Thursday, April 2, 2015

Boise National Forest Selects New Deputy Forest Supervisor

Posted By on Thu, Apr 2, 2015 at 11:02 AM

Sherri Schwenke takes over the roll of the Deputy Forest Supervisor for the Boise National Forest on April 6. - BOISE NATIONAL FOREST
  • Boise National Forest
  • Sherri Schwenke takes over the roll of the Deputy Forest Supervisor for the Boise National Forest on April 6.
Starting Monday, April 6, the Boise National Forest will have a new deputy forest supervisor. Sherri Schwenke is moving to Boise from the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota, where she currently serves as the Hells Canyon District Ranger. 

Schwenke's CV working on public lands is substantial. She has worked as a staff officer on the Dakota Prairie Grasslands, a district ranger on the Colville National Forest in Washington, a minerals assistant in the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, and a forest landscape architect on the Ottawa National Forest in Michigan. She's worked closely with Native American tribes and Back Country Horsemen, restored a wilderness historic CCC lookout and worked to curb pine beetle infestations.

"I look forward to working with all the communities in the forest area, with the forest employees and with the many partners involved in public land management," she said in a news release. "Working with people to attain land management goals resulting in landscapes where the resources are recognized and valued in a way that nourishes our economy, psyche and wonder is a desire I have in the new position."

Boise National Forest public information officer David Olson told Boise Weekly that Schwenke's position will put her in charge of developing the Boise National Forest's budget as well as providing leadership over special projects.

"She'll also partake in wildfire oversight," Olson said. "She's got qualifications that allow her to work with incident management teams for big fires."

Schwenke will work under Cecilia Seesholtz, the Bosie National Forest Supervisor. 

"I am looking forward to Sherri joining our team," she said. "She brings a wealth of skills, knowledge and experiences that lend themselves to providing support and leadership to the forest."

Schwenke will move to Bosie with her husband and two children. She enjoys outdoor activities, playing a mix of musical instruments and reading.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Rep. Simpson Scales Down, Reboots Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness Proposal

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 12:00 PM

During President Barack Obama's Jan. 21 visit to Boise, demonstrators hoped to get his attention and support for the creation of a Boulder-White Clouds national monument. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • During President Barack Obama's Jan. 21 visit to Boise, demonstrators hoped to get his attention and support for the creation of a Boulder-White Clouds national monument.

When President Barack Obama landed in Boise Jan. 20, many hoped his speech at Boise State University might include the mention of a designated national monument at the Boulder-White Clouds. Several demonstrators from the Idaho Conservation League and Conservation Voters for Idaho tried to get the President's attention and support with signs and posters that read "Get Loud For the Clouds." 

Kate Thorpe of Conservation Voters for Idaho even told Boise State Public Radio, "We're trying to position ourselves in a spot so that no matter where he were to enter that building, you could see our crowd."

To their disappointment, Obama's speech didn't even mention open spaces, but Rep. Mike Simpson still has his sights on some sort of protection for the Boulder-White Clouds. According to the Idaho Mountain Express, Simpson has created a new, scaled-down wilderness proposal for the area, and he plans to take it to Congress.

Last week, Rep. Simpson met with a Blaine County commissioner, the mayor of Ketchum and the Stanley City Council President in Stanley, as well as with Custer County commissioners  to present his new proposal.

The proposal keeps the Sawtooth National Recreation Area intact and creates three separate wilderness areas throughout the Boulder-White Clouds: White Clouds, Jerry Peak and Hemingway-Boulder, which total 295,960 acres—
At President Obama's speech, Sara Arkle of the Idaho Conservation League told Boise Weekly she hoped the "Boulder-White Clouds gets some protection." - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • At President Obama's speech, Sara Arkle of the Idaho Conservation League told Boise Weekly she hoped the "Boulder-White Clouds gets some protection."
almost 37,000 acres less than Simpson's 2004 proposal, the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, or CIEDRA.  

The proposal also keeps the Germania and Little Boulder Creek areas out of wilderness and open to motorized vehicles. The Fourth of July trail was originally proposed to be closed to mountain biking under CIEDRA, but the new proposal lets it stay open.

Idaho Mountain Express reported that Custer County Commission Chair Wayne Butts called the new wilderness proposal the "lesser of two evils," when compared to the designation of a national monument. He said that although they believe there's already enough wilderness in the county, they "would not say no" to this new proposal. 

"At least we know what that one says," Butts told the newspaper. 

Sen. Jim Risch was much of the reason why CIEDRA failed before, but a spokesperson for Risch said the senator is working with Simpson in the creation of an alternative bill.

The environmental groups pushing for a national monument are skeptical that even a watered-down version of a wilderness bill could pass a Republican-dominated Congress. 

"We're working on a monument because [a wilderness bill] has failed, and I don't see it succeeding now," ICL executive director Rick Johnson told the Express.
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Boulder-White Cloud National Monument Would Give Central Idaho a 'Second-Paycheck'

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 10:00 AM

According to a recently released study from the Idaho Outdoor Business Council, creating a national monument out of the Boulder and White Cloud mountains would create up to 155 new jobs and increase economic output by $12.3 million. The Boulder-White Clouds are two mountain ranges in the heart of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. 

Many environmental groups including the Idaho Conservation League, the Wilderness Society and the Outdoor Alliance, along with the Idaho Outdoor Business Council are pushing the government to have the mountain ranges permanently protected.

“The Boulder-White Clouds are a national treasure, and they deserve to be protected as a national monument,” Bob Rosso, owner a sporting goods store in Ketchum, said in a press release from the IOBC. “It should come as no surprise that ‘the brand’ of a national monument would boost the status of the area, increase visitation and create more economic growth in Central Idaho. That’s a positive thing for our local economy.”

If the area became a national monument, the 21-page study stated, the designation would boost public visitation and draw new people to live in Blaine, Butte, Custer and Camas counties. The study author, Don Reading, called that positive economic impact a “second-paycheck” for Central Idaho. He said the jobs created would range from service-industry jobs to professional jobs like accountants, lawyers and doctors.

“These would not all be low-wage service jobs,” Reading said in the press release. “Many are going to be those amenity-migrants who work in high-skill professions weather that is business, law, technology or similar.”

The study stated that the Sawtooth National Forest’s average per person per trip expenditures amount to almost $250, including lodging, restaurants, gasoline, park fees and souvenirs. With the proposed Boulder-White Cloud monument, the study said visitor numbers could increase by a third, creating those 155 jobs and adding $12.3 million into economic output.

While the economic argument for a Boulder-White Cloud monument might make economic sense to some, others see the designation—with its attendant upswing in visitors—as a threat to the fragile ecosystem

The proposed monument size is approximately 571,000 acres.
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Monday, January 7, 2013

Risch on 9th Circuit Upholding Roadless Rule: 'A Plan Written by Idahoans, For Idahoans'

Posted By on Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Hailing today's unanimous ruling from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding Idaho's national forest roadless rule, GOP Sen. Jim Risch, who helped draft the measure, called the legislation a plan "written by idahoans, for Idahoans."

"Working with groups like the Idaho Conservation League and Trout Unlimited, along with many other stakeholders, we crafted the only state plan in the nation that protects our land and helps rural communities," Risch said this morning.

The three-judge panel rejected an appeal from the Wilderness Society, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and other environmental groups.

"The inclusive, thorough, and transparent process resulting in the challenged rule conformed to the demands of the law and is free of legal error," wrote the 9th Circuit in today's ruling.

The roadless rule covers more than 9 million acres of inventoried roadless areas in Idaho.

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

U.S. Forest Service Mulls Closure of Island Park Office

Posted By on Sun, Dec 9, 2012 at 9:48 AM

The Idaho Falls Post-Register reports the U.S. Forest Service is considering selling the Island Park District Office.

According to Assistant Forest Engineer Steve Jenkins, the office is used by the public to pick up firewood and Christmas tree permits for the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, but staff feel those services could be consolidated at another location.

The forest's headquarters are in Idaho Falls, and district offices are in Ashton, Driggs, Dubois, Island Park, Montpelier, Pocatello and Soda Springs. The public is invited to comment on the proposal through Friday, Jan. 11.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Video: Central Idaho Plane Crash Video Shows Close Call

Posted By on Sat, Aug 11, 2012 at 9:55 AM

When a small plane headed to McCall took off from a dirt roadway in central Idaho, the four men on board pulled out their video cameras to record the flight.

However, their seven-minute video ended up chronicling a plane crash that left the pilot, Les Gropp, with broken ribs and a fractured cheekbone. After the plane began to lose altitute, it clipped the tops of pine trees before crashing to the ground.

All passengers were safe, with Gropp's injuries the most severe. One passenger, Nathan Williams, told the Associated Press they all went back to work on Monday.

The video below shows the crash from two different angles, a record of just how close a call the four survived.

[ Video is no longer available. ]

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Idaho Man Falls to His Death While Climbing Tetons

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2012 at 8:40 AM

An Idaho man fell 1,100 feet to his death while mountain climbing in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park on July 22.

A park spokesman told the Associated Press that 27-year-old Justin Beldin of Victor had reached the 12,800-foot summit of Middle Teton and was beginning to descend when the accident occurred. Beldin's death is the fourth backcountry fatality in Grand Teton National Park this summer.

The Middle Teton is one of the most popular climbs in the Teton Range. Park officials said Beldin was not wearing a helmet during his climb.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Simpson visits BW

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Rep. Mike Simpson told the BW Editorial Board (Features Editor Deanna Darr, News Editor Nathaniel Hoffman and a dozen untouched DK Donuts) this morning that he does not think the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, including proposed wilderness in the Owyhee Canyonlands, will pass the House any time soon.

Simpson also said that his personal project, the Boulder-White Clouds wilderness proposal, is going to go through the Senate first, where it might have a better chance of getting through the committee process than in the House. Simpson inferred that a certain high-profile wilderness advocate/singer-songwriter has held up his bill in the House.

"I don't think they were too excited about doing it because there is some opposition to it by individuals who influence that staff substantially, certain singers," Simpson said, referring to Carole King. "She pretty much controls that committee. So we've been working with the Senate staff." 

On the Omnibus Wilderness bill, which passed the Senate, Simpson said that a lack of clear strategy may kill the bill. It is on the suspension calendar in the House, meaning it needs two-thirds vote, but 20 Democrats still oppose it and not enough Republicans exist to counteract their opposition. If the bill were to go through normally, it could get a majority vote, but Republicans would insist on guns in National Parks and it would have to go back to the Senate again, which the Senate does not want to happen.

I think we got that all right, the Microtrack 24/96 crapped out at this point in the interview.

Translation: Business as usual in Washington, D.C.?

We made a pot of coffee, but Simpson and staffers Nikki Watts and John Revere showed up with their own starbucks. The Congressman, a dentist, praised BW Publisher Sally Freeman for attending to her oral hygeine this morning rather than attending the edit board meeting (BTW, BW has no editorial board, and Freeman was dissed by her dentist for being 10 minutes late, apparently).

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Owyhee vote

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2009 at 3:21 PM

After nearly eight years, the Owyhee Initiative is nearing a final vote in Congress.

The initiative, turning more than 500,000 acres of the Owyhee Canyonlands in southwestern Idaho into wilderness, and adding hundreds of miles of wild and scenic river designations, is part of the larger Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 approved by the Senate earlier this week.

It is now before the House of Representatives, and Sen. Mike Crapo, longtime sponsor of the Owyhee Initiative, said he hopes for a vote within the next two weeks.

If the House passes the bill without changes, it will head for President Barack Obama's desk for final approval. If there are changes, Senate supporters of the bill will face the threat of continued filibusters.

The initiative has had it’s many supporters and detractors over the years, something Boise Weekly will be taking a closer look at in the coming weeks. Check back in a few weeks to see how ranchers and conservationists managed to agree on something.

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