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.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Red Cross urges eligible donors to close out summer with a blood or platelet donation; donors needed to ensure a sufficient blood supply through the Labor Day weekend

The American Red Cross urges eligible donors to end summer on a positive and potentially lifesaving note with a blood or platelet donation this Labor Day holiday. 

In early August, the Red Cross issued an urgent call for blood donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood to donate to help avert an emergency situation. Thousands of people have answered the call to donate in recent weeks, but blood and platelet donors are still needed to help ensure blood products are available to meet hospital patient needs.

“The Red Cross appreciates all those who have made it a priority to give this summer. Between back-to-school planning and end-of-summer activities, this time of year can be an especially difficult time to collect blood,” said Kimberly Houk, Red Cross Communications Manager for Lewis and Clark and Arizona regions. “The Red Cross must collect 15,000 blood donations every day to meet the needs of patients. Eligible donors are encouraged to make an appointment to give blood or platelets this Labor Day weekend.”

Blood donors with all types, especially O negative, B negative and A negative, are urged to give. Platelet donors and those with type AB blood are also continually needed. To encourage donations during Labor Day weekend, those who come to donate from Sept. 5-7 will receive a limited-edition Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last. 

Those who donated blood earlier this summer may be eligible to donate again. Blood can be safely donated every 56 days and platelets can be given every seven days – up to 24 times a year. To make an appointment, download the free Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Suburban Propane and Red Cross work together for first summer-long partnership 

As the official sponsor of the Red Cross “100 days of summer. 100 days of hope.” campaign, Suburban Propane has helped educate the public, their employees and customers about the constant need for blood and platelet donations. In addition to supporting a summer-long public awareness advertising initiative, nearly 150 Suburban Propane employees have volunteered at Red Cross blood drives and facilities in the first 14 weeks of the campaign, totaling more than 730 hours of volunteer service. 

“We are honored to sponsor the American Red Cross “100 days of summer. 100 Days of Hope” national campaign, and proud of our Suburban Propane employees and customers for stepping up all summer to support a lifesaving cause,” said Suburban Propane’s Chief Operating Officer Mark Wienberg. “We hope others will join us in giving the gift of life before summer’s over and all year long.”

Suburban Propane employee Janet Nitchman knows the importance of blood donations firsthand. Nitchman’s husband needed multiple units of blood after receiving a liver transplant. “Without the blood being donated, he wouldn’t be here,” Nitchman said.

“The Red Cross is grateful for the partnership with Suburban Propane and its generous employees," said Donna M. Morrissey, director of national partnerships, Red Cross Biomedical Services. “Since we first began our partnership in 2012, they have gone above and beyond to serve as champions for blood donation – from raising awareness and volunteering, to donating blood and platelets themselves.”

How to donate blood

Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

About Suburban Propane

Suburban Propane Partners, L.P. (NYSE:SPH) is a nationwide distributor of propane, fuel oil and related products and services, as well as a marketer of natural gas and electricity. Headquartered in Whippany, New Jersey, Suburban serves the energy needs of more than 1.2 million residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural customers through more than 710 locations in 41 states.