t’s natural to ask, “What have you done for me lately?” There are a number of possible IOGA answers including this one, “Consider the body of work over time that helps protect and promote your business.” While you may not find a piece that applies directly to your business in this particular FYI bulletin, keep in mind that IOGA relationships built over time with government agencies, elected leaders and individuals important to the well being of the overall Idaho outfitter and guide industry are nourished routinely through email, phone calls, attendance at meetings and shows. A recent letter like this one from the Idaho congressional delegation doesn’t just happen. It is the result of years of building and maintaining relationships. A recent refund from the Licensing Board (IOGLB) to a longtime member for license fees not applicable going forward because of his recent sale of business had IOGA footprints.
IOGA has had a presence in Washington DC with elected leaders and government agencies annually through participation in America Outdoors Association (AOA) annual Camp Washington since this event began in the 1990s. The ability for the Forest Service and BLM to continue permitting outfitters will be the subject of an April 4th hearing in Congress and IOGA through AOA has had a hand in shaping industry input. Imagine the implications if the membership of the Licensing Board (IOGLB) did not include a plurality of outfitter/guides. Our consistent presence at the Idaho Statehouse is important to maintaining a “no news is good news” atmosphere. IOGA is an umbrella organization that represents a diversity of outfitter businesses like no other in the West. IOGA looks out for the collective well being of all licensed and permitted IOGA members. You may not have seen this recent media release promoting water conditions unless you have been to the IOGA website recently. Then there is that friendly and informative voice on the phone in the personage of IOGA Office Manager, Janey Bruesch, when calling our Boise office. We can always be better. Let us know your thoughts.
Commission sets 2014 Big Game & Spring Chinook Seasons
During its recent March meeting, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Commission decided on the season structure for deer, elk, pronghorn, bear, mountain lion and wolf seasons. The new seasons include an increase in elk controlled hunts, pronghorn tags and expanded wolf hunting and trapping seasons. Regarding spring Chinook, seasons will begin on April 26 on the Clearwater, Middle Fork Clearwater, North Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater, Lochsa, Lower Salmon and Little Salmon and on the Snake River in Hells Canyon from Dug Bar upstream to Hells Canyon Dam. Closing dates will be determined and ordered by the Commission based on harvest quotas. A special restriction will be placed on a short stretch of the Clearwater River known as Big Eddy. That stretch will be closed to fishing from watercraft. Anglers fishing from the bank will be allowed to fish that section. Boundaries will be clearly posted.
Click here for a summary of the major changes for the upcoming big game and spring Chinook seasons. Also, here is IDFG staff member Jon Rachel’s presentation to the Commission in mid-March that highlighted the current condition of Idaho’s big game populations along with other relevant information.
Update on Monument Proposal for Boulder White Clouds
It is likely that representatives of the Obama Administration will come to Idaho later this spring or summer to meet with the public at large in Custer and Blaine Counties in central Idaho to ascertain local sentiment regarding the notion of establishing a national monument of approximately 500,000 acres in central Idaho that would overlie large portions of the existing Sawtooth National Recreation Area in the Boulder White Cloud mountains. An area east of the East Fork of the Salmon River currently managed by the BLM is also under consideration. Land-based outfitter members of the IOGA who outfit in the Boulder White Clouds and associated BLM lands are currently opposed to the monument.
The current IOGA position on the monument will be an agenda topic during the upcoming IOGA board of directors April 9-10 meeting in Salmon. IOGA representatives recently met with monument proponents and found interest for specific outfitter proclamation language that would be helpful should a monument come to fruition. Good outfitter language in a proclamation would be very helpful in the shaping of a subsequent monument management plan. Thus far the monument process is lacking a comprehensive collaborative process whereby stakeholders get together to discuss the pros and cons, not unlike the Owyhee Initiative in which IOGA was one of many stakeholders who met consistently over a period of years that led to consensus and legislation that President Obama signed in March of 2009. Click here for a recent story, background and comments by readers on the monument notion. Click here for a recent story highlighting Custer County including one outfitter’s views.
Progress but No Cigar
A structured meeting between outfitter representatives of non-wilderness land-based outfitters and the Salmon Challis National Forest (SCNF) in late February netted substantial progress toward agreement on an operating plan. However, the major sticking point remains regarding SCNF insistence that non-wilderness outfitter assigned camps be treated the same as wilderness camps relative to tent frames and other structures utilized by outfitters. IOGA maintains that the SCNF has the latitude under current regulations to allow for wooden tent frames and other similar structures to remain in place. Subsequent to the recent meeting, members of the Idaho congressional delegation have written SCNF Supervisor Chuck Mark urging completion of this process that should eventually lead to outfitter permit reissuance for 21 outfitters. This process has been underway since 2012. IOGA members at the collaboration table with the SCNF include Louise Stark, White Cloud Outfitters, and Shane McAfee, Castle Creek Outfitters.
Keeping Up with the Management Plan
Among the standards in the 2004 Frank Church River of No Return Management Plan (Plan) are ones that call for monitoring float and powerboat use on the Main Salmon River wild portion. Forest Service river managers have provided IOGA and its members with annual float and commercial powerboat usage on a regular basis, but the missing information piece of the use pie is that of non-commercial powerboating during the summer control period. To that end, the IOGA and its Salmon Chapter have requested by letter that the managers of the Frank Church provide complete information for all boating uses on the Wild Main Salmon River as required by the Plan.
IOGA Joins Outfitter Organizations Expressing concerns about Cost Recovery Language in Draft FLREA Legislation; Hearing Scheduled April 4th
IOGA’s Grant Simonds and Louise Stark, White Cloud Outfitters, participated in America Outdoors Association (AOA) annual Camp Washington in Washington DC in mid-February. At the top of the list of issues in meetings with Congressmen and staffers was reauthorization the Federal Lands Recreation and Enhancement Act, the authority that allows for the Forest Service and BLM to issue permits.
Since Camp Washington, a discussion draft of the reauthorization legislation has been circulated and Section 807 is not good for outfitter businesses. SEC. 807 requires permit holders, primarily outfitters and guides, organized groups, special events and motorized recreation to cover some or all the costs of management of public lands such as trail and facility construction, maintenance, natural and cultural resource monitoring, restoration, emergency response and law enforcement, signage and user education and permit administration. AOA believes these costs for other uses and users will be transferred to the outfitted public and are unsustainable. These costs are programmatic and should not be transferred to a small number of permitted visitors whom the agencies will find convenient to isolate and exploit for revenue.
IOGA has signed onto a letter from 12 organizations initiated by AOA to Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, thanking him for the open process of distributing a discussion draft but expressing deep concern that the cost recovery language in the draft is unsustainable for small businesses. David Brown of AOA will be testifying April 4th on behalf of the outfitting industry during a hearing on FLREA.
Trails Receive National Attention
IOGA is one of a multitude of signatories to a recent letter to members of Congress regarding potential solutions to the huge backlog of trail maintenance on public lands. This except from the letter, “Study a proposal to permit outfitters and guides to partially offset their fees through trail maintenance. Outfitters and guides pay for the privilege of operating their business on public lands. Direct the Forest Service to assess the feasibility and related issues regarding allowing outfitters and guides to treat their trail maintenance activities as an in-kind contribution to offset fees owed to the federal government.” A recent letter to Tom Tidwell, Chief of the Forest Service, identifying trail problems and solutions, included IOGA as a signatory.
Did You Know…..
- Filming on Public Lands including Wilderness. This has been a topic at recent IOGA meetings. The presentation provided by Stefani Melvin Spencer of the Salmon Challis National Forest last month to the IOGA Salmon Chapter members was very informative and included this handout.
- Microsoft recently announced that as of April 8 they will no longer provide security updates that help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware and other malicious software, which can steal your personal information for users of Windows XP. Microsoft is also ending support for Office 2003. For more information, click here.
- The Idaho Conference on Recreation and Tourism is scheduled for May 6-8 in Sun Valley. For more information, click here.
Wolf Howling Contest April 10th in Salmon
Come on down and celebrate IOGA’s 60th birthday with the Salmon Chapter and the IOGA and Idaho Natural Resource Foundation Board and staff at the 2014 Outfitter Rendezvous in Salmon, featuring the 3rd Annual Idaho State Championship Wolf Howling Contest. Don’t miss the Dutch Oven Dinner and the honky tonk tunes of the Jenn Snyder Band. Join us Thursday, April 10th at 5 p.m. at the Lemhi Country Fairgrounds for this event kicking off the Salmon Select Horse Sale. Learn more on Facebook.
14th CVC/IOGA Annual Round-Up April 12th in Orofino
The Clearwater Valley Chapter of the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association invites you to the 14th Annual Orofino Spring Round-Up on Saturday, April 12th. This is an awesome fun time that takes place at the Orofino City Park. The event begins at 1 p.m. with raffles, games, beverages, auctions and the “Best Darn BBQ Ribeye Steak Dinner in the Valley!” Top that off with Dutch Oven potatoes and desserts as well as all day and evening music by Alaska’s “HOBO JIM” and Idaho’s “SHILOH” to make this the event you Don’t Want to Miss! For more information contact Leo and Dee Crane at 208.476.5971 or Ken and Elizabeth Smith at 208.476.7148. Hope to see you there!
Online Auction Ends Sunday
IOGA has an online auction, Tax Refund Specials, that will close Sunday, April 6th at 10 p.m. Trips include rafting on the Selway and Salmon, jetboating on Hells Canyon, fishing in Eastern Idaho, South Africa safari and a ranch stay near Challis. Please share the information with anyone you think might be interested.