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

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Turning Point

Someone recently said "Fire Season" is the New Summer.  Whenever the dry lightning stalks the lodgepole pine, fires happen.  So it was with the Halstead and the Mustang Fires this season in Salmon Country.

We covered the Halstead from Day 3 of its existence.  You, our readers, have knocked our Halstead article out of the park.  In one month alone, it had 6,000 page views!

Tonight on Monday, September 10th, we think we can say both of these epic far flung fires have turned their respective corners.  All of the primary Halstead fire lines held today in the face of bold, audacious winds the likes of which send shivers into the straight spines of career fire fighters.

Meanwhile, the Mustang Fire didn't cross US Hwy 93 and that fact is cause for jubilation and celebration.

All-in-all, the work done by fire crews and fire managers in the last few days and weeks paid off today.

Everything worked the way it was supposed to.  There were no surprises.  There was no drama.

Hopefully tonight, somewhere, someplace, some fire manager(s) dusted off a cigar(s) and did the A-Team's George Peppard (John "Hannibal" Smith) routine: "I love it when a plan comes together!"

We salute Halstead and Mustang fire managers tonight.

Ya'll dun good!

THANK YOU & MANY CHEERS!  John Parsons, Salmon River News, Idaho Falls.

Salmon River Mustang Fire line

Above is a graphic of the Mustang Fire Complex as of September 8th.  We added an "X" - "Y" to show the length of the fire line along The Salmon River.  This fire line starts alongside the river at Indianola and extends at least 16 miles into the wilderness below Corn Creek.

We contacted the Mustang Fire Info to attempt have them calculate the length of the fire line along the river.  No luck.  So, we used the river runner's guide to that stretch of river and interpolated as best we could.  We're certain that the fire line along the river is in excess of 50 lineal miles.  How much more than 50 miles is conjectural but it could be as many as 55 or more miles.  Likewise, we do not if or how far the fire has burned into the Nez Perce National Forest.

Along much of the line, the fire has burned right down to the road or the river itself.  It's pretty safe to say that the vegetation is mostly or totally burned away from those south-facing slopes along "river right" for  length roughly equal to the distance between Challis and Stanley.

Within the last 24 hours, the Salmon Challis Nat'l Forest posted the photo below of some river runner kids using a water gun and pickle bucket to try to "fight" the fire next to the river.  There won't really be any way to know for quite some time the full extent of how the river's right shoreline was affected the fire.  If this photo is an indication of possible wider affects, the Mustang Fire may have reached close to the river's edge in many areas.

Click here for the Mustang Fire InciWeb site.
Click here for the SCNF Flickr album that contains the public domain photo below.
Photo below taken August 17 by Russ Lewis

Saturday, September 1, 2012

August Salmon River Flow Report

Time once again to review the past month's water flow in The Salmon River.  Flows remained slightly above the long term median at the Yankee Fork gauge and slightly below the median at the Salmon City gauge.  This pattern has carried through the summer.

At the Yankee Fork gauge, the August 1 flow was 730 cubic feet per second (cfs) with a gauge height (HT) of 2.77 feet.  The river finished the month there yesterday with a flow of 472 cfs and a HT of 2.19 feet.

At the Salmon City gauge just about the Lemhi River confluence, August 1 river flow was 1260 cfs and a HT of 2.30 feet.  By the end of August, the flow was 896 cfs and a HT of 1.93.

The cfs and HT graphs for both sites are below: