Lemhi County Citizen Journalism

Sports & Recreation

Imagine hovering high above the drainage of the Columbia, that great river in the West. Its sprawling watershed includes all of Idaho, most of Washington, large parts of British Columbia, Montana and Oregon. Tributary rivers, streams and creeks pulse like arteries and capillaries.

Much like arteries, the tributaries help shuttle lifeblood from the heartland out to the continent’s coast. Much like veins, clouds from the Pacific Ocean trundle wetness back to our inland core. The Columbia River is a drudge because 14 major dams congest it. In its watershed ranging north and east, dozens of upcountry dams emboss its tributary streams like bad bling on a cashmere jacket.

Kris Johnson recently published a partisan op-ed in The Spokesman-Review (“Dams balance energy, wildlife needs,” Jan. 27). As president of the Association of Washington Business, Mr. Johnson is solicitous of business interests. He neglects sustainability to assist his constituents. That’s his job. He falsely argues that the four lower Snake River dams help salmon recover. His frail argument uses “alternative facts” and demonstrates how out of step he is with other citizens in the region.

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For those of us who love outdoor adventures, planning and logistics are also part of the fun. There’s no better way to beat the winter blues than daydreaming on Google Earth, organizing gear or poring over articles, photos and videos of those who have already blazed the trail you wish to follow.


If you plan on rafting one of Idaho’s famous backcountry rivers this summer, it often means applying for a permit in January. There’s a reason we’ve been able to float the Selway, main Salmon and Hells Canyon in the past few years—we planned out our trips in January. You have until Jan. 31 to apply on the Forest Service Four Rivers Lottery website (http://bit.ly/2mLBDri) for permits for the Selway, Middle Fork of the Salmon, main Salmon and Hells Canyon.

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Having estimated they serve more than 86,000 vehicles and more than 321,000 visitors every year, the Bureau of Land Management is moving to repair seven boat ramps in Salmon River country, from Shorts Bar down to Pine Bar, the local BLM office announced last Friday, Jan. 26.


The decision, signed by Cottonwood-based field manager Richard White, advances a plan the Free Press first reported in September 2015.

An environmental assessment released along with the decision describes the following:

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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.
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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