Thursday, December 29, 2016

Slipping and sliding in a winter wonderland

By Andrea Dell

"When I was your age, I waded through 20 feet of snow for 10 miles just to reach the bus stop!"

I exaggerate (a bit), but you're probably grinning after reading that first sentence, either because you've heard this from your parents or grandparents, or you've said something similar to your children or grandchildren.

Clearwater County's winters over the last several years have been comparatively mild. Maybe a few inches of snow here and there, and a couple weeks of near-zero degree weather. 

We'd hear stories of the east coast getting hammered with two or three feet of snow and raging wind gusts, and think, "Thank God it's not like that here."

Then came winter 2016.

No, it's still not as bad as the east coast.

But, it's had more snowfall than I can remember in several years. Even people dreaming of a white Christmas are saying, "Okay, I'm over it!"

The National Weather Service says this particular weather system comes along every four years or so. Seems like it's been longer than that since we've seen this much snow here in the valley.

Next week, yet another rare weather system is supposed to descend with a round of bitterly cold temperatures, where the HIGHS will "struggle to reach zero degrees." That's Fahrenheit, not Celsius.

The lows, meanwhile, could drop down to -15 or so a couple days next week, in some areas.

As of this writing, the actual forecast for Orofino says highs in the mid-teens and lows around zero degrees, give or take a couple of degrees.

Orofino often doesn't get hit quite as hard as other places by these extreme weather conditions. Surrounding areas often do.

Meanwhile, we can expect more snow until that cold snap arrives to welcome us to the new year.

Take a look at the photo with this post. It's the rear entrance to Orofino City Park. There's even more snow piled up there than is pictured, and this image was taken less than a week ago.

The roads aren't going to improve for the foreseeable future. Neither are the sidewalks, many of which are slick with ice or three inches of gooey slush.

The town is quiet, and business is slow, as people wisely stay off some very scary roads. Those who don't often find themselves stuck, or in a fender bender. If they're lucky, they get by with a white-knuckle, fish-tailing round trip.

Wherever you are as you're reading this, I hope your new year is the best one yet. And if you're huddling in the throes of a real winter, as we are here in Clearwater County, stay warm and safe. We at the Clearwater Tribune will see you next year.

Orofino City Park's rear entrance is pictured in late December, 2016. Photo by Charlie Pottenger.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Idaho spring steelhead season opens New Year’s Day

By Mike Demick, Conversation Information Supervisor

For some anglers, the best thing about New Year's is the start of the spring steelhead season, which opens Jan. 1 on parts of the Clearwater, Salmon, Little Salmon, Snake and Boise rivers.

But before wetting a line, anglers will need a 2017 Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit.

River sections to open include:

Salmon River from its mouth to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir, near the town of Stanley.

Little Salmon River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.

Snake River from the Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Oxbow Dam.

Clearwater River mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Clear Creek.

North Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Dworshak Dam.

South Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to the confluence of American and Red Rivers.

Boise River from its mouth to the Barber Dam.

The steelhead limit is three per day, nine in possession and 20 for the season. Once limits are reached, the angler must stop fishing, even catch and release. Steelhead anglers may use only barbless hooks, and may keep only hatchery steelhead marked with a clipped adipose fin. All other steelhead must be released unharmed immediately.

Steelhead are in the Boise River and the Snake River above Hells Canyon Dam only when stocked by Idaho Fish and Game. 

During November, over 300 steelhead were stocked in the Boise River. A steelhead permit is required to fish for and keep steelhead (rainbow trout longer than 20 inches with a clipped adipose fin). Barbless hooks are not required on the Boise River. 

Consult Idaho’s 2016-2018 Fishing Seasons and Rules brochure for exceptions and special restrictions. For additional information on steelhead fishing including the latest catch rates, dam counts, and useful instructional videos, go to /steelhead.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Winter weather closes some Dworshak recreation facilities

Dworshak Dam and Reservoir recreation staff have enacted winter-season closures for Viewpoint restrooms, Dam View Campground, Canyon Creek Campground and Merrys Bay Day-Use Area.

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 with local media outlets. Off-season camping at Dent Acres costs $14 per 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 2017, 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 regarding U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dworshak facilities access 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, December 2, 2016

Galbreath receives new home to replace one lost in fire

Submitted by Shelley Ponozzo

The WUNCCIL (Wildfire Long Term Recovery for Unmet Needs Group for Clearwater, Idaho, and Lewis Counties) group held a dedication for a new home recently completed in the Upper Fords Creek area above Orofino. This area was one of the harder hit during the 2015 Municipal Fire in Clearwater County.

Dave Hasz, Chairman for the WUNCCIL Group opened the Dedication by thanking the Clearwater County Commissioner’s for waiving the County building fees and other assistance they provided in helping to make this new home a reality. Hasz presented the new home owner, Scott Galbreath with a Certificate of Occupancy from Clearwater County for his new home. 

Denise Bacon, Galbreath’s Case Manager for the WUNCCIL Group introduced Scott Galbreath and explained what he had to overcome with regards to the fires. Galbreath, a veteran, would have preferred being on his property to help fight the fires last August, but due to medical reasons and surgery, he was in the hospital. 

A family member and friends rushed to his property, but his home was already burning and a complete loss. They continued to hose down other out buildings to save what they could. John Eshleman, Region IV Board Chairman for the Mennonite Disaster Service presented Scott with a handmade quilt as a house warming gift. In addition, the Kamiah Quilters Guild gave two handmade quilts to Scott, for him and his daughter, to stay warm on cold nights.

Dave Hasz thanked Wade Gayler, Red Cross Senior Disaster Program Manager for the Idaho/Montana Region for all of his assistance this last year and for the funding of approximately $158,900 from the American Red Cross to assist those affected by the fires and help build two homes in Idaho County and one home in Clearwater County. 

Gayler stated “the contributions to the Red Cross came from Orofino, Kamiah, Lewiston, around the region and across the nation, to help this area rebuild and make this day possible. He is honored to represent the Red Cross at this day of celebration and to help dedicate this new home.”

The WUNCCIL Group wanted to thank and somehow show their appreciation to John Eshleman, Region IV Board Chairman and the Mennonite Disaster Service, for coming into our communities to provide their talent and expertise in rebuilding homes lost during last summer’s fires.

Hasz presented a plaque to Eshleman and the Mennonite Disaster Service. Words can fail us in trying to thank and describe how much the Mennonite Disaster Service provided to the Clearwater, Idaho and Lewis County area. Eshleman named the different project managers and their teams that came into this area to volunteer their time, thanking them. Harold Miller was the MDS Project Director for the home being dedicated that day.

Michele WhiteEagle performed the pastoral duties by closing the Dedication in prayer.