Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dworshak Reservoir almost full; July 4 outdoor fun awaits visitors

Dworshak Reservoir will likely reach full pool elevation by the end of June, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water managers announced today.

An above-normal snow pack throughout the Clearwater sub-Basin challenged water managers to balance the need to maintain space in the reservoir for any unexpected water inflows with the desire to have the reservoir close to full pool (1,600 feet in elevation) in time for the July 4 holiday weekend, said Steve Hall, reservoir manager for the Corps' Walla Walla District.

Hall and other Corps water experts conducted an observation flight on June 10 to visually confirm how much snow-covered area remained in the basin, and came back with good news for Dworshak holiday visitors: only about 5 percent of the area was still covered by snow, allowing water managers to continue safely filling the reservoir.

"The reservoir is about 10 feet shy of full, and conditions are great right now for outdoor water recreation," said Hall.

Hall said Corps water managers plan to maintain full pool at Dworshak Reservoir through July 8, subject to downstream needs to maintain healthy river temperatures for outmigrating ESA-listed fish species. Wednesday morning, June 18, water temperatures at Lower Granite Lock and Dam on the Snake River were at about 55 degrees - 13 degrees cooler than the maximum temperature considered healthy for fish (68 degrees).

Dworshak Dam and Reservoir offers a variety of outdoor summer fun opportunities during the July 4 holiday - boating, camping water sports, swimming, fishing, hiking and more. Dworshak Dam's Visitor Center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tours are offered daily at 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. All tours begin at the Visitor Center.

All campgrounds, mini-camps and boat ramps are open for use, said Paul Pence, Dworshak natural resources manager. Dent Acres campground, group camp, and picnic shelter is reservable for the summer recreation season. To make reservations, call 1-877-444-6777, or go online to Reservations are not required, but are recommended to be guaranteed a particular camping spot.

The reserving of mini-camp sites along the Dworshak Reservoir shoreline is prohibited. Early placement of camping equipment at mini-camp sites in an attempt to save a spot for the weekend can result in the removal of the camping equipment or a citation if personal gear is left unattended for an extended period.

The Corps invites visitors to come use the recreation facilities at Dworshak Dam and Reservoir, but it's important to enjoy the reservoir safely by taking the following precautions:

Changing weather conditions can create unsafe situations on open water. Make sure your boat is serviceable, know the weather forecast and have a float plan.

Ensure proper fitting, accessible and serviceable life vests are available for each occupant on your boat. Better yet, wear them. Keep life jackets on children while on or around the water. Don't let small children out of your sight.

Before proceeding at higher speeds, familiarize yourself with the area you will be boating as there may be floating woody debris or rocks, stumps and shallow areas not visible from the surface.

When boating on the reservoir, please use caution because lake levels can change quickly - anchor your boat in water deep enough to avoid beaching and leave enough slack in your anchorline to avoid sinking should lake levels fluctuate up or down.

Campfires should be made using established fire rings only.

For more information regarding water levels, facilities access or recreation, call the Dworshak Dam Visitor Center at 208-476-1255.

Tips for preventing identity theft: Digital Hygiene: Part 3

By Don Gardner

This is the third in a series of articles by Don Gardner, Clearwater County Emergency Management Coordinator, about protecting your digital identity.

This week I will discuss more advanced steps for protecting your digital identity. These are Level 2 steps.

Level 2

Your email is basically not secure. Regular email has no more security than a postcard in the mail. Regular email can be easily “sniffed” from any PC in a network, ISP, etc.

There are many way to safeguard your email. We won’t go into great details but I will give you some ideas you can research and then choose which system will work for you:

Create a strong email password. Never use simple or easy to guess passwords.

Do not click on email links or open attachments.

Phishing emails that contain links or attachments can lead to malware that can subvert your computer’s defenses or trick you into giving up your password. You can be targeted by phishing emails personally crafted to appear to be from people or businesses you know, so be very careful. Don’t open attachments or click links unless you’re expecting them. Never give out your password to anyone or download any software you are unfamiliar with and don’t use on a regular basis.

Scan all email attachments before downloading and opening them. This includes unexpected email attachments from people you know. Viruses and spyware easily spread through email attachments by emailing themselves to email addresses listed in contact lists and address books.

When downloading files and pictures beware of hidden file extensions. Windows, by default, hides the last name extension of a file, so that an innocuous-looking picture file, such as "susie.jpg,” might really be "susie.jpg.exe,” an executable Trojan or other malicious software. To avoid being tricked, unhide those pesky extensions, so you can see them.

Connect to the internet over secure internet connections. Avoid public open wireless connections.

If you need to email several people, consider using Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) to send to multiple recipients. You can help prevent the spread of known good email addresses by not giving other parties access to your contacts list.

Separate your email accounts. Keep several active email accounts open that you use for different purposes. This can include one or more personal email accounts that you use to email friends and family, a business email account, and some throwaway accounts that won't cause a problem for you if they get hacked or suspended.

You may want to give your throwaway email address to those within your friends and family circle who like to send email forwards, hoaxes, and always seem to be the ones who need help removing the latest spyware from their computer.

Use encryption secure e-mail. Some examples are:

PGP (Pretty Good Privacy). This type of software is used for both decryption and encryption of email messages. It also includes the ability to use digital signatures as a form of password protecting the content in an email.

S/MIME is another form of email encryption software. This form uses a certification key to encrypt the message. A private key is used by the receiving system to decipher the message. It is based on a combination both MIME and public key cryptography standards (PKCS).

Online web-based email account can provide some security. Hushmail is perhaps the best-known. It’s available for free, at least for some basic features, which is pretty nice.

Countermail is a paid service which keeps its servers in Sweden. It uses OpenPGP, but also has advanced options like a hardware USB key, so nobody can even start the email process without inserting a USB drive into the computer

NeoMailbox is based in Switzerland, and is a traditional paid service like Countermail. It uses OpenPGP encryption, but also has some nice features, like the option to choose your own domain or use an unlimited amount of disposable email addresses. It also might be the easiest to use; it plugs into lots of existing mail services like Thunderbird, Outlook, and even has an Android app.

Enable two-step authentication. More and more online services are beginning to offer two-step authentication which adds an extra layer of security to the log-in process. This includes apps such as Twitter, Facebook, and DropBox. Today, however, I will discuss Google, since many of us are forced to use its services on a daily basis.

By adding the two-step verification process to your Google account, every time you log in, a verification code is sent to your phone, which you must input in addition to your username and password. This means that even if your password is stolen or cracked, an attacker cannot log into your account without your verification code. If you have a regular Gmail address, you can enable this feature yourself.

Encrypt your hard drive. If you lose your laptop, whoever ends up with your computer can access all your files even without knowing your log-in password. If your computer leaves your control (at a border crossing, for example), having your hard drive encrypted, and turning your computer off will keep the data inaccessible until you turn it on and enter the password.

FileVault on Macintosh and TrueCrypt on Windows are the usual recommended ways to encrypt stored data.

Update your browser. Considering the amount of time you spend surfing the web, this might be one of the most important things you do to improve your digital hygiene. Online criminals take advantage of security holes in browsers to infect your computer with a plethora of malicious code.

As browser developers discover these threats, they provide fixes via updates. Browsing the Web without an updated browser is like fishing with sharks without the proper gear — it’s extremely dangerous and leaves you open to a variety of attacks.

Be wary of free WiFi, because it also means that someone controls that network and can access your computer and smart phone. There are also programs that will allow anyone to see what you are doing on that WiFi system and can even look into your files. Use your cellular G3 or G4 network hotspot, not the free WiFi in airports, hotels, and coffee shops, if possible.

Mobile phones also serve as a type of individual locator, thanks to phone tracking - a method which determines your location by triangulating your position from mobile phone towers and wireless hotspots. To make matters worse, apps and games installed on your phone can reveal your location publicly or record your movement; at times without even asking if you want this information shared. The best solution is to disable your location settings on your mobile phone.

Next week I will describe more Level 2 tips on protecting your digital identity

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tips for preventing identity theft: Digital Hygiene Part 2

By Don Gardner

This is the second in a series of articles by Don Gardner, Clearwater County Emergency Management Coordinator, about protecting your digital identity.

Last week I introduced you to some basic tips, which I referred to as Level 1 steps, to begin protecting your digital identity. This week I will offer more Level 1 tips.

Check your credit card accounts often - even daily. It’s surprising that a lot of credit card fraud goes unnoticed. Someone may have acquired your credit card information and may be charging things to your credit card without you even noticing. If they keep a low enough profile, they can hope you’ll overlook a few anomalies and that they’ll get away with it.

Check absolutely everything… twice. Review your monthly statements and credit card bills closely for anything that seems out of place. Amazingly, nine out of 10 people never check their credit card statements before paying the charges; but you can't catch unauthorized charges if you don’t read your statements.

View your accounts daily, or at least weekly, to look for suspicious charges. Typically you will have 60 days to refute them. If you suspect fraud or don't recognize a transaction on your statement, call your credit card company or financial institution immediately. Check your credit report once a year. Check it more frequently if you suspect someone has obtained access to your account information.

Opt for credit rather than debit. It may seem safer to use your debit card - you have to punch in a PIN number, after all - but this gives debit card hackers access to your actual funds. Additionally, debit card companies generally only give you two days to refute erroneous charges. So use credit, and check your bank account frequently as well.

Never give anyone your personal information unless you know exactly who they are. Identity thieves may call or email, posing as banks, businesses or government agencies. To prevent identity theft, do not give out personal information over the phone or in email unless you initiated the contact.

Never respond to any email or phone call asking you to validate or re-enter your personal information to access your accounts.

Never keep your PIN (personal identification number) with your debit, credit, or ATM card. Never write your PIN on your card; doing so will allow anyone who has your card complete access to your account.

Never let anyone borrow your credit, debit, or ATM card, or use your number to help them make a purchase.

Never provide account information on contest entry forms or give any information to claim your prize.

If any deal sounds too good to be true, it is. Don't become a victim.

There are no Nigerian diplomats or businessmen that need your help in getting millions of dollars released from the government. Think for a moment: Of the seven billion people on this planet, why would they contact you?

Shred unwanted receipts, credit offers, account statements, expired cards, and any other sensitive information to prevent dumpster divers getting your personal information. Buy a document shredder, preferably a cross cut type. Never throw out sensitive information without shredding it first.

Only carry essential documents with you. Don't carry your Social Security card, birth certificate, passport, etc. in your wallet or purse. Only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary. Make sure your bank does not print your Social Security Number on your personal checks.

Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work. Don't leave it lying around. Make a photocopy of all your cards (front and back), and keep them in a safe place. If your cards get lost, you will have all the account and phone number information to call the credit company.

Protect your mail. Never put your outgoing payments in your mailbox for the postal carrier to collect. Anyone can take your mail out of the box and they would have your account numbers and signature to duplicate your checks or start identity theft. Take your payments to a secure postbox.

When ordering new checks, you can prevent identity theft by picking them up at the bank instead of having them sent to your home. This makes it harder for your checks to be stolen, altered, and cashed by identity thieves.

Collect your mail promptly. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away from home for more than a day or two.

Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your computer. That is something you should have been doing for a long time. It’s easy, just get it done.

Next week I will get into Level 2, i.e. more advanced, tips on protecting your digital identity.

Delaying Social Security could increase lifetime income for Clearwater County residents

By Tim Marema and Roberto Gallardo, the Daily Yonder

Clearwater County residents who are nearing retirement age can increase their lifetime income if they can wait a bit to start drawing Social Security benefits.

In Clearwater County 1,500 residents – or 17.5 percent of the population – are aged 55 to 64. Those are the years when folks start thinking seriously about retirement.

Workers can start taking Social Security at age 62. But for those who can wait, the benefits go up.

“If you need Social Security early, take it – you’ve earned it,” said Virginia Reno with the National Academy of Social Insurance, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. “But waiting even a year or two can make a big difference in the long run. The extra benefits are there for life.”

Payments increase by five to seven percent for each year of delay between ages 62 and 66, and by eight percent for each year of delay between ages 66 and 70. The increases stop at age 70.

For someone who can wait until age 70 to take Social Security, the reward is a lifetime monthly benefit that is 76 percent higher than if taken at age 62.

For example, a worker who qualifies for a Social Security benefit of $750 at age 62 would receive $1,000 by waiting until full retirement age (66 for people born in 1943 to 1954). By waiting until age 70, the retiree would receive $1,320 a month.

The higher benefit would also be the basis for future inflation adjustments.

Around Idaho, only about one in five residents who are currently receiving Social Security retirement benefits waited until full retirement age to start their payments, according to the Social Security Administration.

In Clearwater County, 2,020 residents received retirement benefits from the federal system, according to 2012 figures.

The average recipient of Social Security retirement benefits in Clearwater County received $1,164 a month in December of that year. On an annual basis, that brought $28,224,000 in income to the area – 10.2 percent of all personal income in the county, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Getting the most out of Social Security benefits becomes more important the longer retirees live, said Leticia Miranda, a policy adviser with the National Council of La Raza, a nonprofit that focuses on Hispanic issues, including retirement.

“You may be here longer than you think,” Miranda said.

About half of seniors aged 65 to 69 get most of their income from Social Security. Many have other assets or work part time. But for three out of four seniors in their 80s, Social Security is the main source of income.

Nationally, a woman who is 65 years old today can expect to live until she is 86. For men, it’s 84 years.

Another consideration is how the timing of benefits will affect a spouse’s income, Reno said.

“If you are the higher earner in a couple, delaying benefits not only means a higher benefit for you for the rest of your life,” she said. “It also means a higher benefit for your spouse if she or he outlives you in old age.”

In more than half of couples who are 65 today, one spouse will live beyond 90, she said.

But residents of non-metropolitan areas like Clearwater County may have a harder time delaying their retirement.

“In rural areas there is often a challenge as folks move toward retirement,” said Deanna Sharpe, a personal finance professor at the University of Missouri. “They are more likely to face unemployment. Jobs are not as available. And when they are, they tend to pay less.”

Economic downturns can also affect when people decide to start receiving Social Security, Sharpe said.

“One of the coping mechanisms during the recent recession was to pick up Social Security at age 62, even if they might not have planned to do that before the recession,” she said.

Retirees need to make informed decisions, Sharpe said, but too often that doesn’t happen.

“We find in surveys of financial literacy that quite a large portion of folks don’t understand the basics,” she said. “That’s a concern.”

But retirees can easily find free or low-cost advice. Sharpe said many USDA Extension Service offices can provide information on retirement planning. She also recommended nonprofit organizations such as the National Endowment for Financial Counseling and Financial Education (

The Social Security Administration website ( has a calculator that allows workers to estimate their retirement earnings based on their own work records and estimated retirement age.

And the National Academy of Social Insurance has materials online about the impact of delaying Social Security benefits (

With national discussions about Social Security frequently in the news, some workers may worry whether the system will be there when they need it. Sharpe said people should stay abreast of the issues. “That’s part of making an informed decision,” she said.

But Reno said that should not influence a personal decision about when to draw benefits.

“Social Security will be there if you wait,” she said. The system is fully financed for about the next two decades and is three-quarters financed thereafter, she said.

“Despite what you may hear, lawmakers have some good options to fix the system for the long haul,” she said.

Tim Marema is editor of the Daily Yonder (, a national website that covers news about small cities and rural America.

Roberto Gallardo is an associate professor at the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Support for the research and production of this article was provided by the National Academy of Social Insurance. The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the Daily Yonder, which is published by the Center for Rural Strategies, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Whitesburg, Ky

Friday, June 13, 2014

Clearwater County receives elk restoration grant

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $276,584 in funding to Idaho for a handful of wildfire restoration efforts as well as habitat enhancement projects and research focused on a declining elk population.
The 2014 grants will positively affect nearly 76,000 acres in Ada, Adams, Bingham, Blaine, Boise, Bonneville, Camas, Clearwater, Elmore, Idaho, Owyhee, Shoshone, Teton and Valley Counties. There is also one project of statewide interest.

RMEF volunteers in Idaho raised the project funding through banquets, membership drives and other activities.

In Clearwater County, the RMEF grant will provide funding for extensive landscape and elk habitat restoration in the Clearwater Basin of north-central Idaho where elk populations continue their steadily decline over the past three decades because of a substantial loss of early-seral habitat, human pressures and the reintroduction of wolves (also affects Idaho County); and provide Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funding for a multi-year elk nutrition study in the Clearwater Basin that includes capturing and collaring wild elk, establishing a land use habitat matrix and applying the new Oregon-Washington elk nutrition and habitat models for a monitoring program (also affects Idaho County).

Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities. RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to receive funding.

Partners for the Idaho projects include the Boise, Caribou-Targhee, Idaho Panhandle, Nez Perce-Clearwater, Payette and Sawtooth National Forests; Bureau of Land Management; Idaho Department of Fish and Game and various sportsmen, wildlife, civic and government organizations.

Digital Hygiene: Part 1 - tips for preventing identity theft

By Don Gardner

This is the first in a series of articles by Don Gardner, Clearwater County Emergency Management Coordinator, about protecting your digital identity.

Digital hygiene is like personal hygiene: once you start doing it, it becomes second nature, and you’re better off. Bad digital hygiene, like not brushing your teeth, can lead to gunk.

Whereas the gunk in your teeth from failing to brush regularly will put you in the dentist’s chair, the gunk from failing to protect your mobile phone or computer could ruin your credit and, sometimes worse, compromise the security of friends and colleagues around you with whom you communicate.

It could be inadvertently opened emails, that link you clicked but that didn’t go anywhere. The Internet is a cesspool of viruses, trojans, back doors, worms, and more, and whether you realize it or not, every day you wade through it to get to the content you really want. Identity thieves will steal your personal information from many sources. They can damage your credit status and cost you time and money restoring your good name.

Here are some steps you can take to better protect yourself. Everyone should start with Level 1 and then continue with the other levels (which I will discuss in future articles) as you feel you may need.
Level 1

Lock your cell phone. Sure, it’s annoying to punch in four digits every time you want to use your phone, which is probably dozens of times a day (at least). But that’s a minor inconvenience compared to the huge hassle that awaits if someone snatches your phone and steals your sensitive data.

Most mobile phones are not secure at all, for a variety of reasons. Setting a password for your mobile phone is important; however, because many of us store personal information on our phones, this includes contacts, access to social networks, calendar, and files.

Anyone using your phone will have direct access to all of these things. Keep in mind, however, that if you lose your phone, your password can eventually be hacked. As such, you should never store sensitive information on your mobile.

Social media privacy settings: Think before you post on social media sites. Social media is a computer criminal’s dream come true. Your digital imprint says more about you than your social security number or even your bank account number.

Thanks to something called metadata, individuals can figure out, for example, who you spend the most time with, track your movements, and find out who your family members are and where they live. They can even learn what diseases you have.

Not only should you be strategic about what information you put online, but you should be careful about who is able to access that information. Each social network has its own vulnerabilities and privacy settings. Be wise about what you post.

Never post personal information such as your address, phone numbers, e-mail address, driver’s license number, Social Security Number (SSN), birth date, birth place, school’s name, or student ID number. When blogging, do not disclose your location for any given day or the exact location for an event you are going to attend.

Be careful when posting photos. Make sure they do not provide clues – such as where you live, work or go to school. Also, do not post photos depicting negative behaviors – including drinking, provocative poses or illegal activities.

When a picture is taken with a digital camera or smart phone, there is information contained in the picture file, such as where the picture was taken (GPS location), when it was taken, and information on the device which took it.

Criminals can use this information to track you. While you may attempt to delete the photo at a later time, it will continue to exist in the cyber world.

Bank and business websites often require you to answer security questions before you can log in or when you want to change your password. But the questions are relatively common ones, such as your mother’s maiden name or the name of your first pet. If you’ve reminisced about your beloved childhood dog on Facebook, or given a shout-out to your mom, Jane Doe Smith, via Twitter, savvy hackers can use this info to hijack your accounts.

I recommend using fake answers that you can remember for your answers to security questions.

Next week I will offer more Level 1 tips on protecting your digital identity.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fair booths, horse shows, and more

By Diana Colgan, Clearwater County Fair Board

The 67th Annual Clearwater County Fair dates are Sept. 11-14, and this year’s theme is “Rooted in Tree-dition.”

It’s time to do some planning if you would like to reserve a booth in the Exhibit Building during the Fair. Several sizes of booths are available: shallow walk-in, deep walk-in, shelf, and several double booths. Most have a power outlet. If you are interested in reserving a booth or would like more information, please contact Cynthia Hedden at (208) 476-3234.

This year the 4-H Horse Show and the Open Class Horse Show will be combined and held Saturday, Aug. 9 at the Orofino City Park. The horse games will be held Friday, Aug. 8, in the evening and is a fun, non-judged event for both horses and riders. The Saturday 4-H and Open Class Horse Show begins at 8 a.m. and is a judged event. The Fair Barn will be open Friday night with a night watchman.

Entry forms will be available at the Clearwater Extension Office at a later date. Marie Armitage at the Clearwater Extension Office can be contacted regarding the 4-H Horse Show at 476-4434. Helen Gibbs-Anderson is the superintendent for the combined 4-H and Open Class Horse Show.

A Welsh Pony Show will be held Sunday, Aug. 10, at the Orofino City Park. For more information, please contact Sharon McHone at 435-4750 or Joyce Bird at 476-7861.

The annual 4-H and Open Class Dog Show will be Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Orofino City Park. The 4-H Dog Show begins at 9 a.m. and the Open Class Show will begin at 1 p.m. Entry forms will be available at the Clearwater Extension Office at a later date. For more information, Kathy Deyo can be contacted at 476-3228.

Volunteers are always needed to help with the entering of exhibits and during the judging of the exhibits in the Exhibit Building and Fair Barn during the Fair. Please contact Linda Weighall at 476-4996 if you are interested in volunteering.