Friday, August 30, 2013

Steelhead Run Update

Here's a quick look at the steelhead numbers coming over four dams during the past week. The total run-to-date is at the bottom of each graph as well as the 10-year average. We have included The Salmon River flow at both Shoup and Salmon, Idaho.  River flows are running well below average.

 Tam Ambrose at The Village of North Fork told us this morning, "People are keeping a close eye on the fish count and have explanations (low water, warm water, etc.) for any fluctuation. The general consensus is that counts are below average, but better than last year. For us, the most important factor is the weather. Every fishermen is an optimist and even when counts are low, they are sure they’ll catch one…but if the weather is bad on the weekends, they tend to stay home."

Our contact at the IDFG Salmon Region Office thinks this upcoming fall steelhead season might be slightly better than last year.  The first weekly IDFG Steelhead report will be released October 7th.  (You can click on any graphic to see a slightly larger version.)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Manager at Sawtooth Hatchery

Cassie Sundquist holds a 6.5 foot sturgeon she caught on The Snake River during an IDFG fisheries project in 2011.
At left is Brett Bowersox, iDFG Fisheries Biologist from the Clearwater Region 2 office in Lewiston. 

The Sawtooth Hatchery will soon have a new Manager. IDFG Assistant Chief of Fisheries Paul Kline announced August 28 that Cassie Sundquist has accepted a promotion from Clearwater Fish Hatchery Manager I to the Fish Hatchery Manager II position at Sawtooth Hatchery.  She will begin in her new position at Sawtooth Hatchery September 15. 

Brent Snider has served as Sawtooth Hatchery Manager since 1994. He will become Manager of the McCall Fish Hatchery, also on September 15.
Brent Snider enjoying a successful day at the trap.

I am very excited to start this new position. I began my career with the department the day after I graduated from high school at the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery. I consider Brent Snider as a mentor. He was the one who first hired me on with the department and gave me every opportunity to gain experience as he could while working at Sawtooth,” Cassie said.

I spent two summer seasons at Sawtooth on my summer breaks from college and returned after I graduated from college for an 8 month stint as a Fisheries Technician. I fell in love with the beauty of the area and the recreational opportunities that it offers. I have worked very hard to get to where I am today and I feel so blessed to have been offered the opportunity to follow in Brent's footsteps,” Cassie explained.

Cassie and her husband Bryce Sundquist have two young sons, Gage 5 and Grayson 2. Gage will be starting Kindergarten this year. They both grew up in Emmett Idaho and spent the last 8 years in Ahsahka, Idaho, at the Clearwater Fish Hatchery.

Asst. Chief of Fisheries Kline noted, “While working toward her B.S. in Fishery Resources from the University of Idaho, Cassie worked for the Department in a number of temporary positions, including stints with the Sawtooth Hatchery, McCall Fisheries Management, and Nampa Fisheries Research.  She attained a fulltime position as a Fish Culturist at Clearwater Hatchery, and advanced at that station through the Hatchery Assistant Manager and Manager I positions.  Cassie managed the Clearwater Hatchery for the past three years.

Brent Snider began his IDFG career as a seasonal in 1983. He went full time in 1991. Brent worked at the Magic Valley, McCall, Oxbow and Cabinet Gorge Hatchery facilities prior to becoming Sawtooth Hatchery Manager in May 1994.
Thanks for your 19 years of Dedicated Service to the Sawtooth Hatchey and The Stanley Community, Brent!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lodgepole Helicopter Fleet

The Helibase for The Lodgepole Fire is a busy place.   The Air Operations Branch is managed by Whalen's Type 2 IMT. The Branch is overseen by the NIMO Operations Section Chief, Curtis Heaton.

Here are the Staff currently assigned to Air Ops from Team Whalen:

- Air Ops Branch Director - Bill Hayes
- Air Tactical Supervisor - Ted Mason and Josh Fulton
- Air Support Supervisor - Eric Taplin
-Helibase Manager - Lee Stwart

Here is the Interagency Helicopter Operations Guide:

Nine helicopters are assigned to the fire as of the first week in August.  The helicopters are classified as Type 1, Type 2, or Type 3.  The Type 1 helicopters are the heavy lifters of the fleet and often see near continuous daily duty duty carrying the most water to the fire line.

Helicopters are classified according to minimum standards for payload or water-carrying capacity.  Here is a chart that shows the minimum for each category.
On The Lodgepole Fire, there are four Type 1 helicopters.  Three are Sikorsky C64E Sky Cranes and one is a K-Max 1200.  Two Sikorsky helicopters are operated by Erickson Air Crane and one is owned by Siller.  All Erickson Sky Cranes have individual names.  Helicopter #737 is "Malcolm" and #749 is "Marty."  The Siller ship (#783) does not have a name.

The specification of the C64E are impressive:

  • Payload: 20,000 lb (9,072 kg)
  • Length: 70 ft 3 in (21.41 m (fuselage))
  • Rotor diameter: 72 ft 0 in (21.95 m)
  • Height: 18 ft 7 in (5.67 m)
  • Disc area: 4070 ft² (378.1 m²)
  • Empty weight: 19,234 lb (8,724 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 42,000 lb (19,050 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney JFTD12-4A (T73-P-1) turboshaft engines, 4,500 shp (3,555 kW) each
Performance-wise, the C64's are also impressive:

  • Maximum speed: 109 knots (126 mph, 203 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 91 knots (105 mph, 169 km/h)
  • Range: 200 nmi (230 mi, 370 km) max fuel and reserves
  • Rate of climb: 1,330 ft/min (6.75 m/s)
Here is "Malcolm" sitting in the Helibase for The Lodgepole Fire.  Here's a great article where someone took a tour of Malcolm:

Here is a video of a crew member giving a Mom and Son a tour of the Malcolm's cockpit:
The Sky Cranes are easily one of the most eye-catching assets of any incident's aerial inventory.  Here's a great 9:33 video showing many different aspects of the usage of the Sikorsky:

The v-shaped attachment sitting under the payload bay of Malcolm is where the water is stored in transit to the fire line.  This tank can hold 2,650 gallons and can be filled in a couple of minutes by a complex pump at foot of the intake tube.  The contracted hourly rate for the C64's as of July 2013 is $7,840 per hour.  These helicopters use 525 gallons of fuel per hour.
Above is a Bell 212.  The Bell 212 Twin Huey (also known as the Twin Two-Twelve) is a two-blade, twin-engine, medium helicopter that first flew in 1968. Originally manufactured by Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, Texas, production was moved to Mirabel, Quebec, Canada in 1988, along with all Bell commercial helicopter production after that plant opened in 1986.
The 212 is marketed to civilian operators and has a fifteen-seat configuration, with one pilot and fourteen passengers. In cargo configuration the 212 has an internal capacity of 220 ft³ (6.23 m³). An external load of up to 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) can be carried.

The Bell 212 has a contracted rate of $1,998 per hour and uses 100 gallons of fuel per hour.
Here is a 4:14 video showing a short flight of a Bell 212:
Above is a Bell 206 L4. A smaller helicopter than the Bell 205, this aircraft is used to take recognizance flights, move smaller buckets of water and to fly special missions that may only need to move a few people at a time. The contract rate for the Bell 206 L4 is $1,028 per hour.  It uses the least fuel per hour of any of the helicopters--38 gallons.

Many of the helicopters serving The Lodgepole Fire are Bell 205's  Three are shown below on The Lodgepole Fire. The Bell 205 is used to transport crews, drop water and haul equipment. It's a high performance aircraft capable of hauling heavier loads in higher elevation, which makes it an ideal aircraft for the Lodgepole Fire.
Here is a five minute video of the start up and take off of a Bell 205:
The hourly contract rate for a Bell 205 ranges from $1,709 to $1,753.  These helicopters use 88-90 gallons of fuel per hour.
The Bell 205 is actually a civilian version of the Bell UH-1 (Huey) Iroquois single-engine military helicopters. They are type-certificated in the transport category and are used in a wide variety of applications, including crop dusting, cargo lifting and aerial firefighting.  Their design and use dates back to the mid-1950's
One of the helicopters (shown above) on The Lodgepole Fire is a K-Max 1200 We have added a photo from Wiki with a human to give some scale to this helicopter.  Note that the K-Max does not have a tail roto.  The helicopter is actually called a "Kaman synchropter."  The synchropter uses counter-rotating side-by-side intermeshing (combing) rotors, as the means to solve the problem of torque compensation, normally countered in single rotor helicopters by a tail rotor or vented blower exhaust.

The K-MAX has been called an "aerial truck" and is the world's first helicopter specifically designed, tested, and certified for repetitive external lift operations and vertical reference flight (Kaman received IFR Certification in 1999), an important feature for external load work. Other rotorcraft used for these tasks are adapted from general-purpose helicopters, or those intended to primarily carry passengers or internal cargo. The aircraft's narrow, wedge-shaped profile and bulging side windows gives the pilot a good view of the load looking out either side of the aircraft.
The K-MAX relies on the two primary advantages of synchropters over conventional helicopters. The first of these is the increased efficiency compared to conventional rotor-lift technology; the other is the synchropter's natural tendency to hover. This increases stability, especially for precision work in placing suspended loads. At the same time, the synchropter is more responsive to pilot control inputs, making it possible to easily swing a load, to scatter seed, chemicals, or water over a larger area.
For more information see:
The K-MAX contract rate is $1,836 per hour and it uses 85 gallons of fuel per hour.

The helicopter shown below at The Lodgepole Fire Helibase is an MD-900 that normally flies out of the Grand Canyon, Arizona.  This is the same helicopter the National Park Service uses for river and hiker rescues. The second photo below is from Wiki and shows N368PA in the air.  The initial production model of the MD 900 was powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206A (or PW206E or PW207E) turboshaft engines.  MD Helicopters can trace its lineage back to 1947 when it was a part of Hughes Aircraft.  Today MD Helicopters is separate business that is based in Mesa, Arizona.  The MD 900 has proven its utility in many rescue missions inside Grand Canyon.  The photo at left shows the MD 900 in action on one portion of complex short haul rescue of rafters stranded mid-river on the rock bar below Crystal Rapid in 2010.

Click here for the full story on that rescue mission.

All photos of helicopters on The Lodgepole Fire are courtesy of The USDA Forest Service.  We wish to Thanks Lodgepole PIO Robyn Broyles for her gracious assistance in preparing this article.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Patrick Gilchrist, NOAA/NWS IMET on duty serving incident managers at The Lodgepole Fire.

An Incident Management Team (IMT) is a group of highly skilled professionals working to keep fire fighters safe, well supplied and successful in bringing containment and control to a wild land fire incident.

In addition to the Incident Commander, Safety Officer, Operations Staff, Division Supervisors, Air Ops and Helibase managers, Resource Unit Leaders, mapping specialists, and many other vital support staff, a key member of most IMTs is the IMET—the Incident Meteorologist.

There are currently 85 certified National Weather Service IMETs available to deploy at a moment’s notice to assist in wildfire suppression efforts.

Patrick Gilchrist (shown in photo) is the IMET serving on Team Adell's Type 2 IMT. Gilchrist is the Lead Forecaster for the Glasgow, Montana, NWS Office. He has served as an IMET for 9 years and worked as a professional meteorologist for 12 years. 

“I like being able to help people directly through my work,” Gilchrist said from his IMT duty station at the Challis Community Events Center.

The Lodgepole Fire is the first fire Gilchrist has worked this year. His previous IMET duty on an Idaho area fire was the East Roaring Fire north of Mountain Home in 2006. 

As Team Adell's IMET, Gilchrist provides accurate, on-site weather forecast, warning, and consultation services to help The Lodgepole Fire IMT and fire fighters work safely and effectively. He uses a variety of special tools to prepare weather forecasts that contribute to the safety of all personnel involved in The Lodgepole Fire management.

Gilchrist received his B.S. in Atmospheric Science from the University of North Dakota. He has also received special training in both mesoscale (large-scale) and microscale (the smallest) weather systems. Mesoscale phenomena include thunderstorms and squall lines, while microscale events could include air turbulence and dust storms. All IMETs are trained in fire behavior and fire operations, which make these fire weather forecasters highly valued members of an IMT.

An IMET starts each day by preparing the daily weather forecast for incident commanders and command staff. Next, the IMET presents a fire weather briefing to the command staff and firefighting crews. These critical briefings provide advanced information about wind patterns, thunderstorms, and humidity levels. Incident commanders have access to the IMET 24 hours a day, seven days a week during a wildfire event.

On The Lodgepole Fire, Gilchrist has access to five IRAWS weather data monitoring stations set up at various locations in the fire zone. Although, Gilchrist normally watches the same hourly IRAWS data available to the public online, he has capability to query an IRAWS unit by radio should more timely data be needed. The IRAWS site on Twin Peaks clocked a 56 mph wind gust at 5 pm on August 1.

Gilchrist keeps in contact with the Pocatello NWS Office as well as the IMET serving Poncin's Type 1 Team on The Gold Pan Complex Fire. Gilchrist will continue serving as IMET on The Lodgepole Fire until he rotates out on August 6.

Here are two links to learn more about the NOAA/NWS IMET program: