Monday, December 31, 2012

SWPA is Year 2012's Top Story

Salmon Whitewater Park Association (SWPA) members and supporters gathered at the Odds Fellows Bakery the evening of New Year's Eve to celebrate a successful Year 2012 and prepare for more progress in 2013.  SWPA was able to schedule Salmon as one of the tour stops for the The Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival which celebrates the human powered experience this year.  A festive New Year's Eve was enjoyed by all.

(Editor's Note:  SWPA reports that about 130 people turned out and $2,100 was raised New Year's Eve to support the whitewater park.  SWPA Project Coordinator Breann Westfall said, "We had a great turn-out at the film fest fundraiser. We had beer donated by Bertrams, the Odd Fellows Bakery made awesome pizza, there were great raffle prizes including a paco pad and Smith sunglasses, and we had really good films to watch from Winter Wildlands Alliance. It was great night. This is the second year we had a film fest on New Year's Eve, and we think we'll keep doing it since it works out well to get everyone downtown and ready to have a good time on New Year's Eve.")

We here at Salmon River Idaho would like to take the opportunity in this Editorial to congratulate the SWPA Board, association members and community supporters for their dedication  to creating a whitewater park in downtown Salmon, Idaho.  We are 1000% enthusiastic backers of this idea and will continue to report each new step forward toward making the whitewater park a reality.

We believe the construction and operation of a whitewater park in Salmon was the single biggest news story happening in Year 2012 along The Salmon River from Stanley to North Fork.  Certainly, IDFG continued to make well-deserved headline news with much-needed improvements to river access.  Likewise, salmon and steelhead fishing seasons dominate the annual news cycle. Big forest fires such as The Mustang and The Halstead will forever hog the headlines when they burn.  Yankee Fork Restoration efforts are definitely a newsmaker, too.  However, in looking back over our first year covering this 150-mile stretch of The Salmon River, there's really no other story as compelling as the groundswell movement to make the whitewater park a reality in Salmon, Idaho.

All anyone has to do is look at other communities that have such parks to see the awesome economic and social impacts these river facilities generate.  We can think of no better place for a whitewater park than the location identified in SWPA's plans.  Talk about "location, location, location," this spot has it all.

The whitewater park will be a genuine boon to the Salmon City economy in many ways, perhaps even beyond retail, lodging and restaurants.  It's entirely possible such a whitewater park could even be a spark to the Salmon real estate market as well.

We like to joke with our friends that if we won the Powerball, the very first thing we would do is pay to get the whitewater park up and running ASAP.  It sure can't come a day too soon for us!

As Year 2012 comes to a close today, it's really great to think of the SWPA folks getting together to watch films, eat pizza, share holiday greetings and continue to build their enthusiasm for the whitewater park.

We salute SWPA and wish you The Best of Success in Year 2013!  Thank You for working so hard to create such a great gift for your community.  Your dedication to this project is an inspiration for all of us.

Happy New Year, The Editor

Friday, December 14, 2012

Salmon River Bald Eagles

December 11th Photo by Roger Plothow Copyright 2012

Salmon River Bald Eagle numbers have surged in recent years and may be poised for further population gains.

According to IDFG Salmon Region Wildlife Biologist Beth Waterbury, as many as 20 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles now
call the Salmon River home. These mostly resident breeding birds typically produce two chicks per year. Meanwhile,
large numbers of Bald Eagles are winter visitors to the Salmon River. Nearly 200 Bald Eagles have been observed during
the annual Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey conducted in January. Ms. Waterbury oversees the Salmon Region’s Wildlife
Diversity Program.

The wintering birds begin arriving in December and their numbers typically peak in mid-February before they begin to
disperse to their own breeding areas. Almost all of these winter visitors are gone by the end of March. Although there
is no one hot spot for bald eagle sightings, bird watchers can usually spot Bald Eagles roughly every few miles from the
town of North Fork upriver to Challis.

The Bald Eagles prey on trout species but also heavily utilize the abundant sucker fish popular as well. Bald eagles have
also been observed hunting cottontails, jackrabbits, muskrats, waterfowl, and great blue herons!

Ms. Waterbury said nesting Bald Eagles began to reappear along the Salmon River about 1990. In the past six years, the
number of Bald Eagle nests roughly doubled. Ms. Waterbury noted the breeding birds appear to be spaced approximately every eight miles along the river corridor.

Near Stanley, Bald Eagles utilize conifer trees for their nest placement and construction. Elsewhere, Bald Eagles use
mature 80-100 year old cottonwood trees capable of supporting the substantial weight of an eagle's nest.

Ms. Waterbury has observed Bald Eagles in altercations with one another over their respective turf or nesting areas. She
does not feel the eagles enter into altercations with osprey but that they often harass osprey into dropping fish which are then taken and consumed by the eagles.

Currently, the Redfish Lake area is the farthest upriver location of a nesting pair of bald eagles. Ms. Waterbury feels there are additional potential nesting areas in various locations between Challis and Stanley and downriver from North Fork.

During the Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey, the East Fork Salmon, Pahsimeroi and Lemhi drainages are monitored. Bald
Eagles have been observed up to the headwaters of the Lemhi River and generally in the watered areas of the Pahsimeroi
Valley. Some may also be found along the East Fork Salmon River. Survey data dates back to 1976. The Midwinter Bald
Eagle Survey begins at the Hell Roaring Creek confluence in the Sawtooth Valley and extends downriver to Corn Creek,
below the Middle Fork Salmon River confluence. IDFG, Salmon-Challis National Forest, BLM, and volunteers are
enlisted to conduct the survey on the second Friday in January every year.

In the past few years, the winter visitor count has averaged about 170 birds. Numbers last year totaled 194.

In the early part of the 20th Century, Bald Eagles were extirpated from the Salmon River, largely because of being shot
by humans who then considered Bald Eagles a nuisance bird. The nationwide DDT issue also played a large part in the
endangered species listing for Bald Eagles. Luckily, increased public recognition and respect for the Bald Eagle as a
shining symbol of American freedom and majesty helped set the stage for a great recovery success story.

At this point there isn't any measurable "Bald Eagle Tourism" going on along the Salmon River, due mostly to
the constraints of winter travel conditions. However, if you are looking for a place to soak up the splendor of Bald Eagles The Salmon River in wintertime is The Place to be!

Thanks to Roger Plothow for permission to use his photo and thanks to IDFG's Beth Waterbury for providing such a wealth of information about the Salmon River Bald Eagles.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Early December Storm

Although the Pacific Northwest Coast has been getting pounded for weeks, there's been precious little of that water appearing in The Salmon River watershed...until December dawned.

The first three days of December saw 3.7 inches of precipitation fall on the Galena Summit SNOTEL.  While most of the storm's output fell as rain in the lower elevations, watershed areas about 7,000 feet  received the valuable white stuff instead.  The December 3rd Galena Summit SNOTEL doesn't show the current total snow depth, only water content.  Based on other regional SNOTEL sites, we're guessing Galena now has at least four feet of snowpack, possibly more.

Over in Wyoming at the Two Ocean Plateau SNOTEL inside Yellowstone Nat'l Park, the storm produced an almost identical precipitation total.  It appears the snow that fell was very heavy and wet so yesterday's precip of 1.2 inches created a gain of only six inches of snow.  That's probably what happened on Galena Summit as well.

Stanley's high temperature Sunday was 37 degrees and the Saturday high was 38 so any precip there was almost certainly seen as rainfall and not snow.

The Salmon River at Yankee Fork bumped up from this storm and is running slightly over 1,000 cfs this morning which is more than double the long-term normal flow. The Salmon River at Salmon is only slightly higher than normal: 1680 cfs this morning vs. a long-term normal of 1,240.

The good news is that there is more water coming the Salmon's way, although certainly not as much as will be seen on the Pacific Coast.  The graphic here is the NWS idea of how much precip will fall over the next five days. Snow levels are once again progged to be above 7,000 feet.
Hopefully, the arrival of this early December precipitation is the beginning of a pattern which will bring more soon in the form of snow at lower elevations throughout the watershed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Steelhead updates

IDFG's Brent Beller had this to say in the November 19th weekly steelhead report: "The steelhead fishing on the upper Salmon River improved again this past weekend. Angler effort remained roughly the same or increased slightly in sections 14 through 17, while the hours per fish caught dropped in every section except section 16, which had the same catch rate as last weekend.  Section 14 was at 8 hours per fish, and section 15 was at 7. Sections 16 and 17 were at 7 and 5 hours per fish, respectively. Overall, this was the best weekend of fishing that has been observed this fall."

Here's what Brent had to say last week (see editor's note below): "This past weekend on the upper Salmon River, angler effort decreased in all river sections. This was not surprising considering that it was easily the coldest weekend we have had so far. The anglers that were out, though, enjoyed some of the best fishing that has been observed this fall. Section 16 had the best catch rate for the weekend at 7 hours per fish caught. Section 15 was the next lowest at 10 hours per fish, and section 14 was at 23 hours per fish. Section 14 was the only section to show an increase in hours per fish caught. Due to limited creel personnel this weekend, section 17 was not creeled and only one interview was obtained, but we have received word of steelhead being caught as far upriver as Watts bridge, downstream of Challis. Typically by this time of year the fishing in section 17 begins to pick up considerably, and there is no reason to expect this year to be any different. The weather forecast for the upcoming week looks favorable and hopefully the good fishing we have been experiencing for the past couple of weeks will continue."

Editor's Note:  We apologize for not getting last week's steelhead report up and running on time.  We were traveling to Arizona and simply weren't on the computer for about a week.  Thanks for your patience.  Now that we are situated down here in Snowbird Country, we will pick up the pace of our articles and reports.)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Nov. 5th Steelhead Report (Delayed)

We apologize for getting last weekend's steelhead report posted so late.  There were some temporary staffing duty changes at IDFG.  Anyway, here is what Brent Beller had to say in his report released this past Monday:

“Fishing on the upper Salmon River this weekend stayed about the same compared to the previous one. Sections 14 and 15 had increases in angler effort, while effort was either slightly lower or held steady in sections 16 and 17.  Section 16 had the best observed catch rate for the weekend at 8 hours per fish caught. Sections 14 and 15 were at 14 and 17 hours per fish, and section 17 was at 18 hours per fish. The 8 hours per fish caught in section 16 was the best catch rate that we have observed this fall. Most likely, effort will begin to decline in all sections from this point on due to decreasing temperatures and the possibility of snow in the forecast, but for those who don’t mind a little cold there will still be plenty of good days left for fishing.”

Below is a screenshot of the spreadsheet data.  The formatting is a little skewed but there's nothing we can do about it. You can click on it for a larger version:

Monday, November 5, 2012

SWPA Party Celebrates Agreement

The Salmon Whitewater Park Association (SWPA) staged a "Development Agreement Signing Party" in early November.  Salmon Wave Park Project Manager Breann Westfall said, "The party was very good. We had about 100 people show up, including 2 of the City Council members."

"We hung a huge print out of the actual agreement in the windows - people signed it with colored markers. The event was just simply a party to celebrate the signing of the agreement, not a fundraiser," Ms. Westfall explained.  A raffle was also conducted.

The next SWPA fund raising event will be 6-9 pm New Year's Eve to show the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Fest.   The Winter Wildlands Alliance created the Backcountry Film Festival in 2005 to help grassroots and professional filmmakers to show audiences their love of the winter outdoors. Since then, the annual festival has been shown in many towns and cities around the world, and raised thousands of dollars to help efforts to preserve our winter environment.  A map of Film Fest Tour sites is shown at the bottom of this article.

The party was a busy and fun evening for SWPA members and attendees.  The signing of the Development Agreement is a major step forward in the steady progress toward creation of a firstclass wave park in downtown Salmon, Idaho.

The next regular SWPA Board meeting is  at 5:15 pm, Tuesday, November 6th in the Odd Fellows' Hall.

SWPA organizers enlarged the actual Development Agreement 
so attendees could sign it and also check out the details.
Salmon City Councilman Jesse Bender (left in front group) discusses the Salmon Wave Park.
Tina Cooper, Mike Cooper, Janoa Parde and Deb Westfall (behind Janoa) 
share some of the excitement at the SWPA November 2nd party.
Salmon is some good company with the many other cities on the Backcountry Film Festival Tour.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Steelhead Report for October 29

Here is the Steelhead report as prepared by IDFG's Brent Beller from the Salmon Region office:

Fishing improved again this weekend on the upper Salmon River. Fishing effort in every section was up, and the number of steelhead caught was up as well. Section 14 had the best observed catch rate of the weekend at 9 hours per fish caught. Sections 15 and 16 were both at 12 hours per fish, while section 17 was at 20 hours per fish. Effort increased considerably in sections 14, 15, and 17, but it stayed roughly the same in section 16. Overall this was the best weekend of fishing that has been observed on the upper Salmon River this fall.

It is also worth noting that the river cleared up last week, and it stayed that way throughout the weekend. The possibility does still exist, though, that the river could cloud up again following a rainstorm so it would be advisable to pay attention to the most up to date weather reports for the area. As of today (29th), the river is still quite clear and is at a water level that is slightly above average for this time of year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 22 Steelhead Report

Steelhead fishing pressure picked up last week.  IDFG conducted creel checks on 273 anglers.  As usual for this time of year, sixty percent of the fishermen were located between the Middle Fork confluence and North Fork.  A total of 50 of the elusive steelhead were caught but only 22 kept.  Fishermen surveyed logged 997.5 hours fishing.  Of that total, the bulk of time (888 hours) was spent between the Middle Fork and downtown Salmon, Idaho.

Here is what IDFG Fisheries Technician Brent Beller had to say in his weekly report released Monday:

"Fishing this weekend on the upper Salmon River improved over the previous one. The best hours per fish caught were still found in section 14 and were at 15 hours per fish. Sections 15 and 16 both showed a decrease in the hours per fish caught and angler effort in both sections increased as well. Section 15 was at 22 hours per fish caught for the weekend, while section 16 was at 19 hours per fish. Section 17 again had minimal effort for the weekend, but interviews were obtained. No fish were observed caught in section 17 by creel personnel, but most likely some steelhead harvest has occurred upstream of Salmon. It is also worth noting that the Salmon river was cloudy most of the weekend due to ash runoff from the Halstead fire near Stanley. As of today (22nd), the river is looking much better. Any more rain may push additional ash into the river again, but hopefully it will not have as big of an effect on it as it did this weekend."

Click on the graphic below to see a larger, more readable version.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mid-October Steelhead Report

The IDFG Salmon Region's Brent Beller released his second steelhead report on October 15.  Here's what he had to say:

"Creel data from this weekend on the upper Salmon River showed that steelhead fishing slowed down slightly compared to the previous weekend. The best hours per fish caught were found in section 14 and were at 19 hours per fish, while section 15 increased to 34 hours per fish and section 16 held steady at 37 hours per fish. Minimal activity was observed in section 17, and no interviews were able to be obtained. Catch rates in all sections were observed dropping during the middle of last week and that trend continued throughout the weekend. Most likely this was due to increasing water temperatures. Last weekend (10/7 & 10/8), the Salmon River was around the mid-40s (Fahrenheit), while this weekend it was closer to the low 50s. Hopefully with some colder overnight lows in the forecast we will see the catch rates start improving as the water temperature decreases again."

It looks like there are a few steelhead being caught.  Here's the data chart.  Click on it to see a larger, more readable version:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

First Fall Steelhead Weekly Report

The fall steelhead season began in early October from Salmon, Idaho, down river to Corn Creek.  IDFG Salmon Region Fisheries Technician Brent Beller released his first weekly report of the 2012 fall season Monday, October 8th.    Beller's reports will continue until December 3rd. As of  this past weekend, 121 anglers creels were checked.  Altogether 19 steelhead were caught, eight of which were kept.  Anglers checked reported spending a grand aggregate total of 472 hours fishing. That equates to over 24 hours per fish caught.

Here in italics is what he had to say for the first fall steelhead report:

"Idaho Department of Fish and Game technicians began creel activities for the upper Salmon River steelhead fishery on October 4th. Since then, we have observed steelhead caught from Salmon downstream to Corn Cr. None of the river sections were very busy this weekend and many holes were left open. The majority of anglers were found in section 15 between the North Fork and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Section 15 also had the best hours per fish caught at 13 hours. Section 16 was a ways behind at 37 hours. With more steelhead moving into the sections every day, though, we expect the catch rates to only improve as we move into mid-October. Along with better catch rates, more anglers are also expected. Section 17 received very limited effort this past weekend and no data was collected. We will begin regular creel activities in section 17 this week, and that data will be included in the weekend report next Monday.

Two other things that are worth getting the word out on are the river level and the condition of the river corridor downstream of North Fork. First, the water level of the Salmon River is quite low for this time of year. As of today, it is 78% of normal just downstream of Cove Cr. I would suggest using smaller weights than last year because the current in most holes is much weaker than a year ago when it was above average. The second issue I wanted to discuss was the Mustang Fire. While the vast majority of the north side of the river corridor in section 15 did burn this summer, it was primarily an understory burn on the slopes near the river. Very few trees were lost on those slopes and in some places it is already difficult to see where the fire burned through. It is my hope that anglers will not be deterred from fishing in section 15 because, in most places, it is just as scenic as ever. Hope everyone has a great week."

(Click on the graphic below to see a much more readable version.)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Salmon Whitewater Park planning moves forward

(Updated October 4--see paragraphs in bold below.)  The Salmon City Council voted 4-1 September 12th to approve a Development Agreement with the Salmon Whitewater Park Association. Official approval of the agreement marked a major milestone in ongoing efforts to create a whitewater park in downtown Salmon, Idaho.

The Development Agreement will govern Phase 1 of the Salmon Whitewater Park--the pre-
construction Engineering and Permitting Phase, including Designs, Specifications, and other engineering and procurement documents, as may be required to complete an “issued for construction” package. The City will not be responsible for any funding for the Salmon Whitewater Park project.

Salmon Whitewater Park Association Project Manager Breann Westfall said, “We are grateful to the City for their support. This is one small, but very important, step in the overall process. The approval of this agreement allows us to move forward towards obtaining final engineer plannings and submitting our permit applications,”

Above is the Salmon Whitewater Park concept design.
Click the small thumbnail to see a larger, readable version.
The next step in the overall process will be finalizing a Request For Proposals (RFP) to be used to select a firm to prepare the final engineering plans. A draft RFP was developed last winter and spring by the Salmon Valley Stewardship. Salmon City Administrator George Ambrose assisted in developing the RFP. The draft RFP is expected to be reviewed by Salmon City administrators toward the end of October. The Salmon City Council must approve the RFP prior to solicitation of engineering firms.

After the RFP has been reviewed and approved, SWPA will advertise the RFP before the end of the year in Boise, Missoula, and Idaho Falls newspapers. Contacts will also made with engineering firms that have previous whitewater park design experience. SWPA has funds on hand to pay for the advertising and so far has raised about $21,000 toward the estimated overall cost of about $40,000 for the final engineering planning expenses.

“Hopefully by next spring, we’ll have the full funding in place to pay for the Final Engineering Plans and also have the engineering firm selected,” explained Breann Westfall, SWPA Project Manager.

After final engineering plans are completed, the SWPA can begin the permitting process. Regulatory permits will be required from several state and federal agencies before any construction could take place. Currently, SWPA’s efforts will be focused on finalizing the RFP and then seeking additional funds necessary to pay for remaining engineering costs. As the busy summer season winds down, Salmon Whitewater Park Association volunteers will have more time during the upcoming winter to explore various funding options.

SWPA envisions a possible 2014 completion time frame for the the Phase 1 engineering and permitting process.

SWPA Board members and supporters met October 2 to discuss the Development Agreement approval and the RFP process.  During the October 2nd meeting, the SWPA Board scheduled a 6 pm November 2nd community fundraiser at the Odd Fellows' Hall to celebrate the signing of the Development Agreement. "There will a whitewater park update and food and beverages," SWPA Project Manager Breann Westfall said, " We'll get posters out next week and get things more organized. It's going to be an informal celebration but we hope to get as many people there as possible."

SWPA will meet October 9th to continue the Phase 1 planning process. Regular SWPA monthly meetings are scheduled at 5:15 pm for the first Tuesday of each month at the Odds Fellows’ Hall on Main Street. The public is always welcome. 

The Development Agreement includes a clause noting “The parties agree to negotiate the terms of any future phases of the Salmon Whitewater Park in good faith...(and)...Upon written mutual agreement of the parties this Agreement may be amended to include future phases of the Salmon Whitewater Park, such as construction and maintenance phases.” The Development Agreement has an initial term of three years with an option to renew for up to three one year periods.

The Development Agreement states that SWPA’s will develop the RFP for Final Engineering Plans; engage and pay for the Final Engineering Plans; assign members of its committee to be on a panel to select a qualified engineering firm to complete the Final Engineering Plans and continue to work with its contractors to complete background environmental and hydrological data for the preparation of required permits. The data will be shared with the City. The agreement also notes that SWPA will maintain records of donations, record volunteer labor hours and without further request from the City will provide copies of those records every six months during the agreement period. 

As for the City of Salmon’s part, the Development Agreement says The City will assign members of its staff and/or elected officials to be on a panel to review the draft RFP for Final Engineering Plans and to select a qualified engineering firm to complete Final Engineering Plans. The City will also provide detailed specifications regarding water works improvements, water rights, and other information as requested to the firms selected to complete the Final Engineering Plans and permitting requirements for the Salmon Whitewater Park.

The agreement makes very clear that the City will not be responsible for any funding for the Salmon Whitewater Park Project. Finally, the agreement stipulates that after review and acceptance of Phase 1 engineering deliverables, the City will own all rights to the master, design and engineering plans for the Salmon Whitewater Park.
The Boise Whitewater Park - Photo courtesy of Idaho River Sports.

The Salmon Whitewater Park design will incorporate three wave features ranging in size from intermediate to an advanced feature. None of the wave features span the entire river and all will ensure safe passage for river users and fish. The two whitewater parks opened this year in Idaho include one in Boise and another the  North Fork of the Payette River near Cascade. Both proved very popular and drew heavy usage throughout the 2012 summer boating season.

More information can be found at the SWPA's website: 
The website has an excellent FAQ about the project located here:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Water Year in Review

Most folks live by what's called "the calendar year."  It begins with a big celebration on January 1st.  Hydrologists and water managers live by what's called "the water year."  Today is their January 1st.  The water year begins again each October 1st.

The water year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends.  Therefore, yesterday was the end of Water Year 2012. Today is the beginning of Water Year 2013. Use of water year as a standard follows the US national water supply data publishing system that was started in 1913. This time interval is often used by hydrologists because hydrological systems in the northern hemisphere are typically at their lowest levels near October 1. The increased temperatures and generally drier weather patterns of summer give way to cooler temperatures, which decreases evaporation rates. Rain and snow replenish surface water supplies.

The graphics below will provide a starting perspective about the most this and past water years. (Comments below each graphic.)

 The graph above tells a tale.  You can see the water year began last year almost exactly where it is this year.  Obviously, some precipitation took place and double the flow.  After the affects of this mini-surge subsided, the river continued its slow decline to the winter low flow levels.

Typically, The Salmon River at Yankee Fork will begin to wake up in March.  This year was no exception.  The first high spike was boosted by some rainfall on the snowpack and created the peak flow for this year year in late April. A secondary peak is normal under such conditions.  This year was somewhat of an anomaly in that there were two nearly identical secondary peaks with the last taking place in early June.

After the bulk of the snowpack has melted, the river will typically begin an orderly decline into the salmon spawning season.  The salmon are dialed in to knowing when the water levels will be most favorable for making their redds.  You can note a very slight increase in the flow level over the last couple of weeks.

Although the long-term daily mean data for the period of record (1922-2011), it may be a reasonable guess that Water Year 2012 finished at a slightly higher level than the long-term norm.  We hope the USGS can soon clarify that for us.  Now then, let's take a look at the two tables below.

 For whatever reason, there is no USGS data available from 1991-2001.  That's an abnormally large gap in long-term data!  However, we do have about 20 years worth of data here for the "daily mean flow in cfs" for the Salmon at Yankee Fork.  In simple terms, these number attempt to quantify a theoretical number that would take the whole water year flow and average it out as a daily flow.  It's an easy way to see if one water  year was more or less productive than any other given water year.

We are hoping we obtain the "total discharge in acre-feet" for the water years of record.  That's yet another of many years to compare and contrast water years.  Obviously, the provisional data for Water Year 2012 hasn't been posted yet.

You can see from the above table that Water Year 2011 had the highest daily mean for the past ten years.  It will be very interesting to see if Water Year 2012 exceeded the 2011 figure. It's highly unlikely because last year was such a "big water year." However, we heard lots of Old Timers grousing all summer about how "the high water" was affecting fishing, so it will be interesting to see the difference between 2011-2012

Now this is definitely an interesting water year graph.  As with the Yankee Fork, the USGS gauge at Salmon, Idaho started the water year off with a nice dose of precipitation and nearly doubled in flow.  It tapened down into December and appears to have bumped up once again going into the beginning of the calendar year.  As usual, the flow fell back to base of about 1,000 cfs in the depths of frozen winter.  The melt awakened a little early but did not begin in earnest until the usual March time frame.  The Salmon's spikes at Salmon mirrored those of the Yankee Fork, as did the orderly decine into salmon spawning season.  The interesting aspect of this water year graph shows the river flow making what appears to be a new annual low just last month.  (Without the missing data, we can't be 100% certain.)  Secondly, the flow actually rallied from the early September lows despite the lack of precipitation in the watershed.

Our guess from this graph is that irrigators took more then normal water during the hot late summer phase and then reduced their demand as the recent temperatures have cooled off.  In any event, the river flow at Salmon finished the water year about where it always does, roughly around 1,000 cfs.

Note that the USGS does not provide water year graphs for gauge height.

The data from the Salmon gauge is more complete that the Yankee Fork gauge so we have daily mean values for each water year dating back to 1913.  Note that last water year's daily mean was the highest since 1997!  We doubt that this most recent water year's value will come close to the 2011 figure as the cfs values ran below median all summer long, contrary to the Yankee Fork data site.

Thanks for reading and Happy New Water Year!  jp

The graphic below was received from the USGS on October 9th. You can click on the graphic itself to see a larger, more readable version.  We will post further analysis of the data here soon.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Steelhead run update

September 29th is generally the peak of the steelhead run across the Lower Granite Dam, the last obstacle on the Snake River before steelhead can head up The Salmon River. Steelhead run numbers at Lower Granite begin to trend downward from the end of September until about mid-October.  After mid-October, run numbers plummet.

So far, the 2012 steelhead numbers are 53 percent of the ten-year-average. Wild steelhead are doing a little bit better at 63 percent of their ten-year-average.  The number of steelhead crossing Lower Granite picked up considerably in the last few days with Wednesday's number almost hitting 80% of the ten-year-average.

Fisheries biologists throughout the Columbia River Basin continue to forecast significantly lower steelhead numbers this year, a reality already well known through the multi-state fishing community.  Meanwhile, expectations at IDFG mirror regional perspectives.  Lower steelhead numbers combined with the highest fuel cost ever recorded for a fall steelhead season are expected to cause a noticeable reduction in fishing pressure this year.

The IDFG Salmon Region's Brent Beller will issue the department's first weekly steelhead fishing report on the afternoon of Columbus Day, October 8th.  In a lengthy discussion September 28th, Beller shared his insights on the upcoming fall steelhead season.

First, Beller noted that The Salmon River corridor from North Fork to Corn Creek is is much better shape than IDFG Staff originally feared.  He said the campgrounds and camping areas are all intact and unharmed. "It appears the area burned with a low ground fire," Beller observed, "and we think it's going to come back next year with a lot of new growth and look even better."  However, IDFG Staff expect the first heavy rain will turn the river black with ash for at least a few days before it cleans up again.
Click the USGS Shoup graph above to see a larger version. 

Beller thinks this fall's low water could work to steelhead fishermens' advantage.  "There are going to be smaller areas for the fish to hold," Beller predicted. Today's river flow of 1300 cubic feet per second (cfs) at Shoup is running well below the long term mean of 1680 cfs.  Beller believes fishermen who understand steelhead behavior and know how to read water might have good catch rates.

Beller drove down river to Corn Creek on Thursday and observed only four fishermen during his round trip. The typical peak of the fall steelhead season takes place at the end of October.  This year several factors may affect the number of anglers who make the steelhead trek to The Salmon River.  Media and online publicity about lower steelhead run numbers; public perception of Mustang Fire's affects and high fuel costs could add up to fewer fishermen.  On the other hand, lighter fishing pressure and lower water might offer higher catch rates for those fishermen who decide to make the trip this fall.  Below is a screen clip of the most current steelhead run numbers across Lower Granite.
Normally, we put fishing information and reports on the "Fishing" page link shown under the header for this website.  That's where subsequent updates will be placed in the weeks ahead after we begin regular weekly cover of the fall steelhead season October 9th.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Deadman Hole officially open

It's time once again to revisit Deadman Hole.  We've devoted four articles to this spot so far this season.  Today, The BLM put out a news release late Friday (9/28) noting that the new & improved Dead Man Hole Recreation Site is now officially open.  Below is what they had to say in their release.  We have more comments and photos below the news release and its source link.

"CHALLIS, ID – After months of renovation, the popular Deadman Hole Recreation site is now open. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) site, located about 12 miles southwest of Challis, Idaho, provides anglers and recreationalists a great opportunity to access the Salmon River. “The new site looks great,” said Ben Roundtree, recreation planner for the BLM Challis Field Office. “We did a lot of work to construct a site that would meet the needs of recreationalists in the area, and I believe we’ve found a good balance.”

The BLM received two sets of comments regarding the Deadman Hole Recreation site project after seeking public input through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and hosting an open house meeting. With the BLM’s new improvements, the site now consists of two-day use shelters/picnic units, a day use parking area, a new vault toilet, a concrete boat ramp, a gravel boat trailer parking area and five campsites with shelters, fire rings and tables. “This site is now the perfect stop for people wanting to explore the outdoors in the beautiful Challis Field Office,” said Roundtree.
For more information, please contact the BLM Challis Field Office at (208) 879-6200."

Source link:

OK, below are some photos of the Deadman Hole boat ramp.  Here's how it worked.  First, they used a crane to drop a pre-fab slab into the river.  Then, they excavated, formed and poured one kick anatomy boat ramp up to the parking area.  They put in a lot of other amenities, too, that you can see from our first Deadman Hole article this year by clicking here:

There are more comments below the photos.
This is the pre-fab slab.
Here are the guys forming the ramp--really thick and well reinforced.
My wife, Susun, cruising the new ramp in late August.
Yep, brand new regulation vault toilet right next to the ramp where it belongs.
These are actually pretty cool picnic spots and will get heavy use from the friends and families of shore fishermen in years to come.

Thanks for looking at the photos and dropping down to read more comments.  Prior to this year's extreme makeover of Deadman Hole, the place was the pits.  The ingress/egress was dangerous.  Turning radius was practically non-existent.  Parking was dicey.  There was no plan.  Now, it's a whole different ballgame.

Old Time Salmon fishermen know that Deadman Hole and the hole below Tunnel Rock are easily the two best places in this area to hook chinook salmon.  Old Timers tell of scores of chinook fishermen who once descended on those rocks in the old days.  One such Old Timer claims he's seen more than a hundred chinook fishermen at once on Deadman and Tunnel.  This year, hardly anyone fished Deadman and due to private property issues, only a few boat fisherman worked the Tunnel Rock hole.

Our local correspondent who lives on Malm Gulch took this photo of a lone fisherman dangling his line from atop the Deadman Hole rock. (Comments continue below photos.)

You can see this guy with a blue shirt sitting on a ledge of the Deadman Hole rock.  At first we thought that was a strange way to fish.  How wrong we were.  One of the Old Timers told us that's one of The Best ways to fish for chinook.  It's a long story and we might tell it sometime between now and the 2013 chinook season.  In the meantime, when you look at the two photos above, try to imagine what this rock looked like with scores of fishermen draped all over it "back in the day."

So, why are we going into such detail here?  Simply to tell you that the presence of the new Deadman Hole ramp is going to be a "game changer" for fishing at both Deadman Hole and the Tunnel Rock Hole.  Now that it is vastly easier to safely park and walk or to launch a jet boat here, chinook fishing pressure is going to increase substantially during any next and subsequent seasons to follow.

Although we salute the BLM for making a really nice new RAP (River Access Point) it's never going to be quite the same again there.  Both Deadman and Tunnel are two of the classic holding spots for chinook as they move up river. There really aren't many other deep holes in this stretch of river like Deadman and Tunnel.  It's definitely now going to be a place to watch during any chinook season in the future.

You can bet we will be following how the whole thing evolves during both spring steelhead and the summer chinook season (assuming one happens in this section).  The Deadman Hole story continues to be a work in progress.

Thanks for reading!

Here are links to the previous Deadman Hole articles we've done this season:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thanks, Firefighters!

"The goal of the incident management team is to manage the Halstead Fire in such a way that there are no serious injuries or fatalities, no critical values have been adversely impacted and the public and cooperators are supportive of fire management operations."

These words appeared on the very first InciWeb page posted for The Halstead Fire when one of America's four elite NIMO Teams took over fire management August 2nd.  In the weeks ahead, it was as if those words were chiseled in stone on each of the InciWeb updates.

Two months ago today, lightning started the Halstead Fire.  Now that the daily InciWeb updates ended yesterday, it's time to look back on these past eight weeks and see how actual fire management stacked up against those bold words above.

The NIMO Team and the Type 2 & 3 Teams that followed in their footsteps did an outstanding, most excellent job in achieving their Goals.

  • There were no fatalities.  There were no serious injuries.  
  • No critical values were adversely impacted.
  • Public and cooperators were supportive of fire management operations. 

In a nutshell, "Ya'll dun good!"

First & foremost, the stellar and spotless record of avoiding fatalities and serious injuries deserves a virtual standing ovation from all of us who followed this fire.

What "critical values" were not "adversely impacted?"  Let's take a look at The Top Ten critical values:

  1. The City of Stanley was never directly threatened.  
  2. Fire managers kept the Halstead away from the signature Sawtooth Mountains and Wilderness.
  3. Aggressive fire management prevented the Halstead Fire from leaping The Salmon River, keeping safe the Heart of the SNRA.
  4. An all out, practically hand-to-hand fire combat operation snuffed nearly 20 spot fires that jumped the Yankee Fork and threatened to open a frightening new chapter in the Halstead's history.
  5. Electrical power service to Stanley was never interrupted.
  6. Homes and property were successfully protected.
  7. Highways 75 and 21 were kept open and flowing during more than 99% of the fire's duration.
  8. Historical resources including The Land of The Yankee Fork, The Doc Day Cabin, fire lookouts and other structures were protected.
  9. Middle Fork access was preserved and kept open throughout the duration of the fire.
  10. Salmon River corridor campgrounds were untouched and are back in business for the hunting season. Closures were continually adjusted to provide as much nearby public access as possible.
There is no doubt that the above ten items qualify as "critical values."  There is also no doubt that skillful fire management played a direct and significant role in preventing the Halstead Fire from "adversely impacting" each and every one of those Top Ten critical values.  The loss of any one of those critical values would have been a devastating blow to the Soul & Spirit of Salmon & Sawtooth Country.

What about the goal of assuring "public and cooperators are supportive of fire management operations?" 

We believe from start to finish that all those involved in every aspect of the Halstead Fire were totally successful in meeting that goal.  As the Halstead Fire draws to a close, we hear a wide range of  supportive comments from "public & cooperators" about fire management operations.  Yesterday, in fact,  one of Eastern Idaho's most well-respected commentators spoke highly of the success of overall fire management operations.  Let's put it another way--the public "buzz" is heavily favorable regarding all aspects of overall Halstead fire management during the past two months.

Considering the diverse, far flung stakeholders who care deeply about Salmon & Sawtooth Country, it was a major accomplishment to maintain a "supportive" public when it came to Halstead fire management operations.  

The Halstead Fire did not burn uniformly across its 280+ square miles of charred area.  Forty percent of the area was affected by low intensity fire; forty percent by medium intensity fire and only about 20 percent by the scorched earth high intensity fire affects. The scars across the Halstead Fire's burn mosaic will be with us for at least a generation or two or more.  However, the forest will regenerate as it always has and it always will. Meanwhile, Salmon & Sawtooth Country are intact and ready to move into a bright future.

Congratulations are in order for all those women and men who served in so many ways to bring us to this point two months to the day after lightning sparked that first fateful flickering fire on upper Halstead Creek.

We all appreciate your successful service on behalf of Salmon & Sawtooth Country.

Sign & photo courtesy Jeff and Barbara Colson

Monday, September 17, 2012

Stanley Library Builds For Future

The Stanley Community Library was established in January 1979 to serve residents of the mountain city.  During nearly 34 years since then, the Stanley Community Library (SCL) has been housed in four cramped, makeshift locations, eventually outgrowing each one.  Late this year, the SCL will finally have a permanent place to call home in a new building designed as a modern library from the ground up.
After an early June groundbreaking, Sawtooth Valley Builders
crews have used dry summer weather to make great progress
on the new library.  Above, the first framing begins July 23rd.
As of mid-September, the building is roofed and siding is on.

"Our library users, Board, Staff and Community are so excited about having a brand new library in Stanley.  It's been a long time coming and we are all so grateful for the incredible support and enthusiasm everyone has shown for this historic project," Librarian Jane Somerville said.

 The new library building will provide a more than 50% gain in floor space to about 2,000 sq. ft. versus the 1,315 sq. ft of the current building.  The new building's design provides much better visibility and energy-efficiency.  The multipurpose room will meet many needs and be accessible after hours to community groups. In addition to an excellent, downtown location, the library is expected to anchor new planned development that includes housing, retail and commercial space, and a central community plaza.

"We deeply appreciate the many friends and supporters who have helped the Building Committee over the past several years as we have worked toward finding the library a permanent home," Librarian Somerville said.
Features of the new Stanley Community Library include a high tech multi purpose room available for public use after hours, a comfortable reading area with a gas fireplace, a much better children’s area, as well as 4 adult and 2 childrens stations for public access computers. There will be lots more room for WIFI users to connect inside and outside as well as outdoor seating and outlets for WIFI use.  The big bonus for patrons will be additional floor space to facilitate a substantial increase in the library’s collection.

Although a permanent library has been talked about for decades, efforts to create a new library began about 6 years ago and became very serious last year when the building site property became available. In a relatively short time enthusiastic Library Board members and community supporters have raised just under $400,000 to get the project well underway. The total estimated cost is approximately $590,000 which includes the property purchase price, construction costs, furnishings and a maintenance fund. The new building and property are assets that will belong to the library district. Eliminating rent will reduce operating costs significantly.  There have been no new taxes and the library has not taken on any debt for the new building project.

The Stanley Community Library has two part time paid Staff. Longtime area resident Jane Somerville became the Stanley Librarian in August 1998, over a year before the library moved in October 1999 from shared space in the Community Center to its present location at 33 Ace of Diamonds Street.  Librarian Somerville has an almost lifelong love of books and libraries.  She recalls one of her fondest early childhood memories, “The very first place I could go all by myself (at age 4) was the Carnegie Library kitty corner to my house. My mom could watch me from the front door, and when I got there she would go in the house. I spent many wondrous hours there.   It was so quiet there, had great little tables and chairs....and ALL those books! I was in heaven. Even the librarian, Miss Booke, was not too stern with me because I knew how to put the books back where I found them."

Asst. Librarian Casey Bruck reads
during Story Time in the current
library's cramped Children's area
Librarian Somerville generally works 22-26 hours each week while Assistant Librarian Casey Bruck works 12-16 hours.  Anywhere from 5 to 15 volunteers serve the SCL.  The volunteers are mostly retired and include both year-round and seasonal residents.  The library also has a “Friends” group.  The Stanley Community Library is governed by a Board of five Trustees: Ellen Glaccum, Julie Rember, Phil Coonts, Dave Lesser. Ervine Baird resigned in August and new member will be appointed at the September meeting.  Ms. Glaccum is Chairperson. The Board meets at 4:30 pm on the third Wednesday each month at the library. 

The SCL manages a print materials collection of 5,726 items.  Annual circulation has grown from 1,336 in 1999 to 2,451 in 2011.  Reference transactions were a mere 82 in 1999 and tallied 456 in 2011.

The SCL owns a diverse collection of 375 audio books, most all of which get checked out.  Mystery and non-fiction are the two most popular categories.  In addition to the library’s collection, audio books are available from a rotating circuit that changes every two months. 

During 2012, the library has filled 134 Interlibrary Loan requests. 

The SCL’s number of patrons is relatively stable from year-to-year and ranges between 350-400, including temporary card holders, summer employees, etc. Library usage peaks during July and August each year. This year's library usage has been: April, 296; May, 427; June, 758; July, 1282 and August, 1019.  August numbers may have been lower because of The Halstead Fire's impact on tourism to Stanley and Sawtooth Country.

About six years ago, The SCL purchased an inexpensive router to provide free 24/7 WIFI. The WIFI signal can be used outdoors even when the library is closed and has proven very popular.  This year, library Staff began counting outdoor usage.  “We’ve counted over 900 users since the beginning of May, but that is only during our open hours and only the ones we see. I’m sure it’s at least triple the ones we see,” Librarian Jane Somerville said.  Outdoor WIFI patrons often use the donation box to show their appreciation for the service.

The Stanley Community Library is funded by revenue received from a taxing district. The SCL’s operating budget for fiscal 2012/13 is $78,500.00.  No tax dollars have been used in funding the new library building project.

The Stanley Community Library originated as a club which formed in 1977. Student Todd Sullivan’s interests grew into the Astronomy & Missing Civilizations Club, which met at the Mountain Village Lodge. Other members included Bud and Rita James and Larry Milligan. Efforts to find books and materials for their projects led to the formation of a library. Bud James was encouraged by the Idaho State Library in Boise to set up a library on a similar basis to the one in Leadore. On January 18, 1979, the Stanley Community Volunteer Library was established.  Its first location was simply a shelf at the Mountain Village Lodge.  Later, the library moved to the The Stanley Steamer Building (Glass shack), Stanley Community Center and its current location at 33 Ace of Diamonds Street.

Since moving in October 1999, the SCL outgrew the current Ace of Diamonds location and it became too small for community needs. The former residential building provided only 1,315 square feet on two floors with no separate meeting space.  Book shelving is now full.  The small public area provides inadequate for computer users, especially those bringing their own laptops. The cramped children’s area is not visible to a one-person library staff.  Other significant issues with the Ace of Diamonds location include lack of ADA compliance due to steep stairs and poor shelving as well as no work area and inadequate storage for Staff. The Ace of Diamonds facility is rented and cannot be remodeled to meet current and future library needs.

"The new library simply wouldn't be possible without the thousands of hours of volunteer time by our board, donations from near and far, outpouring of community support, help and assistance," Librarian Somerville emphasized, "We're so thankful that the Stanley community cares so much about the public library."

Here are the links to learn about The Stanley Community Library and watch the progress of the new building project.

This website is regularly updated with photos taken by a web cam overlooking the construction site.

Here is the website devoted to describing the new library.

This is the actual library website.

Selling calendars is a cherished annual fundraising activity for the Stanley Community Library/
Here is the website for calendar sales.

Finally, here's the email address for the library:

(Editor's Note: This article will also appear on a separate website for Salmon River Libraries. We plan to describe both the history and current status of the Challis and Salmon public libraries.  This winter, we hope to begin compilation of a bibliography for The Salmon River complete with book reviews.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Warm & Dry

 There doesn't appear to be any rain or snow heading to Salmon Country in the next week and possibly not for the remainder of the month.  September is essentially half over this weekend.  The CLimate Prediction Center's 6-10 day and 8-14 day maps show above normal temps and below normal precip over both periods.  We check NOAA's Air Resource Lab and there's no precip shown for the next week.  The five day QPF graphic shows the entire West as basically bone dry.  (QPF = Quantitative Precipitation Forecast) You can see that graphic below, too.  September's not exactly a "wet" month for Salmon Country to begin with but this particular September basically looks to be warm and dry, if not hot & parched.  More comments below all the graphics.

We took a look at the September climate statistics for Stanley back when we were intently covering the Halstead Fire.  Since there were so many updates happening each day, we doubt very many readers had a chance to review this information.  Even a so-called "normal" September isn't much to write home about when it comes to precipitation.  Here's what we had to say a couple weeks ago:

July through the end of October is the driest part of the year for Stanley.  During that time, an avg. of 2.85 inches of precip is logged, or 21.6% of the annual avg. of 13.17 inches.

"What about September?  The current month's avg. high is 68.6 and the long term avg. low is 27.2.  The highest temp ever recorded in Stanley for September was 89 degrees in 1988.  The lowest was +9 in 1985.

Avg. precip is 0.78 inches (just over 3/4 of an inch). The one day max precip was 1.00 inch on September 1st, 2000. Over the long term, September has seen months with no precip whatsoever.  In 1987, Stanley recorded a September precip of 3.10 inches, which included 5.5 inches of snow.  Avg. snowfall in Stanley for September is less than a half-inch.

On the long term, September typically has five days when precip greater than a hundredth of an inch falls but only two days when precip greater than a tenth of an inch falls.  Overall, precip in September is highly variable as the first graph shows.  The second temperature graph clearly shows the peak of heat of 2012 is past as temps begin their decent into the upcoming depths of winter.  The record low ever recorded in Stanley was -54 on December 23rd, 1983."

Here are a couple of graphics for Stanley weather in September.  Basically Salmon's climate is pretty much the same only warmer.  As far as precip, the same could be said for Salmon as is the case for Stanley.  Links to the weather data sites are below the next two graphics.

You can click on any graphic to see a larger version.  Right click any graphic to save to your computer.

Here's the links

Stanley Climate Statistics

Salmon Airport Climate Statistics

Salmon KSRA Climate Statistics

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Articles Ahead

Every now and then we pause to post up a list of articles on our "to do" list.  Putting such a list out in public on the website does two things: A) It provides real motivation to dig in and tackle those articles and B) it provides a level of accountability.  We actually do look back at these lists to see how well we did in trying to cross off as many articles as possible.

For example, the last time we did this was back BHF. (BHF = Before Halstead Fire).  You can click here to see whether we wrote any of the articles we said we were going to.

OK, let's dive right in and list what we hope to write in the days and weeks ahead

Steelhead, Steelhead and more Steelhead

Fishermen just can't seem to get enough when it comes to steelhead.  There's something about those fish that really "hooks" fishermen.  Even during the Halstead Fire, we've been adding to our steelhead coverage.  You can bet steelhead will be part and parcel of this website for as long as it exists. (Update 9/29/12) Just did an article for the main website.

Fires' affect on fisheries

Both the Halstead and the Mustang have created affects on the landscape, ecosystem and watershed of The Salmon River that will have impacts on the fisheries.  We will do our best to learn about and explain those impacts and how they are being mitigated. (9/29) Not sure if we are going to be able to do a stand-alone article on this topic.  can't find anyone to talk about the subject.

Dugout Dick

Richard Zimmerman may have died in the Spring of 2010 but his legacy is just now beginning to come to life.  Idaho Falls Post-Register Publisher Roger Plothow is taking the lead to develop a full-fledged, multi-faceted memorial describing and honoring the late, great Salmon River Caveman.  It's likely we will have an article at least every quarter on this topic, probably more often than that. (9/29) Have lots of material--waiting for clearance to proceed some one of the Major Players.

Salmon Whitewater Park

We're waiting for the Mustang Mayhem to fade away before we do our next SWP article,.  We hadplanned to do an SWP article every 4-6 weeks but it simply wouldn't be appropriate to revisit the project until the Mustang rides off into the winter snows. (9/29) Second article is complte--waiting for approval of final review before publication.


This is going to be a GREAT series of articles that might span the years ahead.  First, we're going to feature the Stanley Library and their exciting development.  Then we're going to profile the Challis and Salmon Libraries.  The real fun part will be when we start a collaborative project to compile a comprehensive Salmon River bibliography and also to actually write reviews on each of the books that discuss and describe Salmon Country. (Update 9/17/12)  We posted an article on the new Stanley Community Library today.


We definitely WILL be writing about the Clayton Area Heritage Assn. but it probably won't be until the snow flies. (9/29) This has been moved into the "Winter To Do" list.


One wonders what Sawtooth Country would be like without the 40-year-old Sawtooth Interpretive and Historical Assn.  It's going to take several articles to describe all the projects SIHA is involved in.
(9/29) This has been moved into the "Winter To Do" list.

North Custer Historical Society

This is the formal name for the Challis Museum located on Main Street.  The members of  group are always involved in intriguing projects.  It will be fun to tell their continuing story.
(9/29) This has been moved into the "Winter To Do" list.

Lemhi Cty. Historical Society

The Lemhi County Historical Society is one of the venerable institutions in Salmon City and Lemhi County.  We anticipate writing stories about them for years to come.
(9/29) This has been moved into the "Winter To Do" list.

North Fork

It's too bad the Mustang grabbed the spotlight this year.  There are really exciting things happened at what is widely known as the North Fork Store but is actually now called The Village at North Fork.  We can hardly wait to tell their story after the Mustang events ends.
(9/29)  Now that fall steelhead season is underway, it's time to revisit this topic.


The creative partnership between the cobalt mining company Formation Capital and the Idaho Conservation League is getting great things down  in the Salmon River watershed.
(9/29) We should have this article done and posted in October.

Tribal Fishing Regulations and Practices

If we get anything done on this story in the next couple of years, it's probably going to be either a fluke or a miracle or both.  It might be easier to get the combination to the safe at Fort Knox.
(9/29) This has been moved into the "Winter To Do" list.

Old Sawmill Station

Those good ol' boys who run Old Sawmill Station are walkin', talkin' stories all by themselves.  By and by, we're pretty certain we're gonna coax some real whopper fishing and hunting stories out of each one of them.
(9/29) We will be tweaking OSS's website but those stories will have to wait until our May 2013 trip.

Idaho Center

The geographical center of Arizona is located not far from the Custer Lookout.  It's going to be a fun story to write.
(9/29) This has been moved into the "Summer 2013 To Do" list.


The ongoing Yankee Fork Rehabilitation Project will be with us forever, at least as far as we can tell.  We'd like to explain and illustrate this project on a regular basis.  Although the Halstead Fire set the project back, we have every expectation it's the "real deal" and is going to start moving rocks and water soon.
(9/29) Lots to report here--they are moving dirt now. This article is at the top of our list.


Two new RAPs are coming online this fall--Deadman Hole and Carmen Bridge.  Both are unique and exciting in their own right. (RAP = River Access Point)
(9/29) Deadman Hole article posted 9/28.  Waiting for a call back on Carmen.

East Fork RAP

Trouble could loom ahead for the informal East Fork RAP on river left downstream from the Hwy 75 East Fork bridge.  Two new bridges are going to get built there and that important RAP might disappear in the shuffle.  See below.
(9/29)  We plan to visit the Rigby IDT office in early October to get more information.

IDT Bridge Project

IDT isgoing to begin construction on two bridges at once.  One will cross the East Fork and the other nearby structure will span the Salmon.  It's going to take one or more stories just to describe the construction process.
(9/29)  We plan to visit the Rigby IDT office in early October to get more information.

Fire stories

Even though the Halstead and Mustang are certain to be snuffed when it snows, there's bound to be stories that are the stuff of legend arising from the ashes of those conflagrations.
(9/29) Taking a break from fire stories.  We're "burned out" on writing about forest fires.

Fire Cost wrapups

We will be doing a very detail final fire fighting cost wrap for each fire showing the various categories of expenses, etc.
(9/29) Taking a break from fire stories.  We're "burned out" on writing about forest fires.

BAER Teams

BAER = Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation.  When the BAER Teams arrive, that's going to be a news item all to itself.
(9/29) Taking a break from fire stories.  We're "burned out" on writing about forest fires.

Economic impact on outfitters/tourism business

How did the fires impact the economies of Salmon River communities and businesses.  This is a coplex story that may take a long time to tell, depending on how talkative people are about it.
(9/29) Taking a break from fire stories.  We're "burned out" on writing about forest fires.

BLM River Guide

The Challis BLM has been trying to do a mile-by-mile river guide for the last couple of years.  What's going on with this project and will it ever get done?
(9/29) This has been moved into the "Winter To Do" list.

Regime Change in Forests

Believe it or not, the Forest Service is now attempting to tell us that what we are seeing with all these fires is simply a really long-term "regime change" in the National Forests.  Gone might be the trees only to be replaced with rangelands or maybe pinyon-juniper forests.  It's a very interesting story that's just beginning to see daylight in the media.
(9/29)  We've totally back-burnered this topic.  Maybe next year.

Water Year Report

Yes, we know it's boring for most readers but some of us find such things as Water Year Reports wildly fascinating!  The Water Year runs from October 1st through the following September 30th.
(9/29)  Will post ASAP after October 1st.

SBV Grill

Shannon Orr did an outstanding job breathing new life into the Sunbeam Village Grill this year.  When the Halstead Fire hit, she didn't blink or miss a beat and fed the Loon Creek Spike Camp for 17 days.  She has quite a story and we plan to tell it whenever she has time to collaborate.
(9/29) We talked with Shannon at length and hope to have the story soon.

SBV Doug Fenn

Sunbeam Village proprietor Doug Fenn is sure to have an epic story about how the Halstead affect his Village and his White Otter River Company.  Once the ash settles we hope to hear and write Doug's story.
(9/29) This has been moved into the "Summer 2013 To Do" list.

The River Company

David and Heather Denning are running a unique river outfitter operation.  It's all about Families in way more ways than one.  We'd really like to define the "new" Salmon River Country in terms of the people who have chosen to live their lives along the amazing Salmon River.  Doug and Heather's story is special and will be a very fun read. (9/29) This story will get published in Spring 2013.

Kasino Club

We've learned a lot about the Kasino Club during the Halstead Fire and we're looking forward to writing a story about it soon. (9/29) This has been moved into the "Summer 2013 To Do" list.

Take It To The Bank:
Salmon River People

As mentioned about with The River Company, our long term goal is to help redefine the Salmon River by its people--those who are making a stand, so to speak, along its banks.  In the Old Days, Salmon River Country was often defined by the eccentrics such as Dugout Dick and others who are prominently featured in various books about Salmon Country.  Today, however, things have changed.  There's a New Generation populating the banks of The Salmon River.  They are here to stay and are putting down deep roots.  We want to tell the stories of these people as they are without doubt a driving force in the future of The Salmon River. (9/29) This has been moved into the "Summer 2013 To Do" list.

McCoy's Tackle Shop

We'd suppose there's a file cabinet stuffed with articles about McCoy's  So why not add another one to the files? (9/29) This has been moved into the "Summer 2013 To Do" list.

The Bent Rod

There might not be as many articles about The Bent Rod in Challis as McCoy's in Stanley but The Bent Rod is just as interesting and will make a delightful story. (9/29) This has been moved into the "Summer 2013 To Do" list.

The RV Parks

Chances are most people haven't every really thought much about the private RV parks scattered along the Salmon River.  The people who run these places are the real story.  Each and every one of them is like a mini Chamber of Commerce.  For many visitors, it is the RV park proprietors who provide all the information and the perspectives those visitors ever learn about Salmon Country.  We're sure you will find the RV park folks as fascinating as we do. (9/29) This has been moved into the "Summer 2013 To Do" list.

Chambers of Commerce

Although they share common goals, each and every Chamber of Commerce in America is as singularly different as each and every snowflake falling from the sky.  The three Chambers along the Salmon River are no exception.  It's going to be very interesting to attempt to tell their stories.
(9/29) This has been moved into the "Summer 2013 To Do" list.

Public Safety  CCSO/LCSO

The two County Sheriff's Offices that serve The Salmon River are easily two of the most important organizations in the entire geographical region.  It will probably take us at least two years to fully cover what these Sheriff's do and how they do it. (9/29) This has been moved into the "Summer 2013 To Do" list.


Just as each county has a Sheriff's Office, there are many Fire Protection Districts scattered through Salmon County.  They are the ones who will generally be first on the scene in case you run into trouble on the river or one of the roads nearby.  Who are the volunteers who make the FPD's tick?  How do they view the river and what are they doing to keep and improve their public safety skills.  We want to continually features these folks are they are some of the true unsung heroes serving our Salmon River communities.
(9/29) This has been moved into the "Summer 2013 To Do" list.

Well, that's about it.  We undoubtedly have forgotten a few features.  We will add them when we remember them.

Thanks for reading!  Many Cheers, jp