Executive Director's Message by John May 8/28

IOGA Members, Well needless to say, August was a very busy as well as stressful month for many of Idaho’s outfitters. This month’s update will be focused on two items, the wildfire season and our 2015 Idaho Travel Council Marketing Grant request. First and foremost I would like to extend a huge “Thank You” to Joe O’Neill who is the BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner out of the Cottonwood Field Office.  As you are aware, Idaho has been struck with some nasty fires in the last couple of months which have been devastating to Idaho communities and the folks who live and work in those areas.  The Big Cougar Fire threatened to close sections of the Salmon and Snake Rivers in the height of the recreation season. It was through the cooperative work of many agencies like (USFS, BLM, IF&G, The Nez Perce Tribe, The Natures Conservancy and Nez Perce County), Incident Commander Shawn Pearson (Northern Rockies Type II Incident Management Team), Joe O’Neill and other key decision makers that the rivers remained open. From day one Joe was directly in contact with Jake Howard of the IOGLB and myself about what was going on, the plan moving forward and his desire “not” to close the river unless absolutely necessary. It is this type of communication that allows us to be prepared for what might have to happen should a decision to close a river come down. Fortunately for all that was not the case. His ongoing daily communication with all who were involved and affected was tremendous! It allowed all of us to feel like we were right there along side the men and women who were working on our behalf. This is the type of working relationship we need in our state. Again hats off to Joe and the team for a job well done. Secondly, as many of you know the Idaho Travel Council awarded their 2015 Marketing Grants on August 12th.  IOGA has been a long time participant in this program and the funds awarded have allowed us to do many great things over the years. This year’s award to IOGA was over $73,000 dollars, up almost $30,000 from last year.  It was IOGA’s revised focus on marketing the activities that bring people to Idaho along with the partnerships that we have been able to forge with other regional and multi-regional groups that led to this success. These additional dollars will allow us to market in many new areas this coming year. It is encouraging that the ITC as well as the state tourism department is recognizing the value and importance of what outfitters and guides do for the state and are starting to put some real marketing dollars behind it. I personally want to thank the eight Travel Council Representatives for this year’s award. Have a great day! John May

IOGA Government Affairs Liaison

Grant Simonds continues as the IOGA Government Affairs Liaison after having served 29 years as the IOGA Executive Director. He monitors state and federal agencies, serves as IOGA’s primary contact with the national outfitter organization, America Outdoors Association, and assists the IOGA lobby team of Risch Pisca PLLC with monitoring the Idaho Legislature.

50th Anniversary of theWilderness Act

September 3rd marks the 50th anniversary of passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act. It immediately placed 54 areas in 13 states that totaled 9.1 million acres of American lands into the National Wilderness Preservation System, including Idaho’s Selway Bitterroot Wilderness. Today the wilderness system contains nearly 110 million acres of lands in 750 wilderness areas in all but six U.S. states. These wilderness lands all exist within our national parks (43.9 million acres), national forests (36.1 million acres), national wildlife refuges (20.7 million acres) and Bureau of Land Management lands (8.7 million acres). Alaska has in excess of 57 million acres of wilderness or about 52 % of wilderness area in the United States. Idaho has 12 designated wilderness areas and over 4.5 million acres. The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is the largest forest wilderness in the lower 48 at nearly 2.3 million acres. Speaking of Idaho Senator Frank Church, he was the Senate floor sponsor for The Wilderness Act of 1964.
  • Big Jacks Creek Wilderness
  • Bruneau – Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness
  • Craters of the Moon National Wilderness Area
  • Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness
  • Gospel Hump Wilderness
  • Hells Canyon Wilderness (Oregon and Idaho)
  • Little Jacks Creek Wilderness
  • North Fork Owyhee Wilderness
  • Owyhee River Wilderness
  • Pole Creek Wilderness
  • Sawtooth Wilderness
  • Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness
IOGA estimates that more than one half (200) of the licensed and special use permitted Idaho outfitter businesses (nearly 400) operate in designated wilderness and/or the associated designated Wild and Scenic Rivers. Here are some famous quotes about wilderness that does not include my favorite from Edward Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang that I paraphrase as, “Wilderness is the psychiatric refuge of the American public”.

Fight Over Remote Idaho Airstrip

Recently two groups (Friends of the Clearwater and Wilderness Watch) filed a 60-day notice of their intent to sue the Forest Service plans to avoid conducting a full environmental impact statement relative to their intent to lengthen the Fish Lake Airstrip and do needed repairs. The nonconforming use was successfully protected when the Selway Bitteroot was made a wilderness in 1964. Pilots including those who transport guided hunting clients use this airstrip. Safety and endangered species protection are at the center of this controversy. For more on this issue including location of the airstrip and a video showing an airplane landing at Fish Lake airstrip click here.  As an aside, the IOGA is a charter member of the Idaho Airstrip Network that advocates for maintaining the many Idaho airstrips in and out of designated wilderness.

Fish and Game News

Idaho Governor Butch Otter recently appointed Pocatello real estate agent Lane Clezie and Meridian irrigation equipment wholesaler Blake Fischer to the seven member Idaho Fish and Game Commission. Clezie succeeds Randy Budge of Pocatello and represents IDFG’s Southeast Region. Fischer succeeds Bob Barowsky of Fruitland and represents the Southwest Region. Both were appointed for a four year term. Clezie designs and builds custom firearms stocks and is very active in the Safari Club International, the Wild Sheep Foundation, the Mule Deer Foundation and many other sportsmen’s organization. Fischer also manufacturers specialty archery equipment and is co-chair for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. He is also active in Big Brothers Big Sisters and he wants to address the decline in the number of people hunting.

Licensing Board News

Governor Otter recently appointed outfitter George McQuiston to the five member Idaho Outfitters and Guides Licensing Board. George has been a licensed hunt outfitter and guide in Idaho for 9 years. He is licensed for almost all land-based activities and last year became licensed for float boating and fishing on the Main Salmon River downstream of Challis. He operates on lands managed by the Salmon-Challis National Forest in and out of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Fish and Game Unit 27. His business is Wild Idaho Outfitters. There are five members of the IOGLB of which George is one of the three outfitters that include Tom Long, Cascade Raft and Kayak and Louise Stark, White Cloud Outfitters. Outfitter Chris Korrell served two terms on the IOGLB. IOGA thanks him for his recent service. Among other interests, he was especially mindful that IOGLB be proactive on timely fulfillment of prospectuses which sometimes can get caught up in state and federal government bureaucracy. All are members of the IOGA. Board terms are for three years. The Idaho Fish and Game Department appoints their representative to the IOGLB. They recently appointed Bob Barowsky who succeeds Alex Irby, both of whom served on the IDFG Commission. The fifth member of the IOGLB represents the public-at-large and Wayne Hunsucker was reappointed by the governor to a sixth term earlier this year. In case you missed it here is the summer of 2014 IOGLB newsletter, Rendezvous. Articles include changes to the law, applicants with criminal history, operating areas, one-time hazardous excursions policy, Robin Brown—IOGLB employee, updated user manuals, southeast Idaho rivers, technical advisory committee, agency training, MOU update, enforcement and covert cases.

Outfitters and SCNF Reach Agreement

On August 6th, the outfitter working group representing 20-plus non-wilderness land-based outfitters and representatives of the Salmon-Challis National Forest including the supervisor and district rangers reached agreement on an operating plan template that is part and parcel to the special use permit, a necessity for operating on public lands. The outfitter working group (IOGA outfitter members Shane McAfee, Louise Stark, John Cranney and Billejo Beck) were assisted by various members of the  Salmon Chapter of the IOGA and IOGA’s Grant Simonds during a 2 ½ year negotiation. The primary sticking points focused on campsite standards out of wilderness. The compromise on campsite standards includes a description of a potential face-to-face meeting between an outfitter and a district ranger relative to such topics as “assigned sites, temporary structures, fire history, presence of game, predation, Idaho Fish and Game season structure, history of the use history of use of structures and improvements at individual assigned sites, photos depicting the campsite structures, duration of season of use, aspect, slope and elevation of site, proximity to potable water for human and livestock use, description of clientele served, road and trail access, historic improvements authorized and previous campsite inspections. The results of such a meeting are encouraged to be documented in Sections 8 and 10 of the operating plan”.  It should be noted that according to an email survey this past March by the SCNF that there is no consistency on non-wilderness campsite standards across Idaho forests. Click here for the compromise operating plan.

Classified Ads

Looking for Work:  Former outfitter wants to work the 2014 season running a camp. Can pack meat, cook when needed, care for stock and take good care of clients. Experience in wilderness or lodge environment.  Contact Mike Bauman. If you are in need of well trained individuals i.e. Packers, Guides, Wranglers or Camp Cooks, we have students ready to go to work. Contact Elm Outfitters and Guides Training Program 406.961.3603 Gem Air is beginning scheduled flights between Boise, Idaho and Salmon, Idaho.  In the past, we ran scheduled flights under the name of Salmon Air.  The same people who ran those scheduled flights are beginning again to offer scheduled flights!  Please visit our website or e-mail us.  We plan to grow with more flight options and more destinations. Looking forward to working with you! (Alexandra, JoAnn, Dan & David) For Sale or Lease: We are the 100 Acre Wood Lodge in North Fork, Idaho, located on the Idaho/Montana border& only 3 miles from the Salmon River. We are pursuing a "lifestyle" change & wanted some of our contacts to know we are for sale...(or lease). We are a turnkey operation with plenty of room to expand. We also have a lake, acreage and an Outfitters License. Check out our web site or contact Jon & Nancy Cummings, 208-865-2165. For Sale:  Swan Falls Excursions is licensed to offer inflatable kayak adventures from Swan Falls Dam to Walters Ferry and airboat adventures from Swan Falls Dam to Brownlee Reservoir. The asking price for the business is $40,000, other offers will be considered.  Please call for additional details, 800-422-3568 / 541-785-3352. For Sale:  Jetboating business on the Lower Salmon River SA-8 and the Snake River from Lewiston to Hells Canyon dam. Would sell with or without two jetboats, a 28 ft twin and a 22 ft single. Both Bentz boats. Possible inclusion of a cabin on the Salmon river.  208-791-2341 SITKA GEAR announces the Sitka Guide and Outfitter Program, open to any registered Idaho guide or outfitter looking for top-quality hunting gear. Please contact Jeff Sposito for more information. Satellite Phone Rentals  Satmodo rents sat phones starting at $29.99/week.  Available 24/7.  Same day delivery available.  Reach us at (800) 279-2366 or via our website. ZEISS Sports Optics announces the ZEISS Guide and Outfitter Program, open to any registered Idaho guide or outfitter looking for top-quality German optics. Please contact Barton Dobbs at 303.903.4455 or via e-mail for more information.