Q: I dont know if youre aware or not, but the access to the Little Salmon River has been severely restricted because of the purchase of some properties.
One side of the river has been closed, and the landowner fenced a lot of the highway side.
My question is this: With the access being limited, it crowds more and more fishermen into a smaller and smaller space. What can be done about that?
BOB SCHWEND and other anglers, via email
A: The lower end of the Little Salmon River is a mess.
Public-access problems on the river south of Riggins have been ongoing for as long as anyone can remember.
More than 90 percent of the land along the river is privately owned, which severely limits public access.
During salmon fishing season, most anglers are concentrated into a short section along U.S. 95 just below the Little Salmons confluence with Rapid River.
There is an access dispute between a landowner and the state where anglers have historically gotten access to the river.
When the salmon are running full force, downstream from Rapid River turns into a combat-fishing zone where anglers are elbow to elbow.
Anglers joke that it takes synchronized casting and drifting to fish that area. If you mess up the synchronization or hook into a fish, it can be mayhem.
OK, the serious side. I talked with Idaho Fish and Game officers and the Idaho County sheriff, and all agreed that its frustrating and a mess, with lawsuits pending.
Also thrown into the mess is the property downstream that was purchased by the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation for public access.
It was obtained through foreclosure, but the sale of the property has been contested and the public can not currently cross it.
Its great that the foundation is trying to get land for public access, and believe me, more needs to be done.
Basically, the public is being limited from an important resource, which adds to the economy of the local area.
The Little Salmon is a classic example of the need for public access and more public lands in key areas to allow fishing and hunting.
Another problem is that years ago, anglers had access to land along the Little Salmon below Rapid River because a previous landowner had an agreement with Fish and Game. When the land was sold, anglers lost access.
Idaho hunters and anglers are so used to roaming freely over vast public lands in the state that when they are denied access in a key fishing area, they go ballistic.
Well, thats private land and landowners have every right to post their land.
The Little Salmon River mess shows that there is still a lot of work to be done for the state to acquire key access points on rivers throughout the state rivers that are public entities.
In the meantime, the only thing Fish and Game says is to respect private property rights and honor all trespassing signs until things are ironed out.
But the Idaho County sheriff said enforcing angler trespassing complaints along the river isnt a priority.
Q: I read your column on low-impact camping techniques (Ask Zimo, June 7). I was glad that you wrote that column, but also a little frustrated in that the people who need to read that column the most probably dont read the paper.
This past Sunday I went with my family down the Middle Fork Boise River Road out behind Arrowrock Dam.
As you can imagine, there were lots of people camping along the shores of the reservoir and along the river farther out.
After a nice picnic and some fishing, we drove back home. Most of the campers had left. They had also left most of their garbage strewn about the sides of the roads.
There is an outhouse at the boat ramp with signs saying, Do not place garbage in toilet.
Guess what? The toilet was full of garbage. Why is pack it in, pack it out so difficult?
So the question is, how do we get your important message to the people who need it most? At what point will the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service stop allowing camping due to all of the garbage? Can the Forest Service post signs along with increased patrols on weekends to enforce cleanup?
JIM HENSLEY, via email
A: Trash and poor camping etiquette are things that never seem to end.
Its frustrating that despite education programs, they are still a major problem on public lands.
Budget cuts for federal land-management agencies probably make law enforcement patrols for litter a low priority.
What Id like to see done in problem areas, such as Arrowrock Reservoir, is a law enforcement sweep over one weekend in the summer to bust those who leave trash and leave fires burning.
If citations were issued, Id vote for no fines, but instead, a full weekend of cleaning trash in the camping areas and scooping the trash out of the outhouses.
Cleanup work would go a long way in penalizing litterbugs and would leave a lasting impression.
It would also be good for the culprits to wear yellow safety vests while working. The vests could have notes on them saying, I trashed a campground.
This is far-fetched, but I think its the only way for us to reach certain people.
Q: Later this month, we plan to travel to the Bruneau Overlook and Indian Bathtub. My questions are: Can a person drive to the Bathtub, and how close?
Are the roads passable using just a passenger car?
DEL WIEDMEIER, via email
A: The Bruneau Overlook is accessible and makes a great day trip. Desert roads are drying out and you shouldnt have a problem getting to the overlook.
You can get there in a passenger car by taking Hot Springs Road out of Bruneau for 15.6 miles, turning right and going 3 miles.
Go in the morning before the afternoon heat.
The Bathtub is a different matter. Im not getting good vibes from anyone on hiking in there this time of the year.
The BLMs webpage says, Due to ground water pumping for irrigation, there is generally no surface water present at Indian Bathtub.
I talked to locals and they said the pools arent deep enough to soak in.
It doesnt sound like a good hike in the summer, with poison ivy and rattlesnakes.
The country is pretty steep and the road to the trailhead doesnt sound too inviting.
Google search Indian Bathtub Idaho and youll get the U.S. Bureau of Land Managements trail description.
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors