Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lake Lowell to Open April 15 with New Regulations

Posted By on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 4:33 PM

Pelicans, as well as ducks, geese, bald eagles, herons and various songbirds, make Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge their home. - U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Pelicans, as well as ducks, geese, bald eagles, herons and various songbirds, make Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge their home.

Starting Wednesday, April 15, the waters of Lake Lowell will open to boaters, but with some new regulations in place this season.

A new management plan for the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge outlines some of these regulations, such as additional no-wake zones on the east and south ends of the lake and through the Narrows. The no-wake zones force boaters to slow down for wildlife in the area, like osprey, bald eagles and grebes. 

According to a news release from the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, there aren't any on-water closures for seasonal nesting, but as wildlife begin their nesting seasons, closures could be implemented. The 15-year refuge management plan allows continued recreational activities on and around Lake Lowell, including fishing, hunting, boating, hiking and environmental education programs, while making improvements to wildlife habitat.

Along with the waters opening up to boaters on Wednesday, the refuge will also re-open the Lower Dam Recreation Area and all boat ramps. 

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Bogus Basin Extends Season Pass Sale, Reaches Out to Community for Help

Posted By on Fri, Apr 10, 2015 at 4:37 PM

If you get a call on your cell phone, it might just be a volunteer from Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area asking you if you'd like to renew your season pass.

"This is unprecedented," said Bogus Basin Development Director Susan Saad. "We've made thousands of phone calls to the folks who have not yet renewed their season passes."

This new effort came from Bogus Basin's abysmal season, in which the resort was open for only 86 days this winter and closed on March 15—the resort's earliest closing in decades. The last time the resort closed mid-March was in 1992, when the resort closed on March 22. During the 2013-2014 season, the resort was open 126 days.

"Our season pass sale was down 40 percent," Saad told Boise Weekly. The sale offers season pass renewals at $229 and runs during Presidents' Day weekend.

The problem was, according to Saad, that Presidents' Day weekend was sunny and 60 degrees, so people were mountain biking and golfing, not thinking about skiing. This current sale renews skiers' passes for $259 and runs until April 30. It also includes $20 in Bogus Bucks, which can be used on food, rentals, lessons, lift tickets and retail. 

"We're reaching out to the community with this special offer to ask for support in getting us through this rough period," Saad said. "We just want to remind them that we're a 501(c)3 nonprofit and a treasured resource in the community. Everyone wants to see Bogus here in the future."

Saad said results from the phone campaign have been mixed. Many people have renewed their passes on the spot, while others have promised to go online and do so before the end of the month. Some people fear the winters won't get better.

To that, Saad said the resort's operations team has done a good job adapting to different snow conditions. The resort is also shifting focus on summertime options, too, but Saad said Bogus will always be a winter recreation area first and foremost. 

"We're out mobilizing the community to help Bogus through a difficult time and recover from a very rough year," Saad said.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Significant Storm Damage Closes Trails in the Boise National Forest

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 10:57 AM

The storm damage to the Roaring River Trail is the worst district rangers have seen in their careers. - BOISE NATIONAL FOREST
  • Boise National Forest
  • The storm damage to the Roaring River Trail is the worst district rangers have seen in their careers.

The Roaring River and William Pogue National Recreation Trails have suffered extreme storm damage, causing the Mountain Home Ranger District to temporarily close the trails. Portions of the trails—located in the Boise National Forest and Elmore County—are completely washed out with a massive amount of rock, burned timber and mud eliminating the trail.

A portion of the Roaring River Trail is completely washed out. - BOISE NATIONAL FOREST
  • Boise National Forest
  • A portion of the Roaring River Trail is completely washed out.
All this comes after a flash flood last year that moved two bridges on the Roaring River trail nearly half a mile. 

"The significance of this damage cannot be underestimated," said district recreation specialist Wintauna Belt. "Repairing these trails will require heavy equipment, rerouting and new bridge construction which will take time and unanticipated new funding."

She added that when trail rangers came upon these trails, they said it was the worst damage they'd ever seen to a trail system in their careers. The Roaring River Trail (#45) is closed from its junction with Forest Road 255 south to its junction with the William Pogue Trail (#122). The William Pogue Trail is closed from its junction with Roaring River west to its junction with the Upper Sheep Creek Trail (#123).

There is word yet on when the trails will be open again.

The William Pogue Trail is also severely damaged from recent storms. - BOISE NATIONAL FOREST
  • Boise National Forest
  • The William Pogue Trail is also severely damaged from recent storms.

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Domestic Sheep to be Released into Boise Foothills Wednesday

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 10:38 AM

Mountain bikers are advised to dismount from their bikes when passing through sheep herds this week in the foothills. - IDAHO RANGELAND RESOURCE COMMISSION
  • Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission
  • Mountain bikers are advised to dismount from their bikes when passing through sheep herds this week in the foothills.

On their way to the high country, some 2,400 sheep will take to the Boise foothills beginning Wednesday, April 8. The sheep will graze along popular hiking and mountain biking trails during their 10-day migration, including Hulls Gulch, Red Cliffs and Crestline. 

The first flock of sheep will be dropped off near the Jim Hall Foothills Learning Center off Eighth Street and graze along to Table Rock. The second flock of sheep will work its way across Highway 55 near Beacon Light Road in Eagle in mid-April. They'll move toward the Corrals Trail and eastward from there later in the month.

Opening the foothills to the sheep does pose challenges for recreational trail users. For example, dogs need to be on a leash near the sheep—even if they're on an off-leash trail—to keep dogs from chasing sheep and lambs, or crossing paths with the Great Pyrenees guard dogs. The guard dogs are used to prevent coyotes and other predators from attacking domestic sheep, and could behave protectively in the presence of other dogs. 

"My guard dogs are going to react to that threat, so it'd be great if people could keep their dogs on-leash to avoid any conflicts," said sheep owner Frank Shirts, a rancher in Wilder. Shirts uses permits with the Idaho Department of Lands and the Bureau of Land Management to graze his sheep in the foothills. 

Guard dogs are the only use of predator-control Shirts has in the foothills, eliminating other methods like poisoning coyotes or targeting them in aerial gunning. 

Along with keeping dogs leashed, Shirts also recommends that mountain bikers dismount and walk their bikes through  sheep herds, otherwise the guard dogs could charge towards the bikers.

"If you try to outrun a dog with your bike, the guard dog will think you're trying to play a game with him, and he might chase you," Shirts said. "If you get off your bike and walk, they won't be threatened."

Other tips from the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission include opening and closing gates as hikers pass through, and keeping a mountain bike in between the rider and the Great Pyrenees if approached. Talking to the guard dogs will help ease the situation as well. 

The commission also posted new signs at four Ridge to Rivers trailheads to remind trail users how to interact with sheep. It's part of their "Care and Share" program, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, the BLM and other recreation groups to help people care for public lands and share them respectfully with others.

"We know that the sheep migration can be an inconvenience for recreationists, and we're hoping that the tips we're providing will allow everyone to enjoy their time in the outdoors without conflict," said Gretchen Hyde, the executive director of the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission. She encourages trail users to give the sheep herds a wide berth if possible.

A few foothills trails that won't be impacted by the sheep migration include Polecat Gulch, Hillside to Hollow, Seaman's Gulch, Table Rock, the Eagle Cycle Park and the Oregon Trail Reserve near Surprise Valley. 

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Brundage and Tamarack Resorts Announce Closing Weekends

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 11:42 AM

The view from the top still looks good at Tamarack, which will close March 29. - TAMARACK RESORT
  • Tamarack Resort
  • The view from the top still looks good at Tamarack, which will close March 29.

The end of ski season has come depressingly early this year. After an unseasonably warm February and a dry March, ski resorts in southwestern Idaho are struggling to hang on through April. 

Brundage Mountain announced that Saturday, March 28, will be the last day of its ski season. The resort got 156 inches of snowfall this season, compared to 228 inches last year.

"That's still 100 inches below our average," said Brundage spokesperson April Whitney. "The last three seasons have been tough. 156 inches is the lowest we have on record since we started keeping track in 1988."

Last season, the resort closed on April 6, but on good years, resort operators try to extend bonus weekends into May. Not this year.

Brundage owners and operators have started talking about installing snowmaking equipment on the lower third of the mountain, though that's still a few years out. Whitney said that would help the resort open sooner with a deeper base that could withstand warmer days.

"This is the perfect example," she said. "Right now, the upper two-thirds of the mountain, all those groomed runs are well-covered. It's the lower third—mainly the south-facing slopes—that are really thin."

Last year's end-of-season Crazy Days party on April 6 was nothing short of colorful. - BRUNDAGE MOUNTAIN RESORT
  • Brundage Mountain Resort
  • Last year's end-of-season Crazy Days party on April 6 was nothing short of colorful.
Brundage's end-of-season Crazy Days party will take place March 28 with live music, a costume contest and a treasure hunt. The resort is offering discounted lift tickets from now until closing, costing $45 for a full day instead of $60. For Bogus Basin season pass holders skiing at Brundage, lift tickets cost $25.
"It's been a tough season for everyone in our region, but we feel fortunate that we can offer some great skiing and riding during out local spring break week," Whitney said. 

The first resort in the area to close this season was Soldier Mountain Ski Area, turning off the chairlifts after Presidents' Day weekend, Feb. 16. According to KBOI, the resort outside of Fairfield usually expects around 25,000 skiers and snowboarders. This year, they counted about 4,500. 

The small ski resort struggled last season, too, when it wasn't able to open until Feb. 13, 2014. That ski season lasted 13 days.

"Try running a business with 13 days of income," the chair of Soldier Mountain's board Kristi Schiermeier told Boise
Bogus Basin experienced its earliest closing in recent years on Saturday, March 14. - BOGUS BASIN WEBCAM
  • Bogus Basin Webcam
  • Bogus Basin experienced its earliest closing in recent years on Saturday, March 14.
 Weekly back in May 2014. The resort lost $60,000 last season, and struggled again this year.

Following Soldier Mountain's closure this season, Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area hung in until March 14. The resort had to close early on its last day due to "rainy, difficult conditions" according to its Facebook page.

"Thanks to everyone who joined us today and this season," the post said.
"It was a tough one, but there's always next season!"
The resort finished the season with a total of 81 inches of snowfall since November. This was the resort's earliest closing since it started keeping track, with the next earliest closure taking place March 22, 1992.

Along with Brundage, Tamarack Resort has also announced its final day—March 29. The resort's "season finale" will include an easter egg hunt, music and games. Full-day lift tickets are discounted from $52 to $39 for the rest of the season.
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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bogus Basin Closes Weekday Skiing, End of Season Party Planned for Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 2:47 PM

Bogus Basin, as seen from the Morning Star chair earlier this week. - JESSICA MURRI
  • Jessica Murri
  • Bogus Basin, as seen from the Morning Star chair earlier this week.
Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area is experiencing an especially early closing this season after an unseasonably warm February and very dry March. The resort announced that weekday skiing and snowboarding closes tomorrow, and the End of Season party is planned for Saturday, March 14. Bogus will try to remain open for bonus weekends throughout the spring as conditions permit.

"Our mountain operations team has done an amazing job in recent weeks dealing with unseasonably warm conditions," said Interim General Manager Nathan Shake. "As everyone enjoys their final runs of the winter, we're gearing up for a busy schedule of summer events and activities on the mountain."

This weekend, lift tickets will cost $25 instead of the usual $39. Deer Point Express, as well as the Superior high-speed quad and the Coach lift will be open. Morning Star will operate for access only and the Pine Creek quad has closed for the season. Lifts will run from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

This is also the final weekend for food and beverage services at the upper Pioneer Lodge. The nordic lodge and the tubing hill are also closed for the season.

The Spring Carnival and end of season party will take place on March 14 with outdoor music playing near Simplot Lodge from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"Spring Carnival started in the 1940s, and we've resurrected that theme," Development Director Susan Saad told Boise Weekly. The party will include the annual Pabst Blue Ribbon scavenger hunt, prizes, giveaways and food specials. Skiers and snowboarders are encouraged to dress in old-school gear.

Mountain officials told Boise Weekly they usually shoot for the second Sunday in April to close. Last year, the mountain closed on April 13. The earliest the mountain has closed for the season in recent years was March 22 in 1992.
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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bogus Basin Announces Shortened Hours for Spring

Posted By on Sun, Mar 8, 2015 at 12:22 PM

Bogus Basin, as of 10 a.m., March 8. - BOGUS BASIN SCREENCAP
  • Bogus Basin Screencap
  • Bogus Basin, as of 10 a.m., March 8.

Bogus Basin begins spring hours today. The ski resort will be open from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on weekends and 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on weekdays.

Though the mountain looks sparse from the valley, “we continue to have great spring skiing conditions on the mountain,” interim general manager Nathan Shake stated in a news release.  

Warm temperatures and lack of precipitation haven’t done the mountain any favors. Several runs have closed due to springlike conditions including large, impassable patches of dirt and grass.

Those runs are mostly off the Morning Star chair. At this point, the chair is running primarily to give access to the backside, as runs like Morning Star, Lulu, Silver Queen and Sunshine are too bare to safely ski.

All runs off the Superior high-speed quad remain open and in good shape, but the entire face of the mountain has closed. The Pine Creek quad on the backside remains open and servicing most runs except for Wildcat and Lower Paradise, which have closed due to melted snow.

This season, the mountain received a total of 81 inches. The base is currently 30 inches. The forecast shows highs in the 50s this week and a chance of rain Wednesday and Thursday. No closing date has been announced.
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Crane Falls Reservoir Gets $72k in Fishing Renovations

Posted By on Sun, Feb 22, 2015 at 9:46 AM

  • Google Earth
There is not much information on Crane Falls Reservoir online—or even on a map. The small lake near the C.J. Strike Reservoir is about 25 miles southwest of Mountain Home. Despite its remoteness, the little lake is one of Southwest Idaho's most popular fishing destinations and, beginning March 2, it's getting $72,000 worth of improvements from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

A recent press release from the department states that Fish and Game crews will work on upgrading access points, facilities and fishing docks at Crane Falls. That includes a new small-craft boat ramp, restroom and improved parking near the ramp location. One fishing dock will also be extended farther into the lake.The improvements should be completed by mid-April.

"It's really a total renovation of Crane Falls," stated Fish and Game boating and fishing access coordinator Dennis Hardy in the news release.

The water level at the reservoir will be lowered to make way for construction, and Hardy warned that accessing the water will be difficult during that time. Visitors should also watch for heavy truck traffic along the Snake River Canyon rim, where many blind spots exist. 

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Healthy Snowpack is Good News for Idaho Whitewater Paddlers

Posted By on Sun, Feb 22, 2015 at 9:30 AM

  • Jessica Murri

The city of Boise awoke Sunday morning to a dusting of snow after several weeks of above-average temperatures. Despite the unseasonably warm conditions in the Treasure Valley, the rest of Idaho's snowpack is looking healthy, according to state SNOTEL data—and that's good news for Idaho's whitewater industry.

  • Natural Resources Conservation Association
As of Feb. 22, snowpack levels for the Lochsa/Selway rivers is 79 percent of normal, the Middle Fork and Main Salmon river stretches are 94 percent of normal, and the upper Snake River is 107 percent of normal. The Payette River sits at 74 percent while the Boise River is 81 percent.

A recent news release from the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association stated that key reservoirs for the Payette and Snake rivers should fill to 100 percent of capacity. 

"The water levels look great like always for the Lochsa and Selway," Natural Resources Conservation Service water supply specialist Ron Abramovich stated in the release. He pointed out that when compared to the drought in California, Idaho's snowpack "look[s] pretty good."

Not only is that reassuring news for the thousands of kayakers who will soon start pulling their boats down from the garage rafters, but it's also good for Idaho's whitewater outfitters, which connect customers to 3,000 miles of whitewater throughout the state.

"It looks to me that we have a solid snowpack where it counts," added John May, executive director of the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association. "We're already seeing some national media coverage of the drought in California, and we just want folks to know that our world-renowned whitewater rivers are going to have a great season."

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Site Prepped for Esther Simplot Park

Posted By on Sat, Feb 21, 2015 at 4:15 PM

  • City of Boise

The official start of construction on Esther Simplot Park isn't set to begin until Monday, Feb. 23, but crews were flattening the area and removing large boulders throughout last week.

The park, located off of Whitewater Park Boulevard, will boast 17 acres of ponds for fishing, wading and swimming, as well as a stream connecting the park's three ponds with Quinn's Pond—acting as a waterway system to let kayakers skip a lengthy portage to the top of the next phases of the Boise River Park

The park will also include trails, wetlands, boardwalks, docks, shelters, grassy open areas, a playground and wildlife habitat, according to a news release from the Boise Department of Parks and Recreation. The park is privately funded through the Simplot family foundation, but it will be owned and maintained by the city of Boise. 

Two sections of the Greenbelt will remain closed through the rest of the year as Esther Simplot Park is built. - BOISE PARKS AND RECREATION
  • Boise Parks and Recreation
  • Two sections of the Greenbelt will remain closed through the rest of the year as Esther Simplot Park is built.

Two sections of the Boise Greenbelt will be closed throughout construction, from Veteran's Memorial Park to the 36th Street pedestrian bridge and from Whitewater Park Boulevard to the Boise River Park. Detours are set up for pedestrians and bicycle commuters to access the Garden City Greenbelt on the south side of the river at Veteran's Memorial Parkway, Main Street or the 36th Street pedestrian bride. The areas will be closed for the rest of the year.

A temporary parking lot for Quinn's Pond and the Boise River Park has been set up at the former Bob Rice Ford location on Main Street

"It's not the world's most convenient [option] and we recognize that," Boise Parks and Recreation spokesperson Amy Stahl told Boise Weekly in December. "But this will be a significant development for the future of the river park. It will provide a large space so we can reroute the Greenbelt and create vantage points of the river, and improve access for the public. It's an inconvenience for this year, but the benefits in the long term are tremendous."

Esther Simplot Park is slated to be finished in the spring of 2016.
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