Added Bonus: with all of the stuff in this installment, not one link to or commentary on Coronavirus. You're welcome.
News & Events
H 426 Passes Unanimously in the Senate! (^^Hunt Tag Allocation Amending Legislation)
Following its unanimous passage in the House, H 426 was read and voted on last week in the Senate, where it similarly received unanimous 'aye' votes. H 426 been signed by both the Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore/President of the Senate and transmitted to the Governor, who has generously made time for a ceremonial signing of the bill Wednesday, March 11. If you are a hunt outfitter, and would like to attend the signing ceremony, please contact us.
Getting to this point has been the product of an immense amount of time and effort:
from drafting and consultation with the hunt outfitters, OGLB, Fish & Game, Office of the Governor and Division of Financial Management, our incomparable lobbyist Jeremy Pisca, and friend of the Industry John Watts; to
meeting with House and Senate Committee Members and Floor Sponsors to explain the bill and answer questions (special thanks to Representative Gestrin and Senator Stennett for carrying the bill!);
presenting and testifying in those committees (thanks to all of the guides and outfitters who attended committee hearings and contacted your representatives to request they support)
Thanks to everyone who chipped in and lent a hand in this effort. This will be the second piece of legislation IOGA has successfully passed in the last 2-years AND the last 20-years!
Onward to glory!
Meanwhile, at the Capitol...
A key deadline in the legislative session came last Monday: with some exceptions, bills will receive further consideration only if they have passed successfully in at least one body (House/Senate).
Senate Joint Memorial 110 follows in the wake of nearly identical, pulled resolutions, SJM 108 and 109. It pronounces opposition to the breach or removal of the dams in the Columbia and Snake River systems, notes ostensible benefits of the Port of Lewiston, and opposes flow augmentation for salmon and steelhead beyond what is currently mandated. IOGA gave testimony in opposition to SJM 110, which nevertheless passed in House Resources Committee. Read the notes for IOGA's testimony on SJM 110.
House Bill 514 would end the bipartisan requirement from the Fish & Game Commission. Specifically, the bill would eliminate the portion of Idaho law that requires no more than four commissioners on the seven-member commission to belong to a political party. The bipartisan split requirement was part of the 1938 voter initiative, the state's first initiative, which was approved to prevent a one-sided partisan influence on resource issues. It is worth noting that Idaho's political majority has, to date, flipped 15 times. The bill passed in the House last week and has been referred to Senate Resources and Environment for a hearing.
UPDATE: As this was being written, the bill was 'tabled' in Committee on the Senate Side. See the article in Read & Watch below.
House Bill 496 would provide a sales tax exemption for custom meat processing and packaging. The bill was approved by the House and is now in Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee.
House Bill 330, which was signed by the Governor on March 3, sets out to increase Non-Resident tag and permit fees (by 10%). The fee increase is intended to offset expected lost revenue from proposed rules that would allow the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to limit nonresident participation, in particular, general season big game hunts.
Sen. Bert Brackett carried a bill that would have (1) created a three-year, experimental tundra swan hunting season in North Idaho, and (2) allowed the Fish and Game Commission to sell permits for stock pheasant hunts in new areas. That bill passed in the Senate, but a House committee decided to split it into two separate bills (H 544 & H 545). The House passed both bills a little over a week ago, and are now filed for their third reading in the Senate.
IOGA's Trip to Washington
In Late January, IOGA Board President Jeff Bitton and I joined nine other Idahoans representing Idaho's river communities, outfitters, guides and anglers to meet with members of Idaho's Congressional Delegation to discuss and advocate for policies and solutions to restore abundant Salmon and Steelhead in Idaho.
Rather than summarizing the trip in my own words, I'll borrow some from a recent Op-Ed by Roy Akins (IOGA outfitter, member, a Riggins city council member, and chair of the Riggins Chapter of Idaho River Community Alliance) in which he provides his key takeaways from the trip.
Rep. Simpson taking most comprehensive approach to bring salmon back
Idaho salmon and steelhead guides and outfitters have kept our boats on the trailers more than we would like to admit. We’ve been plagued with dismal fish returns, potential lawsuits, and hatchery issues. I see my industry and my town of Riggins continuing to fight the core issue: Our fish aren’t coming back.
Last month, I left my boat on the trailer, but this time to join other outfitters and community leaders in Washington, D.C. We brought the voice of Idahoans who are currently feeling the real impacts of the same sharp, downward trajectory of Idaho’s anadromous fish returns. We’ve been forced to become advocates for the future of our communities and our fish.
We usually don’t buy that politicians care about issues in our small towns. Rep. Mike Simpson shattered that presumption. We were 2,500 miles away and on the wall of his chief of staff’s office is a satellite image of my home river stretch. We were in awe of the amount of attention Rep. Simpson has given into a solution to bring back Idaho’s fish.
All four walls of Simpson’s office displayed the Columbia River system and the relationship of fish, energy production, and agricultural history. Every stakeholders’ questions and answers, knowns and unknowns were taped up on those walls. The dedication put into an issue that directly affects us -- and our family and sister river communities -- drew tears from some.
When the complexity of the issues facing the future of the Northwest is laid out, you realize the only way to bring our fish back while securing our energy future and low-cost agriculture product transport, requires input – not political grandstanding – by everyone.
Rep. Simpson is taking the most comprehensive approach to bring salmon back in a way that doesn’t jeopardize others in the same way the current system does to my industry. He has the will to question why we continue with a system that once benefitted everyone decades ago, but is hurting many Idahoans today. He gives us hope for the future of our fish and our communities.
We met with all of Idaho’s delegation and appreciate their hard work on addressing ways to hold us together in the short-term. But we encourage Sen. Mike Crapo, Sen. Jim Risch, and Rep. Russ Fulcher to be leaders for the future. Rural Idaho is depending on you. We will fail if Idaho’s delegation shies away from a holistic approach.
This approach emphasizes the need to improve habitat and hatcheries, better regulate harvest to give more equity for Idaho, scrutinize the future of the Snake River hydrosystem, and decrease predation rates.
I support my family by chasing steelhead and showing clients what a great resource Idaho has the potential to return to again. The outfitting community makes sacrifices, yet still there is not one outfitter who wishes anyone to live with as much uncertainty as our businesses do right now. Rep. Simpson left me inspired and motivated to see a Northwest solution that does not leave us with winners and losers, but a future that all Idahoans will benefit from. Idaho just needs to support him.
Outfitter and Guides Associations Rally Comment on NEPA Rules
IOGA, Middle Fork Outfitters Association, America Outdoors Association and numerous additional OG Associations** rallied to provide comments addressing the Council on Environmental Quality's (CEQ) pending rulemaking on streamlining NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act).
The CEQ seeks to enact regulatory changes to reduce the duration and scope of environmental reviews and clarify that particular circumstances, such as federal designations, like Wilderness or a Wild River, do not preclude the use of a simple Categorical Exclusion to review special use permits. Check out the comments submitted HERE.
Thanks to AO and all of the other OG associations for sticking together and kicking ass!
**Additional OG Associations include: Dubois Outfitters and Guides Association, Dude Ranchers Association, Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association, Kalmiopsis Guides Association, Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, Oregon Outfitters and Guides Association, Wild Rogue Outfitters Association, Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association)
Safari Club International 2020 Convention (Reno, NV)
Thanks to funds provided through the Idaho Travel Council grant program, IOGA--represented by IOGA President, Jeff Bitton, and Executive Director, Aaron Lieberman--was once again able to have a presence at this year's SCI show in Reno, NV.
We want especially to thank Matt & Tim Craig, Boulder Creek Outfitters, and Ken & Barb Francisco, Bear Creek Outfitters, for their generous donations. These hunts were placed with Safari Club International (SCI) for their annual convention and show in early February. SCI returns 75% of the selling price to IOGA. Each outfitter receives a dues incentive of 25% of the amount returned to IOGA towards their dues for the following fiscal year. Most years, outfitters book additional hunters thanks to the donations.
Finally, a shout out to IDFG Director Ed Schriever for representing Idaho well at SCI's Western Directors Forum at the Show. Numerous outfitters from other states approached the IOGA booth after the forum specifically to tell us how much they envy us our Fish and Game Department.
Columbia River System Operations
Draft Environmental Impact Statement
Late last month, the US Army Corp of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Bonneville Power Administration (the Action Agencies) released a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) regarding the dams in the Columbia River Basin. The DEIS bears on the future management of the Columbia Basin Dams and is required to evaluate an option regarding the removal of the Lower Four Snake River Dams among the preferred alternatives considered.
This DEIS, released February 28, follows five previous plans, all of which were invalidated by courts as inadequate for meeting fish & wildlife conservation objectives and hence illegal. in the most recent 2016 ruling, US District Judge Michael Simons writes “Despite billions of dollars spent on these efforts, the listed species continue to be in a perilous state... The [Federal Columbia River Power System] remains a system that ‘cries out’ for a new approach.”
Yet, despite these judicial invalidations and the overwhelming longitudinal-evidence demonstrating the causal impact of the hydro system (viz. the Lower Four Snake River Dams) on anadromous fish decline, this Federal plan's recommended alternative prioritizes a “flex spill” approach — spilling more water over the dams during juvenile salmon out-migrating to the ocean — and continuing the transport of fish around dams using trucks and barges. Both approaches are already in use, and while each has utility in particular cases and in degrees, neither have yielded results approximating Federal obligations to conserve endangered fish populations even just above extinction-trend levels.
This low-bar of preventing extinction focused on in the DEIS is, for its part, obviously insufficient--especially against the backdrop of calls from Idaho and the rest of the region for the restoration of abundant, harvestable salmon and steelhead populations.
In sum, the DEIS puts into practice the saying about insanity: trying the same thing over and again, expecting different results. More to the point, The rearview strategy and limited scope of the DEIS bars it from providing recommendations that further our most pressing priorities: fishing and farming communities, forward-looking energy planning, and salmon & steelhead restoration.
The task, therefore, falls on us--all of us--to urge and support our political leaders in developing a real, inclusive and comprehensive, solution that actually stands to realize:
Abundant and harvestable populations of salmon
Economic vitality of local communities, especially our fishing and farming communities
The region's legacy of providing reliable, affordable, clean energy
Please do your part:
Reach out to our political leaders, help them to understand the urgency of this issue (for our fish, our communities, our heritage and way of life) and ask them to work with us to realize these goals.
Submit comment on the DEIS (Comment period 2/28-4/13/2020)
US Army Corps of Engineers, Attn: CRSO EIS
P.O. Box 2870
Portland, OR 97208-2870
(Must be postmarked by April 13, 2020)
Governor's Workgroup on Salmon and Steelhead Recovery
The Governor's workgroup on Salmon & Steelhead Recovery remains an ongoing focus and priority. IOGA Executive Director and other members of the workgroup met last week at Fish and Game Regional Office in Nampa. The topical focus of this meeting of the Workgroup was the recently released Draft Environmental Impact Statement, with presentations by representatives 0f the Action Agencies (BPA, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Rec.):
Without rehashing the entirety of these presentations and the DEIS itself (discussed above), the most troubling revelation of these presentations was that, whereas the Action Agencies (Bureau of Reclamation, Army Corps of Engineers, BPA) and hence dEIS detailed the impacts (positive and negative, across the different alternatives) on other industries, including agriculture, subsidized barging, and power generation, Idaho’s (and WA and OR) outfitters, guides. and rural fishing communities were completely ignored from the impact analysis.
"For all management alternatives and their Preferred Alternative, the economies of recreation and fishing (guiding, outfitting, hotels, restaurants, gas stations, boat shops, license fees, etc.) were not even accounted for despite existing, publicly available data." (Your Executive Director did not take that well.)
Approximately a dozen members of the public showed up to provide comments, with roughly half of them guides and outfitters. Members of our industry are uniquely strong messengers on this issue; we represent industry and stewardship, with a direct connection to the land and the resource, and not least, we are the backbone of rural Idaho's economy. The comment folks was no exception: personal, informed, balanced, impassioned. Thank you so much for taking the time and making the effort to speak up for your values and your profession. You gave us a strong reminder that our industry's voice needs to be present, loud and heard in this process and on this issue.
(The workgroup also accepts written comments via an online form, if you would like to submit a comment for a future meeting but cannot attend in person.)
The next meeting of the Workgroup is scheduled for April 28-29 in Lewiston, ID.
Industry Advocates| Workgroup Meeting: Jonas Seiler, Emerald LaFortune, Mike Anderson, Colin Hughes, Ben Frey, Hardy Bender, Josh Edmundson, Lara Sagatov.
Salmon Chapter Meeting | Outfitter Hall of Fame
IOGA's Salmon Chapter recently put on their annual Chapter Meeting and evening banquet. As in previous years, the business portion included land, river and combined section meetings with Salmon-Challis NF, BLM, and IDFG staff--with significant attention to the SCNF Trails Stewardship Dues Offset program, trail maintenance and prioritization discussions, agency staffing and program updates (including USFS Blasting Program, which needs our support!), the Main Salmon Campsite Reservation system, and more.
The evening banquet, for its part, serves as a membership drive, fundraiser and awards program--specifically, Salmon Chapter IOGA's 'Annual Expenses and Scholarship Program'. The Salmon Chapter's 2019 scholarship recipients, Jessi Farr and Katarina Whitson, each gave brief addresses to those in attendance expressing appreciation (and in one case, an intention to follow in family footsteps with outfitting).
New this year, the Salmon Chapter of the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Hall of Fame was introduced. The Salmon Chapter OG Hall of Fame aims to recognize and honor members of our industry who stand out for groundbreaking contributions to or singular role/prowess in the industry. The inaugural honorees included Wayne England, Cal Stoddard, and Ted Anderson.
USFS Blasting Program
As many of you are already (very) aware, as a result of several audits of the FS Blasting Program, the FS Washington Office is standing behind its position that "The FS use of explosives outside of the avalanche control and winter sports program areas will be accomplished by non-FS employees under contracts and task order agreements. FS owned magazines will be removed from NFS land and blasting material brought to the project site on an as-needed basis by outside resources."
FS Regions 2 & 4 pushed back on the directive last year, noting that the audits and consequent recommendations do not adequately take into account the unique nature of the blasting program in Regions 2/4, which encompass areas that are especially difficult to access and deal with situations that require quick turnaround--trails closed by landslides, large boulders that cannot be [re]moved by other means, logjams and trees that are often unsafe to cut with saw, etc.
Forest Service Regions 2 and 4 are therefore seeking an exemption from the Washington Office of the Forest Service to maintain their blasting program(s). As outfitters and guides, we can help support their case for an exemption by continuing to write letters (to include in the end of year package from the regions to the FS Washington Office): (1) of support for the blasting program, with specific examples of its unique application and importance in the operating area of the letter writer; (2) documenting anecdotal experiences that demonstrate the need for the blasting program operated by the FS (and not only outside contractor, e.g., where a certified blaster could/would not access the site in question or where the process of soliciting a bid would be too time-consuming or the bid itself too expensive).
Clearwater Outfitters, you hopefully will have already received notice from your permit administrator(s), but lest the message slipped through the cracks: The Nez Perce-Clearwater FS Outfitter meeting is scheduled for this coming Friday, March 13 from 9:00-4:30 PST at the Hearthstone Bakery in Kamiah, ID.
Below is a copied message about the meeting from Carol Hennessey (NPC Rec., Trails, Wilderness, Outfitters & Guide & Rivers Program Manager):
The NPC leadership and staff are looking forward to another productive annual meeting with our outfitting partners. I want to thank many of our outfitters for responding to the outreach and bringing forward important topics.
Cheryl Probert, Forest Supervisor, and the NPC District Rangers have planned this day to listen and engage with you in discussions of these topics. This year we are pleased that Deputy Regional Forester, Melany Glossa and Regional Outfitter and Guides Program Manager, Jeff Ward will also be joining us for part of the day.
As you can see we have a very full agenda but we still consider it DRAFT; please feel free to bring forward additional topics or questions of interest and we will try to address them.
Annually, we consider it a privilege that you choose to spend a day of valuable time to meet with us. The NPC is pleased to provide a collaborative platform for our outfitters to meet not only with Forest Service leadership and staff but also with the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Licensing Board, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association--all important partners to your businesses. Within and pending the time available, IOGA will be offering updates, Q&A, and hands-on discussion regarding the new tag allocation law as well as issues surrounding our Salmon & STeelhead and the upcoming, March 17 dEIS Public Comment Meeting in Lewiston.
HELP US BUILD A PHOTO AND VIDEO REPOSITORY for IOGA
IOGA needs to build out a bank of quality photos and videos for use on social media, "big" IOGA website, the IOGA Brand Sites (2-3 of which are being revamped this year in a big way), the forthcoming IOGA Brand Social Media platforms, and any good rafting, fishing, hunting, and jetboat footage folks are willing to share for use in the development of some promotional videos we are contracting through ITC grant funds (ideally unbranded).
If you have content you're willing to share out, please send it our way! If your internet connection makes that tough, let us know and we'll work out a way to get a drive to you.
ITC Tourism Tour - Region III: March 24 | 700 W State St. | Boise
IOGLB Meeting | March 25-26, 2020 | Boise
IOGA Board of Directors Meeting: March 31-April 1 | Salmon
Allocation Meeting/Workshop: April 2 | Salmon
Outfitter Rendezvous & Wolf Howling Contest: April 2 | Salmon
Salmon & Steelhead Workgroup Meeting | April 28-29 | Lewiston
Looking for Help? Elm Outfitters & Guides Training School Program has students ready and eager to go to work. If you are in need of a well-trained individual(s) for Fall, Summer, or Spring seasons i.e. Packers/Guides/Wranglers. Please give us a call or email.
Michael & Julie Knott
Elm Outfitters & Guides Training Program Inc.
Email: [email protected]
www.elmguideschool.com Looking for Work as a Guide. (I.E., Seeking Work)
I will be graduating from Borah High School in June And want to work as a hunting guide. I love the outdoors and have lots of experience with big game animals as elk and mule deer. If you are hiring, please contact me. Jared Sielaff, 208-340-3600 or email [email protected]
Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Alaska Ventures Lodge is taking
Applications for as Manager position
at our private facility at Lake Clark, AK
May through September
Wilderness Outfitter and Guide business for sale - $350,000
Conducts pack in elk, deer, bear, wolf, mountain lion and other predator hunts
Business has been running over 20 years with a 30% to 50% profit margin
All equipment, livestock, business info and customer data base included
Non-disclosure agreement required for specific information
Land and Wildlife
3811 Crater Lake Hwy. #B
Medford, OR 97504
866-559-3478 [email protected]
Ground Transportation Company - $25,000
Established transportation business for sale. Currently providing ground transportation throughout southern and central Idaho (Boise, Stanley, McCall, Riggins, Salmon, Sun Valley, and places beyond and in between). Middle Fork and Main Salmon whitewater rafters and kayakers, mountain bikers and backpackers in the Sawtooths and Whiteclouds, wedding shuttles around Stanley, airport and hotel/motel/ranch transportation. Tons of potential yet to be tapped.
Sale includes 3 vehicles (Two 14 passenger vans and one 20 passenger shuttle bus).