pedestrian business doesn’t exist, particularly on Main Street (only a block from where the fair is set up).

Pedestrians march boldly into the street whenever and wherever they please, sparing barely a glance at any motorists who try and brave downtown Orofino.

Sometimes droves of pedestrians pass in one giant pack. Other times, there are just a couple of people, or small groups, spaced just far enough apart that cars can’t simply speed by without running over someone.

If you’ve never noticed it before, or never thought about it, take a minute to check it out at this year’s fair.

And, enjoy it while you can—once things wrap up on Fair Sunday, you’ll be back at the bottom of the food chain, Orofino pedestrian!