The Idaho Conservationist—October, 2014

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Idaho Conservation League Volume XVII • Number 3 • October, 2014

50 Years of Wilderness The bugle of an elk, the screech of a fly reel hooked into wild cutthroat trout, the howl of a wolf, or the gleeful squeals from your kid as you drop through Haystack Rapid— these are all the legacy of wilderness. This legacy is also found in hiking boot blisters, high ridge vistas and clear mountain springwater cold on the teeth.

Wilderness. For what Idaho is today, we owe so much to those who came before.

But behind all that is something else. Wilderness is about people. To create wilderness, you have to pass a law in Congress. To pass that law, you need support from the home-state (continued on page 3)

Flying south for winter / Benjamin Earwicker

The Frank. The Selway. Craters of the Moon and Hells Canyon. The Sawtooths and Gospel Hump. Six areas in the Owyhee Canyonlands. Idaho’s legacy of wilderness is remarkable and unfinished. It was all made possible by a law, simple and uniquely American. The National Wilderness Preservation System became law in September 1964. It was shepherded through the U.S. Senate by Idaho’s Sen. Frank Church. Consider that for a second: an Idaho senator helped create the nation’s wilderness system, now over 100 million acres strong. Can you imagine that kind of leadership now?


White Clouds / S. Lorence


People Behind the Places MB Whitaker

There are deeds behind the names of our grandest peaks. Mount Heyburn, the iconic mountain above Redfish Lake, is named for one of the nation’s greatest opponents of public land protection. Idaho’s Sen. Weldon Heyburn vigorously fought Teddy Roosevelt and would have opposed the protections that Mount Heyburn retains today. It should be renamed.

Elaine French, Chair, Ketchum Paul Cunningham, Vice Chair, Boise Kahle Becker, Secretary, Garden City Julie Richardson, Treasurer, Hailey Tanya Anderson, Victor Jerry Brady, Idaho Falls Perry Brown, Boise Carolyn Coiner, Twin Falls Mark Daly, Boise Lori Gibson Banducci, Boise Steve Mitchell, Hailey John O’Connor, Bonners Ferry Tom Page, Hailey Buddy Paul, Coeur d’Alene Jerry Scheid, Idaho Falls Kim Trotter, Driggs Margrit von Braun, Moscow John Warren, Boise

STAFF Sara Arkle

Community Conservation Associate Natalie Chavez

Finance Manager Nancy Dooley

North Idaho Outreach Coordinator Susan Drumheller

North Idaho Associate

Rick Johnson

Not so for Merriam Peak in the White Clouds. John Merriam was a professor at Idaho State University, a citizen conservationist who worked tirelessly around 1970 to stop the giant open-pit mine at Castle Peak. Merriam’s efforts were part of the chorus of conservation that stopped the mine, helped elect Cecil Andrus as governor, and created the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. After Merriam died tragically in 1973, Sen. Frank Church ensured that Merriam’s conservation legacy would be remembered. As Church well knew, conservation is based on real people.

Justin Hayes

Program Director Rick Johnson

Executive Director Marie Callaway Kellner

Water Associate Dani Mazzotta

Central Idaho Associate Betsy Mizell

Central Idaho Outreach Associate Suki Molina

Deputy Director Aimee Moran

Development Director Jonathan Oppenheimer

Defending Idaho’s Natural Heritage is a new book by Ken Robison, a

longtime Boise conservationist. Much of Idaho’s conservation history is remarkable because it was citizen based. Combined with the efforts of giants like Church and Andrus, citizen efforts were incredibly successful. Robison’s book begins with sportsmen organizing to protect wildlife and continues through 1980 and the culmination of the campaign to protect the Middle Fork Salmon watershed with the River of No Return Wilderness, later renamed the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness by Sen. Jim McClure to honor Church’s legacy. Protection for special places is not a given. It comes from the work of real people. For all who love Idaho, these places hold stories we should know and treasure.


Rick Johnson Executive Director

Senior Conservation Associate Ben Otto

Energy Associate John Robison

Public Lands Director Brad Smith

Conservation Associate Courtney Washburn

Community Conservation Director Lana Weber

Membership Coordinator Mary Beth Whitaker

Editor & Designer Erin Zaleski

Membership Associate Boise 208.345.6933 Ketchum 208.726.7485 Sandpoint 208.265.9565 printed on recycled paper


50 Years of Wilderness Learn More To learn more about ICL’s work on protecting Idaho’s special places,

(continued from page 1)

ultimately protect the Clearwater and the Boulder-White Clouds. There is more to do here and in other parts of wild Idaho.

congressional delegation. To get that, you need lots of local support. To create that support, you need to talk to hundreds if not thousands of people. Easy to say, hard to do.

ICL once had a bumpersticker that said “Idaho! The Wilderness State.” I still think that should be our state’s tagline.

go to www. issues/land

A mentor of mine used to say, “Name it and save it.” People creating campaigns make it possible that Congress will act. My friend Brock Evans often said, “Endless pressure, endlessly applied.” That’s how you get it done. A successful citizens campaign makes it “politically inevitable” that an area is going to be protected— like the good work in North Idaho to protect Scotchman Peaks or the work that will

Wilderness has long shaped our state. Protected places will continue to shape our future. In addition, the ongoing effort to protect wilderness will continue to shape the Idaho Conservation League as we work across Idaho to build public support to pass laws that protect Idaho’s special places. “We are engaged in an effort that may be expected to continue until its right consummation, by our successors if need be.” So wrote Howard Zahniser, first author of the Wilderness Act. He died shortly before the act was signed in 1964. As one of his successors—and proud of it—I thought of him as I watched Pres. Barack Obama sign the Owyhee wilderness areas into law. “We are generating another force,” Zahniser wrote, “never to be wholly spent, that renewed generation after generation, will always be effective in preserving wilderness.” Wilderness. For what Idaho is today, we owe so much to those who came before. R.J.

MB Whitaker



Pipeline on Rail Puts North Idaho at Risk Coal train / Paul K. Anderson

Sandpoint owes its existence to the railroads—namely, the Northern Pacific and Great Northern railroads, which hauled valuable white pine timber to the East and helped settle the Panhandle in the 1890s. Sandpoint is on the north end of the “funnel,” a convergence of rail lines carrying about 60 trains a day between Sandpoint and Spokane. The rail lines move cargo of all kinds, from Boeing fuselages to grain. But increasingly the tracks are clogged by coal and oil trains,

Sixty trains a day pass between Sandpoint and

Coal train crossing the Clark Fork / Sandy Compton


The unprecedented increase in coal and oil trains raises concerns about environmental health, public health, emergency services and safety.


putting North Idaho communities in the blast zone and our rivers and lakes at risk of contamination. Coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming and highly volatile Bakken crude oil from North Dakota are transported by rail daily. If several proposed coal and oil terminal projects on the West Coast are approved, traffic along the “funnel” could double in the next decade. Unfortunately, Idaho’s interests are being virtually ignored in the permitting processes.

The unprecedented increase in coal and oil trains raises concerns about environmental health, public health, emergency services and safety.

Middle Fork Boise / Marie Kellner


Water and Energy

Oil train at Sandpoint historic train depot / Marlin Thorman

Over the past couple of years, ICL has expanded its traditional focus—public lands and community conservation—to include two new concerns: water quantity and energy.

The energy boom has put the Panhandle in the crosshairs.

That’s why ICL is delivering petitions— signed by more than 725 citizens—to our congressional delegation and Gov. Butch Otter, asking them to advocate for Idaho as the coal proposals move forward. We’ve also engaged with communities in North Idaho, and municipal and county elected officials are now voicing their concerns. In addition, to ensure that the coal and oil train traffic traveling through North Idaho is as safe as it can be, we are weighing in on federal rules to improve tanker car safety and opposing industry plans to employ one-person crews on freight trains. The energy boom has put the Panhandle in the crosshairs, but ICL is working to protect Idaho’s interests. Susan Drumheller North Idaho Associate

ICL recognizes that climate change presents enormous threats to conservation in Idaho. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Elaine French Change (IPCC) report last fall detailed the evidence behind climate change and stated that scientists are 95 percent certain that humans are the dominant cause of global warming. Whether one believes in climate change or not, it would be foolish to bet on that 5 percent gap. ICL is not making that bet. To respond to climate change threats, ICL devised programs and hired staff to focus on water and energy. Preserving the adequacy of our water in the face of prolonged droughts and devising new approaches to energy generation and conservation were logical extensions of our work. ICL’s historical efforts for healthy forests and protected wilderness also address effects of global warming. Healthy forests do not as readily succumb to carbon-releasing fires, and wilderness provides migratory routes for displaced species seeking cooler habitat. Our work—both new and old—has never been more urgent, important and necessary. Elaine French Idaho Conservation League Board Chair



Volunteers Needed Clark Fork Delta / Brad Smith

The Clark Fork River delta in North Idaho is one of the top 10 most important wetland areas in the state. Plus it’s a popular recreation spot for kayakers, birders and anglers. But the delta is eroding by 15 acres each year due to wave action and fluctuating lake levels caused by hydroelectric operations. That’s why ICL has joined a delta restoration project spearheaded by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. We’re helping to mobilize the massive volunteer effort needed to ensure the project’s success.

The project aims to protect the shorelines most at risk of erosion while restoring lost or damaged wetland habitats. Volunteers are needed for a host of activities, including monitoring animals and vegetation and planting native seeds and plants. To learn more about the project and to volunteer, go to Nancy Dooley North Idaho Outreach Coordinator

Work Continues on Blackfoot Heavy equipment rebuilds tributary to the Blackfoot / Justin Hayes

ICL’s partnership with three phosphate mining companies and Trout Unlimited continues to improve the health of the Blackfoot River in southeastern Idaho, with an eye toward restoring Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Working together under the name Upper Blackfoot Confluence, the group enters its third year of implementing instream habitat restoration projects, replacing old irrigation diversions and road culverts that block migrating trout, and installing fish screens to keep trout from being diverted into irrigation ditches. The group is also battling noxious weeds,

addressing motorized trail issues, and backing nonlethal efforts to discourage pelicans from eating juvenile trout in Blackfoot Reservoir. Using private funds from the mining companies, the Upper Blackfoot Confluence has awarded projects that have opened 25 miles of historical spawning habitat and improved the river’s health. You can learn more about this partnership and the projects at Justin Hayes Program Director


Solar power is a terrific match for Idaho: our energy needs spike when the sun is shining brightest. Idaho has traditionally used coal and natural gas to meet these spikes. Today we can invest in clean solar, which protects our climate and creates jobs. Last summer, ICL won an important victory protecting the “net metering” rooftop solar

program. Since then, local installation companies report brisk business and are hiring additional employees as more homes and businesses go solar.

fuels. Wildlife habitat won’t be harmed since one plant will be built on old agricultural fields and the other on city land used for wastewater disposal.

In August, local developers signed contracts for an 80-megawatt solar plant near Grand View and a 40-megawatt plant in Boise. These projects will deliver clean power that’s cheaper than dirty fossil

With solar power, we can protect Idaho’s pocketbooks and environment.

Solar rooftop installation / stock photo

Idaho Goes Solar

Ben Otto Energy Associate

What’s Brewing in Central Idaho We’ve also rolled out a new program series—Science Pub—in Central Idaho. Hosted at the Sawtooth Brewery in Ketchum, this program is based on the Science Cafe model developed in Europe in the 1990s. Once a month, we create a fun and casual event where people can learn more about ICL and environmental topics from across the state.

Our fall lineup includes water, climate change and snow science. If you live nearby, plan to drop by the Sawtooth Brewery for Science Pub this fall!

Science Pub / Betsy Mizell

The effort to protect the Boulder-White Clouds as a national monument is moving ahead at full speed. If you haven’t seen the new website, check it out today at www. Over 12,000 folks from across Idaho have signed the petition on that website to support a national monument designation, and that number grows every day. Have you added your name yet?

Betsy Mizell Central Idaho Outreach Associate



Canadian Tailings Disaster Raises Concerns in Idaho

Hazeltine Creek Post-Spill / Chris Blake

This summer, the “state-of-the-art” Mount Polley Mine tailings dam in British Columbia failed. A flood of toxic sediment demolished Hazeltine Creek and spilled into scenic Polley and Quesnel Lakes. This disaster has Idahoans concerned. The Thompson Creek Mine near Challis has a similar tailings dam over 600 feet high. While inspectors say the tailings dam is stable, ICL wants the mining company to reassess the dam’s stability and establish contingency, containment and cleanup plans. ICL is also concerned about tailings dams of future mines. If built, the CuMo project would produce millions of tons of toxic mine

waste. A failure at the CuMo site could contaminate Grimes Creek, Mores Creek, Lucky Peak and the Boise River. Even reservoirs like Lucky Peak may not protect Boise’s drinking water. Recent mudslides in tributaries upstream of Lucky Peak still muddied the Boise River in town, even with reservoirs in between. In fact, the company that supplies Boise’s drinking water temporarily reduced its intake from riverside pumps and relied more on groundwater supplies. While silt from mudslides eventually settles out, pollution from mining operations can last much longer. John Robison Public Lands Director

adjudication Does not Equal Conservation

Middle Fork Boise / Marie Kellner

This fall, Idaho celebrates completion of the Snake River Basin adjudication. The SRBA organized the use of about 80 percent of Idaho’s water, prioritizing water rights and thus letting water right holders know where they stand in times of shortage. The SRBA is the largest completed adjudication in the West, and Idaho deserves congratulations. But amid the celebration, it’s also important to recognize what the SRBA did not do. It didn’t make water use more efficient, nor did it provide incentives to conserve water. Another big loser? Idaho’s


many fish, all of which depend on healthy, flowing rivers. And if you love to catch fish or float and boat on Idaho’s rivers, adjudication didn’t do much for you either. Adjudication is important. It lays a necessary foundation. But we have much to do if we are to make sure our limited water resources are distributed fairly, if we are to reduce waste and if we are to keep our rivers healthy. Marie Callaway Kellner Water Associate

PUBlIC lanDs

Taking a Stand for Public Land Leslie Gulch / Lauren McLean

Nearly two years ago, the Idaho Legislature created the Federal Lands Interim Committee to figure out how the state could take over public lands. This scheme was cooked up by attorneys and special interests outside Idaho and could lead to the privatization of millions of acres of lands important for hunting, fishing and recreation. After holding public meetings this fall, the committee will make recommendations to the Legislature when it convenes in January 2015. If the state takes over management of our public lands, it will threaten Idaho’s public land heritage. These are the places where Idaho families hunt, fish and recreate. These special places should not be turned over to the state to maximize profit; they should be kept in public ownership. This takeover effort also undermines the effectiveness of Idaho’s collaborative land management efforts. Today, at least seven efforts are underway across the state to promote collaborative solutions for federal land managers. The collaborative groups are finding common ground, creating jobs and restoring watersheds and habitat.

Idaho’s public lands are important—to Idahoans and to the entire country. ICL loves our public lands, and we’re working hard to protect them. Courtney Washburn Community Conservation Director

Herd Peak / R. Maughan

Honor the Wilderness act’s 50th anniversary The Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation offers Idaho’s only wilderness license plate, designed by Boise artist Ward Hooper. When you purchase this plate, you support Idaho’s wilderness and honor the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

get yours at your county DMV for just $35 the first year ($25 for renewals).



Stirring Images of Idaho Rachel Teannalach

ICL’s artist in residence program (AIR) began in 2013 and stemmed from conversations about how ICL could better share the beauty of the places we work to protect and how we could tell the Idaho story in creative new ways to expanded audiences. How do we create a nexus between art and nature? Ta da! ICL’s artist in residence. The first artist to participate, Boise-based Rachel Teannalach, was a driving force behind the founding of AIR. By the end of 2014, Rachel will have created dozens of plein air works, highlighting special places around the state. She has displayed her works at art shows in Boise, Ketchum and Sandpoint. Her stirring images have also graced ICL’s website, publications, social media, note cards and more. AIR has drawn great interest from artists around the state who want to be ICL’s next

The Boulder Front / Rachel Teannalach


artist. On October 1, ICL announced a call for artists. We are accepting proposals and work samples through October 31. The next artist will be announced in early December. The 2015 artist then begins working his or her magic, capturing images and feelings of Idaho. Find out more at Or contact me. And don’t miss the final show in Rachel Teannalach’s ICL artist in residence series, which will run throughout November: Landscapes for Idaho Opening reception on Thursday November 6 at 5 pm Gallery Five18 518 S Americana Blvd in Boise Aimee Moran Development Director

Watch Out, World! Our Boise interns, Caitlin and Hannah / Marie Kellner

The 2014 ICL summer interns are coming at you! Every summer, ICL invites a new crew to work in our three statewide offices. These interns arrive with different backgrounds, fresh ideas and passion for the environment. They leave with a new sense of energy for conservation in Idaho. South Idaho intern Hannah Chessin summed up her experience well: “I head into my last year of law school with a new sense of resolve to be more like ICL and the folks who work here. I will try not to be afraid to take on the big issues. I will remember that victories and successes, though they take an incredible amount of work, are achievable. And I will keep in mind the special beauty and glory of Idaho, truly the best motivation of all.” Special thanks to Jansen Rinck in Sandpoint, Hannah Chessin and Caitlin Maulin in Boise, and Alisa McGowan in Ketchum! Lana Weber Membership Coordinator

Remember the Idaho Conservation League in Your Estate Plans We hope you will consider the Idaho Conservation League in your estate planning. Memorial gifts and bequests are placed in our endowment fund so that these gifts can permanently support conservation in Idaho. We welcome inquiries about bequests to Aimee Moran at 208.345.6933 x 15 or If you wish to make a provision in your will, the following general form is suggested: “I give, devise and bequeath to the Idaho Conservation League, an Idaho not-for-profit corporation, located on the date hereof at 710 North 6th Street, Boise, Idaho, 83702, the sum of $___ ” (or specifically described property).

Volunteers Our thanks to the volunteers, without whom our achievements would not happen. Stacy Beeson Ed Cannady Claire Casey Todd Chavez Kathy Cousins Vicki Daly Patrice Delaney-Davies Eileen Doten Jane Dunbar Mary DuPree Mark Frisbie Celeste Grace Eric Grace Jan Griffitts John Harbuck Mark Hume Rebecca Kemner Susan Kranz Kat Longe Bill Love Don Martin Maureen Martin

Molly McCann Jim Mellen Sandii Mellen Dan Morrow Kathy Nolan Larry Nolan Tim Norton Ben Olson Gina Pearson Danette Phelan Tom Pomeroy Rick Price John Schott Lucy Schott Sarah Sorenson SOVRN Creative Ted Stout Susan Valiquette Paula Warren Vicki Watson Lucy Weber


Membership Renewal Made Easier! Your annual membership renewal date is printed on the mailing label below. Please help save costs by renewing your membership before it expires. Renew online at or use enclosed envelope.

Idaho Conservation League 208.345.6933 PO Box 844 Boise, ID 83701

Non Profit Org. US Postage PaID Idaho Conservation League

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give a gift That Will Endure for generations ICL members are people who care about Idaho’s special places. If your friends and family are celebrating birthdays, weddings or other special occasions, why not share the gift of conservation with them? Gift memberships help protect Idaho’s water, air and wild places. And they show how much you care.

give an ICl gift membership on our website or contact lana Weber at 208.345.6933 x 16 or