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.