public lands

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

CuMo Mining Corporation Gets One Step Closer to Exploration of Boise River Headwaters

Posted By on Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 4:30 PM

Molybdenum deposits sit under the Boise National Forest. - CUMO MINING CORPORATION
  • CuMo Mining Corporation
  • Molybdenum deposits sit under the Boise National Forest.
The U.S. Forest Service recently released a report that found no significant environmental impact to the groundwater near the proposed exploration site—14 miles northwest of Idaho City. There, geologists say, are some of the largest molybdenum deposits in the world. Molybdenum is used to strengthen steel in construction and fertilize crops.

This is just one more step in a long process to allow CuMo Mine Corporation to begin exploring the area for a potential open pit mine near the headwaters of the Boise River. What the Forest Service issued was only a draft decision, so now concerned parties such as private landowners, communities living downriver of the proposed exploration site and environmental groups can come forward with concerns. 

The Idaho Conservation League has a few.

"Our initial review finds concerns for how downstream fisheries are going to be protected and how fuel haul will be handled," said ICL's public lands director John Robison.

By fuel haul, he means the amount of diesel fuel it will take to run exploration drills constantly will be tremendous, and all that fuel must be trucked up winding, narrow roads following the Boise River. His fear is that a truck could topple over into the river, creating a gas spill.

After receiving objections from the stakeholders, the Forest Service will have about a month to go through an objection resolution process, in which the agency can modify the project, strengthen report rationales or nix authorization for the project altogether.

According to a report on KTVB, Phil Bandy—a senior scientist with Forsgren Associates, Inc., based in Boise—spoke on behalf of CuMo Mining Corporation and said the new exploration methodologies are more environmentally friendly than ever. 

Robison raised an eyebrow at that. 

"This is not just a great concern for Grimes Creek, Mores Creek or Lucky Peak," Robinson told Boise Weekly. "If there's one thing we've learned from wildfires upstream, it's that lakes do not function as a protective barrier for communities downstream as folks had previously thought. Fine particles [from wildfire] slipped through the reservoir and make the Boise River quite muddy. And that was just silt and ash. We're really concerned about what could come from a large open pit mining project."

He said he worries about the increased development of the mining area if exploration proved promising, as well as loss of shade, heavy metals in the water and acid mining. 

"All this is happening coming up on Boise River floating season," he said. "We're all investing money into whitewater parks and focusing on what a valuable commodity the Boise River is. It went from being the second most polluted river in Idaho to the most recreated one. Meanwhile, the Forest Service is looking at things that could jeopardize all that."

Objections to the draft decision are due on Sunday, May 24, but can only be offered by people who have previously submitted comments on this process.
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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Boise Foothills Levy Poised to Protect More Trails Near Bogus Basin Road

Posted By on Sat, Feb 28, 2015 at 8:53 AM

The two-year Boise Foothills Serial Levy, passed by Boise voters in May 2001, continues to expand the footprint of protected lands. The latest acquisition would set aside land on the west side of Bogus Basin Road, just north of the Daniel's Creek trail easements.

The proposed deal became public, not in an announcement from the city but through an internal memo tucked deep inside an agenda packet for the Tuesday, March 3, City Council meeting. If approved, the 40-acre property would be purchased for $300,000—the deal requires the city to pay $3,000 earnest money, pending a due diligence review. The current owners are listed as Deanna and Randy Berry.

Since its inception, the Foothills Program has used approximately $13.4 million in levy funds to protect more than 10,750 acres of undeveloped property through acquisition, donation, conservation easement and exchanges.

Last year, citizens were the beneficiaries of a major 12.6-mile trail easement in the same area, connecting Northwest Boise with the Shafer Butte trail system at Bogus Basin. That easement agreement with Daniel's Creek, LLC stated trails would be open to foot traffic, mountain biking and horseback riding. The use of recreational vehicles like snowmobiles and dirt bikes, as well as using the land for competitive races and programs by schools or organizations, requires written consent from the land owners.
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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Idaho Sportsmen Gather to Protest Potential State Takeover of Public Lands

Posted By on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 2:11 PM

Sportsmen from across the state came to the Capitol to demonstrate against any effort by Idaho lawmakers that would put public lands under state control. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Sportsmen from across the state came to the Capitol to demonstrate against any effort by Idaho lawmakers that would put public lands under state control.

There has been no move on the part of the Idaho Legislature to take over the state's 34 million acres of public land. No senator or representative has put his or her name to legislation that would take federal land and put it under the control of the state government. But on a sunny Thursday afternoon, sportsmen from across the state gathered on the Capitol steps to send a message to state lawmakers: "Keep Your Hands Off Our Public Lands."

It's a message that approximately 120 recreationists from all corners of the Gem State got behind. Some of them held placards, but most wore large, orange stickers as a show of solidarity with hunters, fishermen, mountain bikers, skiers, snowmobilers and practically anyone else who uses public lands for fun.

"We have come together to say that our public lands are not for sale," former Pocatello Rep. Elmer Martinez told the crowd. 

Martinez emceed the event, during which sportsmen shared specific reasons why they believe lawmakers should back away from a state takeover of federal lands. For instance, individual states are widely held to not have the resources needed to manage public lands, and some have speculated that states could compensate for the added financial burden by selling or leasing property and decreasing public access for recreation and other activities. Ryan Callahan, marketing director of First Light, said that would put a crimp in many Idahoans' ways of life. 

"Public land is intrinsic to our lifestyle," he said. 

Others said that the sale or lease of these lands would benefit the corporate interests and the wealthy, rather than the public. 

"Imagine the people who would buy up our public lands," said Greg McReynolds, a representative of Trout Unlimited.

Pat Kilroy, a sportsman and veteran, told the crowd that many have fought and died for access to public land, and that they're not meant for private consumption; instead, they're part of a national heritage and should be accessible to all. For him, a state takeover would be unnecessary—if anything, it would be a harmful political gesture.

"I'm not sure we've identified a problem that needs a solution," he said. 
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Monday, December 8, 2014

University of Idaho Report Finds Public Lands Takeover Would Lose Money

Posted By on Mon, Dec 8, 2014 at 12:45 PM

  • Peter Fitzgerald, Wikimedia Commons

In 2013, the Idaho Legislature opened the discussion of taking over nearly 34 million acres of federal lands in the state, creating the Federal Lands Interim Committee to study potential benefits and costs of the takeover. Two reports later came before the committee—one stating the transfer would earn money, the other stating a loss. 

To clear up the question, former Midvale Republican Rep. Lawerence Denney, the committee co-chair and incoming Idaho secretary of state, requested the University of Idaho's College of Natural Resources Policy Analysis Group analyze questions of cost.
Last month, the University of Idaho delivered that study, stating Idaho could experience a loss of up to  $111 million a year should it take over federal lands. Best case scenario, the report predicted a gain of $24 million depending on timber price, highway maintenance and management of grazing and mineral lands.

After the report was released, the Idaho Conservation League contacted Evan Hjerpe, an economist at the Boise-based Conservation Economics Institute. He found several shortcomings in the report, but still determined that "eight out of nine scenarios would cause the state of Idaho to lose millions of dollars annually." 

His analysis claims the report ignored a great loss that could happen in the 10-15 years following the transfer, which could amount to $2 billion while timber harvests get under way. 

"[The report] suffers from a number of critical economic deficiencies and deserves to be closely scrutinized before it is used as a basis for further deliberation on this topic," wrote Hjerpe in a letter to the Federal Lands Interim Committee.

Considering the report and Hjerpe's findings, the interim committee will hold a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 9, at 1:30 p.m. to determine how to move forward. The meeting will be broadcast live from the East Wing 42 meeting room.
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Middle Fork Boise River Road to Reopen Friday After Washout

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 4:38 PM

In August, a section of Middle Fork Boise River Road washed out. Friday, Oct. 31, it will reopen ahead of schedule.

A 700-foot section of road near milepost 38 (Big Five Creek) washed out Aug. 7, closing it for repairs. Two contractors worked through the late summer to fix the damage with $500,000 secured from the Idaho Department of Transportation. The section of road was part of Highway 21 access to Atlanta.

Construction was scheduled to be complete by mid-November, but because it was completed ahead of schedule, winter access via Highway 21 has been secured. 

However, Boise National Forest officials are advising recreationists that other roads in the forest remain blocked due to late summer rains and mud flows. These include Roaring River Road. 

More information is available at the Atlanta Highway District. It can be reached at 208-864-2115.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

BLM 'Reclaims' Dugout Dick's Salmon River Caves

Posted By on Tue, May 29, 2012 at 9:19 AM

The Bureau of Land Management filled in the legendary caves of Idaho's iconic Dugout Dick, shortly after his April 2010 death at the age of 94.

The Idaho Falls Post Register reports that the U.S. Department of Interior had an agreement with Richard Zimmerman that allowed him to live on public lands above the Salmon River in central Idaho. Zimmerman lived in the caves for more than six decades, but the land reverted to BLM control after his death.

"We reclaimed the caves," BLM spokesperson Elizabeth Townley told the Post Register. "It was a huge undertaking. They were extremely unsafe."

After Zimmerman's personal belongings—including bicycles and spoiled food in jars and jugs—were removed, the caves were filled in with dirt and lava rock.

Some of the caves were 60 feet deep. Dugout Dick would charge visitors $2 a night to stay in one of the caves. Some stayed for months at a $25 monthly rate.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Skinny Dipper Hot Springs Closed At Sundown

Posted By on Sat, May 26, 2012 at 9:43 AM

The Bureau of Land Management has decided to close Skinny Dipper Hot Springs in Boise County to night access. The closure of the hot springs—in the Banks-Lowman area north of of Boise—will be in effect from sunset to sunrise.

The public is restricted to being within 1,000 feet of the springs after dark, including the trail and parking area near the springs.

“The closure will help provide for public safety,” said BLM spokeswoman Krista Berumen. “Since 2004, there have been several fatalities, assaults and numerous injuries associated with night-time use of the area.”

Berumen also said the safety of the public has been "further compromised" by the lack of a cellphone signal in the area. The hot springs had previously been under a overnight closure order, which last ended in 2009.

Law enforcement said that a man had died of a heart attack at the hot springs earlier this year.

The BLM has already posted overnight closure signs at the Skinny Dipper Hot Springs parking lot.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

250 Acres of Boise Foothills Purchased by Ada County

Posted By on Sat, May 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Ada County purchased 250 acres of Boise Foothills land for $240,000, a figure significantly below market price. The Dry Creek Valley property, commonly referred to as Red Hawk Estates, was purchased during a public foreclosure auction earlier this month.

Ada County denied the Red Hawk Estates developer an extension to develop the land, and the developer countered with a lawsuit. The Idaho Supreme Court ruled the suit frivolous and ordered the developer to pay the county's legal fees.

After not receiving payment, the county placed a lien against the property, which eventually ended up in foreclosure with more than $1 million owed to the bank.

According to the county, purchasing the land was desirable to protect its financial interest. Money from a successful private bidder would go to the bank and not the county. Ada County suggests the parcel could connect to the Ridge to Rivers trail system or remain as open space.

Critics called the move a violation of protocol. The county responded in a May 18 release:

The suggestion that the county violated the legal requirement of Idaho Code 31-807 to obtain an appraisal prior to the purchase is not true. Commissioners did consult with the Ada County Assessor’s Office. All of the assessor’s employees work under the supervision of a licensed Idaho appraiser. The Assessor’s Office reported that the land is estimated to be worth between $1,000 and $5,000 per acre.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

City, State and Citizens React to Hammer Flat Sale

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 3:14 PM

The Boise City Council voted unanimously today to approve the sale of more than 700 acres of land to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Hammer Flat was purchased by the City of Boise with funds from the Foothills levy coffer, and when it changes hands on Dec. 31, $4 million-plus will replenish the same.

In an official statement, the IDFG applauded the actions of the council, stating that the real winners today were southwest Idaho's populations of deer, elk and antelope. They quoted F&G director Virgil Moore as saying: "Hammer Flat's purpose is to provide critical wildlife habitat and wildlife-based recreation opportunities, including hunting and wildlife viewing."

Public use has been a concern since the beginning, leading to discourse in today's council meeting, and related comments from all parties concerned. Hang-gliding enthusiasts have voiced numerous concerns about use of the property.

"We are willing to consider other outdoor recreational activities, including hang gliding," Moore added.

James Hall of Boise's Department of Parks and Recreation said he thought the process went well.

Continue reading »

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City Council Unanimously Sells Hammer Flat to Fish and Game

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 3:07 PM

The Boise City Council unanimously approved the sale of Hammer Flat to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game today, but not before a few council members strongly suggested that paragliders once again have access to the pristine plateau in the city's Foothills.

"You folks could stand out as heroes," Council Member Alan Shealy told Fish and Game. "I think it's time to make a dispassionate decision."

The paragliding community had pushed back against Fish and Game's policy not to allow any kind of recreational aircraft over its wildlife management areas.

"I love to look up there and see gliders," said Shealy. "When the scientific evidence comes in, I'm hoping there will be some bending of the will to allow them to continue gliding."

But Council Member David Eberle had harsh words for some in the paragliding community, who had voiced strong opinions.

"I hope you drop your rhetoric," said Eberle. "It debases you and your constituency."

Council members Elaine Clegg and T.J. Thomson expressed strong desires for gliders to work with Fish and Game in crafting a management policy for Hammer Flat.

"I've learned just how unique Hammer Flat is to the gliding community," said Clegg. "We need to protect this special opportunity, if it's appropriate."

Thomson voiced the strongest support for gliders.

"To eliminate this sport permanently would be a travesty," said Thomson. "Having said that, to vote no on this sale would be similar to throwing the baby out with the bath water."

Ultimately, the vote was unanimous to sell the 705 acres to Fish and Game for $4.23 million, effective Saturday, Dec. 31.

"It's a win-win for all of us," said Council President Maryann Jordan. "I look forward to working with Fish and Game on a management plan."

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