Friday, March 12, 2010


Avalanche danger escalates

If the valley gets the snow predicted for the weekend, avalanche danger could approach the hazardous level of late December.

Janet Kellam, director of the Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center, said the dry spell of February has provided a weak layer, but not much snow has accumulated on top of that in the valley to trigger avalanches.

However, avalanche danger is already high in the backcountry where snow has fallen in the meantime. And, Kellam said, the conditions are "tricky" and "very dangerous." She said slides have been triggered almost every day for the past couple of weeks. She said people should avoid steep slopes, especially north-facing ones, which have the cold, powdery, snow that creates dangerous conditions. She said avalanche-prone areas include slopes around Baker Creek, the headwaters of the Salmon River and the western Smoky Mountains.

For daily updated avalanche forecasts, visit the center's Web site at and click on "Current Advisory." The advisory is also available at 622-8027, and avalanches can be reported at 622-0099.

Forest names acting supervisor

Terry Clark, the Sawtooth National Forest's recreation lands and natural resources staff officer, has been selected as acting forest supervisor to fill the vacancy created by Jane Kollmeyer's retirement.

"We are very pleased to have Terry on the Sawtooth National Forest," stated Harv Forsgren, regional forester for the Forest Service's Intermountain Region, in a news release. "Terry is an experienced, qualified Forest Service leader."

Forsgren said a permanent replacement will be selected by late July.

Clark served for six years as deputy area ranger for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

His Forest Service career began in 1976 on the Zig Zag Ranger District in the Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon. He has worked for eight national forests, and before coming to the Sawtooth was a district ranger in New Hampshire.

March 15 deadline for nominations

The nomination deadline for the 2010 Wood River Valley Community Awards is Monday, March 15. Nominations should be made at for the awards, organized by the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau and the Hailey Chamber of Commerce.

Each year, the chambers solicit nominations from the public to recognize individuals, organizations and businesses that have made significant contributions to the community. The chambers' boards review the nominations in each category and select the winners.

Hailey mayor supports census

On April 1, the 2010 Census will officially begin counting U.S. residents and compiling demographic information. Hailey will see census workers surveying people on the street and at grocery stores.

The information gathered will be used to fund a vast array of public services, including hospitals, libraries, emergency services, school lunches, health and welfare programs, and street-fixing crews.

"The census is very important in terms of federal allocations," Mayor Rick Davis said. "Last time it came around, we had 64 percent respond. This time I would like to see 80 percent."

This census questionnaire is one of the shortest in history. It has 10 questions and takes about 10 minutes to complete.

About 90 percent of census questionnaires are mailed to homes across the country. Participants are urged to fill them out and send them back to the U.S. Census Bureau. About 10 percent of census questionnaires are hand-delivered to homes or conducted in person by census workers knocking on doors in hard-to-reach areas of the country.

Forest approves beetle project

Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson has approved a program to reduce bark beetle infestation on land within and next to Bald Mountain.

The program will consist of aerial and ground application of MCH, a naturally occurring pheromone that acts as a beetle repellant, and placement of baited funnel traps containing another naturally occurring pheromone, seudenol, a beetle attractant, to lure beetles away from susceptible Douglas-fir stands.

"Our goal is to keep the next generation of beetles, which typically begin flying in late April or early May, from spreading into green trees on lower Warm Springs and the River Run side of Baldy," Nelson said.

Many stressed but surviving Douglas fir trees scorched by the 2007 Castle Rock Fire have become hosts for the Douglas fir bark beetle. According to a news release from the Forest Service, increasing populations of beetles emerging from the stressed trees will infest and overwhelm the natural defenses of otherwise healthy, green Douglas firs outside the perimeter of the Castle Rock Fire, including Bald Mountain, unless action is taken to protect them.

"Helicopter dispersal of MCH flakes gives us the best chance of effectively protecting the remaining large, healthy Douglas firs on Baldy, given the size of the beetle outbreak, the large area needing protection, and the short timeframe before the next generation of beetles emerges," Nelson said.

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