The Idaho Conservationist—April, 2014

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Idaho Conservation League Volume XVII • Number 1 • April, 2014

Clean Options for Meeting Energy Needs

We are causing this change. Recently, Idaho’s Office of Energy Resources claimed that forest fires were the problem, but this claim ignores basic science. Forest fires release carbon, but trees pulled that carbon from

the atmosphere. For millennia, this cycle remained relatively balanced.

Fortunately, we can help protect Idaho’s environment

Burning fossil fuels is different. For 250 years, we atomized vast amounts of ancient carbon buried underground, changing the finely balanced chemistry of our atmosphere.

while growing our economy.

Fortunately, we can help protect Idaho’s environment while growing our economy. Each year Idaho sends hundreds of millions of dollars out of state to import up to half of our electricity from coal power. So the Idaho Conservation League asked, “What if Idaho (continued on page 3)

Wind power in Idaho / Ben Otto

Here in Idaho and across the globe, things are changing. We see it all around us: rising temperatures, stronger storms and severe droughts. Farmers plant earlier and rely on more irrigation to get through hot, dry summers. The precipitation that used to fall as snow is now coming down as rain. Sometimes change is good; more drought and deluges are not.


Boulder-White Clouds / MB Whitaker


MB Whitaker

Washington and wild idaho Dani Mazzotta, in ICL’s Ketchum office, and I just returned from Washington, DC. We were talking to members of the Obama administration about designating a Boulder-White Clouds national monument.

Helping to lead our efforts on this campaign, Dani has met with scores of citizens in Stanley, Challis, Rick Johnson Mackay and the Wood River Valley. She worked with the Blaine County Commissioners as they developed their resolution in support of the monument, and Commissioner Larry Schoen joined us for some of our meetings in the nation’s capital. Connecting this Idaho work with policymakers in Washington is always important. This was my first DC trip with Dani, and stepping from one meeting to the next, I realized that I’ve now walked some of those halls for 30 years. On my very first trip, I carried pictures of the Boulder-White Clouds and was first shown the connection between the places I love and policymakers in suits. “We are generating another force, never to be wholly spent, that, renewed generation after generation, will be always effective in preserving wilderness,” Howard Zahniser, primary author of the Wilderness Act, wrote long ago. These words came to mind as I watched a young ICL staffer tell senior administration officials about our advocacy to protect Wild Idaho. This is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. What that milestone means for the future will be a theme of our Wild Idaho! conference at Redfish Lake, May 16–18. Visit our website to learn more.We hope to see you there. 2

Rick Johnson Executive Director

Elaine French, Chair, Ketchum Paul Cunningham, Vice Chair, Boise Kahle Becker, Secretary, Garden City Perry Brown, Treasurer, Boise Tanya Anderson, Victor Jerry Brady, Idaho Falls Mark Daly, Boise Lori Gibson Banducci, Boise Kim Marshall, Sandpoint Steve Mitchell, Hailey Tom Page, Hailey Buddy Paul, Coeur d’Alene Julie Richardson, Hailey Mike Richardson, Naples 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 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

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


Clean Options for Meeting Energy Needs Learn More To learn more about

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reinvested these dollars into Idaho’s own clean energy resources?”

ICL’s climate change work, go to www. Read a related article on proposed coal transport on page 8.

Idaho has a vast amount of clean energy resources. ICL commissioned a study that came back with some surprising findings. We sit atop a tremendous geothermal resource that has twice the power of the Bridger coal plant that we tap in Wyoming. Idaho’s hydropower legacy could generate hundreds of megawatts more if ancient equipment at existing dams were updated. Idaho’s wind potential is twice our energy needs, while our solar potential is 370 times larger. Most importantly, Idaho can reduce overall energy needs by 20 to 30 percent, the output of one coal plant, for less than it costs to buy additional power. Investing in these resources keeps our money in Idaho, employing our neighbors and building our tax base, and it prevents carbon pollution.

Idaho’s wind potential is twice our energy needs

Last year ended with a major case on this issue before the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. Idaho Power proposed to

pour more money into the Bridger coal plant in Wyoming. ICL explained that the company had not adequately considered other options, like investing in Idaho’s own energy resources. While the PUC allowed Idaho Power to move forward, it also said that “the detrimental effects of long-term coal use on human health, the climate, wildlife, land, and water are well documented.” Because of these impacts, the PUC admonished Idaho Power to assess alternatives. The agency also put the ball in ICL’s court to demonstrate that viable clean energy alternatives exist. Our study of energy options is the first step. Now we see that Idaho could cut coal from our diet. Whether it’s the Bridger plant powering southern Idaho or the Colstrip plant feeding the north, Idaho has viable alternatives to these plants. Over the coming year, we will continue to show that investing in Idaho’s homegrown energy is the best way to protect our pocketbooks, and more importantly, the wonderful quality of life that is Idaho. Ben Otto Energy Associate

You can help! Make a gift to support ICL’s energy program today, and your gift will be matched up to $20,000 by the Energy Foundation.



Road sign / Micah Lauer

Diesel and Salmon Don’t Mix

Even mining companies with the best of intentions have spills and accidents.

Midas Gold is pretty much my favorite mining company these days. Seriously. The company staff and management are open and transparent. But the location for its Golden Meadows exploration project is one of the worst that I can imagine—perched at the headwaters of the South Fork Salmon River, one of the few remaining strongholds for Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout. In Idaho, the South Fork used to have the largest summer run of Chinook salmon. As dams were built, this run is now one of the most important salmon runs remaining. Even mining companies with the best of intentions have spills and accidents. Midas Gold has already had some close calls, but the impacts have been small—so far. It’s only a matter of time before something bad happens. The drill rigs used for mine exploration run 24/7 and need a lot of fuel, which comes from far away.

If you’re hauling a tanker truck of diesel from Cascade to the project site, you need to drive for two hours along narrow, winding roads along the river and past the small town of Yellow Pine. But if you’re a salmon returning to your natal stream, you follow your nose and the call of your ancestors. From Riggins, you swim up the mainstem Salmon, take a right up the South Fork and turn left at the East Fork. Along this route, other salmon clans peel off for the upper South Fork Salmon River and Johnson Creek. Midas Gold expects to transport over 4 million gallons of fuel on roads paralleling these critically important streams. If a truck hauling diesel fuel has a spill into a stream (as has happened to previous mining companies here), effects to the fishery along Johnson Creek, the South Fork or the

Ammonium nitrate spill / Micah Lauer

In approving the exploration project, the Forest Service has underestimated the risks of fuel haul and increased sediment.


Micah Lauer

East Fork South Fork could be disastrous. Petroleum products are toxic to all life forms of salmon. Just the increased traffic along this route could dramatically increase the amount of sediment running off the road and smother salmon eggs.

Silver Creek / MB Whitaker


WHAT IS IT ABOUT ICL? People often ask me what ICL does or what makes it so special. ICL works on many issues; simply describing a couple of programs does not fully characterize ICL. So this is what I tell them about ICL’s strengths: > ICL is nimble, able to recognize and take on an issue or a challenge as it arises.

Fishing on the East Fork of the South Fork is excellent and ICL is working to keep it that way.

In approving the exploration project, the Forest Service has underestimated the risks of fuel haul and increased sediment. We are working with our partners at Advocates for the West to challenge this decision and force a more thorough review of potential impacts. Under the 1872 Mining Law, the Forest Service can’t say “no” to mineral exploration, but it must disclose the environmental effects and add sideboards as needed. As far as Midas Gold, I would be happy to serve as a reference for the company for another project—far away from salmon country. . John Robison Public Lands Director

Elaine French

> ICL is science-based. Its positions and programs are professional and grounded in the best available data. > ICL is grounded not only in science but also in history. Forty years of work have forged strong links throughout Idaho. > ICL works collaboratively where possible, drawing on the strengths of alliances with partners. > ICL is politically pragmatic, seeking realistic solutions without partisanship. > ICL takes people into account, recognizing that human impact and economic needs must be considered. > ICL can be tough and is ready to litigate if necessary. > ICL is ready and willing to take a leadership role on conservation issues in the state. Whatever the challenge, ICL can bring this worthy arsenal of tools and attributes to bear. That’s what I tell my listeners, and that’s why I serve on the ICL board. Elaine French Idaho Conservation League Board Chair



Boise’s Next 150 Years Boise Greenbelt / Sara Arkle

In 2013, Boise celebrated its 150th birthday. Now it’s time to invest in protecting Boise’s clean water, breathable air, natural spaces, and recreation opportunities for the next 150 years. It’s time for the city to create an office of sustainability. All of us—the Idaho Conservation League and our members and supporters—want Idaho’s largest urban center to be a conservation leader in the region. Although we have worked hard to protect the things we value and respond to threats of climate change, that work has largely been on a project-by-project basis.

When polled, 66 percent of Boiseans believed that water conservation and energy efficiency measures should be required for all city projects. An office of sustainability would make sure that such measures were integrated into city activities and facilitate community efforts to protect those things we love. We’re partnering with other conservation groups and businesses in Boise to promote an office of sustainability in 2015. Sara Arkle Community Conservation Associate

Company Okays Grizzly Plan Grizzly bear / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Only 40 grizzly bears remain in the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem, spanning the Idaho-Montana border. You can understand why we were concerned when the Canadian mining company MMG Limited filed a plan with the Forest Service to drill core samples there. The project is located near Hall Mountain in Boundary County. Several grizzly bears have been sighted in that area in recent years, including at least three mortalities. The loss of just a few bears can deal a huge setback to the population. The Forest Service approved MMG Limited’s plan in December, and we then


appealed that decision. We requested that the mining company implement mitigation measures for the grizzlies. We were pleasantly surprised when the company agreed to build structures around the drill rigs to muffle the noise and light created by their operations. These measures will reduce adverse effects to grizzly bears in the area. Brad Smith North Idaho Associate

Big Win for the Boise River

Within certain sideboards, ICL has supported this concept of pollutant trading, in this case because the city does deal with the sediment and phosphorus that harm water quality and fisheries in southern Idaho. But for Boise to divert this contaminated irrigation return water to its Dixie treatment facility, the city needed a water right and applied for one last year. The Idaho Department of Water Resources allowed us to intervene on behalf of the city. Marie Kellner, ICL’s water associate,

represented us at the formal hearing late last year. Thanks to our intervention and testimony, IDWR found that improving the health of the lower Boise River by removing phosphorus is “in the public interest.” IDWR also concluded that allowing the city to clean up phosphorus at the Dixie drain downstream of the Boise sewer treatment plant was better for water quality than just meeting standards at the sewer treatment plant. I’m sure you’re reading this and saying, “Duh. Of course it’s in the public interest to clean up pollution.” But you have to understand that,

within the context of Idaho water law, using water— or in some instances, protecting existing water quality, not cleaning up already polluted water—is the traditional frame for deciding whether granting a water right is “in the public interest.”

Thanks to our intervention and testimony, IDWR found that improving the health of the lower Boise River by removing phosphorus is “in the public interest.”

In this instance, the city wanted to appropriate the water and put it to use, with cleaning it being that use. An outcome in this case was that cleaning our water is a legitimate use— and one that benefits the public. Courtney Washburn Community Conservation Director Justin Hayes Program Director

Boise River in springtime / MB Whitaker

The city of Boise has proposed an innovative way—called pollutant trading—to meet effluent discharge limits at its wastewater plants. Rather than meeting the phosphorus standard at the Boise plant, the city would instead clean additional phosphorus from the currently untreated irrigation return downstream at the Dixie drain facility.



Powering Past Coal in North Idaho Coal trains are notorious for shedding coal dust—as much as 500 pounds per car for an average 400mile trip.

Power plants are closing across the United States, and as our country turns to cleaner energy options, coal companies are seeking new markets overseas. Looking to sell coal to Asia, the coal companies mining the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming propose to construct three coal export terminals in Washington and Oregon. If these terminals are built, 45 to 60 coal trains a day could rumble through North Idaho communities like Hope, Sandpoint

Coal train / Sandy Compton

and Rathdrum to transport more than 100 million metric tons of coal a year to the coast. Coal trains are notorious for shedding coal dust—as much as 500 pounds per car for an average 400-mile trip. This dust creates maintenance problems for the tracks and health problems for people living alongside them. Meanwhile, doubling rail traffic along the “funnel” between Sandpoint and Spokane will cause long delays at crossings, and local taxpayers will foot the bill for crossing improvements and emergency response. Ultimately, the coal that’s burned overseas will affect our climate, air and water quality. That’s why ICL has joined the Power Past Coal coalition. We’re asking our elected officials to insist that impacts of these coal trains on Idaho communities be considered before the coal export terminals are permitted. You can help by signing our petition (www.

Susan Drumheller North Idaho Associate



The Drydens’ Version of Paradise Last year was ICL’s 40th anniversary. As part of that benchmark, digital marketing company Wire Stone interviewed lots of folks and created a truly inspiring video for us to show at our celebrations and on our website. Travis Dryden, now with Sovrn Creative, was part of that incredible team. And based on his interactions with ICL, he became a member. Here’s how he explained his interest: I moved to Idaho 16 years ago—a decision I will never regret as I watch my family grow up in a community that is surrounded by ample opportunity to get outside. Our winters are spent exploring the snow at Bogus Basin and our summers, biking on the extensive trail system out our backdoor. Our family became members of ICL because they truly care and work hard to support how we live, work and play. I know my values are represented at the Statehouse through ICL’s dedicated staff, and I will be alerted when I am needed to add my voice.

The Dryden boys growing up in Boise.

Travis and Paula Dryden.

As my wife and I watch our boys grow up, I only hope that our Idaho adventures together serve as a lasting gift to them, whether they choose to remain here or find their own version of paradise. Lana Weber Member Associate



MB Whitaker photos

Legislative Reception Draws a Crowd

Rep. Ilana Rubel, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter.

Conservation Voters for Idaho’s John Reuter.

ICL’s Suki Molina and Lana Weber, Dustin Wunderlich.

Former ICL chair Pat Haas, Dani Mazzotta, Betsy Mizell.

Aimee Moran, Roberta Crockett, Brad Smith.

Erin Zaleski, Sen. Michelle Stennett, Chas Bonner.


Idaho Land Grab Marches On Bear Valley Creek, Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness / John Robison

Several meetings of the state’s Federal Lands Interim Committee have made one thing clear: the Idaho Legislature remains hell bent on demanding that the federal government turn over millions of acres of land, regardless of public sentiment, constitutionality or reality. The committee heard testimony opposing the radical proposal to turn over all federally administered public lands. Providing this testimony were Native American tribes, conservationists, sportsmen, and even the Idaho Attorney General. Still, the committee will soldier on. According to cochair Sen. Chuck Winder, the committee plans to host public hearings around the state this summer. Be on the lookout for a hearing near you. We will also “soldier on,” providing forums for you to voice your concerns to members of the Interim Committee. After all, Idaho’s public lands—Hells Canyon, the Sawtooths, the Frank Church, the Selkirks, the Clearwater and others—are treasures that belong to all of us.

Idaho’s public lands—Hells Canyon, the Sawtooths, the Frank Church, the Selkirks, the Clearwater and others— are treasures that belong to all of us.

Jonathan Oppenheimer Senior Conservation Associate

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. Julie Dalsaso Teri Devine Eileen Doten Gary Eller Karen Glaeser Katie Glaeser Pam Gomes Tricia Kennedy Terri Lawrence Pam Marcum Tristan McNamara

Dan Morrow Gary Payton Danette Phelan Greg Scrivner Sean Scrivner Cathy Smith Sarah Sorenson Kate Thorpe Lucy Weber Noel 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. If you have a smart phone, you can scan the QR code at left to access our website!

Idaho Conservation League 208.345.6933 PO Box 844 Boise, ID 83701

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Something Big Is Happening May 1! It’s Idaho Gives—24 hours of online giving across the state. Idaho Gives is fun for everyone, everywhere, so spread the word! On May 1, search for Idaho Conservation League at, and make your gift to protect the Idaho you love and make ICL eligible for exciting cash prizes. It gets even better! Our goal is to raise $10,000 on May 1. If we do, generous ICL members will match your gift dollar-for-dollar! So what are you going to do on May 1? Give! Be on the lookout for fun ICL Idaho Gives events across the state.