Thursday, December 31, 2015

Idaho Youth ChalleNGe academy is creating new opportunities for troubled teens

By Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter

In a remote corner of northern Idaho’s Clearwater County, there is a place where young people at a difficult time in their life are finding motivation and direction toward a better future. 

The Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy is flourishing in Pierce, a tiny timber town that’s benefiting from the program’s presence there almost as much as the dramatic and inspiring changes that those once-wayward teenagers are experiencing. 

On Dec. 19 in Lewiston, Youth ChalleNGe leaders joined the families and friends of 101 graduating teens. It was the largest class yet for the program established by the Idaho Legislature at my recommendation in 2011 as part of the Idaho National Guard’s mission – thus the capitalized “NG.”

Cadets in the most recent graduating class came from 27 of Idaho’s 44 counties, led by 26 graduates from my native Canyon County. 

Thirteen cadets received their high school diplomas and another 12 earned their GED certificates. Sixteen graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average, and since the Academy started its cadets have averaged academic improvement of more than two grade levels during their 17½ -month residential stays. 

Just as impressive, the latest group of cadets contributed over 4,600 hours of community service valued at $33,524 during their time at the Academy. Since it opened, 333 cadets have contributed almost 20,000 hours of community service in and around Pierce. 

PICTURED: Maj. Gen. Gary Sayler and Academy Principal Bicker Therian present a $1,000 scholarship to a graduating Idaho Youth ChalleNGe cadet at the Dec. 19 graduation ceremony in Lewiston.

There was early uncertainty among some folks about the State of Idaho getting into the business of helping troubled dropouts get their lives back on track. After all, there are plenty of private-sector and even non-profit alternatives. 

But most skeptics came around after seeing what other states have done with Youth ChalleNGe programs and coming to understand the value that such a proven, affordable and accountable option provides for the next generation of voters, taxpayers–fully functioning citizens of Idaho. 

Families and students volunteering for the program are looking for a way to succeed outside of a traditional school setting. At the Academy, cadets learn self-discipline, leadership and responsibility while working to complete their secondary education or re-integrate with their high school class back home. 

Once they leave the Academy itself, new graduates start a 12-month “Post Residential Phase” designed to help them continue their progress. They have Idaho Youth ChalleNGe case managers and community mentors helping them continue their education, enroll in college, begin job training, find employment or enlist in the military. 

For some of these kids, Idaho Youth ChalleNGe is providing them with their first taste of success. And it’s not a Band-Aid that quickly wears off. Fully 80 percent of Academy graduates re-enroll in high school or go on to college, military service, employment or volunteer service for at least 30 hours per week. 

But the real change is in the hearts and minds of the teens who learn how to follow, how to lead, how to respect others, and most of all how to respect themselves. 

That is the real measure of the Idaho Youth ChalleNGe program – how it changes the lives and the futures of adolescents at risk, not by restricting and marginalizing them but by enabling them to enter the mainstream of society with pride in what they have accomplished and the confidence to go even farther. 

Find out more about how the Idaho Youth ChalleNGe is changing lives, families and communities at

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Cultural items reunited with Nez Perce Tribe

Nearly four decades after a highway project unearthed them, a lengthy curation project has repatriated several sets of Native American human remains with the Nez Perce Tribe, along with several thousand artifacts and related documents from north-central Idaho. 

These items represent a small part of the project carried out by Idaho Transportation Department’s (ITD) partners at the Archaeological Survey of Idaho, Northern Repository (ASINR), located at the University of Idaho.

The human remains and associated objects were excavated in association with the development of the Lenore Rest Area, located on U.S. Highway 12, approximately 27 miles east of Lewiston. That work occurred between 1967 and 1972, and is located within the Nez Perce Indian Reservation.

Dr. Leah Evans-Janke, Archaeological Collections manager at ASINR, points out that they have more than 750 collections in their facility with over 100 different owners. 

“Of all the state and federal agencies who store collections here, ITD is among the most conscientious and responsive we have ever worked with,” said Evans-Janke.

“All of their collections in our facility meet or exceed federal curatorial mandates. The work that we have most recently completed represented a significant commitment by ITD, and serves as acknowledgement of an agency’s responsibility to the collections generated by their work. Providing support for the repatriation work allows us to carry out some of the most important work we will ever do at the repository,” said Evans-Janke.

The identification of human remains and related items presented ITD with new obligations, but also new opportunities to address ITD’s archaeological curation issues. Click here for a picture of ITD Archaeologist Marc Munch talking with an ASINR employee during a recent visit.

“The repatriation of these cultural items to the Nez Perce Tribe has strengthened the working relationship between the Tribe and ITD, and we are pleased these items have been returned,” Munch said.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of November 1990 requires federal and state agencies, along with museums and other institutions that receive federal funding to return Native American “cultural items” to lineal descendants and culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. Cultural items include human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony. 

After the excavation of the remains and artifacts, the collections sat in a backlog at the ASINR until approximately 2005, when ITD began to provide funding for curating and rehabilitation of all of their excavated collections. When human remains were identified in the collections, ASINR staff members, with ITD support and oversight, embarked on the process of inspecting every item to determine if it was a candidate for repatriation.

Research of the collections revealed a strong relationship with the Nez Perce Tribe, and the official consultation process began in 2013. Tribal representatives traveled to the ASINR to help review artifacts and other objects for inclusion in the repatriation. Once the inventory was completed and approved by the Nez Perce Tribe, ITD and ASINR drafted a notice for publication in the Federal Register announcing their intent to repatriate the cultural items.

At the end of the mandatory 30-day period, no other tribe came forward with a claim. With the process completed, the Nez Perce Tribe was officially in control of the remains of Nez Perce ancestors for the first time in decades.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Hunting, fishing seasons continue through holidays

There’s still time to bag that Christmas game bird, goose, or maybe a nice solstice-season steelhead. For hunters and anglers itching to get out in the field or to wet a line during the holiday season, several opportunities are available.

Pheasant seasons in Areas 1 and 3 are open through Dec. 31. Forest grouse seasons are open through Jan. 31 in north Idaho’s Area 1 and through Dec. 31 in the rest of the state. Seasons for bobwhite and California quail in Area 1 are open through Jan. 31, and chukar and gray partridge seasons are open statewide through Jan. 31 as well. In addition, turkey hunters can hunt either sex through Dec. 31 on private lands-only in much of the Clearwater region. 

For upland game hunters, the cottontail season is open through February 28, and snowshoe hare season through March 31. There is no season on pygmy rabbits.

It’s also not too late to bag that Christmas goose, with Idaho waterfowl seasons open through the holidays into January. In parts of southern Idaho, the white-fronted goose season extends into February and light goose (Snow and Ross’ geese) season extends into March. 

The daily goose bag limit is four Canada geese; 10 white-fronted geese; and 20 for light geese. The possession limit is three times the daily bag limit.

The statewide daily bag limit is seven ducks; but not more than two female mallard, three scaup, two redhead, two pintail, and two canvasback. 

Waterfowl hunters must have a valid Idaho hunting license, a federal migratory game bird harvest information program validation, and a federal duck stamp. The duck stamp is valid through the end of June.

For anglers with time off during the holidays, the fall steelhead season remains open through Dec. 31 in the Clearwater River and the North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork Clearwater rivers where bag limits are two per day and six in possession, and in the Salmon, Little Salmon, Snake and Boise rivers where limits are three per day and nine in possession. The spring steelhead season starts Jan. 1 in these waters with limits of three per day and nine in possession. 

Fishing is open year round in many other waters as well.

Idaho hunters and anglers must have 2015 licenses and appropriate permits through Dec. 31. On Jan. 1, they will need new 2016 licenses and permits. They are encouraged to review the current season and rule brochures available at all Fish and Game license vendors and online at:

Friday, December 11, 2015

Happy Holidays from the VFW

By Doug Boyer

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has kicked off their annual Toys for Tots program for the 2015 season, and the VFW is one of the four collection centers in our area. Please help the USMC help the less fortunate by dropping off your new, unwrapped toys at the VFW in Orofino. 

The VFW will be holding its Christmas party for VFW and Auxiliary members and friends at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19. Please bring your favorite food to share. There will be games, door prizes, Christmas music, and plenty of holiday cheer. 

Speaking of Christmas, it is not too late to reserve our smoke-free VFW hall for your holiday party or get-together. Call the VFW today at 476-4117 for an inexpensive holiday party rental.

This year is the VFW’s birthday, and Harold Kinne VFW Post 3296 is 80 years old. To celebrate we have kicked off our birthday with an 18-month long fundraising campaign called “Brickyard of Memories.”

We are selling 4” x 8” bricks for $40 each, with your engraved message on them; and also 8” x 8” bricks for $70. These bricks, along with some older bricks from the old junior high school, will be placed between the two sidewalks leading up to the VFW building.

We are also selling engraved concrete benches for $600. For further information or to purchase your family brick or bench, please call the VFW at 476-4117, or stop by and pick up an order form. Thank you to everyone who has already purchased a brick or bench!

Please note the date change of the VFW’s monthly membership meeting. The meeting is now held the first Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. The VFW’s next scheduled meeting is Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m.

The VFW Auxiliary continues to meet at 6 p.m. on first Tuesday of each month. Their next meeting being is Tuesday, Jan. 5.

Want to join the VFW? We would love to have you! Just contact any VFW member for more information or bring your DD 214 down to the VFW at 330 Michigan Ave. or call 476-411 7 for more information.

Not eligible for the VFW? The Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars is now accepting both men and ladies as members to the Auxiliary. Just be a blood relative of a combat veteran and you too can be a member! Give us a call for more info.

Keep your eyes open for new building improvements at the VFW coming soon, and again, thank you to everyone who has helped support Harold Kinne VFW Post 3296.

Happy holidays to all our friends and neighbors from everyone at the VFW and Auxiliary.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Historic fire season ends with a look forward

Submitted by the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests

For those of us who experienced the 2015 fire season in north central Idaho, we will remember it for its extremes—explosive fire behavior and devastating effects on communities and resources on one hand, and a positive rallying point for community disaster and recovery support as well as some positive impacts on the land, on the other hand.

On the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, the fires produced the same battle of extremes—Ranger Stations, recreational infrastructure, critical habitats and timber stands were threatened by fire, most were saved, some were lost. 

The season is replete with stories of heroism, hard work, and people coming together for a common goal. We could provide facts and figures on how this affected your Forest lands, but that would not tell the whole story. 

Planning for the 2015 fire season began long before the lightning hit in early August. Fuel moistures were low and temperatures were high through the spring and early summer. The central Idaho fire leadership group braced for an epic season and ordered additional firefighting resources. 

When lightning ignited over 250 fires between Aug. 9-11 and immediately threatened communities outside of lands managed by the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, the additional Forest Service firefighters were already on the way.

As fire threatened Kamiah, Orofino, Peck, Nezperce and other communities, we diverted our Forest initial attack personnel, aircraft, and incoming firefighting resources for use by Idaho Department of Lands to protect the public and the values most at risk, at that time. 

The Forest’s remaining initial attack resources extinguished many of the fires on the Forest but those that were unstaffed grew big. When communities near Forest lands were threatened, firefighting resources, regardless of agency affiliation, were shared to continue to keep the public safe. 

This season was a true interagency effort with two countries, 26 states, nine counties, nine cities, several rural fire districts, four tribes, and seven federal agencies represented in the effort. 

The 2015 fire season was intense and relatively short-lived but we will feel the impacts personally, professionally, socially, economically, and environmentally for years to come. When the smoke in the valleys cleared, over 280,000 acres of private, state, tribal, and federal land was impacted. On the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, our latest mapping shows 195,683 acres burned with about two-thirds of that in the roaded front country. 

Assessing impacts and restoration began while the fires were still burning. Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Teams inventoried and prioritized imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, property, and critical natural or cultural resources on National Forest System lands. 

Recently we received $1.09 million to begin to address those threats. In addition to working on National Forest lands, many current and retired Forest Service employees are assessing private lands to assist landowners. “The Forest will continue to be a player in the restoration efforts off National Forest System lands because it is the right thing to do for the communities and the resources in the basin,” said Cheryl Probert, Forest Supervisor.

In order to address all the post-fire work needed, we have redirected our planned work on the Forest. Many people only think of salvage of burned timber when they talk about post-fire work. On the Nez Perce-Clearwater, salvage of burned timber is only one of many types of actions we are taking to deal with the fires of 2015. 

We retained as many of our seasonal employees as we could this fall to have them work on assessing post-fire needs. We have categorized our current activities into several types:

Fire suppression rehabilitation—Most of this work such as fireline rehab was done before the incident management teams left the area. Firelines in the more heavily timbered areas will not be completely finished until the majority of the cut trees are removed. 

Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER)—Inventory and planning have been completed and implementation has begun on the most critical needs. Some of these actions include emergency culvert replacement, adding drainage dips to roads, and felling those hazard trees posing the most imminent threat to safety.

Restoration on private lands—Work accomplished to date includes inventory of restoration needs, planning projects, applying for grants, providing information, and supporting community forums. A group of retired Forest Service employees assessed burn severity and emergency restoration needs on private lands throughout the Basin. Current Nez Perce-Clearwater employees are members of the Soil Conservation Districts’ Multi-Agency Cooperative Restoration Organization (MACRO) at the leadership and technical levels.

Maintenance of roads, recreation sites, and administrative sites—Field personnel have been out assessing additional maintenance needs, including hazard tree removal, and an interdisciplinary team is analyzing the impacts of those actions. 

Salvage harvest for fuels reduction and insect and disease prevention—Field personnel have been assessing potential areas where salvage harvest is needed, practical and possible within the analysis timeframes. Three interdisciplinary teams of resource managers are developing proposed actions and analyzing impacts. This effort began with a coarse filter approach that identified areas we would not salvage such as wilderness and unroaded lands. 

Next, our foresters went out with other resource specialists and assessed the feasibility and economic value of those remaining areas. They also considered dropping areas with resource issues that could take a long time to analyze. This initial evaluation removed about 90 percent of the burned areas from consideration for salvage harvest. 

The interdisciplinary teams are prioritizing and refining the proposals in the Tepee Springs/Deadwood fire area, Wash fire, Woodrat and Motorway complex areas. In the salvage harvest areas, downed woody debris will be left for soil quality and wildlife habitat, and areas will be replanted with desired species to re-create more historic conditions. 

Recreation site and other infrastructure repair and restoration—This will be accomplished as funds become available.

Large-scale Restoration—Field personnel have been inventorying reforestation needs, aquatic/stream conditions, and invasive species, and developing monitoring plans to determine fire effects. Restoration needs will be incorporated into the Forest’s program of work.

“Just as the communities and the agencies came together while the fires were burning, we will continue to work together in the post-fire landscape. We are committed to helping in the recovery of all lands in the basin as well as increasing the pace and scale of fuels reduction and forest vegetation restoration on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests for the future,” said Probert. 

Pro-active management will result in long-term ecological sustainability in many ways—by reducing the fuels and potential for high intensity reburn; providing opportunities to reforest more acres with species that are more resistant and resilient to disease, fire and drought; by improving wildlife habitat for species such as elk that are reliant on more open pockets of vegetation; and by improving the quality of life for some through jobs and income.

“The Forest Service is directed to contribute to the long-term economic, social, and ecological sustainability of the communities in our area and we look forward to many years of working with our stakeholders to meet that commitment,” added Probert.

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.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fire update for Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests

Wetting rains in early and mid-September moderated fire behavior across the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, but did not provide the precipitation needed to be considered season ending events.

North Fork Ranger District – Fire personnel continue to monitor fires on the Larkin Complex. Smoke on two of the fires may be visible to visitors. The Minnesaka fire is located in the North Fork drainage and is visible from the 700 road.

The Heather fire, located in the Collins Creek drainage, may be visible from the 710 road. District personnel completed a prescribed burn in the Middle Black Timber sale and visitors may encounter fire traffic northwest of Mush Saddle along the 711 road. The district currently does not have any closures in place due to wildfire activity.

Powell Ranger District – Fire personnel continue to monitor fires with the Army Mule, located in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, being the most active.

It has continued marginal spread with some single tree torching, but no large growth is expected. The Sponge and Airstrip fires, also located in the wilderness, have experienced very little activity, although occasional smoke can be seen from both fires. Smoke can also be seen on the Boulder and Jay Point fires and is mainly due to burning roots in stump holes and ground litter within the fire perimeter.

Trails 89 Saturday Ridge, 82 Saturday Creek, and 30 Pouliot are closed.

Lochsa Ranger District – Fire personnel continue to monitor fires. Fire activity has been minimal, but visitors may see isolated areas of smoke and torching of trees as temperatures remain warm and fuels continue to dry out. Heavy equipment and fire personnel are working on rehabilitation of fire lines on the Woodrat and Musselshell fires and additional traffic is expected in those areas for the next few weeks. The district currently does not have any closures in place due to wildfire activity.

Moose Creek Ranger District – Fire personnel are continuing rehabilitation work on the Slide and Wash fires. Smoke from the Wash fire is still visible. Faller modules are currently working the upper portion of the Falls Point road removing hazardous snags and an excavator is removing debris from the road. The Falls Point road - 443, remains closed for safety. Beginning on Friday, the excavator will move to Fenn and begin work rehabbing the fire line on the Busy Trail located behind the ranger station. Selway Falls campground and any area on or adjacent to road 443 are also closed.

Red River Ranger District – Smoke is visible from the Crown, Noble, and Little Green fires and fire personnel continue to monitor and conduct rehabilitation on fire lines. Closures in place for public safety due to wildfire activity include road 492 from road 9805 to trail 807, trail 805 is closed from road 9805 to trail 807. All of trail 807 is closed. Pilot Knob road 466 is closed from the junction of road 284 to its ending point. The 9550 and 9553 roads remain closed.

Salmon River Ranger District – The portion of the Tepee Springs fire located on the forest is being staffed by two fire engines. Personnel continue to patrol fire lines, addressing areas of concern as they arise. Smoke is still visible as fuels within the perimeter of the fire continue to burn. The Spring Bar Campground is closed.

Unseasonably warm and dry conditions have increased fire danger in the upper elevations to moderate and in the valley regions to high. A few showers are possible Wednesday into Thursday followed by another round of above normal temperatures beginning Friday and continuing through the weekend.

Grangeville Interagency Dispatch Center has dispatched fire personnel to two abandoned campfires and one equipment-caused fire. As visitors and sportsman take advantage of the unseasonable warm weather to recreate on their national forest, fire managers encourage visitors to be cautious with campfires, wood cutting, and other activities and equipment that have the potential to ignite.

Safety Precautions in Fire Areas: Recent recension of closures has granted public access to areas affected by fire.

Below are safety precautions to keep in mind when entering those areas:

Driving – Please drive slowly with your head lights on. Watch for fire vehicles and personnel, other traffic, and do not stop on the road.

Hazardous Trees – Fire damaged trees can fall unexpectedly. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid areas with snags.

Debris – Watch for rolling rocks, logs, and other debris. Take a saw of some type (handsaw in Wilderness areas) for potentially clearing roads and trails.

Watch for Ash Pits – Ash pits are holes of hot or cold ashes, created by burned trees and stumps. Falling into ash pits can cause burns and/or lower leg injuries.

Flooding – The risk of floods remains significantly higher until burned vegetation can re-grow—up to five years after a wildfire.

Wilderness Visitors – If you travel in the vicinity of a fire, be aware of rapid and unpredictable fire spread, rolling debris, falling snags and trees, and limited visibility. Some general guidelines before you leave are:

Prepare. Plan your trip with the most current fire information and use trails that avoid the fire. Take a map and compass, and let others know your travel plans. Navigation skills are important in fire areas where trail signs may have burned and are no longer present or readable.

Watch. As you travel look out for burned out trees and snags, unstable sections of the trail, rolling rocks and helicopter or airplane water and retardant drops.

Camp. Choose a safe place to camp. Look for areas away from the fire, in open areas out of the timber, away from falling/rolling hazards below cliffs and slopes. Ensure that campfires are out before leaving the area.

Friday, October 2, 2015

August unemployment rate ticks up to 4.2%

An increase of 400 people looking for work nudged August’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate up a tenth of a point to 4.2 percent.

A seasonal decline of 500 nonfarm jobs – a 0.1 percent decline - in private higher education offset a modest August payroll gain in construction, manufacturing and service sector jobs. At a five-year average monthly change of 0.2 percent, August is typically a month of minor changes.

Year-over-year the numbers tell a different story. Nonfarm payrolls are up by 3 percent over last year due to an across-the-board gain of 19,800 jobs, underscoring 12 months of healthy economic growth, with the biggest gains in construction, trade, professional services and healthcare.

Even though August’s labor force increase was the smallest monthly increase so far this year, it was the eighth month in a streak of labor force gains, reflecting an annual increase of 21,000 people – or 2.7 percent - the largest percentage increase since March 2006.

With only one unemployed worker for every job opening, Idaho’s labor market continued to tighten in August, according to job opening estimates by The Conference Board.

Idaho’s labor force participation rate - the percentage of people 16 years and older with jobs or looking for work - remained unchanged at 64.1 percent for the third consecutive month.

Nationally, unemployment fell to 5.1 in August, from 5.3 percent in July.

Clearwater County’s rate fell slightly from July, to 7.8 percent, compared with July’s rate of 7.9 percent. In August of last year the rate was 8.9 percent.

Lewis County’s rate climbed to 4.7 percent in August, up from 4.3 in July and 4.1 last August.

Idaho County’s rate also climbed from July to August, 6.4 to 6.6, respectively, but was still down from last year’s August rate of 7.2 percent.

Nez Perce County’s August rate of 4.0 was exactly the same as August 2014’s rate. It was up a bit from this July’s rate of 3.9 percent.

The state’s unemployment benefit payouts were down from July by nearly 21 percent in August to $1.29 million, with the number of claimants receiving benefits declining by 25 percent to 4,597.

Twenty-four Idaho counties experienced higher unemployment rates than the state average during August. Madison County claimed the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.1 percent, while Adams, Clearwater and Shoshone counties reported the highest rates.

Almost all of Idaho’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas had unemployment rates below the state average except for the Coeur d’Alene MSA at 5.1 percent. The Idaho Falls MSA remained unchanged from July with the lowest unemployment rate of the MSAs at 3.7 percent.

Additional insight into Idaho’s unemployment picture can be found at

Friday, September 25, 2015

Rural Idaho since the recession

It’s been six years since Idaho began to recover from the 2007-09 recession, according to the University of Idaho’s Idaho at a Glance newsletter. Some facets of Idaho’s demographics and economics have changed significantly, while others have barely budged.

The National Bureau of Economic Research defines a recession as a period of time during which the national gross domestic product (adjusted for inflation) decreases for two consecutive quarters.

The latest economic recession, which lasted 18 months (from December 2007 to June 2009) was the longest recession since the 1930s.

About one-third of Idahoans live in rural counties (compared to 14% nationwide), yet rural counties comprise 32 of Idaho’s 44 counties.

In this article, “rural” refers to the 32 of Idaho’s 44 counties that the U.S. Office of Management and Budget classifies as nonmetropolitan. Rural counties have no urbanized area with at least 50,000 people; nor are they linked to such an area through commuting patterns.

The 12 counties considered urban make up Idaho’s metropolitan areas: Boise-Nampa-Caldwell (five counties), Idaho Falls (three counties), Pocatello (two counties), Coeur d’Alene (one county), and Lewiston (one county).

Urban counties are defined as have an urbanized area with at least 50,000 people, or are linked to such an area in a neighboring county through commuting patterns, according to the UI newsletter.

Demographic changes

Since the recession ended, population growth in rural Idaho has stagnated, growing less than 1 percent, from 544,000 to 548,000, an increase of just 4,000 people.

Urban Idaho, on the other hand, has seen its population grow by 6%, with Ada, Canyon, and Kootenai counties leading the way at 8.5%, 7.5%, and 6.4%, respectively. In 2010 urban Idaho’s population was 1,023,000. In 2014 it was 1,086,000, an increase of more than 63,000 people.

Almost 40% of rural Idahoans live in counties that lost population between 2010 and 2014, compared with just 2% of urban Idahoans. Rural counties with the biggest losses include: Clark (-12%), Camas (-7%), and Custer (-5%).

Rural counties with the biggest gains include Twin Falls (5%), and Cassia and Latah (both 3%).

Idaho’s Hispanic population is altering the landscape as well. Between 2010-13, rural Idaho’s Hispanic population grew by 6%, compared to a 1% decline in the population of Idaho’s rural, non-Hispanic population.

Agriculture plays a significant role in rural counties where Hispanics make up a large share of the population. These counties include Clark (42% Hispanic), Jerome (34% Hispanic), Minidoka (33%), Power (31%), and Gooding (29%).

Both rural and urban Idaho counties have lost jobs during the recession, and remain at below pre-recession levels. Since job growth finally returned in 2010, rural areas have experienced a 2.6% increase, and urban jobs have increased 4.8%.

Rural Idaho has experienced an out-net migration since 2010 (more people leaving than coming in), while urban Idaho experienced net in-migration that contributed to overall population growth.

Idaho’s growth after the recession was due, in part, to positive natural change: more births than deaths. Both urban and rural Idaho experienced positive natural change rates of 3% between 2010 and 2014. In rural Idaho, this increase was enough to make up for losses due to out-migration.

Five rural counties still had more deaths than births, which reflects decades of young people moving away, and older people aging in place. These counties are: Clearwater, Shoshone, Lemhi, Washington, and Idaho.

Economic changes

Though Idaho’s job market in both rural and urban areas has seen gains of late, they remain below pre-recession levels. By 2013 the jobs in rural counties were 4% lower than pre-recession levels. In urban counties they were 3% lower. Rural counties with significant job losses since the recession include: Lemhi (7% loss), and Bonner, Elmore, and Clearwater (each with a loss of 4%).

Rural Idaho’s unemployment rates are inching down, but remain high. In 2010, a year after the average annual unemployment rate peaked in urban Idaho, rural Idaho’s unemployment rate peaked at 9.1%.

Rates since then have declined, but average annual unemployment rates in both rural and urban Idaho remain higher than pre-recession levels. Rural unemployment rates ranged from 3.3% in Madison County to 10% in both Adams and Shoshone counties.

Wages are higher in Idaho’s urban counties, but rural Idaho’s are beginning to catch up since the beginning of the recession. At the start of the recession, the average wage per job in rural Idaho was $6,939 less than in urban Idaho. By 2013, that gap had narrowed to $5,431. Unlike urban wages, rural Idaho’s wages increased during the recession, and have surpassed pre-recession levels.

The gap between urban and rural Idaho incomes has also decreased. Prior to the recession the per capita income in urban Idaho was more than $4,000 higher than in rural Idaho. This gap narrowed during and after the recession, to just $515. Urban Idaho’s income has stalled since the recession, while rural income has surpassed pre-recession levels.

Even so, poverty rates remain high, particularly in rural Idaho. After the recession, poverty rates in America in general were the highest they’d been since the mid-1980s. Poverty rates in both urban and rural Idaho peaked in 2011. Rates continue to be higher in rural Idaho than in urban Idaho, and both remain higher than pre-recession poverty rates.

In 2013, Madison County had the highest poverty rate of all Idaho counties (29%), followed by Shoshone (19%). Eight other rural counties each had a poverty rate of 18%: Boundary, Clark, Clearwater, Latah, Lemhi, Payette, Power, and Washington.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Wells Fargo donates $50,000 for wildfire relief; stagecoach to appear in Saturday's big parade

By Julie Fogerson, Idaho Region communications

Wells Fargo is donating $50,000 to the American Red Cross for wildfire relief efforts in Idaho and Washington. Customers in both states were invited to contribute to funds via the ATM until Sept. 7.

“Wells Fargo is committed always to doing the right thing in the right way and this means helping our team members, friends and neighbors affected by these wildfires,” says Don Melendez, Idaho region president.

Adds Patrick Yalung, Washington region president, “Our hearts and help go out to those who have lost and those still in the path of the blazes. We are part of the communities affected, and we greatly appreciate everything the firefighters, first responders, volunteers and Red Cross are doing to help protect and support everyone impacted.”

Wells Fargo’s latest relief contribution continues its tradition of supporting team members, customers and communities after disasters, and giving communities who want to help a way to join in. 

Pictured: The Wells Fargo stage is making a special appearance in Orofino this weekend to escort Orofino Celebrations Inc. (OCI) Grand Marshal Gerri Lemmon through the OCI parade on Saturday. In an interview earlier this year Gerri had shared that a lifelong dream had been to ride the Wells Fargo Stage in the parade, wearing her gown from Hello Dolly! Imagine the surprise when unbeknownst to Gerri, her daughter Connie Robison was able to help her see her dream realized. No one will want to miss finding a spot on the parade route to welcome one of the town’s favorite entries. Clearwater County Fair and Lumberjack Days are this Thursday through Sunday.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fish and Game biologist debuts ‘Untamed’ hunting film

Idaho Fish and Game’s Clay Hayes of Kendrick grew up in rural Florida and moved to Idaho in 2007 to work as a wildlife biologist. He started Twisted Stave Media in 2012 with the goal of preserving and promoting traditional woodsmanship skills and lending a voice to the wild lands he enjoys. He recently released his first film, “Untamed,” and it can be seen at (a downloadable photo of Hayes is also available on the webpage).

Hayes began filming his outdoor adventures with an old VHS recorder in Florida while he was still in high school. Since then, the country has gotten steeper, the equipment more expensive, and the adventures more remote. 

Hayes participated in a question-and-answer session with Idaho Fish and Game’s public information specialist Roger Phillips about his film making, hunting and more. Views expressed in this Q&A and the video are his own.

Q: You went hunting with archery equipment you made yourself, then decided to film the hunts solo and produce a movie. Did you wear roller skates to make it a little more challenging? 

A: Ha, no, but that’s an interesting concept for the next project. Not sure how well they’d roll in the mountains though. I’d say I captured about 95 percent of the footage, though I did have a little help. Jake Way did a little of the filming, as did Tiege Ulschmid, and my wife, Liz. 

You’re spot on about the challenge. Hunting with primitive gear is one thing, but making a film about it is quite another. You have to do everything multiple times to be able to cut it properly. And sometimes you just have to get lucky.

Q: What part of “Untamed” are you most proud to have captured on film? 

A: That’s a difficult one to answer. There’s no one scene, or sequence, I can pin down and single out. It’s much more about the story as a whole, and how the images and music support the narration. But, if I had to pick one moment captured on film that was the coolest, I’d have to say either the barred owl that snuck up on me while I was taking a nap, or the stalk on the black bear. Both were pretty lucky situations.

I got the footage of the owl while lying down and resting after a morning hunt. I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye, up in the canopy, and happened to have my camera out of my pack and sitting next to me. I got the camera ready and squeaked a time or two, and he came in to check me out. He was less than 20-feet away for a few minutes. 

The bear scene was captured while I was still hunting through a patch of timber looking for elk. I’d seen him through the timber, and I started making my way to him when he stopped and started digging roots. 

I had a gorilla pod attached to my camera and was able to find a lodgepole pine about 30 yards from the bear that happened to have a flicker hole about 5 feet off the ground. I bent one leg of the gorilla pod into a hook, put that into the flicker hole, and I had a camera support at the perfect position. All I had to do was point it at the bear, hit record and make the stalk.

I ended up getting within about 8 yards of that bear. He was a nice one, but 5 miles in on the fifth day of a 10-day elk hunt isn’t a time or place I wanted to deal with a dead bear. So I decided to play with him a little. 

Q: Explain how your background as a biologist and your work with Idaho Fish and Game contributed to the film?

A: I’ve been a hunter my whole life. It has, in some way, influenced every major decision I’ve ever made, from what I studied in college, to where I live, to what I do for a living. I chose to become a biologist because I’ve always been fascinated by wildlife in their natural environment. I chose to live and work in Idaho because we are so fortunate to have some of the best hunting and fishing in the country, and some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes. As a biologist, part of my job is to have a keen understanding of wildlife and their habitats, two things that come in very handy when trying to film and get close to wildlife. 

Q: Hunting and film making is growing in popularity based on the Hunting Film Tour, hunting videos on YouTube, TV and elsewhere. What is it about hunting that makes it an interesting subject for storytelling? 

A: That’s an interesting question. Wouldn’t it be something to go back and ask that same question to the hunters who painted the cave walls at Lascaux, France over 15,000 years ago? Point is, we’ve been telling hunting stories for a very long time, perhaps longer than any other kind of story. I think it’s so deeply ingrained in us that it’s inherently interesting. 

But, with that said, in these days of social media and fast-paced information, it’s easy to focus on the trivial aspects of hunting like gear and antler size. Those are quick and easy, and often what grabs people’s attention – good or bad. 

For me, the interest isn’t so much in making a “hunting video.” There are plenty, or perhaps too many, of those already. It’s about telling the deeper story. Hunting is about so much more than what we usually see highlighted in the mainstream media. Telling the story of why we do what we do is what’s so interesting to me. 

Q: You raised a very thought-provoking question about how hunters are problem solvers, and with all the technology trickling into hunting, we’re dangerously close to figuring out how to take the “uncertainty” out of hunting. Using a bow and arrow is one way you put it back in. What other things can hunters do to give animals a few more advantages in a fair-chase hunt? 

A: Let me start by saying we shouldn’t confuse uncertainty with inaccuracy. We should all strive to be as good a shot as possible no matter what weapon we use. And we should all know our limitations and be comfortable within them. The uncertainty I mentioned has to do with the problems that hunting presents.

Finding an animal, deciding on an approach, considering wind, topography, footing, other animals – all these things are problems that a hunter must get past in order to kill that animal. They’re also problems that can be circumvented by using new technology. 

Today we can buy our way past many of them and make killing that animal much easier. I choose not to go that route because, for me, it diminishes the very thing that makes hunting so alluring, the problems themselves. 

With that said, I have no qualms about killing a doe from 100 yards with a rifle when the freezer is getting low. Wild game is the only meat my family eats. When it comes to that, though, I’m hunting for a different reason, and challenge takes a backseat to necessity. 

Traditional bowhunting is the path I’ve chosen, and it’s how I love to hunt. But I realize most hunters won’t share my sentiments. As far as what others can do, I’d say take an honest hard look at how and why they hunt. Is it truly a dead animal they’re after? (And sometimes it is.) Or is it something deeper? If everyone asked themselves that simple question, they might find that they’re on the right track, or they might settle on something a little different. Regardless of the answer, I’d encourage all hunters to ask the question.

Q: Your dream hunt, with or without cameras. Where would it be and for what species? 

A: That’s a tough one. I’ve always thought it would be cool to go hunting with the San Bushmen in Africa who still practice their ancestral hunting/gathering lifestyle. I’ve heard and read accounts of the unparalleled tracking ability of these people, and I would love just to soak up what knowledge I could from them. We could be hunting guinea fowl for all I care.

Q: Anything in the works for a sequel to “Untamed”? 

A: Absolutely. I started working on my next project earlier this spring. It’ll be in the same vein as “Untamed,” but focus more on the challenges we create for ourselves. 

For example, we’re going bowhunting in some very remote backcountry in the November mule deer rut during an any-weapons season. We’ll be facing some of the most rugged and remote country Idaho has, and of course, we’ll be hunting with traditional bows while everyone else is toting rifles. 

We’ll need to get within 20 yards of a buck before even considering a shot. You can find a more detailed description of the project at And, you know, I’ve thought about those roller-skates you mentioned earlier, but I think we’ll have our hands full as it stands now. Next time, maybe.