Monthly Archives: February 2016

Feb 28, 2016 The Yellow Pine Times

Feb 28, 2016 The Yellow Pine Times – Valley County, Idaho

Local Observations:

Monday (Feb 22) hard freeze during the night, a few flakes of snow fell, then the breaks in the clouds got bigger and partly sunny. A few flakes of snow in the afternoon, partly clear before dark, red sunset. Snowed a trace during the night.

Tuesday (Feb 23) very hard freeze during the night. Clear sky, juncos and chickadees flitting about, local streets are starting to get some slick spots again. Clear and sunny all day, but not a lot of melting.

Wednesday (Feb 24) very hard freeze during the night, then some high thin clouds moved in and warmed up a little before sunrise. An average of 14″ snow on the flat in the open, bigger bare spots under trees, local streets have some very slick spots. Filtered sun during the day, mostly clear after dark.

Thursday (Feb 25) hard freeze, clear sky this morning and frosty. Sunny and above normal warm day. Slick spots on the road where the sun hits. Clear but a bit hazy during the night.

Friday (Feb 26) frosty morning, mostly clear sky. An average of 14″ of CRUSTY snow (measured 5 spots) on the flat, but bare under a lot of trees. Sounds like the EFSF river is up. Sunny until high thin clouds moved in, afternoon filtered sun and above normal warmth. More melting today than yesterday, puddles on the paths.

Saturday (Feb 27) above freezing, light rain. Very SLICK (rain on ice) streets and paths. (Boot cleats needed.) River sounds up a bit. Clouds breaking up and sunshine after lunch time. Ambulance went down Westside Ave at 3pm, then went back out at 4pm. Report that the fellow renting the cabin at the corner of Westside and Riverside fell on the ice and broke his leg!

Sunday (Feb 28) above freezing, cloudy and breezy, fresh elk tracks on School Street and Yellow Pine Ave. Cloudy day, breezy at times.



April 2005 to Feb 27, 2016


Sept 4, 2005


May 17, 2015

Moondoggy was born in April 2005, mother Sara (a Border Collie) and father Badger (a McNab.) Moondoggy joined our family in September of 2005 and lived the “dog’s life” in Yellow Pine. He had been ill this last month and passed peacefully in his sleep.

Part of our hearts crossed the Rainbow bridge with our friend Saturday night.

Photo to Share:

Syringa on the East Fork of the South Fork


Photo by Dave Putman (last spring)


February Magic

and hocus-pocus —
poof! there’s a snowdrop,
presto! a crocus.

– The Bard of Sherman Avenue


Yellow Pine Video:

Yellow Pine Aug 2014

Published on Aug 5, 2014

Idaho News:

Snowmobiler Injured

The Star-News Feb 25, 2016


Photo by Beau Frick, McCall Fire & EMS

McCall Fire & EMS Paramedic Heather Thiry bends over a rescue sled containing a 44-year-old man who was injured in a snowmobile accident Friday afternoon north of Brundage Mountain.

Rescuers were called out about 2:30 p.m. Friday after the man drove his snowmobile off a cliff near Fisher Creek Saddle, Chief Mark Billmire said.

Rescuers from McCall Fire & EMS as well as Valley County Search and Rescue went to the scene, which was in a remote area three miles off the nearest groomed trail, Billmire said. It took more than two hours and 12 people to move the injured man to the rescue sled. The rescue took place in blizzard conditions that prevented any helicopters from landing, Billmire said.

The man, whose name was not released, was taken to St. Luke’s McCall and later flown to a Boise hospital.

In [the] photo, EMT Matt Caldwell, right, and Jim Corbet, left, prepare to get the rescue sled underway.

from The Star-News
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Valley Search & Rescue needs donations to repair truck

The Star-News Feb 25, 2016

Valley County Search and Rescue’s truck, which is used to pull its incident-command trailer to search sites, is in need of repair.

The truck, donated by Idaho Power Co., pulls the heavy trailer to the incident sites. But it needs a new motor and transfer case, estimated at about $6,000.

The trailer includes radios, a generator, snowmobile or ATV, and equipment such as stretchers.

Search and Rescue is under the direction of the Valley County Sheriff’s Office. The only state money the group receives is reimbursement of costs during searches.

Donations may be sent to VCSAR, P.O. Box 144, Donnelly, ID 83615. For questions, call Karin Didisse at 315-4826 or Larry Mangum at (208) 860-8346.

from The Star-News
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Girl Scout cookies to be sold at Paul’s, Ridley’s on weekends

The Star-News Feb 25, 2016

It is time to get those Thin Mints or Samoas during the annual Girl Scout cookie drive in McCall.

Anyone who has missed pre-ordering can buy from booths at Paul’s Market and Ridley’s Family Market for the next three weekends.

from The Star-News
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Hidden taxes to get full disclosure

Editorial – The Star-News Feb 25, 2016

The Idaho Legislature has been criticized recently for meddling in the affairs of local government, but a bill now making its way through the Statehouse is an exception. It is proper for the state to mandate local governments to hold public hearings before spending property taxes that have been squirreled away in legalized slush funds.

The bill, HB474, would require local officials to hold a public hearing if they wish to spend money from property-tax reserve funds, known as “foregone” taxes. The bill passed the Idaho House last week without a dissenting vote and is well on its way to final approval.

The foregone taxes are allowed in the same state law that limits local governments to increasing property taxes by no more than 3 percent per year. The provision is designed not to penalize local officials for being fiscally responsible by keeping property-tax hikes below 3 percent each year. If a city council or county commission decides not to sock it to taxpayers, their right to spend the 3 percent increase does not go away. Instead, the same amount of money is set aside into a fiscal piggy bank, where it can sit for years and can build up over time as more tax increases are deferred.

This leads to the mistaken notion that governing bodies which do not raise taxes are giving their constituents a tax break. Indeed, the foregone provisions mean those tax increases are merely deferred and can be used any time a sewer district or fire district wants to buy a pierce of equipment or remodel their offices.

Here is a list of Valley County governments who have foregone property taxes stashed away for a rainy day, as calculated by the Idaho State Tax Commission:

• Valley County: $987,219.

• City of McCall: $400,772.

• Valley County Ambulance District: $147,134.

• Donnelly Rural Fire Protection District: $121,239.

• Cascade Fire Protection District: $82,844.

• City of Cascade: $41,367.

• Edwards Mosquito Abatement District: $6,937

• South Lake Recreational Sewer and Water District: $789.

• Warm Lake Recreational Sewer and Water District: $521.

• Cascade Medical Center District: $577.

• Yellow Pine Fire District: $288.

• Valley Center Cemetery District: $193.

As this list shows, the amounts in the foregone funds are substantial, and would lead to a whack in the wallet if several districts cashed them in at once.

Public hearings are already required before adoption of annual budgets, which include sources of revenues. But HB474 would make it absolutely clear when foregone taxes are proposed to be spent and the specific projects for which they are to be spent. Only then can taxpayers see when local governments plan to raid the cookie jar and impose an unforeseen bump in property taxes.

from The Star-News
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Rock slide sends one person to hospital

KTVB February 27, 2016

GARDEN VALLEY – A rock slide on Banks Lowman Road near Garden Valley sent one person to the hospital on Saturday afternoon.

Boise County dispatch says the crash was reported at about 3:30 p.m near milepost 4.

Boise County Corporal David Anthony says the 32-year-old male driver was traveling westbound towards Banks at the time of the accident.

One witness says that rocks hit the front of the driver’s car and ripped the top off as they went over.

continued w/photos and video:
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Landslide along Idaho SH14 on South Fork Clearwater River 2-18-2016 (Elk City, ID)

Video – WARNING – unbleeped adult language

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First convoy to leave Idaho town since landslide cut off access last week

FEBRUARY 22, 2016 BY KATHY HEDBURG Lewiston Tribune

GRANGEVILLE – The first convoy of people stranded since Thursday behind a landslide on State Highway 14 is expected to leave Elk City Tuesday morning.

The Idaho County commissioners held an emergency meeting with sheriff’s office and U.S. Forest Service officials Monday morning to discuss a plan to allow intermittent traffic over a treacherous mountain road that bypasses the slide. Traffic will be escorted downriver at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and back upriver starting at 3 p.m. each day. The convoy schedule next week will be on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays until the highway is cleared.

The main highway into Elk City, which is about 60 miles east of Grangeville, has been blocked since Thursday. A steep hillside along the road began to slough and then buckled, dumping tons of rocks, dirt and trees into the road and the South Fork of the Clearwater River.

Idaho Transportation Department crews estimate the slide is about 40 feet at its deepest and about 500 feet long. One rock about the size of a two-story building remains precariously perched on the hillside.

A meeting to inform Elk City and Dixie residents about the convoy schedule was held at noon Monday. People there favored 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. convoy start times, but Commissioner Skip Brandt said late Monday that the original schedule will not be changed. The county does not want traffic on the road after dark, the commissioners said.

Officials stressed that keeping Newsome Creek Forest Road 1199 passable will be “touch and go” and it will depend upon people cooperating with the convoy plan.

“People have to understand that if they get stuck, they could train-wreck everybody,” Brandt said.

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Idaho County declares disaster after Elk City landslide

AP – Feb 24, 2016

Idaho County officials have signed a declaration of county disaster in connection to a landslide in Elk City that will cost an estimated $1.5 million to clean up.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Idaho County commissioners are asking the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security to help cover the costs of cleaning up the slide on State Highway 14.

About 14 tons of debris slid across a section of the highway about 10 miles west of Elk City on Thursday.

Idaho Transportation Department at Lewiston District Engineer Dave Kuisti says bids for contractors to begin clearing material from the slide went up Monday. The department is also seeking a permit from the U.S. Forest Service so it can remove unstable rocks and dirt from the top of the slide area.

source w/video:
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Idaho Geological Survey seeks funds for landslide research

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: 2/23/16

BOISE, Idaho — State geologists are asking lawmakers to fund more research of landslide hazards so they can make changes to Idaho’s landslide inventory, which hasn’t been updated in over two decades.

The Lewiston Tribune reports ( ) that Idaho Geological Survey Director Michael “Ed” Ratchford presented the survey’s 2017 budget proposal to state legislators in January. The proposal includes nearly $193,000 for a geological hazard staff position and about $92,000 for a geographic information system analyst position.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has recommended approval for both requests.

Ratchford says studying Idaho’s landslide and seismic hazards has been challenging with only 12 staff members for the entire state.

The additional staff would identify landslide hazards and classify them as low-, moderate- or high-risk. Ratchford says that information could help to prevent and mitigate slides.

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Dry February reduces snowpack in Idaho

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: 2/26/16

BOISE, Idaho — A drier-than-normal February has reduced snowpack in Idaho but has not had a significant impact on water supply.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports ( ) that Ron Abramovich with the Natural Resources Conservation Service says snowpack levels in the southern part of the state have remained higher than normal this month. Over the past several weeks, snowpack levels in southern Idaho have fallen from 150 percent to between 120 and 130 percent of average for this time of year.

Warmer February temperatures have caused some early snow melt in other places, like the Owyhee basin. The streamflow forecast for the rivers below the Owhyee dam in coming months is 150 percent of average.

In eastern Idaho, Mike Beus with the Bureau of Reclamation says storage levels are below average at the Palisades and American Falls reservoir.

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County passes law to ban yew plants

Ordinance prohibits buying, selling or possession of toxic plant

by Andy Kerstetter February 26, 2016 – IME

As of March 2, it will be a crime to buy, sell or own exotic yew plants in Blaine County.

At their regular meeting Tuesday, the Blaine County commissioners approved a new ordinance banning the sale, use or possession of the toxic plants, which earlier this winter apparently killed more than 20 elk that ate the plants while the usual sources of their diet were buried in snow.

Eleven elk died at the Hailey Cemetery in December.

The new ordinance declares the Japanese, Chinese and English yew plants—Taxus cuspidata, Taxus chinensis and Taxus baccata—and any of their hybrids to be noxious weeds. The ordinance specifies that any landowner with knowledge of the presence of any of the plants on his or her property is considered to possess it.

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New T-Rex Type Dinosaurs Found In Idaho


New research shows that horse-sized, T-Rex-like dinosaurs roamed southern Idaho 100 million years ago. This discovery shows Idaho was home to more types of dinosaurs than previously thought.

Paleontologist L.J. Krumenacker has been digging up dinosaurs in Idaho for more than a decade. But in the past, scientists have mostly found small burrowing dinosaurs.

Working with a team of Montana State University paleontologists, Krumenacker found the teeth and small bones of three types of theropods, the family of animals that includes Tyrannosaurus Rex.

He plans to keep hunting for more fossils near the Wyoming border.


Forest / BLM News:

Middle Fork Weiser River Restoration Project Open House/Public Comment

Payette National Forest
News Release, Feb 24, 2016

Public Comments Sought on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Proposed Middle Fork Weiser River Project – Public Meeting March 8, 2016.

Council, ID– The Council Ranger District is seeking comments on the proposed Middle Fork Weiser River Landscape Restoration Project Draft Environmental Statement.  A public meeting is scheduled for March 8, 2016 from 4:00 to 6:00p.m. at the Council Ranger District office.  Forest Service personnel will be available to share the project proposal and answer questions.

The Middle Fork Weiser River Landscape Restoration Project is the third project on the Forest that is part of the Payette National Forest’s Weiser – Little Salmon Headwaters Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) Project.  The first and second projects are the Mill Creek – Council Mountain project and the Lost Creek – Boulder Creek project.  This third proposed project encompasses approximately 50,000 acres on the Council Ranger District of the Payette National Forest, and is located southeast of Council, primarily in the Middle Fork Weiser River watershed.

The purpose of the project is to accomplish multiple resource objectives while moving vegetation toward desired conditions as defined in the Payette National Forest Plan and maintaining consistency with the science in the on-going Wildlife Conservation Strategy and improving conditions in project area overall.

“In moving the vegetation toward desired conditions, the emphasis will be on improving habitat for specific wildlife species of concern while maintaining habitat for other sensitive species,” said Greg Lesch, Council District Ranger.  “Also an emphasis will be on maintaining and promoting large tree forest structure, early seral species composition (e.g. aspen, western larch, ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir), and forest resiliency; and reducing the risk of uncharacteristic and undesirable wildland fire.”

Proposed recreation improvements include improvements to Cabin Creek Campground, providing sanitation facilities, identifying and improving dispersed recreation areas, and developing new trail opportunities.

This project is based in part on recommendations provided by the Payette Forest Coalition (PFC).  The PFC is a collaborative group formed under the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 whose recommendations are structured to meet the intent of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act (CFLRA).  The PFC members represent stakeholders from a broad range of interests, including the environmental community, timber industry, recreational groups, and state and county government.  The purpose of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program is to encourage the collaborative, science-based ecosystem restoration of priority forest landscapes.  For more information on the PFC and their involvement in the Payette National Forest’s Weiser – Little Salmon Headwaters Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project visit their website at

How to Comment and Timeframe

The Environmental Protection Agency published a Notice of Availability (NOA) for the DEIS in the Federal Register on February 19, 2016. Written, facsimile, hand-delivered, and electronic comments concerning this action will be accepted for 45 days following that date. The publication date of the NOA in the Federal Register is the exclusive means for calculating the comment period for a proposed action documented in a DEIS. Those wishing to comment should not rely upon dates or timeframe information provided by any other source.

The preferred method to submit comments is electronically via the project webpage and must be submitted to:

Simply click on “how to comment” on the right side of the page and fill out the web form with your comments.

Written comments must be submitted to Keith Lannom, Forest Supervisor, Payette National Forest, 500 North Mission Street Building 2, McCall, Idaho 83638 or by fax to 208-634-0744. The office business hours for those submitting hand-delivered comments are 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

Electronic comments may also be submitted in a format such as an email message, pdf, plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), and Word (.doc or .docx) and must be sent to

Comments must have an identifiable name attached or verification of identity will be required. A scanned signature may serve as verification on electronic comments. For objection eligibility each individual or representative from each entity submitting timely and specific written comments regarding the proposed project must either sign the comments or verify identity upon request.

All comments received will be published with authorship information in the public reading room on the project webpage. Only those who submit timely and specific written comments regarding the proposed project during a public comment period established by the responsible official are eligible to file an objection.

The project file is posted on the Payette National Forest web site at:

For additional information, please contact Stephen Penny, Project Leader at the Council Ranger District, 208-253-0164.

Brian D. Harris
Public Affairs Officer
Forest Service
Payette National Forest
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USDA Forest Service
Feb 23, 2016

Featherville Sheep and Goat Allotment Corrected Scoping Information

Dear Interested Party,

This notification is to inform you that there was an error in the Featherville Sheep and Goat (S&G) Allotment Project scoping information that was emailed to you on February 11, 2016. The email address to submit scoping comments for this project was incorrect. Please refer to the “How to Comment” information below for specifics on how to provide scoping comments including the corrected email address.

Scoping information for this project is available on the Featherville S&G Allotment Project web page:

How to Comment on the Featherville S&G Allotment Project

Please respond to this opportunity to comment if you desire to stay on the project mailing list, even if you don’t have specific comments. Additionally, we asking those who have commented on the project before to submit comments again, even if your comments are identical to those previously submitted. The DN/FONSI released in 2013 was subject to an administrative appeal process according to 36 CFR 215; this process allowed people who had submitted comments during the project comment period an opportunity to appeal the final decision after it was signed. However, new regulations have been released that will apply to this project. The new regulations, found at 36 CFR 218, provide the public an opportunity to comment and express concerns on projects before decisions are made, rather than after. The Forest Service believes this process aligns with our collaborative approach to land management and increases the likelihood of resolving concerns, resulting in better, more informed decisions.

Individuals and entities who submit specific written comments during the scoping comment period will be eligible to object. A second comment opportunity will also be provided during the notice and comment period for review of the NEPA document and those who provide specific written comments during that comment period will also be eligible to object. In cases where no identifiable name is attached to a comment, a verification of identity will be required for objection eligibility. For more information on 36 CFR 218, see the Federal Register, Volume 78, No. 59, March 27, 2013.

To be most helpful, please submit your scoping comments by March 14, 2016, and make your comments as specific as possible. Your comments will help us refine the proposal and identify preliminary issues, interested and affected persons, and validate the level of NEPA. Comments received in response to this request will be available for public inspection and will be released in their entirety if requested, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. Comments received in response to this request will also be available for public inspection on the “Public Comment Reading Room” on the Featherville S&G Allotment Project webpage:

Written, facsimile, hand-delivered, verbal, and electronic comments concerning this project will be accepted.

Written comments must be submitted to Mountain Home Ranger District, Attention: Holly Hampton, 3080 Industrial Way, Mountain Home, ID 83647. The office hours for those submitting hand-delivered comments are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Verbal comments may also be provided at the Mountain Home Ranger District office during normal business hours or via telephone at 208-587-7961.

Comments may also be submitted through the web form on the Featherville S&G Allotment Project webpage:

Email comments must be submitted in a format such as an email message, plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), Adobe (.pdf), or Word (.doc) to

Please put “Featherville S&G Allotment Project” in the subject line of email comments. Comments must have an identifiable name attached or verification of identity will be required. A scanned signature may serve as verification on electronic comments.

For further information on the project, please contact Holly Hampton, Team Leader, by email at or by phone at 208-587-7961.


Melissa Yenko
Forest Environmental Coordinator
1249 S. Vinnell Way, Suite 200
Boise, ID 83709
Phone: 208-373-4245
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The Malheur Wildlife Refuge Occupation Over, Idaho Ranchers Highlight Collaboration with the Feds

Facing the real problems on the range takes patience and communication

By Zach Hagadone – Boise Weekly Feb 24, 2016

It has been nearly six months since lightning sparked a fire in the sagebrush steppe along the Idaho-Oregon border northwest of Silver City. The so-called Soda Fire was intense, exploding to more than 270,000 acres in the space of nine days. Video footage of the fire showed rolling waves of flame consuming a landscape 400 square miles in size. The black scar was so large it could be seen from space. Referred to as a “huge flaming deluge” by the Bureau of Land Management, the blaze burned more than 50,000 acres of sensitive sage grouse habitat, killed 27 wild horses and tore through 41 grazing allotments, making grazing there impossible for at least the next two seasons. Land managers are still assessing the damage and working out a plan to rehabilitate the area.

While the sprawling expanses of sagebrush in the West may look placid, they are volatile, delicate places where the smallest spark can grow into a disaster. About 100 miles west of the Soda Fire site, a different kind of range fire was touched off in January of this year, when armed anti-government militants overran the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside Burns, Ore.

… For Merrill Beyeler, an Idaho rancher and lawmaker, the trauma extends far beyond the sagebrush plains outside Burns, Ore.

“It’s a tragedy for the West,” he said. “What I think is occurring in the West is a lack of trust, and a lack of trust is created when we divide people and start to put people on opposite sides of the fence, and we don’t look at the larger issues.”

full story:
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Committee Considers Labrador Bill Piloting State & Local Management of Federal Forests

The bill aims to improve forest health and provide a long-term solution for struggling rural areas

Press Release Thursday February 25, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill authored by Congressman Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, was warmly received by the chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands during a House hearing Thursday. Labrador’s Self-Sufficient Community Lands Act permits state and local management of up to 2 percent of federally-owned forests to improve forest health, boost local economies and save taxpayers money.

“Federal neglect of our forests has resulted in dangerous overcrowding and overgrowth, stressing them to the breaking point,” said Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock, R-Calif., who presided over the hearing. “Meanwhile, rural communities that once thrived from the commerce generated within our forests have withered….State management can produce healthier forests and healthier economies and this legislation offers participating states the opportunity to do so.”

Labrador noted that he began work on the bill in 2011, after county commissioners from five rural Idaho counties proposed demonstration projects allowing state and local management.

“We’re trying to help them survive,” Labrador told the committee. “They’re always coming here begging the federal government to help them. They want to stop begging….This is just a small step to help these rural economies do better.”

Valley County Commissioner Gordon Cruickshank, among the commissioners who came to Labrador five years ago, testified Thursday. Cruickshank recalled the government’s promise when National Forests were established.


Critter News:

Idaho banks on millennials filling hunting-conservation role

By Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review Feb 23, 2016

A big crop of young Idahoans are reaching adulthood without having been introduced to hunting and fishing.

That’s a big concern for Idaho Fish and Game, and it should be of interest to sportsmen who know the needs — and costs — of wildlife management and conservation.

Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore explained how Idaho’s trying to recruit millennials into hunting and fishing during a conference in Coeur d’Alene today.

Link to story:
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Legislative panel approves dangerous dogs bill

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: 2/24/16

BOISE, Idaho — A state legislative committee has approved a bill that would allow courts to decide whether a dog that attacks someone should be put down.

The legislation brought by Rep. Mike Moyle was approved Wednesday and sent to the House’s amending order for review.

Under the bill, dogs that bite people could be declared dangerous by a judge. The court would also decide additional measures, such as whether the dog should be put down and penalties for the owner.

Several people at the hearing spoke out in favor of the bill. But the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association raised concerns about language of the bill regarding dog attack victims suing for damages.

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Idaho man gets probation for shooting dog, mistook for wolf

Feb 27, 2016 The Associated Press.

BONNERS FERRY, Idaho – A North Idaho man who fatally shot a dog after his father reportedly told him “to shoot the wolf” has been sentenced to two years of probation.

The Spokesman-Review of Spokane reports that Collin Cossairt was also ordered to pay $1,275 in restitution and fines when he was sentenced Thursday in Idaho’s District Court.

Cossairt was found guilty of three misdemeanor hunting violations, including shooting from a vehicle, shooting across a road and hunting without a tag. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

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Bill to block lawsuit over Oregon wolf protections inches closer to approval

By The Associated Press February 24, 2016

SALEM — A contentious proposal to uphold last year’s decision to remove the gray wolf from the state’s endangered species list has cleared one of its last major hurdles at the Oregon Legislature.

House Bill 4040 passed out of committee on Tuesday in a 3-2 vote and now heads to the Senate, which will have the final say as to whether it goes to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk for signing into law.

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Wildlife officials confirm wolf attacked calf in Oregon

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: 2/25/16

KLAMATH FALLS, Oregon — Oregon wildlife officials have confirmed that a wolf attacked a 10-month-old calf east of Klamath Falls.

The Herald and News reports ( ) that Jon Muir, a wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, says officials determined Tuesday that the calf was attacked by the wolf identified OR-33.

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KWVR Oregon Wolf Education weekly Wolf Report

Fourth week of February 2016
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Baker City man pleads guilty to shooting wolf

By The Associated Press February 24, 2016

CANYON CITY — An Oregon hunter who fatally shot a radio-collared wolf in the fall has pleaded guilty to taking a threatened or endangered species.

Harney County District Attorney Tim Colahan said Brennon Witty of Baker City was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay the same amount in restitution to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. He also had to forfeit the rifle to the state.

In a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped a charge of hunting with a centerfire rifle with no big game tag.

Witty was hunting coyotes in Grant County when the shooting occurred. He reported the incident to authorities.

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DNA tests confirm animal killed in Utah trap was gray wolf


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Utah authorities say DNA tests confirm an animal accidently killed in a coyote snare last year was a gray wolf.

Officials said Wednesday that biologists thought the animal found near the Wyoming state line was a wolf when it was found in November, but conducted DNA tests to make sure it wasn’t a dog hybrid.

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Officials eye new locations for Mexican wolf release program

The Associated Press  February 22, 2016

Wildlife officials are working to identify new locations to release Mexican gray wolf packs that have been raised in captivity.

Federal forest and wildlife officials are looking at nine locations across the Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests as potential sites for wolf releases, The Arizona Daily Sun reported (

At a meeting earlier this month between wildlife officials and ranchers who have grazing leases on the land, some ranchers said they understand the need to protect the wolves, but new release areas bring them closer to cattle, roads and communities.

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House Approves Amendment To Remove Gray Wolf’s Protected Status

Wisconsin Congressman Reid Ribble Is Behind The Plan

Friday, February 26, 2016 By Chuck Quirmbach – WPR

A Wisconsin congressman is trying once again to get the gray wolf off the federal endangered species list in the western Great Lakes region.

Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Green Bay, has won House approval of an amendment that would restore a Fish and Wildlife Service decision to de-list the grey wolf in the Upper Midwest. That decision in 2012 led to hunting of wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. A federal court that decision in 2014, blocking the hunts.

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3 dead wolves found dumped in northern Minnesota ditch; poaching suspected

The hunting of wolves is illegal in Minnesota; federal authorities are offering a reward for information.

By Paul Walsh Star Tribune  FEBRUARY 18, 2016

The carcasses of three wolves “frozen solid” were found dumped in a ditch along a northern Minnesota highway in what conservation officials are confident is a case of poaching, federal authorities said Thursday.

The discovery on Hwy. 8 near Floodwood, about 35 miles southeast of Grand Rapids, was reported on Jan. 22 to a state Department of Natural Resources poachers tip line, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

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Fifth of Finland’s wolves killed in month-long cull


Nearly one fifth of Finland’s endangered wolf population was killed in a controversial month-long cull which ended at the weekend, authorities said on Monday.

Authorities gave permits to licensed hunters to kill 46 of Finland’s estimated 250 grey wolves in a cull intended to curb illegal poaching. “The catch was altogether 43 wolves… meaning that three permissions were left unused,” Sauli Harkonen, a senior official with the Finnish Wildlife Agency, told AFP.

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Idaho facility says regulations stifle bear rehabilitation

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: 2/21/16

GARDEN CITY, Idaho — Operators of an Idaho black bear facility say regulatory issues are stifling rehabilitation.

KTVB-TV reports ( Idaho Black Bear Rehab officials say the facility could have taken in a Washington cub that was recently put down, but the Idaho Department of Fish and Game limits the rehab facility to eight bears at a time.

The department also has to approve orphaned or injured bears coming into Idaho from other states.

Officials say they were never contacted about bringing the cub into Idaho before it was put down.

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First grizzly emerges from den in Yellowstone

By Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review Feb 25, 2016

Yellowstone National Park has reported its first grizzly bear sighting of 2016.

Park officials spotted the male grizzly bear Tuesday near the Nez Perce Creek drainage during a wolf survey flight.

Park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett says the timing of this year’s first grizzly sighting has come a little earlier than average. It also comes about two weeks later than the first male grizzly bear sighting in 2015. Last year’s first sighting was reported on Feb. 9.

Male bears typically come out of their dens first and females without cubs leave earlier than those with cubs.

Bartlett says the park’s sighting confirmed rumors of bear activity.

Yellowstone National Park is urging visitors to bring bear spray.

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Environmentalists sue for more rules to protect sage grouse

By MATTHEW BROWN – AP Published: 2/25/16

BILLINGS, Montana — Environmental groups sued Thursday to force the Obama administration to impose more restrictions on oil and gas drilling, grazing and other activities blamed for the decline of greater sage grouse across the American West.

A sweeping sage grouse conservation effort that the government announced last September is riddled with loopholes and will not be enough to protect the bird from extinction, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Idaho.

It follows several legal challenges against the same rules from the opposite end of the political spectrum. Mining companies, ranchers and officials in Utah, Idaho and Nevada argue that the administration’s actions will impede economic development.

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Steelheaders needed to ‘tube’ SF Clearwater spawners

By Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review Feb 25, 2016

Angler skills are in demand to on the South Fork of the Clearwater River, where Idaho Fish and Game officials want young steelhead released into the South Fork of the Clearwater River to be from parents taken from that river.

Anglers can help by volunteering to catch local spawners to fill nearby hatcheries.

“Anglers catch a fish, and then place the live fish into a perforated section of PVC pipe provided by Fish and Game,” says Roger Phillips, department spokesman.

“They return the pipe to the river and tether it, and then Fish and Game crews retrieve the fish and put it into a tanker truck that will deliver the steelhead to the hatcheries.”

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The Columbia Basin Bulletin

Weekly Fish and Wildlife News
February 26, 2016
Issue No. 782

Table of Contents

* Research: No Benefits To Acclimating In Holding Ponds Subyearling Fall Chinook From Umatilla Fish Hatchery

* Lower Columbia River White Sturgeon Overall Numbers Continue To Grow, But ‘Ongoing Productivity Issues’

* Study: Changes To Genetics Of Hatchery Steelhead Occur In Just One Generation

* Idaho Again Enlists Anglers To Help Catch South Fork Clearwater River Steelhead For Hatchery Broodstock

* Harmful Algal Blooms Found As Far North As Alaska, Concerns About Impacts To Marine Food Webs

* NOAA Fisheries Releases Critical Habitat Designation For Lower Columbia River Coho, Puget Sound Steelhead

* Wild Fish Conservancy Lawsuit Seeks Consultations To Evaluate Puget Sound Salmon Farm Impacts On ESA Salmon

* Cantwell Pushes NOAA To Reduce Delays In Approving Hatchery Genetic Management Plans

* Study Says Drought-Induced Forest Diebacks, Beetle Infestation, Wildfire Hitting West On Large-Scale

* Interior Releases Framework To Combat US Lands, Waters From Invasive Species

* Oregon Sets Up Border Watercraft Inspection Stations To Check For Aquatic Invasive Species

* Feds Issue Updated Policy On Role Of State Fish and Wildlife Agencies In ESA Implementation

* Study Shows Puget Sound Wastewater Plant Effluent, 42 Drugs, Found In Chinook Salmon, Sculpin

Fun Critter Stuff:


[hat tip to SMc]
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Please Move The Deer Crossing Sign


Fish and Game News:

Open house on Monday, Feb. 29

I apologize for the late notice on this, but wanted to invite folks to an open house we are hosting at the McCall office on Monday, Feb. 29 from 5-6:30 pm.  It’s an opportunity to give input on the concept of IDFG releasing additional auction tags.

I’ve included a recent news release below, and have highlighted the McCall open house.

If you are unable to make it to the open house, you can always call me at 634-8137, or you can comment on the IDFG website at:


Public meetings planned to collect comments on proposed big game auction tags

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission is seeking public feedback on a proposal to offer five tags for auction including one each for elk, mule deer, mountain goat, pronghorn, and moose.

The following public meetings will be held where people can speak directly with local Fish and Game staff about the proposal:

* Coeur d’ Alene:  March 3, 6 p.m. Panhandle Region Fish and Game Office, 2885 W. Kathleen Ave.

* Lewiston:  March 1, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Clearwater Region Fish and Game Office, 3316 16th Street.

* McCall:  February 29, 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., February 29, McCall Fish and Game Office, 555 Deinhard Lane.

* Jerome:  March 2, 6 p.m., Magic Valley Region Fish and Game Office, 324 South 417 East – Suite 1.

* Pocatello:  March 2, 6 p.m., Southeast Region Fish and Game Office, 1345 Barton Road.

* Idaho Falls:  March 1, 7 p.m., Upper Snake Region Office, Fish and Game Office, 4279 Commerce Circle.

* Salmon:  March 2, 6 to 8 p.m., Salmon Region Office, 99 Hwy. 93 North.

* Challis:  March 3, 6 to 8 p.m., Challis Community Event Center, 411 Clinic Road.

Individuals with disabilities may request meeting accommodations by contacting the regional Fish and Game office, or the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-3529 (TDD).

People can also comment on the proposed auction tags by visiting Fish and Game’s website at

The comment period will continue through March 4.

The Idaho Legislature in 2012 gave authority for the commission to auction up to 12 “Governor’s Wildlife Partnership” big-game tags, which could include three each for deer, elk and pronghorn and one each for bighorn sheep, moose and mountain goat.

Since that legislation passed, the commission has not offered any tags for auction except a bighorn sheep tag that it has auctioned annually since 1988.

While 55 percent of hunters polled in a recent public opinion survey accepted the concept of auction tags and options related to offering auction tags, the survey also indicated lower approval for full implementation of all 12 tags.

The commission directed Fish and Game staff to develop a proposal where five tags would be auctioned for the 2017 season by qualified nonprofit organizations dedicated to conservation.  At least 95 percent of the proceeds from the tags would go to Fish and Game, which could use up to 30 percent of the proceeds for sportsman access programs such as “Access Yes.”  The remainder would be used for wildlife habitat projects, wildlife management projects to increase the quantity and quality of big game herds, and other research and management activities approved by the commission.

Regan Berkley
Regional Wildlife Manager
McCall Regional Office
555 Deinhard Ln.
McCall, ID 83638
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Fish & Game budget approved after major fight

By Betsy Z. Russell The Spokesman-Review Feb 26, 2016

There was a major fight over the Fish & Game budget in JFAC this morning after Rep. Jason Monks and Sens. Jim Guthrie and Dean Mortimer tried to derail a $2 million line item to purchase sportsman access to the Clagstone Meadows project in North Idaho, which is part of a conservation easement sought by Stimson Lumber, the owner of the property. Stimson is giving up development rights to the big chunk of timber land in the center of the Panhandle, in favor of continuing to operate it as timber production land in perpetuity and allowing public access and hunting privileges. The project includes $5.5 million in federal funds for a forest legacy project through the Idaho Department of Lands, $2 million in federal hunter access funds from the Fish & Game budget, $2 million from a public lands trust, and a $3.1 million contribution from Stimson.

The property had at one time been approved for development with 1,200 homes and two golf courses. Guthrie said, “We have two-thirds of Idaho already public owned, and it just seems contrary to me that we pay to have these easements and different things.” He said if people in the area think the land needs to be protected, the local Planning & Zoning officials could deny the development application.

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Fish and Game News Releases


Leap Year

from The Old Farmer’s Almanac

A “Leap” Day is an extra day on February 29 which is added nearly every 4 years to today’s Gregorian calendar.

A “leapling” is a person born in a leap year.

Here are the rules for leap year, just to set the record straight.

A year is a leap year if it is divisible by 4, but century years are not leap years unless they are divisible by 400.

So, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years, but the year 2000 was.

Non-leap years begin and end on the same day of the week.

Why Do We Need Leap Years?

One orbit of Earth around the Sun takes 365.2422 days—a little more than our Gregorian calendar’s 365. Adding an extra day, aka a leap day, to the calendar every 4 years brings the calendar in line and therefore synchronizes with the four seasons.

Without leap days, the calendar would be off by 5 hours, 48 minutes, 45 seconds each year. After 100 years, the seasons would be off by 25 days. The extra leap day adjusts this drift.

But it’s not a perfect match: Adding a leap day every 4 years overcompensates by a few extra seconds each leap year, adding up to about 3 extra days every 10,000 years.
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Sadie Hawkins Day

from The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Ever heard of Sadie Hawkins Day?

On November 15, 1937, cartoonist Al Capp, creator of the Li’l Abner comic strip, introduced the idea of a day in fictitious Dogpatch, USA, when all unmarried ladies, including the character Sadie Hawkins, could pursue their men. If the men were caught, marriage was unavoidable.

The idea took off in real life in November 1938, when the first recorded “girls-ask-boys” Sadie Hawkins Day dance was held. In 1939, Life magazine reported that more than 200 colleges had held Sadie Hawkins Day events. Although it had not been his intention, after the Sadie Hawkins Day debut and subsequent popularity with his readers, Capp included the event in his comic strip every November. Today, Sadie Hawkins Day events are often celebrated on the first Saturday in November.

Sadie Hawkins Day is sometimes celebrated on February 29, which is associated with a similar tradition. Long ago, Leap Day also was known as “Ladies’ Day” or “Ladies’ Privilege,” the only period of time when women were free to propose to men. It is thought that this event may have been based on a Scottish law in the 1200s or on an Irish legend, but no one knows for certain.

Weather Reports Feb 21-27

Feb 21 Weather:

At 930am it was 18 degrees and mostly clear, fast moving high patch of clouds. Increasing clouds later in the afternoon. At 530pm it was 38 degrees and overcast. At midnight it was 29 degrees, high thin clouds.

NOAA Weather report:

Observation time February 22, 2016 at 09:30AM
Mostly cloudy, flakes of snow
Max temperature 44 degrees F
Min temperature 18 degrees F
At observation 27 degrees F
Precipitation Trace
Snowfall Trace
Snow depth 14 inch
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Feb 22 Weather:

At 930am it was 27 degrees, mostly cloudy and a few flakes of snow falling (didn’t last long.) At 1230pm it was 37 degrees and partly clear. More clouds and flakes of snow falling at 220pm, didn’t last long. Breezy at times during the afternoon. At 545pm it was 33 degrees, partly clear and light breezes. Snowed a trace during the night.

NOAA Weather report:

Observation time February 23, 2016 at 09:30AM
Max temperature 40 degrees F
Min temperature 6 degrees F
At observation 7 degrees F
Precipitation Trace
Snowfall Trace
Snow depth 14 inch
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Feb 23 Weather:

At 930am it was 7 degrees and clear. Clear sunny day. At 620pm it was 30 degrees and clear.

NOAA Weather report:

Observation time February 24, 2016 at 09:30AM
Observation type daily (24 hr values/totals)
Max temperature 44 degrees F
Min temperature 7 degrees F
At observation 21 degrees F
Precipitation 0.00 inch
Multi-day Accumulation No
Snowfall 0.0 inch
Snow depth 14 inch
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Feb 24 Weather:

At 930am it was 21 degrees, most of the sky covered with high thin clouds. Filtered sun most of the day. At 6pm it was 34 degrees and partly cloudy (high haze.) At 645pm it was 32 degrees, mostly clear.

NOAA Weather report:

Observation time February 25, 2016 at 09:30AM
Max temperature 46 degrees F
Min temperature 14 degrees F
At observation 16 degrees F
Precipitation 0.00 inch
Snowfall 0.0 inch
Snow depth 14 inch
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Feb 25 Weather:

At 930am it was 16 degrees and clear. Sunny all day. At 6pm it was 36 degrees and clear. At 645pm it was 32 degrees. Hazy stars at 9pm.

NOAA Weather report:

Observation time February 26, 2016 at 09:30AM
Mostly clear
Max temperature 53 degrees F
Min temperature 16 degrees F
At observation 19 degrees F
Precipitation 0.00 inch
Snowfall 0.0 inch
Snow depth 14 inch
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Feb 26 Weather:

At 930am it was 19 degrees and mostly clear, a few wispy clouds. High thin clouds increased during the day, later afternoon filtered sun and warm. At 515pm it was 44 degrees and partly clear. Increasing clouds during the night, a little rain early morning.

NOAA Weather report:

Observation time February 27, 2016 at 09:30AM
Overcast, misty rain
Max temperature 57 degrees F
Min temperature 19 degrees F
At observation 34 degrees F
Precipitation Trace
Snowfall 0.0 inch
Snow depth 13 inch
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Feb 27 Weather:

At 930am it was 34 degrees and misting rain. Steady light rain by 950am. Stopped raining a little before 11am. Breaks in the clouds by noon. Sunshine by 1pm. At 210pm it was 50 degrees, light breeze and partly cloudy. Mostly cloudy at 3pm. At 6pm it was 42 degrees and cloudy.

NOAA Weather report:

Observation time February 28, 2016 at 09:30AM
Cloudy and breezy
Max temperature 50 degrees F
Min temperature 26 degrees F
At observation 37 degrees F
Precipitation 0.04 inch
Snowfall 0.0 inch
Snow depth 13 inch

Idaho History February 28, 2016

Black Pioneers in Idaho

(Part 1)

Idaho’s black pioneers made the news

February 27, 2016 by Arthur Hart Special to the Statesman

Tracing the history of Boise’s black pioneers through the pages of the Idaho Statesman, we find that news items of the decade of the 1870’s are especially revealing of white attitudes toward this small racial minority, in a frontier town with other minorities from Europe and Asia, notably Irish, German and Chinese.

On Jan. 2, 1872, the paper reported, “Colored Marriage. In Boise City, at the residence of the bride, on the evening of Dec. 28, 1871, by His Excellency, Governor Bennett, Mr. Eugene Murray and Mrs. Sarah Moody, (both colored) of this city.”

In June 1872, Clitus Barbour, Richard Z. Johnson and Ed Nugent, three highly regarded Idaho lawyers, secured the acquittal of Bob Thomas, a black man, accused in the killing of Solomon Paling, another black man. Neither of these men had been recorded in the 1870 census.

The Idaho World of Idaho City noted on Nov. 14, 1872, “William Benson, familiarly known as ‘Fremont,’ a faithful colored boy who has lived in Idaho for eight or nine years past, pulled up stakes and left for Pioche, Nev., a few days ago. He has been honest, faithful and prompt in every capacity in which he has served while here.” The census had missed him, too, making us wonder how many others it had missed.

In February 1876, William Boone, who worked as gardener and stable hand for banker C.W. Moore, and Eugene Murray, Sarah Moody’s husband, made the news when they got into a fistfight. Boone was in the news again after a black man named Henry Walker was found hiding out in Moore’s stable. He had stolen whiskey and wine from Manuel Fontez, a pioneer from Mexico, and gone to his friend Boone for shelter. Police found him there and took him into custody.

Most of the news items about blacks in the Statesman in the 1870s were positive, as this from Feb. 15, 1877: “Henry Whittacre, the colored cook, showed himself a master of the culinary art, by the delicious things he got up for the ball supper last week. Whittacre has no superior in his line.”

The 1870 census recorded two other black cooks in Boise: James Nall, 36, and Simon White, 50, who worked at the Overland Hotel.

An item we found particularly charming was this from the Statesman of Dec. 1, 1881: “Susan Jane — The church going people were attracted and very much amused on Sunday evening last while nearing the Methodist church by the singing and music of a dusky couple who were marching along very deliberately, holding each others’ hand, in a swinging manner to keep time with the tune which the curly haired savant sang — ‘Good By Susan Jane’ — and his dusky dulcinea playing the same tune on a mouth organ. If there is any heaven in this world for poor sinful mortals, it was conceded that this dusky couple were about entering the front door.”

When John West died in Boise in October 1903, the Statesman called him “the dean of colored pioneers in Idaho.” West was proud of having been born a free American citizen and expressed that pride by carrying the American flag at the head of every Fourth of July parade for many years.

He also worked for the Idaho Legislature. As the 1901 session drew to a close, Rep. Mounce of Nez Perce County offered this resolution, seconded by Rep. French of Latah County: “Whereas the House Porter John West has faithfully discharged the duties pertaining to said office during the present session of the Idaho Legislature, without compensation, therefore be it resolved that the House allow the said John West the sum of sixty ($60) dollars for said services, the sum to be paid in the same manner as the clerks of this house.”

link to document: IdahoHistoryBlackPioneers.doc
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Henry Harris

The Legendary Black Buckaroo

By Mychel Matthews – Twin Falls County Historic Preservation Commission May 2, 2013


(click image for source size)

TWIN FALLS, Idaho • Headstones can be deceiving.

Southern Idaho’s legendary black cowboy Henry Harris was said to have been conceived in slavery, and born in freedom. The official date of his birth is Dec. 15, 1865, seven months after the Civil War ended.

But Harris’ headstone in the Twin Falls Cemetery says he was born in 1868.

According to Harris’ biographer Les Sweeney, he simply refused to accept his real age. Harris was 71 when he died in 1937 – or maybe older, Sweeney said.

The headstone describes Harris as a “pioneer cowboy.” That doesn’t even come close to describing Harris’ remarkable life, he said.

Harris’ parents were former slaves living in Texas. Harris was born a free man, and was somewhat educated.

Harris was still young when he went to work as a servant for Texas cattleman John Sparks, who later became the governor of Nevada. Sparks took Harris with him when he moved to Nevada from Texas in 1884.

Sparks and John Tinnen, another cattleman from Texas, put together a cattle empire that spread from Wells, Nev. to Utah, and into southern Idaho. According to Sweeney, the Sparks and Tinnen herd numbered between 50,000 and 70,000 head of cattle.

Harris graduated from house boy to cow puncher. He soon became a wagon boss and foreman of the Boar’s Nest, Middle Stack, and Vineyard ranches just south of the Idaho border.

Harris was a living legend, Sweeney said. Black cowboys were not common in Nevada and Idaho in those days, but a black man who was a ranch boss over white cowboys was unheard of.

In 1894, he acquired 160 acres of land southwest of present-day Salmon Falls Reservoir. In 1930, Harris bought another 35 acres near Rogerson.

The cattle ranches changed hands many times over the decades, but Harris remained loyal to his vocation until his death.

Nora Bowman, wife of Utah Construction Co. superintendent Archie Bowman, wrote about Harris’ death in her book “Only the Mountains Remain.”

“He knew we all liked and respected him and that he was welcome wherever he went,” she wrote.

Harris was inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in Winnemucca, Nev. in 2008, and into the National Cowboys of Color Hall of Fame in Fort Worth in 2009.

source: Magic

Black Pioneers in Idaho (Part 2)

page updated Nov 10, 2018

PAC Advisory for 2/27/16

Avalanche Advisory published on February 27, 2016

Bottom line

The avalanche danger is MODERATE above 6,000 feet today. Rain up to 7,000 feet last night, and above freezing temperatures give us the possibility of loose/wet avalanches. Fresh wind slabs will from in the wake of new snow and wind. Terrain below 6, 000 feet will have LOW danger today.


Today snow levels are dropping back down to around 5500 feet, and we will see 2-4 inches of snow with moderate winds out of the West-Southwest…winds will gust around 32 Mph tonight in the upper elevations.

Recent observations

Based on our stability tests, and lack of recent avalanche activity on our buried surface hoar (about 110 CM deep), we are phasing the deep slab/persistent weak layer problem out of the advisory for now. If (or when) temperatures allow melting water to percolate through the snowpack we could see this particular boogeyman make another visit to the West Central Mountains. Keep this layer in mind if you are skiing or riding on protected northerly slopes with a steep, shallow snowpack because you could still be unlucky enough to find a trigger point for a large and unsurvivable avalanche.

Avalanche Problem #1: Loose Wet

Temperatures in the upper elevations have been above freezing for more than 24 hours, and rain has fallen all the way up to 7,000 feet. Wet, loose activity in the form of rollerballs and point releases are possible, and so are human triggered wet, loose slides in terrain steeper than 35 degrees. The snow surface should adjust, and stabilize some as temperatures cool down this evening.

Avalanche Problem #2: Wind Slab

Fresh wind slabs will form today, and this evening as we recieve 2-4 inches of snow along with moderate winds out of the West-Southwest. Fresh slabs will form on NW, N, NE, and East aspects. Watch for signs of sculpting on the snow surface, hollow or drummy feel, or stiffer snow. Tonight the winds will gust around 32 Mph which will do a great job adding to our wind slab problem.

Advisory discussion

Ladies, Don’t forget about our Diva Avalanche Class this weekend at Tamarack Resort. Show up early for yoga and coffee or come just for the class. Stay late for Happy Hour at Seven Devils Pub! Suggested donation of $10 for the Friends of the Payette Avalanche Center.

For more information or to RSVP email:


This avalanche advisory is provided through a partnership between the Payette National Forest and the Payette Avalanche Center. This advisory covers the West Central Mountains between Hard Butte on the north and Council Mountain on the south. This advisory applies only to backcountry areas outside established ski area boundaries. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. This advisory expires at midnight on the posted day unless otherwise noted. The information in this advisory is provided by the USDA Forest Service who is solely responsible for its content.

PAC Advisory for 2/23/16

Avalanche Advisory published on February 23, 2016

bottom line

The avalanche danger will be MODERATE at upper, and middle elevations today. Avalanche danger will rise on solar aspects through the day as the Sun heats up the snow surface. Southeast winds pushed around a foot of new snow forming slabs at ridge-top towards the end of last week. It remains possible to trigger these soft or hard wind slabs in exposed terrain. Below 6,000 feet the avalanche danger is LOW.


Sunny skies, and a high of 32 in the upper elevations will crank up the heat, beginning a warming trend. Winds will blow out of the South around 5-15 MPH.

recent observations

We had a report of a decent sized natural avalanche near Marge Lake on Friday, and one off of West Mountain on Saturday. If you do trigger an avalanche or see avalanche activity, please take the time to send us a short report and a photo with as much of a description as possible. You can email avalanche info to us at: or plug it into our Observations page on the website . Your help is greatly appreciated!

Avalanche Problem #1: Wind Slab

Winds out of the south, southeast and southwest hammered the West Central Mountains through the second half of last week. Wind gusts were in the 40-60 MPH range on the higher peaks and ridges with sustained winds in the 20+range. The avalanche danger on wind loaded upper elevation terrain is enough to merit conservative terrain choices on all wind affected slopes. These strong winds have done a great job loading and crossloading slopes on east, north and west facing aspects as well as loading slopes below rocky or steep headwalls well below the ridgetops. Windslabs range from very stiff to soft today and from a few inches to over a foot thick. Some of these windslabs formed on the crusts that developed during our last high pressure. Look for clues like cracking and collapsing as well as other obvious signs of windslab like a textured or scalloped snow surface or pillows and drifts as you are moving through the mountains today. Additional snowfall on Friday evening also did a great job camouflaging some of these obvious clues so pay attention to the way the snow feels as you travel today, if you encounter a hollow, punchy, or drummy feeling snow surface you are on windslab. Snowmobiles may have more of an affect on these slabs than skiers where they are more dense or firm. Wind slabs often let you get well out on to them before you are able to trigger them trapping you in the middle of the slab when it is triggered.

Avalanche Problem #2: Deep Slab

The pesky New Year’s buried surface hoar still lingers deep in our snowpack. It is located mid-slope on northwest through east aspects above 7,000 feet and will most likely be with us for the rest of the snow riding season. Pit results and stability testing point toward less likelihood of triggering, but if triggered we are still talking about a potentially unsurvivable hard slab avalanche. Take the time to carefully assess terrain choices on the north half of the compass today and throughout the rest of the season. This layer is especially dangerous in areas where the snow cover is thinner which allows the buried surface hoar to be closer to the surface, and in turn more reactive—especially for snowmachines. This is the same layer that was the cause of the fatal avalanche on January 31st. A persistent,deep weak layer such as this is a low probability, but HIGH CONSEQUENCE scenario.

Avalanche Problem #3: Loose Wet

The Sun, South winds, and a warming trend will all contribute to the rising danger of loose, wet avalanches today. More than likely, you will see these loose wet slides, and roller ball activity on steep and rocky slopes that receive direct solar radiation. As the day progresses, the danger will follow the compass from East to West…giving us the highest danger this afternoon on Southwest slopes…If you are sinking past your boot tops on a South aspect, it may be time to find a cooler, shadier slope to play on?


This avalanche advisory is provided through a partnership between the Payette National Forest and the Payette Avalanche Center. This advisory covers the West Central Mountains between Hard Butte on the north and Council Mountain on the south. This advisory applies only to backcountry areas outside established ski area boundaries. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. This advisory expires at midnight on the posted day unless otherwise noted. The information in this advisory is provided by the USDA Forest Service who is solely responsible for its content.

Road Report Feb 24

Wednesday (Feb 24) mail truck driver (Bruce) reports ice ruts (rough road) on the upper South Fork. There is a fairly big rock sitting in the middle of the EFSF road out near the Eiguren Ranch, but you can get around it. Warm Lake Hwy is clear.

(Also local streets in Yellow Pine are developing slick spots again from the thaw/freeze cycle.)

Feb 21, 2016 The Yellow Pine Times

Feb 21, 2016 The Yellow Pine Times – Valley County, Idaho

Local Observations:

Monday (Feb 15) rained all night and above freezing, big puddles. We received 1/2″ of rain in 24 hours. Still have an average of 15″ of snow on the ground in the open on the flat, bare ground under some trees in the forest. Raven calling, road getting mushy. Low foggy clouds and misty all day.

Tuesday (Feb 16) lost a little snow yesterday, average snow depth on the flat in the open now 14″, more bare areas under trees in the forest. Pine squirrel chattering, raven calling. Streets getting mushy. Cloudy day, filtered sun and warm, still above freezing at sundown.

Wednesday (Feb 17) dipped below freezing during the night, less snow under trees, melting back on south facing hills, still an average of 14″ snow on the flat in the open. Cloudy morning, a few extra rigs running around, the back Stibnite road is breaking up. A report that the transfer station has been emptied. Warm and breezy afternoon and mostly cloudy. Partly clear just at dark. Rain during the night.

Thursday (Feb 18) hard rain around 5am, breezy and snow flurry at 930am, standing puddles on the road ice, starting to see a few bare spots on the road. Raven calling. Neighbor reports a Red-winged Blackbird at their feeder. Snowed all afternoon, by dark over an inch. Snowed most of the night.

Friday (Feb 19) 5″ of new snow, 19″ total snow on the ground (heavy wet snow.) Woodpeckers drumming. Clouds breaking up and sunshine before noon, warming up and dripping by 1pm, melted a lot of the new snow. Clouds later in the day, heavy wet snow falling just before dark.

Saturday (Feb 20) 5/8″ of new snow, 15″ total snow on the ground (lots of melting yesterday.) Partly sunny before noon. Lots more melting. Little bout of snowballs fell around 3pm, then partly cloudy late afternoon and evening.

Sunday (Feb 21) hard freeze during the night, mostly clear morning, raven and chickadees calling. Shooting to the west around 310pm. A flock of juncos in the neighborhood. Overcast later in the afternoon, above freezing at dark.


Abie Owen Welch


On Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, we lost this special man to cancer. Abe was a husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

Abie Owen Welch was born Aug. 5, 1938, to Okle and Cleo in Canyonville, Ore. He grew up in various locations in Oregon. Dad had many fond memories of hunting with hounds with his dad, a sport that he pursued and enjoyed throughout his life with his good friend Gary Haight.

With a permission slip from his mom, dad joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 17. After his time in the Navy, dad settled in Kooskia. He drove a log truck, did construction work, started his own business, Welch’s Rock, and built and co-owned the car wash in Kooskia. Dad eventually sold his business but wasn’t done with his earth-moving skills. He kept enough equipment to do odd jobs and kept himself busy until his recent illness.

Dad leaves behind his wife, Pam; daughters Kathleen and Laura; son Okle; stepdaughter Leslie; and sisters Lorraine and Jewell. Dad has several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a daughter, Cindy; and brothers Frank and Bernard.

Family and friends are invited to join the family at 1 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Kooskia Community Center for a covered-dish dinner and celebration of his life.

Please sign the online guest book:

Yellow Pine will miss your visits Abe.

Photo to Share:

Spring is coming!


(Taken last June – Alyssum)

Photo by Dave Putman


Coming Soon

Though winter rain
and snow still soak us,
beneath the mud
stirs spring’s first crocus.

– The Bard of Sherman Avenue

Idaho News:

Valley County roads chief Bennett resigns

Commissioners chide workers on communication

“Sit down and air your gripes and get it out.” – Elt Hasbrouck

BY DAN GALLAGHER for The Star-News Feb 18, 2016

Valley Road and Bridge Superintendent Curtis Bennett resigned last week, apparently over differences with county road employees.

The commissioners voted 2-1 last week to accept Bennett’s departure following a closed meeting.

Chairman Gordon Cruickshank and Bill Willey voted to allow Bennett to resign while Elt Hasbrouck wanted to retain Bennett, who was appointed in August 2013.

Bennett will be paid his county salary through May 31 under terms of his severance agreement.

Commissioners and Bennett declined to comment about his resignation when asked by The Star-News.

Bennett’s assistant, Jeff McFadden, was named interim superintendent

Bennett supervised 24 employees in shops at Cascade and Lake Fork. His yearly salary was $57,783.

The county’s road and bridge’s budget is about $3 million this year, but could be slashed by $1.2 million if Congress does not renew rural schools funding.

The road crew maintains 236 miles of paved roads, 530 miles of gravel or dirt roads, and 93 bridges in the county.

While the commissioners also did not explain their decision, comments made at a Tuesday meeting with road employees revealed a conflict with supervisors.

full story at The Star-News
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Alcohol to be banned at North Beach, McCall parks July 4

State, city move to avoid rowdy behavior by young adults

“We’re going to make change; we’re doing something.” – Jackie Aymon

BY TOM GROTE and DAVID GOINS for The Star-News Feb 18, 2016

Alcoholic drinks will be banned at North Beach on Payette Lake and in McCall city parks during this year’s Independence Day holiday in an effort to reduce rowdy behavior by young adults.

Last Thursday the Idaho Parks and Recreation Board voted to ban alcohol at North Beach over the Fourth of July holiday for the next three summers.

Thursday night, the McCall City Council approved a plan submitted by city staffers to ban alcohol at all city parks during the holiday and take other steps to control unwanted behavior.

Spontaneous parties have been held at North Beach during the July 4 weekend since 2007, attracting thousands of young people by car and by boat.

In recent years, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation has tried to limit the number of people on the beach with varying success.

Last year’s celebration was cited by local residents and business owners as the most disruptive in years, especially among young adults gathered at Legacy Park in downtown McCall.

Complaints ranged from drunken behavior, explicit language and nudity among the partiers and led to a call for change.

“We’re going to make change; we’re doing something,” McCall Mayor Jackie Aymon said during last week’s council meeting.

In addition to the alcohol ban, the city’s plan asks the Valley County Sheriff’s Office to rope off North Beach 300 feet from shore to prevent boats from entering the beach.

Shuttles of partiers by boat have been cited as one reason the size of the crowd could not be controlled.

The sheriff’s office has tentatively agreed to the plan, but legal details have yet to be worked out, Lt. Dan Smith, public information officer for the sheriff’s office, said on Tuesday.

full story at The Star-News
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State parks agency may take over Horsethief Reservoir campground

BY DAVE GOINS for The Star-News Feb 18, 2016

The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation Board voted last week to have more research done on whether the agency should take over the campgrounds at Horsethief Reservoir.

Currently, the campgrounds at the reservoir east of Cascade are operated by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, which owns the reservoir and manages it for fishing.

The campgrounds are “well used, but underdeveloped,” a state parks staff report said.

“They have a lot of camping going on there,” parks board chairman Randy Doman said. “They don’t collect fees, they’ve got resource damage and they’re losing money.”

The state parks staff came up with a cost estimate for taking over the campgrounds after F&G requested many times over the years that state parks take over the sites, the report said.

That estimate said the agency would need about $147,000 per year for annual operating and staff expenses.

If the parks department takes over the camp, fees would be started that would raise an estimated $155,000 over three years, the report said.

full story at The Star-News
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Albertsons to buy Paul’s Market stores, close 3 locations

KTVB February 15, 2016

BOISE – Albertsons Companies announced today that it has entered into an agreement to purchase and rebrand four Paul’s Market stores in Idaho.

The four Paul’s Market stores to be rebranded as Albertsons are in Boise, Kuna, Homedale and McCall.

Paul’s Market will close its three stores in Caldwell, Mountain Home and Nampa.  Albertsons will acquire those properties.

… “From the day that our family opened the first Paul’s Market store in 1955, we have been a proud Treasure Valley grocer, and we know that the folks at Albertsons share our values and commitment to providing the best to our communities,” said Stan and Steve Zatica, Co-Owners of Paul’s Market. “We sincerely thank our communities for 60 years of shopping with us, and we look forward to watching how these stores evolve to serve their customers for the future.”

full story:
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State land board wants to get rid of all Payette Lake leased lots by 2019

The Star-News Feb 18, 2016

The Idaho Land Board on Tuesday cleared the path for the sale of more leased lots around Payette Lake at McCall.

The plan allows remaining lessees of residential cottage sites at Payette Lake to participate in auctions of the lots they lease before the end of 2019.

The land board also approved plans that may result in the sale of most commercial real estate properties managed by the Idaho Department of Lands before the end of 2017.

The land board’s vote will allow remaining lessees to participate in a voluntary auction for ownership of the lot they lease by the end of 2019. There are 84 remaining cottage site lots at Payette Lake.

The lands are owned by the state but the cabins and other improvements on the land are owned by individuals. The families lease the lands from the state.

In 2014, the land board approved a three-year plan for the auction of 180 leased lots at Payette Lake as well as at Priest Lake in northern Idaho.

full story at The Star-News
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Idaho Land Board approves sale of commercial property

By KEITH RIDLER Published: 2/16/16

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Land Board on Tuesday approved selling most of the commercial properties owned by the Idaho Department of Lands as part of a plan to get rid of holdings that had become a political liability for some of its members.

The board voted 5-0 to sell 11 properties in Boise, three in Idaho Falls and one in Heyburn worth about $25 million.

A financial consultant, CenturyPacific, said selling the properties at a time when real estate prices are high benefits the state more than holding onto them. The consultant said the current market value is 15 percent more than if the Land Board retained the properties.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said that means, in approving the sale, the board was meeting its constitutional requirement to maximize profit over the long term.

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JFAC votes to pay $60M in wildfire suppression costs out of current year’s budget

By Betsy Z. Russell The Spokesman-Review Feb 19, 2016

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee has voted unanimously to transfer $60 million from the current year’s budget to cover fire suppression costs on state-protected lands during the 2015 fire season. That transfer reduces the year-end balance the state will have at the end of the current budget year from more than $114 million to just over $54 million.

Gov. Butch Otter’s budget had proposed a $50 million transfer, but in the coming, fiscal 2017 budget year, rather than the current 2016 fiscal year; JFAC’s action moves it up. “I think it’s the wise thing to do,” said Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, JFAC co-chair. “This leaves us a good balance to go into this year. … It certainly comes close to paying what we know we owe.”

Wildfire suppression costs on state-protected lands this past year, at $60.2 million, were 354 percent of the 10-year average of $17 million; 16 fires escaped initial attack, and the largest, the Clearwater Complex, burned 68,100 acres and 62 homes. “We don’t seem to be average any more,” Bell said. “As we go forth in the 2017 budgets, you might keep that in mind, too.”

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Landslide blocks Idaho 14 near Elk City

KTVB  February 19, 2016

ELK CITY, Idaho — A massive landslide is completely blocking the road in Idaho County.

According to the Idaho Transportation Department, dirt, rocks and debris tumbled onto Idaho 14 Thursday afternoon, burying a 500-foot section of the road. The landslide happened about 10 miles west of Elk City.

Debris is piled 40 feet deep on the highway. ITD crews are working with geologists and landslide experts to come up with a plan to safely remove the boulders and other material from the road.

In addition to concerns about instability, ITD officials say they don’t have a materials pit nearby big enough to hold all the slide debris.

There is no estimated time for the road to be cleared. Updates will be posted at

source w/photos:
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Idaho landslide traps 250 people in remote town

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: 2/19/16

ELK CITY, Idaho — Nearly 250 residents are still trapped in the remote town of Elk City after a massive landslide slid onto Highway 14 on Thursday.

KBOI-TV ( ) reports that about 14 tons of debris slid across a section of the highway about 10 miles west of Elk City.

Officials with the Idaho Transportation Department say the landslide is about 40 feet deep and is blocking approximately 500 feet of the highway.

Officials are unclear when the highway will be open, but transportation crews are working to open Forest Road 1199 for emergency use.


Forest News:

USDA Forest Service Middle Fork Weiser River Landscape Restoration Project Update

Feb 18, 2016

Dear Interested Party:

The Council Ranger District, Payette National Forest, is preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Middle Fork Weiser River Landscape Restoration Project that proposes landscape restoration treatments on approximately 24,000 acres, which would do the following:

* Move forest stands toward desired conditions as described in the Payette National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan by returning fire to the ecosystem (on approximately 24,000 acres); promoting the development of large-tree forest structures mixed with a mosaic of size classes; and improving growth, species composition, and resiliency to insects, disease, and fire.

* Improve habitat for Family 1 wildlife species, represented by the white-headed woodpecker, by restoring forest conditions that contribute to source habitat for these species and provide appropriate Family 2 habitat, represented by the pileated woodpecker. Provide appropriate habitat for wildlife in Families 3, 5, 7, 11, 12, and 13.

Proposed vegetation treatments would:

* Apply thinning treatments to forest stands followed by prescribed burning.

* Apply regeneration treatments where vigorous, fire-resistant trees are absent by creating openings up to 10 acres in size. Forest structure for wildlife habitat would be retained in these openings. Sites would be prepared for planting or natural regeneration using prescribed burning and/or hand scalping.

* Thin plantations and reduce fuel loading in older stands using skidding, lop and scattering, and/or mechanical piling followed by prescribed burning.

* Restore conditions within dry non-forest and wet meadow areas with commercial and noncommercial treatments and prescribed burning.

* Remove, pile, or burn biomass in harvest treatment areas.

* Create a shaded fuel break to protect values at risk, including 15 acres of treatment within a Riparian Conservation Area (RCA).

The Middle Fork Weiser River Landscape Restoration Project (Project) proposes to improve water quality, enhance aquatic habitat, and restore riparian and floodplain function by reducing road-related impacts. The Proposed Action would decommission 64.6 miles of unauthorized routes and 16.1 miles of National Forest System road and replace two culverts currently restricting aquatic organism passage.

The Project also proposes managing recreation use in the Project area, with an emphasis on improving Cabin Creek Campground facilities, identifying and hardening primary dispersed recreation areas, improving and realigning existing trails, and developing new trail opportunities.

The approximately 49,276-acre Project area is located within the Weiser River drainage on the Council Ranger District approximately 6 miles southeast of Council, Idaho, in Adams County.

The Draft EIS is available for review at the Council Ranger District, PO Box 567, 2092 Highway 95, Council, Idaho 83612. The documents and maps are also available online at Additional information regarding this action can be obtained from: Steve Penny, Team Leader, Payette National Forest, 500 North Mission Street Building 2, McCall, Idaho 83638; phone: 208-634-0801; email address: Persons interested in receiving updates about this project may subscribe to GovDelivery for project updates via email by clicking the link “subscribe to email updates” on the right side of the project webpage.


The Forest’s 800,000 acre Weiser-Little Salmon Headwaters Project (WLSH) was accepted in the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) in 2012 established with the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, PL 111-11. The Project is within the WLSH area. The purpose of the CFLRP is to encourage the collaborative, science-based ecosystem restoration of priority forest landscapes. Planning for this Project was initiated in summer 2013 in collaboration with the Payette Forest Coalition (PFC). The PFC, formed in June 2009, is a collaborative group comprised of stakeholders from a broad range of outside interests, including the environmental community, timber industry, recreational groups, interested citizens, and state and county government. The goal of the PFC is to work to sustain the ecologic function of landscapes and the economic health of rural communities.

How to Comment and Timeframe

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to publish a Notice of Availability (NOA) for the DEIS in the Federal Register on February 19, 2016. Written, facsimile, hand-delivered, and electronic comments concerning this action will be accepted for 45 days following that date. The publication date of the NOA in the Federal Register is the exclusive means for calculating the comment period for a proposed action documented in a DEIS. Those wishing to comment should not rely upon dates or timeframe information provided by any other source.

The preferred method to submit comments is electronically via the project webpage and must be submitted to:

Simply click on “how to comment” on the right side of the page and fill out the web form with your comments. Written comments must be submitted to Keith Lannom, Forest Supervisor, Payette National Forest, 500 North Mission Street Building 2, McCall, Idaho 83638 or by fax to 208-634-0744. The office business hours for those submitting hand-delivered comments are 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Electronic comments may also be submitted in a format such as an email message, pdf, plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), and Word (.doc or .docx) and must be sent to

Comments must have an identifiable name attached or verification of identity will be required. A scanned signature may serve as verification on electronic comments. For objection eligibility each individual or representative from each entity submitting timely and specific written comments regarding the proposed project must either sign the comments or verify identity upon request. All comments received will be published with authorship information in the public reading room on the project webpage.

Only those who submit timely and specific written comments regarding the proposed project during a public comment period established by the responsible official are eligible to file an objection.

A public meeting is planned at the Council Ranger District office on March 8, 2016, 4 pm to 6 pm. Team members and the District Ranger will lead a presentation describing the Proposed Action and alternatives and be available to answer questions from the public.

We appreciate your interest in the Payette National Forest and this project. If you have any questions regarding this project or comment period, please contact the Team Leader, Steve Penny, at 208-634-0801 or

Forest Supervisor
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Boise National Forest USFS
February 11, 2016
Contact: Lee Ann Loupe 208-373-4105

Tools to Help Navigate Available

BOISE, ID – It’s a grand winter for snow enthusiasts on the Boise National Forest! The Forest Service encourages people to #Get Outdoors and enjoy their time – whether skiing, snow-shoeing, and snowmobiling or other winter sports. We also want to remind visitors that there are areas on the Boise National Forest where over-snow vehicle travel is not allowed. These areas are not new and were identified to help protect and restore important habitat, reduce user conflicts and protect water quality.

There are tools available to help visitors navigate the Forest in winter. The Boise National Forest Winter Travel Map was developed to inform winter visitors and is available for free at Forest Offices and on the Boise National Forest website. The map complies with Subpart C of the Travel Management Rule and displays a variety of information in hard copy form. The map is also geo-referenced and available for download through the Avenza Map Store for free. This enables the visitor to download the map onto their smart phone or tablet and then use their Global Positioning System (GPS) to track their location and navigate while outdoors. This tool also helps visitors to locate the areas that are open for over-snow use and other winter uses.

Another tool for the public that the Boise National Forest is implementing is the use of quick response codes (QR codes) for information. This tool is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached. Typically, a smartphone is used as a QR code scanner, displaying the code and converting it to some useful form (such as a standard URL for a website). The use of this tool allows the user to access information through their cell phone quickly using the scanned image and download information. Information about maps, permits, user guides and other information becomes readily available electronically and it reduces the need for paper copies of handouts and other information.

More information on downloading geo-referenced maps and use with Apple and Android devices can be found at the Avenza Map Store or on the Boise National Forest Website at:

The Forest Service defines “over-snow vehicle (OSV)” as a motor vehicle that is designed for use over snow and that runs on a track or tracks and/or a ski or skis, while in use over snow.

Lee Ann Loupe
Acting External Communications-Public Affairs
Boise National Forest

Critter News:

New bill would redefine animal cruelty, torture in Idaho

By KIMBERLEE KRUESI – AP Published: 2/18/16

BOISE, Idaho — Less than six months after a pony named Patches had to be euthanized after it was dragged behind a vehicle on a paved road for more than a mile, Idaho lawmakers are considering redefining what qualifies as the most abhorrent acts of cruelty and torture against animals.

The House Agricultural Affairs Committee introduced legislation Thursday that defines torture as acts that intentionally and maliciously cause an animal to suffer or feel prolonged pain. However, it would not apply to accidents or neglected animals.

Furthermore, animal cruelty would no longer apply to animals killed or wounded by being overworked.

“Anything that can impact agriculture becomes a big deal in Idaho,” said Jeff Rosenthal, executive director of the Idaho Humane Society. “Definitions are important because they usually have to be demonstrated in court. Does something fit a particular definition can cause quite a lot of debate.”

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Off-leash program in Ann Morrison Park drawing to a close

KTVB February 19, 2016

BOISE — Dog owners have just over a week left to let their pets frolic off-leash in Ann Morrison Park.

The popular program will end Feb. 28, just in time for the start of practice season for local soccer teams.

The off-leash program, which started in November, is aimed at disrupting the hundreds of geese that winter in the park. City officials say the geese damage the turf, as well as cause public health and safety concerns.

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Wolf kills do lower livestock attacks, UW study says, in contradiction to WSU report

By Becky Kramer The Spokesman-Review Feb 16, 2016

Does killing wolves that attack sheep and cattle reduce livestock deaths over the long run?

That’s a hotly debated issue in Washington, where wolf packs are expanding into areas where sheep and cattle graze, creating conflicts that sometimes end with wolves being killed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to protect livestock.

In 2014, Washington State University researchers published a study that said killing problem wolves can actually increase livestock attacks the following year by disrupting the packs’ social structure. Killing the pack’s leaders resulted in more breeding pairs, more wolf pups and more livestock attacks in the future, the study said.

The research analyzed 25 years of data on wolf attacks on sheep and cattle in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Now, a dueling study from the University of Washington offers a different conclusion.

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New wolf, OR-33, travels to Klamath County

By LACEY JARRELL – Herald and News Published: 2/18/16

KLAMATH FALLS, Oregon — Wildlife officials have confirmed that a fifth radio-collared gray wolf has made its way to Klamath County.

The 2-year-old male wolf, designated OR-33, dispersed from the northeastern Oregon Imnaha Pack in January.

Tom Collom, a district biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said OR-33 has been traversing land west of Swan Lake Valley, between Klamath Falls and Dairy, for about 10 days.

Collom said the public has reported sightings of the wolf to ODFW. The agency conducted an aerial survey from a helicopter and confirmed the wolf is traveling by itself.

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KWVR Oregon Wolf Education weekly Wolf Report

Third week of Feb 2016
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State’s official wolf packs status report coming in March

By Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review Feb 18, 2016

Wolf recovery in Washington is leaving some people with a lingering hangover.

But instead of digging in heels on one end or the other of wolf sentiment, some people are stepping up to work out livable solutions.

The map graphic above shows unofficial listing of wolf packs in Washington as revealed in 2014 and 2015 and compiled by The Spokesman-Review.

continued w/map:
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$2,500 reward offered in deaths of 3 wolves in NE Minnesota

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: 2/18/16

ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Federal authorities are offering a $2,500 reward for information on the killing of three wolves in northeastern Minnesota.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the frozen carcasses were discovered Jan. 22 in a ditch along Minnesota Highway 8 near Floodwood, about 45 miles west of Duluth.

Gray wolves are on the endangered list, and it’s illegal to kill them in Minnesota except in self-defense. Otherwise it’s punishable by six months in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.

Officials think the wolves were killed elsewhere, then dumped the night before they were found. There’s evidence they may have been snared but scientists are still determining how they were killed.

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Assembly passes bill outlawing hunter harassment

February 11, 2016 Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Assembly has approved a bill that would prohibit people from bothering hunters in the woods.

The Assembly passed the bill on a voice vote Thursday with no debate. The measure now goes to Gov. Scott Walker. The Senate passed the bill on a voice vote last month.

The bill’s Republican authors say concerns about hunter harassment have grown since the Wolf Patrol, a group of animal rights activists, followed and filmed wolf hunters in Wisconsin and Montana in 2014.

The bill would expand the definition of interference with a hunter to include remaining in a hunter’s sight and photographing or confronting a hunter more than twice with the intention to interfere.


[hat tip to WEI]
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After years of growth, Mexican gray wolf population declines

By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN – AP Published: 2/18/16

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — There are now fewer Mexican gray wolves roaming the American Southwest, and federal officials say the numbers show more work needs to be done to restore the endangered species.

The annual survey released Thursday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows at least 97 wolves are spread between southwestern New Mexico and southeast Arizona.

Federal officials say the numbers are disconcerting since the population had been on the upswing since 2010, with 2014 marking a banner year when the predators topped 110.

Biologists aren’t certain whether the abrupt decline in 2015 was an anomaly. They’re considering a number of factors, including the deaths of 13 wolves and a significantly lower pup survival rate.

The survey showed 23 wild-born pups survived in 2015 compared to 38 the previous year.

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Group sues to reclassify Montana [grizzly] bear population

Associated Press Feb 17, 2016

A conservation groups is suing the federal government for the second time in two years for failing to reclassify a small population of grizzly bears as endangered.

The roughly 40 grizzly bears in the Cabinet-Yaak area along the Montana-Idaho border are considered a threatened species.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies said in a Feb. 9 lawsuit that the population is in decline because of humans killing bears. The group says at least 100 bears are needed for the area’s grizzlies to avoid extinction.

An endangered listing would require protection of the bears’ habitat.

A 2014 lawsuit from the Alliance was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy. Molloy said the matter was moot because of a finding that year from U.S. officials that an endangered listing was not warranted.

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Bison hunters offered holistic deal after their kill

By Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review Feb 16, 2016

A group founded in the Methow Valley is taking a stab at reviving the spiritual and physical values of bison by taking on the dirty work of processing the kills of Yellowstone-region hunters.

The eight members of this year’s Buffalo Bridge are honoring “the innate worth of the buffalo” while attempting to build cultural ties to tribal members who have renewed their bison treaty hunting rights outside Yellowstone National Park, reports Brett French outdoor writer for the Billings Gazette.

To do that, the group offers to help all of the nearby bison hunters — tribal and nontribal — to gut, skin and haul their kill at no charge. In return, they claim any unused bison parts for their own needs — less choice cuts of meat for food, hides for tanning, and bones for making tools and utensils like ancient people.

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Midwinter thaw helps valley elk

Fish and Game begins to close Blaine County feeding sites

Feb 19, 2016 Greg Moore – IME

With warmer weather and melting snow, elk are leaving four new feeding stations set up by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in the southern Wood River Valley and moving to more natural sources of food.

The department created the sites early this month to lure elk away from farms and ranches where they were eating hay. That feeding caused losses to the farmers and accidents to the elk. At least 20 elk are also believed to have died from eating poisonous yew shrubs planted as ornamentals at homes and at the Hailey Cemetery.

“We’re sure that there are still elk in these private-property areas, but the numbers have lessened enough that we’re not getting complaints,” department spokesman Kelton Hatch said.

He said the department used several snowmobiles to herd the animals off private agricultural land toward the feeding sites.

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Elk Crossing

Feb 19, 2016 HBO

On her way to work this morning, SR photographer extraordinaire Kathy Plonka spotted this herd of elk running through a field off of Beck Road near Hauser Lake. [Kootenai County, Idaho]

Link to image:
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One in Four U.S. Deer Is Infected With Malaria

Scientists suspect the undetected blood parasite has been present in the animals ever since they arrived across the Bering Land Bridge

By Jackson Landers smithsonian February 5, 2016

Two new species of malaria have been discovered in Washington, D.C. by scientists at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Previously, no type of endemic malaria was known to occur in American mammals. The newly discovered strains appear to be selectively adapted to white-tail deer and may be present in 25 percent of white-tails throughout the United States. They are unlikely to affect human health.

The discovery, described this week in Science Advances, was an accident that resulted from a survey looking for avian malaria, which is known to occur in the United States.

“What we were doing was catching and screening the mosquitoes from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo as part of a bird project,” says Ellen Martinsen, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral fellow at the Zoo’s Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics. “And we stumbled across some DNA that we didn’t understand,” she says. “Fortunately one of the mosquitoes was full of blood, so we did a scan for vertebrate genes, and we found that this parasite had fed on a white-tail deer. And we knew that was something strange.”

Read more:

Fun Critter Stuff:

Equestrian skijoring

Equestrian skijoring consists of a team of a single horse, generally guided by a rider, pulling the person on skis who carries no poles and simply hangs onto a tow rope in a manner akin to water skiing. In France, competitions involve a riderless horse, which is guided by the skier. In all cases, the horses have to be trained to accept the presence of ropes and skier behind them and to remain calm in racing conditions.

Skijoring behind a horse is said to have originated as a method of winter travel, but today is primarily a competitive sport. Skijoring was a demonstration sport in the 1928 Winter Olympics.

more info at Wiki:
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Horsemen, Skiers Test Their Limits

February 17, 2016 IME


Express photo by Willy Cook

Cowgirl Kali Castle, aboard Mouse, pulls skier R.J. Klotz on Saturday during the 2016 running of the Wood River Extreme Ski Joring Association Open Class race over the weekend. The annual event took place behind the Wood River High School football field at the mouth of Quigley Canyon, near Hailey. There were 17 entrants in the Open Division, and Castle and company took third place in the two-run, two-day event with a total time of 34.13 seconds. Skier Klotz works his rope in preparation for the next gate as he goes over the first of three jumps before lining himself up to grab a series of rings and pass through other subsequent gates, jumps and ring grabs. “We had a great turnout, and the weather, venue and just everything was perfect,” said Bill Bobbitt, the association’s president.

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Skijoring in Wisdom, Montana

Montana skijoring is a fun winter sport combining horseback riding and skiing in a fun, fast-paced event. Take a look at these great Southwest Montana shots from Wisdom.

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Crazy Winter Sport: Skijoring

Skijoring is a curious winter sport in which skiers are pulled behind horses and over jumps while trying to collect rings. We head to Leadville, Colorado where the annual event takes place.

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Skijoring: An awkward combination? [Europe]

CNN Feb 10, 2013


Fish & Game News:

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McCall Fish & Game

SECOND Thursday with Fish and Game Oops! Due to a scheduling conflict, the March “First Thursday” will be on the SECOND Thursday, March 10.

WHAT: Staff will be available throughout the evening to listen to ideas or answer questions about wildlife or hunting seasons. There will be a presentation on the recent drawing odds survey at 5:30 pm.

WHEN and WHERE: Council Legion Hall Thursday, March 10, 5-7 PM

DETAILS: We’ll supply some beverages.

Questions? Call 634-8137.

Regan Berkley
Regional Wildlife Manager
McCall Regional Office
555 Deinhard Ln.
McCall, ID 83638

Tips and Advice:

Food Safety

from The Farmers’ Almanac

To ensure food safety, your refrigerator temperature should be 36º- 39º Fahrenheit (approx. 4º C), and the freezer should be 0º- 6º Fahrenheit (-18º to -14º C).
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National Snow Analyses

The National Snow Analyses by NOHRSC (the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center) are something you may find useful and interesting. The national and regional maps show with fairly good accuracy the current and seasonal (time lapse) snow pack, snow water equivalent, snow melt, etc. One of the inputs that go into NOHRSC analyses are your CoCoRaHS reports. In fact during some years over 50% of NOHRSC’s SWE (Snow water equivalent) measurements came from CoCoRaHS observers.


Odd News:

Massive rockslide blocks Douglas County road


Douglas County [Oregon] will have to clean up a massive rockslide that occurred Tuesday [Feb 16] on Tyee Access Road about 15 miles west of Sutherlin. According to the Public Works Department, the rock is 40-feet in length and 40-feet tall and it could cost as much as $50,000 to clean up. (Douglas County Public Works Department)

Idaho History February 21, 2016

Wilbur Wiles

(Edwardsburg and Big Creek)

Part 1

Wilbur Wiles in Europe WWII


Wilbur Wiles is our long time neighbor in Big Creek — he came into the back country after being in the WWII invasion of Normandy. He bounty hunted for lions for a number of years, then got involved with this [cougar] study because of his abilities. He is now 100, still summering in Big Creek and has a wealth of stories — many of them involving lion hunts. – Jim
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Wilbur Wiles

by Carrie Ellie Pitts

Wilbur Wiles of the Yellow Gem opal mine in Valley County, Idaho, is among the last of the wilderness pioneers. He made his living deep in central Idaho’s Rocky Mountains and had covered just about every ridge and valley of its rugged backcountry on foot prospecting, trapping, tracking cougars, and working remote gold digs such as the Sunday Mine near Big Creek and the Sunnyside in Thunder Mountain. At 94 years wise, his rules are still straight forward: never lie to him, don’t ever accuse him of lying, and pull your own weight. He is a quiet hard working man of integrity and chose his life in the Idaho mountains. Raised on a farm in Iowa, he became an expert trapper and moved west to live and trap in the backcountry.

While working during summer months for various mines, he learned to keep an eye out for good prospects on his own. During the 1960s, his knowledge of the area and reputation for tracking led to his being asked to serve as houndsman and guide for conservation biologist Dr. Maurice Hornocker. Over several years, they conducted an extensive mountain lion study which was published in National Geographic’s November 1969 issue.

In 1960, he was prospecting on the Big Creek drainage and followed chips of a mysterious yellow stone in the creeks to their source high on a rugged bluff in the Primitive Area. After combing the mountain, he spotted some bigger pieces in the roots of an upturned tree. He carried them out to learn what the stones were; it was facet grade honey opal. He hiked back in and staked four claims. He spent much of the next 30 years digging for the opal in its rhyolite host rock. His hand dug trenches can still be seen today and would amaze any observer: some stretch 100 feet long and most are 15 to 25 feet deep. All muck was removed with shovel and wheelbarrow, and the series of dumps is an impressive sight. Most of the picks, shovels and wheelbarrows were carried in on his back.

But a braggart he is not, and you have to prod him a little over a cup of joe to hear stories of his adventures in the wild. Some of them would make you shake your head and wonder how he survived. “I’m like a cat with nine lives I guess,” he answers, “but figure I better be careful because I’ve used most of them.” One of his closest calls happened when he was attacked by a cougar while hiking back up Big Creek in the snow to his cabin. He had a cougar dog-in-training with him, and remarked, “If I’d had a timid dog, I wouldn’t be telling the story.” At the turning point of the struggle, the big cat had grabbed Wilbur’s left hand in its mouth; his dog went for its soft underbelly giving Wilbur a chance to slug the cougar with his right fist. He knew from trapping that a solid blow straight into the nose of an animal can actually kill it, so he began pounding so hard he dislocated his own knuckles. “I knew only one of us would leave the mountain alive that day,” he stated. The blow dazed the cat long enough to pull out a knife and cut its throat.

When he was 89, his arthritic hands and various stiffness’s made him decide to sell the opal mine. “I figure I can’t run the gas jackhammer anymore,” he explained, holding out his scarred hands and flexing his stiff, swollen knuckles. Now he is content to care for his home and land in Big Creek, and tend a large garden.

Story told to Carrie Ellie Pitts by Wilbur Wiles.
excerpted from “Pans, Picks & Shovels, Mining in Valley County, Idaho”, Valley County History Project, pages 276-278
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Big Creek

Wilbur Wiles getting supplies from Roxie Minter at the Big Creek Store.
(photo – Idaho Statesman)
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photo shared by Jim C


Wilbur Wiles, Maurice Hornocker and others.

photo shared by Sandy McRae

Feb 15 update from J. Collord re: group photo:

A bunch of us met in Salome, AZ for a January 19th [2016] celebration of Wilbur Wiles’ 100th birthday. The party was organized by Maurice Hornocker.  Wilbur worked with him on the cougar study in the late 1960s.  Needless to say, Wilbur was surprised and pleased.
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Letters to Wilbur on his 100th Birthday

“There Has Always Been Wilbur”

Reflections about Wilbur on his 100th Birthday

Wilbur has always been part of the McRae-Collord’s life, and as I rapidly approach the “young age” of 70, Wilbur has certainly always been part of my life. I was born in the mining town of Stibnite, an ephemeral community that was most active during World War II when antimony and tungsten were produced for the War effort. Stibnite is located in the central Idaho mountains not far from Wilbur’s humble home in Big Creek — and next to our cabin that has been in the family since the 1950s. Of course, my grandparents and parents were good friends with Wilbur and visits were frequent.

My first remembrance of Wilbur was when I was pretty small — and that was knowing that he was a “bounty hunter” for cougar, and listening to his cougar hounds baying in their pen next to Wilbur’s cabin. For some reason, that was intriguing and left a strong impression on me.

In 1952 or so, I spent a year with my folks when they worked the McRae tungsten (Wolfang) mine located out of Big Creek and at an elevation of around 9,000 feet. I remember the deep snow most of all, and trips to the working mill and to the mine. In the winter, mom and I traipsed through the snow for a Christmas tree, and I celebrated my sixth birthday with a cake decorated as a merry-go-around that one of the ladies in the camp made for me. And Wilbur worked at the mine for part of the time my family was there.

After that period, my family took off on mining ventures in other parts of Idaho, then Nevada, California and Colorado. We made it back occasionally to the Idaho backcountry, but Wilbur became somewhat of a distant memory for me. That until my parents, who lived in California at the time, retired and started spending summers at the cabin in Big Creek. I was working in Nevada at the time, but my wife Leta and I had wonderful times at the Cabin with my folks and their neighboring friends. It was a unique time in Big Creek during the late 1970s and 1980s as those neighbors had a great time with each other. Wilbur was part of this friendship.

My life became even more intertwined with Wilbur when he, dad and I went down Big Creek in 1979 to repaper the Golden Bear mining claims. This was a time that the mineral entry into the Frank Church was to be withdrawn, and Wilbur offered the claims to dad. The rest of that is history when dad commenced a 20-year “battle” with the forest service on claim validity. Dad eventually won, but not before making it to the Ninth Circuit — and winning — twice.

At the same time, Wilbur was particularly concerned that the agencies were going to take away his Yellow Gem opal mine located on Monumental Creek in the heart of the Frank Church. Dad’s basic comment was, “…like hell they will — let’s patent the claims..” Dad and another Big Creek neighbor put up the money and effort to patent the claims — and it was completed in 1982; it was one of the last patents granted in Idaho. Wilbur was then able to continue mining now private land until his physical condition disallowed going in regularly. During this time, my niece Carrie spent a great deal of time in Big Creek, and became close friends with Wilbur — and took and active interest in the Yellow Gem.

In 2004 Wilbur and I hired a helicopter out of Boise to haul equipment to the Opal and set up his camp for the season. A total of five trips were made from the Big Creek air strip and the Yellow Gem, and Wilbur was set for another round of mining. This was one of his last trips in.

A few years ago Carrie purchased Wilbur’s share of the mine. I obtained the other portion and Carrie and I became co-owners. Carrie has made yearly treks to the mine and has, with Wilbur’s suggestions on where to dig, come back from the wilderness with some very nice stones — always ready to share her prizes with him.

So, you see, there has always been Wilbur in my life. And I am very thankful for that.

Happy Birthday, Wilbur.
Jim Collord, January 19, 2016

(photos with letter)

1979-Big-Jim-Collord-and-Wilbur-aOn the Golden Bear gold vein, down Big Creek, September 1979 Big Jim Collord and Wilbur.

Wilbur-with-Uncle-Bob-McRae-1952-aWilbur with Uncle Bob McRae, McRae Tungsten Mine, ca. 1952

Wilbur-panning-for-gold-aWilbur panning for gold, Monumental Creek (?)

Wilbur waiting for helicopter for flight into Yellow Gem, 2004
WilburHelicopter2004-aBig Creek Airport, 2004. Getting ready for flight into Yellow Gem. Made five trips in from Big Creek hauling Wilbur, helpers and materials for the camp and mining.

WilburYellowGem2004-aWilbur on the Yellow Gem, 2004. Jeff Fereday holding up the tree.

WilburCampYellowGem2004-a2004 helicopter trip in. Setting up Wilbur’s camp at the Yellow Gem with Jerritt Collard helping. This was one of Wilbur’s last trips into the mine.
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… When did I meet you? You won’t remember, but I do. I was a scrawny little sprout of a kid, with Grace McRae and my mother Kay at our cabin. I first set eyes on you when I was hanging my nose on the window sill watching for my Mom to come back after fishing behind something she called the Hogs Back. I had no idea what a Hog’s Back was, or why there were fish behind it, but while I was watching, I saw you walking up your driveway from the mailbox. They had told me stories about you, so you were a wonderful mystery. I remember wishing I could have adventures like yours. Well, not like ALL of yours, some of them were pretty wild.

My next memories of you are when Marge & Jim Collord started bringing me to the cabin every summer, and I began to learn more about you and your mountains. They became my mountains too. I learned to explore the high lakes and fly fish, and never looked back — but my favorite fishing trips ever were the ones you and I hiked to together. They just made my summers, that you would hike with me to fish. I loved it.

As I got bigger and dumber, I also recall that you were always the first one to be ready with a loaded pack to hunt for me after I botched a hike and didn’t come in when expected. That said a lot to me. I’m sorry if I ever worried you. And I hope to be the kind of person who would also load a pack and go hunt for a friend, too.

I especially recall early one morning after messing up a fishing hike; you came to check with Marge about whether I’d made it back. I was resting upstairs. You were ready to go hunt for me, of course. She said I got home very very late, and pointed to my backpack on the floor. I remember suddenly being wide awake upstairs and listening. I heard you walk over to my backpack, pick it up, and then thump it heavily back on the floor. Then you said to my Grandma, “I knew she was tough, but didn’t know she was that tough.” My Grandma laughed, but I was upstairs with a huge goofy grin all over my face, thinking well you should have felt it with all the fish in it. (Hah hah.) I felt like I had just received “the Wilbur Stamp-Of-Approval” and boy was I proud. If you thought I was tough, then I must be OK and to hell with what the world said. It meant a lot to me, because I respect you. You’re a quiet person who lived through many challenging things and chose not to brag or shrug hard work. For you to think I was solid, well maybe I could think so too.

Remember the time I threw my neck out? (It was from swinging a sledge hammer sideways.) You noticed I had no smoke in my chimney and came down to find out why. I could hardly move, and you built a fire in the heat stove. My world is better because I know you. Do you remember when I ran up your driveway all out of breath as your car horn was going off? Well that’s why. You matter to me. A great deal.

Another memory for me was late one fall when I was trying to close our place out for winter. You were walking down to get your mail, and saw me sitting on the ground near the little sleep cabin, and we ended up talking. I was not looking forward to going back to the city, and confided, “I just don’t fit out there, Wilbur.” You said the only thing that could have made a difference right then: you said, “I don’t either.” And somehow it made everything alright.

When we were standing in your oldest trench together at the opal mine in 2004, I was so tickled. I asked where you found your first pieces of opal. (I knew the story but wanted to hear it from you.) You looked straight up and said matter-of-factly, “About 10 feet above your head.” I looked toward the sky and grinned. That was too cool. I’m so glad I hiked in to see you up there. I’ll never forget trudging up that hill covered in dust and sweat, then smelling the smoke from your fire. As I got closer, the strangest sound began to drift down the canyon, I was puzzled. It was a ball game on the radio. That makes me smile to this day. Sometimes if an evening gets long up there, I dig out your radio and string up an antenna.

After we hiked back out, you cracked me up the next morning; we had camped on the airstrip and woke to heavy frost. I was heating water on a little stove and asked if you wanted something hot to drink. You said NO. I asked if you wanted hot soup. You said NO. Plain hot water? NO. I asked if you’d like to just hold hot water. You declared, “No. I’m just going to stand here and pout this morning.” I tried to keep a straight face and said, “Fine, be that way.” Then you smiled, just a bit. So I tended my water, and next thing I knew, you were gone — you hiked up the side of the hill to meet the rising sun. It was one of my favorite mornings ever. …

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Dear Wilbur,

On the occasion of your hundredth birthday, I thought I would explain how you have been a part of my life in one way or another for about sixty years, long before we ever actually met. I first heard about you from my grandparents, Horace and Evelyn Fereday, who owned the Big Creek Lodge for a time in the 1950s. They spoke of you fondly, along with other residents of that remote area, such as Napier Edwards and John Vines. I was a young boy and I imagined rugged backcountry trappers and solitaries living mostly off the land. You had a place in my imagination.

When I was in ninth grade in the mid-1960s, I read a news story that mentioned you prominently in connection with the innovative cougar study then underway in the Idaho Primitive Area. It was reported that you were the trapper from Big Creek whom scientist Maurice Hornocker engaged to track and tree the cats so they could be collared and weighed. As I recall it, Dr. Hornocker had asked around and quickly learned that “if you want to track cougars in that backcountry, Wilbur Wiles is your man.” That study of course became famous, National Geographic featured it, and Dr. Hornocker went on to do large cat studies all over the world. You stayed in Big Creek, living a quiet but vigorous life in your beloved wild country.

As a smokejumper in McCall in the early 70s, I passed through Big Creek many times and again heard your name occasionally. But somehow we never crossed paths. The Primitive Area became the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness; I stopped smokejumping, went to law school, married Kay Hummel, worked in Washington, D.C. and Colorado. The next time I heard about you it was from your friend Jim Collord, Sr., whom I represented in the late 1980s when I defended the validity of the Collord family’s Golden Bear mining claims on Little Ramey Ridge. They were in the Wilderness and the Forest Service wanted them voided. You actually had staked the claims and did assessment work for some years before conveying them to Jim. Jim spoke of you often, but still I had not met you.

That two-week trial on Jim’s mining claims is something of a blur now; it was a stressful time. But one vivid memory I have is this: At the end of it I was packing up my papers when I was approached by an older gentleman, straight and lean and with piercing blue eyes, who had been in the audience during the trial. “I’m Wilbur Wiles from Big Creek,” you said. “I appreciate what you’ve done for Jim, and I want you to have this.” You handed me a small box. Inside was a beautiful silver pocket watch. “This was your grandfather’s. He traded it to me in 1956.” That watch is one of my dearest possessions. But more valuable by far is the friendship my family has developed with you, Wilbur. We are so lucky and so privileged and so grateful to know you.

Jeffrey C. Fereday
Boise, Idaho December 2015
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A Salute to Wilbur Wiles – Idaho Pioneer, Miner, Woodsman and Soldier

Forty-some years ago I was dropped into the Big Creek area to help with radio-tracking on Maurice Hornocker’s mountain lion study; 1 was twenty, footloose, and available. I’d had a year of college, some time on drilling rigs, and a liking for climbing and skiing, otherwise there was not much to recommend me for the job – but like I said, I was available.

Radio-tracking was often an exercise in frustration. The collar transmitters were at the end of their batteries’ lives and mountain lions are sparse, well-hidden, and can cover a lot of ground, with line-of-sight signals only sometimes detectable. All the same, I knew right away that I was in a special and wonderful piece of country and that Bill Dorris’s Cessna 185 was really not an airplane, but a time machine: once you step past the runway’s end you’ve landed in another century – the nineteenth century. On foot or horse with what’s carried on your back, walking alongside the prospectors, miners and pioneers of a hundred years ago. But great luck gave me the most wonderful mentor and guide, Mr. Wilbur Wiles.

Wilbur, who was key to the success of the lion study, leading his three dogs, three horses and me, packed in and set up the half dozen camps around Big Creek that the lion study used throughout the year. In those weeks Wilbur taught me a lot of things that were completely new – the kind of knowledge that I didn’t even know I didn’t know. Each day brought a new clue that I was in the company of a truly remarkable, amazingly skilled, and very fine man.

For one, Wilbur, then in his mid fifties, was just about the hardest and steadiest working guy I’d ever seen. From before dawn to after supper he was always doing something, whether it was catching horses, packing horses, handling and feeding dogs, fixing tack and equipment or just striding on up a trail like an absolute engine — he put John Henry to shame. Wilbur did not stop, did not waste a single motion, and at the same time was always watching, hearing and sensing everything ahead, behind, underfoot and overhead. No sign of wildlife or geology escaped his attention – while I, young and strong, labored with one foot in front of the other just to keep up.

Wilbur is thoroughly courteous, with a reserve and politeness that is part his nature, and probably also a product of being one solitary soul sharing a huge country with just a handful of others. His neighbors were a long way off and not often met – over the ridge, in the next valley – but all the same, keeping on good terms with the neighbors was always worth his effort. Wilbur extended the same good-naturedness and humor to me, as my general ignorance would present itself daily, but Wilbur never criticized, or rolled his eyes, or huffed, “Here, I’ll do that myself.” Instead we’d just continue the job without comment, but later in the day, usually after supper, I’d ask about ‘the right way to do so-and-so’, to which Wilbur would grin and say, “Oh, well, that’s okay. The way a feller usually does something like that is….” At the end of which I’d be a little wiser but with my tail feathers still intact.

You can tell a great deal about a person by the way he understands and behaves around animals. In this Wilbur is so far ahead of the rest of us that there is no comparison. Dogs, horses, lions and people (including twenty year old upstarts) are all more-or-less equals on the face of the earth, and each with its own character, level of comprehension, plus a job to do. All are respected: some are tolerated, some are admired, and some are dearly beloved friends.

Among my favorite recollections of Wilbur are of being on a steep trail with the string of three packed horses and one of them – Charley, I think – lurching aside to grab a stray bite of grass, and stepping cross-legged over his lead line, bringing all to a halt and possibly to a dangerous spill. Wilbur, calm but exasperated, gave Charley a complicated lecture and instructions that would have put an air traffic controller to shame, pointing to one hoof while tapping the other. Holding one horse and the dogs while this was happening, I was amazed to see Charley drop his head, tilt one eye up to Wilbur’s, and as if he somehow understood it all, make a slow motion ballroom dance, scooting, lifting and then dropping one hoof and then another.

Another that will stay forever is of Wilbur feeding the dogs. Inside the tent or cabin after dinner would be the three bowls with their chow. Scraps and grease from our dinner would then be divided among the three: “Well, a little more for Red. No, those other two will see that he has extra, better put some back. Now then, Red should get some of that back….” All the while, the dogs were staked outside, yards away, but THEY WOULD KNOW!

And Wilbur is far too honest and fair to trifle with the feelings of such good, hard working dogs.

Finally, Wilbur Wiles, at one hundred years and counting, is a storehouse – no, a treasure house – of just plain wonderful stories, some dealing with extraordinary events, and others of ordinary times that are now long past and nearly lost. He has seen and done an awful lot in those years.

Wilbur talked mostly about times in Idaho and not much about being away in the service and war. All the same, it’s clear that as a member of the Second Armored Division, through Normandy, the Ardennes and Germany, Wilbur was on the frontline for many months of tough fighting. Compared with many he was an old guy, at twenty-eight or twenty-nine, a platoon Sergeant among young men and teenaged boys from cities, towns and farms across the country. Few of them would have landed in Normandy with the knowledge and skills needed to cope with the danger, cold, fatigue and fear of that campaign, and certainly very, very few would have been as well prepared by experience and character as Wilbur. Like they say, “The backbone of an army is the non-commissioned man.” Wilbur has always had backbone to spare! There’s no doubt many of these soldiers owed a measure of their survival to Sergeant Wilbur Wiles.

I don’t know anyone with whom I’d rather share a foxhole.

Matthew Symonds
Farmington, New Mexico
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I’ve known you for close to 50 years, even though we met personally when I visited you at Big Creek with Jim Akenson a mere 25 years ago or so. The monographs that Maurice wrote on the seminal cougar studies you and he accomplished were a part of my lectures and my students read them as well. I never forgot to point out that that fellow who had the dogs and the know-how of corralling a lion in a tree was a very integral part of the work.

I have had a lot of good visits with you and your hospitality is very much appreciated. I say this on behalf of my mules as well! I always look forward to our visits because the history you talk about is so informative. Those conversations always give insight into events and issues in the Big Creek drainage that leads to my better understanding and appreciation of the country. Your knowledge of all the nooks and crannies in the area really helps.

And I appreciate your study of the slopes around your place, when the snow melts first, what game and sign you see. It was always fun to know how the current weather pattern differs from the usual, if indeed it does.

The rhubarb and strawberries from your garden are always welcome and we thoroughly enjoy them, knowing where they came from and who grows them.

So here’s a hearty wish for a happy 100th birthday!

Jim Peek
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Expedition in Search of a Wolf Den


I vividly remember that late April day that Janet Hohmann and I flew to Big Creek from Taylor Ranch. Janet and I were going to backpack down the length of Big Creek to see if any harlequin ducks nested on Big Creek. You were the only person at Big Creek and Edwardsburg at that time of year. Although the snow was melted off the airstrip, you still had to hike the 3 to 4 mile round trip to the airstrip once a week to get your mail and groceries, because icy drifts blocked the road. We stayed overnight with you at your cabin and enjoyed hearing stories of your life on Big Creek. Always an attentive host, in the morning you cooked us up a hearty breakfast of pancakes and Spam.

I had the radio telemetry receiver and antenna along, because I did aerial tracking for the radio collared wolves and cougars while on the flight from Taylor Ranch, to collect additional information for the wolf and cougar study Jim and I were doing. Wolves were fairly new to Idaho, but you pointed to an opening on the side of the mountain where you had spotted a wolf from the cabin just a week before. It was a place where you had often seen elk feeding, but not anymore. I turned on the telemetry receiver and got a signal from the radio collar on the alpha male of the Wolf Fang wolf pack – right from inside your cabin! It was in the direction of the wolf you had seen.

Tracking wolves was suddenly the priority; Janet and I could do the duck survey when we got done. The local wolves typically gave birth around mid-April, so I thought there might be an active wolf den in that area. All three of us were eager to follow the wolf signal and search for a den. You led us over to the base of the mountain. Most of the snow was gone, but the vegetation was still dormant. We searched around the opening where you had seen the wolf, but didn’t see any sign of wolves. The loud telemetry signal indicated we needed to continue along the hillside into the open forest, but we were definitely getting closer to the wolf. I described what the wolf dens looked like that Jim and I had found before. The den entrances are so big and deep that there is usually a large amount of dirt piled below the two foot wide opening.

The three of us spread out across the hillside, so we could cover more area as we searched for a den excavation. The radio collared wolf howled from several hundred yards away in the direction we were walking. Then Janet gave a whistle, so I walked over to see what she had found. It was a huge mound of bare ground, eight feet across with an opening on the downhill side. “Is this what we are looking for?” she whispered. “Yes!” I exclaimed quietly as we stood on the mound. “This has been used as a wolf den,” I said, thinking we weren’t to the active den yet. Then, to our surprise, we heard the soft sound of whimpering and suckling wolf pups – right under our feet. We quickly and quietly retreated off the mound where you joined us, Wilbur. All three of us crept close enough to the mouth of the den to hear the sounds of nursing wolf pups. We quietly moved away from the den without seeing the alpha female (mother) wolf. As we hiked down the hill back to the cabin, the radio collared male wolf howled again from his
previous location and the female howled from the vicinity of the den. It was an exciting day on Big Creek. I am so glad we shared the adventure of discovering an active wolf den together.

Your backcountry friend,
Holly Akenson
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1979 Wilbur Wiles and Big Jim Collord Back Country Pioneers

On the Golden Bear gold vein, down Big Creek, September 1979 Big Jim Collord and Wilbur Wiles
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Remembering Wilbur Wiles

Boy, talk about the passing of a generation and time . . . A man who actually lived not just in the woods, but in the remote Idaho backcountry most of his life, living off the land – hunting, trapping, mining, and later working indirectly for National Geo. His mentors, friends, and acquaintances were authentic Thunder Mountain miners, original backcountry forest rangers, homesteaders, and the most recognized figures of the backcountry. Of course he did not like himself to be placed in the latter category. He served his country in WWII, not because he had to, but because he wanted to, and always down played his participation in D-Day and later the liberation of camps. He never entered the computer age, rarely used a telephone, and when I last visited with him at his home in Big Creek (August 2017) he preferred to get his news on the am radio. And best of all, he was a man of great integrity who valued the intangible things in life, such as friendship and nature, above anything else – it always appeared to me he wanted for nothing and his life was completely fulfilled. It is certainly rare anymore to meet people who simply judge and accept a fellow human being based on his or her word. He will be well remembered and missed!

– From pilot/author Richard Holm on the passing of Wilbur Wiles
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Monumental Idaho mountain man turns 102

Very few can be considered legendary Idahoans. But one man, who moved to the Gem State during the Great Depression because he wanted to see some mountains, makes a strong case.

by Brian Holmes

Wilbur Wiles wasn’t planning on turning 102 here at the Brookdale Senior Living Center in Boise, but driving a winding road on the way to Arizona three months ago changed that.

“I come around a curve pitch dark, and I didn’t see it coming around, you know?” remembers Wilbur, sitting in a chair in his room.

A truck was parked in his lane with the lights off.

“And boy, I hit it before I seen it,” he says, detailing the broken bones in his chest that are recovering.

In fact, Wilbur would rather be spending his birthday tomorrow (Friday) where he has spent most of his other days – in Idaho’s mountains.

“I don’t know, I always wanted to go to the mountains,” says Wilbur.

Well, he didn’t just see them, he rarely left them.

Wilbur came to Idaho from Iowa in 1933 at the age of 17, trapping fur in the Tetons and finally settling in the middle of the Payette National Forest in 1938.

Living a life of somewhat solitude was everything Wilbur had hoped it would be.

“I don’t know it’s just quiet,” he laughs, explaining why he loves living in the mountains. “I’m just kind of a loner, I guess.”

In 1941, Wilbur entered World War II and crossed Omaha Beach three days after D-Day as a member of the U.S. Army’s Signal Corp.

After a few years in Europe, Wilbur was back in Idaho’s backcountry. He is one of the few to call this wilderness home, living off the land and seasonal supplies for the last 80 years, creating a life many consider legendary.

“I don’t know why I should be, (I’m) just an ordinary average guy,” Wilbur says.

In the 1960’s, he was part of Idaho’s first statewide study of cougars, tracking and tagging large mountain cats for 10 years. He even survived an attack from one that had trapped his dogs.

“There’s where one of his canines went in there,” Wilbur says, showing the scar that is still on the top of his hand.

Over the years Wilbur married, built a cabin in Big Creek, and even owned an opal mine.

But even after turning 100, Wilbur has made no plans to walk away from his home in the wilderness.

Tomorrow there’s a party planned for his 102nd birthday.

“If there’s gonna be cake and stuff I’ll be there,” he says.

But as soon as the snow melts Wilbur will make his way back to Big Creek.

Says Wilbur, “I don’t plan to do nothing except get enough wood in.”

Setting himself up for another four seasons in Idaho’s mountains.

“When I come to Idaho, I come to stay,”

source w/video: KTVB January 19, 2018
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Outdoor Idaho Segment on the late Wilbur Wiles on Big Creek for “Where the Road Ends”

FB link to video:
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RIP Wilbur Wiles
Wiles, Wilbur V. (103) from Big Creek, Idaho passed away Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at VA Medical Center. Life Celebration pending in Big Creek at a later date. Arrangements are under the direction and care of Summers Funeral Home, Boise Chapel.
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Wilbur Wiles

(1916 – 2019)

Wilbur Vernon Wiles died peacefully at the Veterans Administration’s Willow Hospice in Boise, Idaho on April 17, 2019. He was 103.

He was predeceased by his wife, Katie Thrall Wiles; his parents, Roscoe and Flora Schuldt Wiles; his sister, Eunice Wiles Rounds; and his brothers, Oliver Wiles and Billy Wiles. He is survived by his sister, Geraldine Wiles Rippel of Des Moines, Iowa, and by several nieces and nephews.

Wilbur was born in Goodell, Iowa on January 19, 1916, the second of five children. He grew up on the farm homesteaded by his grandfather, Roscoe Sr. Wilbur hiked the woods, trapped and hunted, and dreamed of the West.

As Wilbur was beginning high school in 1931, way out in Idaho the Forest Service was in the process of placing special protections on a vast and wild landscape of canyons and forests, rivers, mountains and high basins, designating it the Idaho Primitive Area. Young Wilbur Wiles did not know it then, of course, but this area would become his home for 80 years.

By the time he graduated from Goodell High School in 1934, Wilbur had made enough from selling mink and muskrat pelts to buy a Model T Ford, in which he immediately lit out for the West. For the next few years Wilbur worked construction and logging jobs in Wyoming, Idaho, and other parts of the Northwest, exploring as far as Alaska and Mexico. In 1938 he discovered the tiny settlement of Big Creek, Idaho, consisting mainly of a ranger station and a rustic hunting lodge on the western edge of the Primitive Area, about 20 miles and a high mountain pass east of Yellow Pine. He moved into an abandoned miner’s cabin on lower Monumental Creek, a place even deeper inside that wilderness. Later he built a cabin in the area adjacent to Big Creek known as Edwardsburg. He obtained a pack horse and hounds, and established trap lines covering at least 120 miles in several directions. He became proficient in mining and prospecting, and worked at the Snowshoe Mine, Stibnite, and a tungsten mine he developed on Elk Creek Summit. And he hunted cougars, for which, at the time, the state paid a handsome bounty. When he was in his 60s, he discovered and later patented a small opal mine that still exists in the upper Monumental Creek drainage.

In the spring of 1941 Wilbur snowshoed over Profile Summit to Yellow Pine, caught the mail car to Cascade, and volunteered for the United States Army. Eight months later, he found himself in the wartime Army, which is what he anticipated and why he enlisted in the first place. After a couple of years as an instructor on the small arms firing range, he was sent to England to prepare for the epic invasion of Europe. Wilbur went ashore on Omaha Beach on June 9, 1944. Attaining the rank of sergeant, he participated in the breakout near St. Lo, endured the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest, and fought through to the Elbe River where Soviet and American forces linked up in April 1945. He helped liberate two concentration camps. In his later years, incredulous to learn about the existence of Holocaust deniers, he said, “Well, they don’t know what they’re talking about. I know the Holocaust happened because I saw it. I saw what the Nazis did.” The Army awarded Wilbur Wiles the Bronze Star for bravery. Honorably discharged in October 1945, he made straight for Big Creek.

In the summer of 1964, Wilbur opened his cabin door to the knock of Maurice Hornocker, who also was raised in Iowa and had roamed those Iowa hills, but had come west to study under John Craighead at the University of Montana. After twelve years in Montana, Hornocker was pursuing his PhD in wildlife biology at the University of British Columbia. He doubtless captured Wilbur’s interest that summer day when he described the audacious doctoral project he had devised: tracking and marking cougars in the Idaho Primitive Area to determine their population densities, territories and interactions with their prey base. Hornocker had no experience capturing cougars, and little with the extended periods of self-supported back country travel that would be required in such rugged country, much of it in winter. He didn’t know the territory. His inquiries about who he could hire to track, tranquilize, collar, measure, and release the big cats led him directly to Wilbur Wiles. Their ten-year effort together pioneered new techniques and understandings in wildlife management; it resulted in a PhD dissertation and several scientific papers, a 1969 National Geographic story, and a career for Dr. Hornocker as a world-renowned expert on large predators. And Maurice and Wilbur became best friends for life, a fact probably more significant to them than the scientific discoveries they made. Dr. Hornocker refers to Wilbur as his mentor, and credits him with the success of the cat study. Maurice, now 88, was at Wilbur’s side the day he died.

Later in life, Wilbur married Kathryn Thrall, a widow with her own back country roots. Wilbur was devoted to Katie, and acceded to her need to spend winters someplace with milder winters than Big Creek. For a number of years in the 80s and 90s they lived part-time in Boise and later in Arizona. Wilbur continued to keep a fifth-wheel trailer in Arizona after Katie died in 1997, and drove himself from Big Creek to Arizona every October, back north again in May, until he was 101. He never looked as old as his age in years, always staying fit, walking the mountains and working his Big Creek garden. Young friends witnessed him, at 85, walking 26 miles in one day on the Big Creek trail. And this despite the fact that, eleven months before, he had broken both ankles—and had been hospitalized for the first time in his life—due to a fall from his cabin roof. The photo here is Wilbur at 95.

Wilbur Wiles was a straightforward and quiet man of natural-born integrity. Although he is the subject of a Forest Service biography and has been featured on Idaho Public Television’s “Outdoor Idaho” and Boise’s KTVB News, he never sought any kind of notoriety. He never was a big talker about anything. He seemed surprised when asked how he wanted to be remembered, saying simply, “Why, just as I am!”

A celebration of Wilbur’s life is being planned for late summer 2019 at his cabin in Big Creek, the date to be announced [July 27 at the Big Creek Lodge]. Wilbur’s friends thank the staff at the Veterans Administration’s Willow Hospice in Boise for the outstanding, truly excellent care they gave Wilbur in his final months. Contributions in Wilbur’s memory can be made to Idaho Public Television.

source: Published in Idaho Statesman on Apr. 21, 2019 [h/t B]
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Wilbur Wiles’ cabin in Big Creek / Edwardsburg
WilbursCabinBigCreek-aphoto shared by Marcia Franklin courtesy Jim Collord

Link to Wilbur Wiles (part 1)
Link to Wilbur Wiles (part 2)
Link to Wilbur Wiles (part 3)


“Stalking the Mountain Lion – To Save Him” by Maurice G. Hornocker, Ph.D. 1969 National Geographic Wilbur Wiles story (10 meg file, article starts on page 4) Link

“In Search of the Perfect Prospector” by Bob Weldin, February 7, 2006 Mining History News Wilbur Wiles story Link

Wilbur Wiles : master of the River of No Return Wilderness
Author: Richard H Holm; Heritage Program (Payette National Forest) (link)

Wilbur Wiles interview, 1996 June 24.
Author: Wilbur Wiles; Carolyn Rucker; Idaho State Historical Society. (link)

page updated September 11, 2022