Lemhi County Citizen Journalism

Leslie Shumate News

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Washington, D.C. – In the wake of historic wildfires in Oregon, Idaho, California, Washington and across the West, U.S. Sens. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., introduced an updated version of their bipartisan wildfire funding solution that would protect desperately needed funding for fire prevention and treat wildfires as the natural disasters they are.

The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2017 would end the destructive cycle of borrowing from fire prevention accounts to put out fires and stop the erosion of the Forest Service’s budget by reforming the way the federal government funds wildfires.

“The West is on fire, and it’s burning faster than years prior,” Risch said. “We need every resource available to prevent and combat the devastation caused by wildfires. This legislation would ensure those of us in the West can count on much-needed disaster funding.”

“Oregonians and westerners are battling another record-breaking fire year.

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9-6-17 LMS

There are 15 trees on city property that are currently affected by Tree Blight. Most of them are on Main Street and some are in Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Mayor Leo Marshall reported to the September 6 meeting of the Salmon City Council that three local tree services were contacted. The city has received one tree pruning bid. Horticulturist Shane Parmer’s bid was for $5,250.

City Clerk Mary Benton told the council that according to her research if the branches are trimmed in the wrong place it can kill the tree. She said that is why a tree specialist is needed.

Councilmen Ken Hill and Jim Baker thought the price was too high. Councilman Jim Bockelman said the council referred the problem to the city staff and this is the result of the staff’s work although he agreed the cost was high. Councilman Rob Jackson said the total comes out to $350 a tree. Councilman Neal James made a motion to accept the $5,250 bid and get the trees trimmed.

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In a report to the September 11 meeting of the Lemhi County Commissioners Salmon Bureau of Land Management Field Manager Linda Price described conditions along Morgan Bar which have drawn BLM attention.

Price said some car bodies have been discovered in the water at a spot next to private land along the river bank near the Morgan Bar Recreation site. Some of the river bank at that point is being held in place by tires and Price said it is her intention that the car bodies and tires are going to be removed. Fears have been expressed that removing the debris will cause flooding on land that is currently protected by the obstructions. She said causing flooding is not her intention.

Price said she has been consulting with hydrologists and riparian experts as to what the results might be when the cars and tires are removed. She is awaiting a report from the hydrologist to see how high the berm will have to be to protect the orchard and house in that area. Aerial photography shows the majority of an alternate channel is on BLM land. She is expecting the work to be done during next year’s low water season.

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The Lemhi County Library District Board has informed the city it would like to begin official discussions concerning the purchase of the property beneath the old Salmon Public Library Building. The city owns the property on which the library was built and has a $1 per year lease agreement with the district.

A letter to the city dated August 2, 2017, states the Library District is in a position to purchase the ground without the need for any levies or additional tax burden on the people of Lemhi County.

The Salmon City Council immediately asked City Attorney Fred Snook to research the legalities of such a transaction.

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On September 11, 2017 Bureau of Land Management Field Office Manager Linda Price and BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner Skeet Townley brought Lemhi County Commissioner’s Chairman Ken Miner and Commissioner Brett Barsalou up to date on BLM projects and issues. Price led the list with ongoing conditions at Gold Bug Hot Springs. 

The constant overuse of the area near Elk Bend is causing problems that according to Price are not going to go away.

Townley said parking and human waste issues are foremost on the list of grievances. He said the agency is going to have to look at some form of restricted use such as ‘no parking’ enforcement along the road, some form of permit system limiting use to a certain number of visitors per day and/or designated campsites only. 

Barsalou brought up the issue of mixed jurisdiction among law enforcement plus the two agencies involved in the area.

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Earlier this year the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) extended an offer to help with any damages the city incurred during this year’s high water season. The city responded with the required applications for certain specific areas of damage.

The work would take place under stream bank emergency protections as outlined in Section 14 of the 1946 Flood Control Act.

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9-11-17 LMS

Closures last February of the Salmon River Road due to the heavy snows and avalanche conditions, which the Forest Service deemed unsafe for passage, drew angry outcries from down river residents. The upset culminated in May with a meeting of many residents, county law enforcement, county emergency services personnel, county officials, local and regional Forest Service officials and Idaho congressional delegation representatives. At that time those involved were tasked with finding ways to prevent the impacts endured last winter by downriver residents from ever happening again.

Communication was targeted as the key ingredient and Lemhi County has been meeting with the Forest Service ever since. At the September 11, 2017, Commissioner’s meeting North Fork District Ranger Ken Gebhardt and Salmon Challis National Forest Supervisor Chuck Mark delivered a letter of agreement on the Salmon River Road which stated a commitment by both parties, county and Forest Service, to jointly address the winter avalanche and snow removal activities on the road. 

The agreement states the Forest Service will continue being responsible for the road between April 1 and October 31 each year and that routine maintenance of the road will not occur between November 1 and March 31 each year.

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This cycle’s requests for Local Option Tax (LOT) funding totaled $107,284. The total of LOT monies available was $57,000 so according to Robin Watkins of the LOT Commission the commission members had to make some difficult decisions.

The commission’s allocation recommendations were announced at the September 6 meeting of the Salmon City Council and the council opted to discuss every allocation in detail.

Watkins first explained that the Lemhi County Fair Board was deemed ineligible for funding because it was requesting funds for an event which had already taken place. The Fair Board has been advised to submit an application for the 2018 fair in the Spring cycle of LOT allocations. 

The Sacajawea Center requested $3,800 to fund a regional advertising campaign in 2018. The LOT Commission recommended $3,000 be allocated.

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