Idaho Falls Citizen Journalism

Sports & Recreation

Jude Trapani remembers his first glimpse of chinook salmon spawning 1,300 kilometers from the ocean, in Idaho’s Lemhi Valley. “It was magic,” he says. Historically, 10,000 chinook journeyed up the Columbia, Snake, and Salmon Rivers to spawn in the valley’s waterways. But by the time Trapani, a fish biologist with the federal Bureau of Land Management, arrived in 1991, it was magic that the scientist saw any fish at all—the number had slipped below 100.

The Idaho salmon share a ribbon of land along the Lemhi River with ranchers, who irrigate their hayfields with water from the river. In the early 1990s, the irrigation systems at times sucked dry a stretch of the Lemhi just outside Salmon, Idaho, cutting off the fish from their spawning grounds. To save the dwindling salmon, Trapani and other biologists turned to the ranchers for help.

“Salmon seem to have this pull on people,” Trapani says. “It wasn’t hard for ranchers to ask: ‘What can I do for salmon?’”

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Kelly Lance, a 49-year-old endurance runner from Pocatello, climbed Idaho’s nine 12,000-foot peaks (the 12ers) in a 119-mile, 78-hour push starting on Sept. 2. Unlike the others who have climbed the 12ers in a single push, Kelly did it completely self-propelled.

The 12ers are Mount Borah, 12,622 feet; Leatherman Peak, 12,228; Mount Church, 12,200; Diamond Peak, 12,197; Mount Breitenbach, 12,140; Lost River Mountain, 12,078; Mount Idaho, 12,065; and Hyndman Peak, 12,009. These peaks are located in three eastern Idaho mountain ranges, with one each in the Lemhi and Pioneer ranges and seven in the Lost River Range. The fastest time for the 12ers utilizing a vehicle shuttle is 1 day, 4 hours, 18 minutes by Luke Nelson of Pocatello and Jared Campbell of Salt Lake City in 2014.

While discussing his motivations, Kelly said: “... A couple years ago, some guys I know did a fantastic job with the speed attempt. And kind of jokingly I said, ‘Nobody’s ever done it without a car.’ Once I said it, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I had to do it.”

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A man who disappeared during a hunting trip Tuesday evening has been found, according to Sheriff Steve Penner.
 
Penner says the man was able to walk to safety Wednesday morning and is in good condition.
 
ORIGINAL STORY
 
LEADORE — A 63-year-old man was missing in the Little Eight Mile area of Lemhi County near the Idaho/Montana border.
 
The man, whose name has not been released, was reported missing at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday after he did not return to his camp.
 
Lemhi County Sheriff Steve Penner says the man was with someone, but they got separated, and the hunter got lost.
 
Lemhi County Search and Rescue and the Idaho Air National Guard are searching the area. They have people on the ground, on horses and a helicopter searching for the man.
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It looks like anglers will be able to bag steelhead in Idaho after all this year, despite mixed public opinion.

Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners signed off on opening up a steelhead season starting Sunday with a two-bag daily limit. Those fishing on the Clearwater and parts of the Snake will also have to throw back any steelhead more than 28 inches long.

The move comes after state officials implemented a catch-and-release-only policy due to initial low fish counts at the Bonneville and Lower Granite dams.

Those numbers have rebounded, with an expected 25,000 hatchery fish to return to the Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers.

 

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With leadership by four-term Idaho Sen. Frank Church, the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was passed in 1968 and established America’s premier program for safeguarding free-flowing waterways. Now, as the 50th anniversary of this legislation approaches, it’s a good time to reflect on what has been gained.

By the 1960s, 70,000 dams had been built on virtually every major river in 48 states, and more dams were proposed to flood hundreds more valleys and canyons. Inspired by Idaho’s Salmon and Snake rivers, and alarmed by the threats of dam proposals on them, the preeminent wildlife biologists of the day, John and Frank Craighead, conceived a program to set aside the best remaining streams. Sen. Church honed their idea into legislation.

Passing unanimously in the Senate and by 265-7 in the House back in a sensible age of bipartisanship, the measure banned new dams for designated rivers and directed agencies to safeguard river values where the land is federally owned.

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Our national forests are at risk from beetles, wildfire — and the U.S. Congress. While forests have evolved with fire and insects, it’s not clear they’ll survive attacks from misguided politicians.

One thing about busy fire seasons is we all breathe the smoke. It’s unhealthy and miserable. But we shouldn’t let it blind us. And politicians shouldn’t use it as an excuse to sell snake oil.

We know that fire is a fact of life in Idaho. When it’s hot and dry, forests burn. It doesn’t mean we should walk away. But it also doesn’t mean we should undermine protections for clean water, wildlife and public involvement.

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Getting a fishing or hunting license is a rite of passage for thousands of Idaho boys and girls. While it seems like a small thing (a combined hunting and fishing license in Idaho costs $33.50 according to Fish and Game), those licenses, tags and permits are more than just a piece of paper. Not only do they provide the user with an entrée into Idaho’s unmatched natural beauty, they provide millions of dollars to the state to maintain that beauty for generations to come.

For instance: In 2015, for the first time in nearly 40 years, a chinook salmon fishing harvest season was opened on the Upper Salmon River, opening 184 miles of salmon fishing for Idaho’s anglers.

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BOISE, Idaho — Tourists heading to central Idaho will be in the dark if local officials get their way. The first International Dark Sky Reserve in the United States would fill a chunk of the state’s sparsely populated region that contains night skies so pristine that interstellar dust clouds are visible in the Milky Way. “We know the night sky has inspired people for many thousands of years,” said John Barentine, program manager at the Tucson, Arizona-based International Dark-Sky Association. “When they are in a space where they can see it, it’s often a very profound experience.”

Supporters say excess artificial light causes sleeping problems for people and disrupts nocturnal wildlife and that a dark sky can solve those problems, boost home values and draw tourists. Opposition to dark sky measures elsewhere in the U.S. have come from the outdoor advertising industry and those against additional government regulations. Researchers say 80 percent of North Americans live in areas where light pollution blots out the night sky. Central Idaho contains one of the few places in the contiguous United States large enough and dark enough to attain reserve status, Barentine said. Only 11 such reserves exist in the world.

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