Input sought on wilderness trail projects
The Salmon Challis National Forest is seeking public comment on possible trail projects in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.
The forest's Middle Fork Ranger District is applying to the Idaho State Department of Parks and Recreation for grant funding through the Recreation Trails Program. Grant applications must be submitted by Jan. 27.
The district is proposing to use the funding, if awarded, to complete routine clearing and maintenance work on up to 400 miles of trail, up to 24 miles of trail improvement, and repairs on up to 10 major bridges.
Two major proposed projects are widening of the trail along Marsh Creek, an upper tributary of the Middle Fork of the Salmon, and clearing of trees and rock-slide debris on the Middle Fork trail.
Contact Wilderness and Trails Manager Laurie Matthews at 208-879-4113 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to help develop the final work proposal.
Ketchum chips in for music festival
The city of Ketchum wants to see the return of Marley in the Mountains music festival, and is contributing $5,000 toward that goal.
The City Council approved the sum at its meeting Tuesday.
Mayor Randy Hall called the amount "seed money" for the production of the event. The city contributed $5,000 last year as well.
"I'm providing something great for one of the busiest weekends of the year," said Danny Walton, of Mountain Niceness productions.
The city also is providing liability insurance for the event.
Organizers hope for 1,000 to 2,000 attendees at the festival, which takes place Feb. 18 in Ketchum Town Square.
"Last year we had 1,000 and a blizzard," Walton said.
Last chance for discount lift tickets
Fly Sun Valley Alliance announced Tuesday that the $35 full-day lift tickets for Ski for Air Service Day are selling well.
A limited number of the discounted tickets are available for sale in advance, for cash only, through Saturday, Jan. 21, unless sold out earlier, at local ski and snowboard shops as well as at Claude Sports in Twin Falls and Newt & Harold's in Boise.
"Clearly, skiers understand what a great deal this is," said Fly Sun Valley Alliance Executive Director Carol Waller. "Plus, the new snow expected this week will provide an extra reason to get out and enjoy a day on the mountain."
Waller noted that all proceeds from the day will support air service to Sun Valley, an important economic cause.
Idaho ranked next to last in animal welfare laws
The Humane Society of the United States has ranked Idaho 50th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the strength of their animal protection laws, which include animal cruelty codes, equine protection standards, wildlife issues, animals in research and farm animal policy.
Earning the highest scores were first-place California, then New Jersey and Oregon, tied for second. Only South Dakota was behind Idaho.
"It's very disheartening to see that Idaho is not a leader but almost last in laws that protect both companion and farm animals," said Lisa Kauffman, The Humane Society's Idaho state director. "The people of this state, from ranchers to everyday citizens, care about the welfare of animals, and there is no reason why we cannot all come together and pass legislation to protect them. A provision for felony animal cruelty and animal fighting should be included in every state's law books."
In a press release, The Humane Society called California "in a category all by itself" after lawmakers and the governor enacted nearly a dozen new measures. State law protects pets from being sold along roadsides, from antifreeze poisoning and from continuous chaining. It prohibits use of steel-jawed leghold traps to take wildlife, bans the shark fin trade, horse slaughter and mountain lion trophy hunting, and protects farm animals from extreme confinement and tail docking.
Idaho vehicle fatalities drop
Idaho leads the nation with a 31 percent reduction in traffic fatalities over the past two years, the Idaho State Police and the Idaho Transportation Department announced.
While fewer people died in traffic crashes in Idaho in 2011 than in any year since 1956, the state's safety leaders said any loss of life is unacceptable.
Preliminary data indicate that in 2011, 168 people died on Idaho's roads, 41 fewer than in 2010 and 58 fewer than in 2009.
"Idaho drivers are ... avoiding risky behaviors such as speeding and driving after drinking," said ITD Highway Safety Manager Brent Jennings.
He also credited the efforts of law enforcement, transportation and emergency response professionals, engineering improvements to highways and vehicles, and education campaigns.
Fatalities attributed to driving while intoxicated and speeding both declined from 2010.
In 2011, 70 people who died in traffic crashes were not wearing seatbelts. Safety experts estimate that about half of those people might have survived if they had been.
"Our goal is to sustain this downward trend in 2012, as we move toward zero deaths on Idaho's highways" Jennings said.
Craters of the Moon gets new chief
Craters of the Moon National Monument has a new superintendent.
National Park Service officials named Dan Buckley to the post Wednesday.
Buckley takes over for Doug Neighbor, who was recently appointed superintendent of Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas. Buckley's first day on the job is Feb. 27.
Park Service Administrator Chris Lehnertz said Buckley brings extensive experience with fire management and skills to work with private partners in managing public lands.
Craters of the Moon is a 750,000-acre preserve near Arco, southeast of the Wood River Valley, and is noted for its variety of volcanic features and unique lava flows and landscapes.
Eagle Scout holds fundraiser
Wood River High School Senior Nolan Arters invites the community to join in a fundraising spaghetti dinner for the district's fourth- and fifth-grade Leader in Me students.
Arters and Boy Scout Troop 181 will host the event in the commons area of the high school on Tuesday, Jan. 24, from 6-8 p.m. The dinner will be a spaghetti dinner with garlic bread and salad. Donations of $10 per adult are appreciated (children eat free). Attendees are also asked to bring a dessert for the after-dinner auction.
Arters, a private E-1 in the Army National Guard, said he hopes to help each of the approximately 500 students in the middle school obtain a copy of "Celebrating Your Greatness." The yet-to-be published book by district para-pro Diane Myers is intended to help students develop the positive characteristics that they are choosing for themselves while participating in the Leader in Me program