Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Start next year's weed control now

The Pesticide Action Network of Blaine County has released "Safer Weed & Pest Control: Low Risk Solutions for Parks, Schools and Homeowners, A Companion Guide for IPM in Blaine County."

The guide provides a wide range of options for local government, the School District and local garden centers to use in maintaining parks, playing fields and yards while reducing or eliminating the use of harmful chemicals.

Kathryn Goldman, the organization's campaign director, said weed control is important year-round.

"Planning for landscaping contracts and large-scale purchases of products that will be available in our local garden centers happens during the winter," Goldman stated in a press release. "If we wait until spring, it's too late to make changes for the 2012 garden and weed control season."

The guide includes information on products and techniques to fight noxious weeds without harmful chemicals, such as the use of alternative herbicides made of clove or citrus oils, as well as information on how to create and maintain healthy turf areas without chemicals.

To download an electronic copy of the guide, visit

Exotic greenery toxic to wildlife

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is urging homeowners who live close to wintering moose and other big game to be sure they don't have Japanese yew planted by their homes or cabins.

Japanese yew is an exotic, ground-covering shrub with green foliage and red berries. Unfortunately, just a handful of Japanese yew can be fatal to big game and livestock. The hardy shrub planted in an urban setting poses little threat to big game, but in remote areas, it is a tantalizing morsel that moose and other wildlife are unable to avoid. Japanese yew can kill any size moose that happens to be lured in by its delicious appearance.

Homeowners seeking to learn more about plants that are toxic to wildlife should contact the University of Idaho's Blaine County Extension Office at 788-5585.

F&G seeks poaching info

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking information about a recent deer poaching incident barely a mile outside the Idaho Falls city limits.

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, someone shot a mule deer buck in a field near the intersection of 55th East and First Street. The head and antlers were removed, and the rest of the deer was left in the field. Neighbors in the area say they heard a rifle shot around 7 a.m. It appears from the evidence that one person walked out into the field to cut off the deer head.

In this instance, not only is poaching a concern, but also human safety because a high-powered rifle was used in close proximity to residences.

Anyone with information about this incident should call the Fish and Game office at 208-525-7290 or the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 800-632-5999. The caller may remain anonymous.

YMCA pool conversion on track

A recent $300,000 donation to the Wood River Community YMCA by the Nancy Eccles and Homer M. Hayward Family Foundation will ensure a conversion in the Y's lap pool from chlorine to saline early next year.

The change is part of the Y's sustainability campaign, which seeks to add energy-efficient and other "green" initiatives to its facility and operations.

Advocates of saline say it's easier to manage, safer for swimmers and healthier for the environment.

"Chlorine is very expensive, and as compared, the amount of salt used during a year is very inexpensive," a Y news release states. "The saline water makes its own chlorine, eliminating the need for staff to handle potentially harmful chemicals, and the levels of chlorine in the water are low while still being effective. This also means swimmers will not have to deal with dry skin, green hair and fading swimsuits anymore."

The facility also has a new aquatics director. The Y hired Jake DeVries to oversee all aspects of the pools, which will include new lap-swimming hours.

Mills chosen for Sustain Blaine board

Steve Mills, CEO of Webb Landscaping, has been chosen to replace developer George Kirk as chair of the Sustain Blaine economic development group.

Mills is also a founding board member and was the first president of the Wood River Economic Partnership, an organization dedicated to bringing businesses together for economic development. According to a WREP release, Mills was "instrumental" in the organization's original support of Sustain Blaine. He will remain on WREP's board.

Hikers urged to use caution on Baldy

With downhill skiers and riders on the slopes, uphill hikers need to be conscientious about how they climb Bald Mountain.

According to Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson, uphill hiking is a significant use on Bald Mountain.

"On a busy day there may be as many as 100 skiers or snowshoers hiking up Baldy," Nelson said. "There's only a limited amount of open terrain for everyone to play on right now."

According to a press release from the U.S. Forest Service, morning hikers will be safest if they reach the summit by the time the lifts open to downhill skiers and riders at 9 a.m. Afternoon hikers should wait until all skiers and riders are down, around 4:30 p.m.

The agency stated that all hikers need to stay well to the side when walking up or down any ski run regardless of the time of day. Dogs are especially vulnerable to getting injured by ski or snowboard edges, and hikers are urged to leave pets at home.

"People that hike or ski in the dark need to wear brightly colored or reflective clothing, and carry flashlights or head lamps, so that groomers and snowmobile operators can see them," Nelson said. "They also need to be aware of winch cat cables that can seriously injure people if they are near night grooming operations."

Nelson said that on mornings when avalanche hazard reduction takes place, Bald Mountain will be posted "closed" at both the River Run and Warm Springs base areas.

"What might appear to be just a few inches at the bottom could be a significant snowfall at the top, requiring avalanche hazard mitigation, especially if high winds accompany the new snow," he said.

Hiking Bald Mountain while it is posted closed is a violation of a Blaine County ordinance that prohibits public entry to areas marked closed within a developed ski area.

"Sun Valley Co. staff and locals know to watch for hikers on the slopes," Nelson said. "However, skiers and riders from out of town don't always expect to encounter uphill traffic at a ski area."

BLM ramps up fire recruitment

The BLM Twin Falls District is hiring firefighters and support staff for next summer. Applications are being accepted through Jan. 31 for positions in the suppression, prevention, fuels, aviation and dispatch programs.

Applicants must be at least 18 by the first day of hire, be a U.S. citizen and have a high school diploma or GED.

Only on-line applications will be accepted. Anyone interested should see For more information, call 208-732-7299.

Hunt that tree safely

The U.S. Forest Service is reminding those who trek through national forests in search of a holiday tree to put safety as the first item on their Christmas lists.

Each year, Forest Service offices sell permits that allow people to cut one fresh tree on national forest lands. Fees for the permits vary dependent on location. The permit program helps the agency thin stands that have a concentration of small-diameter trees.

Reminders and tips for cutting your tree:

- Always tell a friend when you are taking a trip into the forest.

- Remember to take your permit and a map to your forest location, dress warmly and keep your car with a full tank of gas. Have tire chains if necessary and don't forget to bring a rope and tarp to transport your tree home

- Select a tree that is 6 inches or less in diameter, and prepare to cut the tree close to the ground at 6 inches or less.

- Put on eye protection and heavy-duty work gloves.

- Decide in which direction you want the tree to fall. Make sure the direction you choose is clear of obstacles, including power lines and vehicles.

- Use handsaws and shears. Chainsaws are prohibited.

- Make the back cut by standing to the side and away from the trunk. Step away as soon as the tree begins to fall.

BCRD offers winter break program

The Blaine County Recreation District will offer its Recess from School program for youth in first through fifth grades during the winter break, Dec. 19-23 and Dec. 27-30. Childcare will be provided from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with field trips and activities scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Days will be filled with structured activities, outdoor recreation and field trips to area attractions.

The cost of the program is $35 per day. Pickup and drop-off is at the Community Campus in Hailey. Bring a sack lunch, water bottle, appropriate clothing and footwear each day. Contact the Recreation District at 578-2273 for more information.

Historical Society seeks public's help

As Idaho approaches its 150th territorial birthday, the Idaho State Historical Society is asking for the public's help in creating an exhibit titled "Essential Idaho: 150 Things That Make the Gem State Unique." People can fill out an online form and tell about the person, place, thing or event that they think makes Idaho unique. Forms can be obtained through the mail by calling 208-334-2120. Deadline for entries is Jan. 31.

The exhibit will open on March 4, 2013, the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's signing the bill that created a place named "Idaho" on the U.S. map.

"As Idaho prepares to commemorate its first 150 years, we seek to commemorate its diverse landscape, remarkable people and fascinating history with this exhibit that defines what Idaho means from those who know it best," said Janet Gallimore, the society's executive director.

Give a musical gift

Know someone who needs to think about summer in the dead of winter?

Give the gift of live music and support the community at the same time. The nonprofit Northern Rockies Folk Festival has a special holiday discount on the 35th two-day festival passes through Dec. 25.

For this limited time, these $18 tickets will be available by going to the website and clicking on "tickets." This ticket price will be a good deal lower than the ticket prices next year.

The annual festival will take place Aug. 3-4.

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