Spring 2020 Idaho Chapter News

 

  • Two-dozen Idaho chapter leaders recently met in Donnelly, Idaho, to formulate 2020 chapter goals, fundraising priorities and expand our board leadership.
  • Our college chapters at the University of Idaho and BSU are both planning fun, conservation-oriented projects to engage local students and are always needing more involvement.
  • Myriad opportunities exist for new volunteers this spring for those wanting to help our chapter with stewardship, events, policy and communication committees needing your assistance each and every month.

 

Nineteen new adult hunters completed the Idaho chapter Hunting For Sustainability program last fall; several of those new hunters successfully filled their deer or elk tags this past fall and winter! The five-week course plus mentored hunt have gained popularity; so much so that the 2020 classes set for August-September are expected to fill quickly during the summer application period. Interested potential adult students must complete Hunter's Education classes beforehand and follow our social media posts to have an opportunity to attend.

The Idaho chapter of BHA was alerted to future plans for the U.S. Air Force to utilize portions of Idaho, Oregon and Nevada for low-level training flights. The area outlined in the plan includes vast swaths of public land in SW Idaho, including the Owyhee River Wilderness. Much of the public land included in this plan is highly valued by hunters and anglers, and it is home to California bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, pronghorn, sage grouse and many other species. The Owyhee River, in particular, is a cherished fishery and home to some of Idaho's most coveted big game controlled (special draw) hunts.

Our chapter was recently notified of a proposal to modify the plans for motorized use on a portion of the Sawtooth National Forest. These plans called for changes to seasonal motorized usage on certain trails in the Minidoka district of southern Idaho, specifically in hunt unit 54. Forest Service staff and hunters/recreationists had reported a significant increase in hunting pressure during September archery season and an increase in illegal use of seasonally closed motorized trails. The Forest Service plan aimed to target trails where terrain features allowed for effective gates and barriers and for establishing areas that would allow non-motorized hunters to access high-quality lands, where wildlife would have pockets of habitat that were undisturbed from motorized use. Our comments emphasized the need to minimize negative impacts of motorized use, thereby lessening big game disturbances and improving the quality of hunting.

This winter several Idaho BHA volunteers, including students from the Boise State University BHA club, joined a large contingent of sagebrush seed collectors in the foothills just outside Boise. The volunteers donned leather gloves and spent hours stripping off sagebrush seeds from healthy sagebrush while enduring wet and windy conditions. At the end of the day, the group managed to collect 4 full bags of seed, which amounts to many thousand individual seeds. This seed will be sent to the Lucky Peak Nursery to dry out and then be used for fire rehab efforts on big game winter range. This program helps sagebrush ecosystems rebound from fire damage quickly, which benefits all the wildlife that depend on sagebrush for food and cover.

Idaho BHA Chapter sponsored a meeting of the local Boise youth fly fishing club, the Woolly Buggers. The chapter was represented by Ted Koch (Idaho BHA Region 1 rep and North American board member) and Jeff Barney (Idaho BHA retiring board member). Ted lead an an interactive discussion on Idaho salmon and steelhead with a group of young anglers.

After a brief introduction, Ted discussed the life history of Idaho's salmon. The kids (ages 5- 14) were asked various questions about salmon and steelhead. Impressively, students were familiar with some of the unique characteristics and understood the reason Idaho's fish migrate over 900 miles, navigating eight dams both ways to complete their life cycle.

Idaho BHA donated several hats, kid's tee shirts, a fly box and stickers as prizes. The latest Backcountry Journal issue, with several fish-related stories included, was likewise offered up to the students and their parents. Afterward, the Woolly Bugger's program leader, Blake Schnebley, gave a quick demonstration as to the finer points of properly tying a Popsicle salmon fly.

Idaho BHA was proud to support this great program, and we sincerely appreciate the support of the kids and their parents.

 

About Zachary Williams

Backcountry Journal editor

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