Zimo: School program aims to curb littering, vandalism in rec areas

Two mergansers scurried across the Boise River in what was an idyllic scene, except for two white plastic grocery sacks stuck in a bush.

A winter hike along the desert rimrock was good medicine, except for a couch and chair that someone dumped.

A float down the Snake River with geese honking and the wings of golden eyes whistling was music to the soul. That peace was wrecked by the dirty disposable diaper at the boat ramp.

Garbage is everywhere — from shot shell casings to tires to home appliances. Vandalism is everywhere. You'll find road signs shot up, fragile grasslands torn up by illegal off-roading and spray paint on buildings at recreation sites.

Enough is enough. Idaho's outdoor folks have had it up to here (my hand is just above my eyes) with trash and vandalism.

Even so, it's a good thing some Idaho conservationists aren't giving up the fight. The Idaho Wildlife Federation is spearheading a project to combat trash and vandalism — Operation TRASH (Teach, Responsibility And Save Our Heritage).

Leading the charge are co-chairmen Fred Christensen, a former Idaho Fish and Game commissioner who is well known for his conservation work, and John Gahl, who is retired from Idaho Department of Fish and Game, where he was a conservation officer, was involved in hunter safety and also was instrumental in getting Project WILD into Idaho's schools.

Hopefully, with a $5,000 grant or in donations, they can get Operation TRASH introduced in schools. It would be similar to Project WILD, which instructs teachers about wild critters, the outdoors and conservation.

"There are a lot of efforts by agencies and individuals for cleanup. We need to coordinate those efforts into one effort," said Christensen, who loves the outdoors and has been with the Idaho Wildlife Federation for 30 years.

He sees the organization's public campaign with land agencies, clubs and other organizations. But the school program is really needed, he said.

We surely do need to have a program like this in the schools. Let's hope their efforts pay off. There's too much trash and vandalism.

If your club, business or organization wants to see Fred's slide show on trash, give him a call at (208) 455-2550.

Donations can be sent to TRASH c/o Idaho Wildlife Federation, P.O. Box 6426, Boise, ID 83707.

New outdoors club

A new outdoors club is in town. Idaho Mountain Recreation was started in January to focus on non-motorized activities and to promote safety and being prepared for the outdoors.

The club will schedule activities with leaders who have experience and training to help group members learn about things like a new trail or new outdoor techniques.

It also will be a way to meet other people, said Colleen Back, one of the organizers.

Activities will include hikes, mountain climbing, backpacking, biking, Nordic skiing and other outdoor pursuits.

Members plan to have training in wilderness first aid, backpacking essentials and winter camping. Annual membership is $30 to $40.

Monthly meetings with speakers will be from 7 to 9 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month at the MK Nature Center, 600 S. Walnut St. They are free to the public.

Idaho Mountain Recreation may not be for everyone, Back said. There are existing family-oriented clubs in the area, so the club is focusing more on people without small children. It expects that most members will be 30 and older.

For information, call Mark at 424-6683 or e-mail Cindy at cindy_idmtnrec@yahoo.com.

Wasted waterfowl

Just when you think you've heard it all, this comes along: On routine patrol in January, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game officer found a pile of 40 ducks and geese dumped in a ravine along Taylor Mountain Road outside Idaho Falls.

"It appears that someone may have dumped the birds after waterfowl hunting season, which ended on Jan. 19," said senior conservation officer Dan Kelsey.

The birds (18 Canada geese, 16 mallards, four goldeneyes and two wigeons) were found whole with none of the meat taken. That's criminal waste under state and federal laws.

Anyone with information about this should call the Idaho Falls office of Fish and Game at (208) 525-7290, or the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at (800) 632-5999.

To offer comments, contact reporter Pete Zimowsky at 377-6445. Read past columns at IdahoStatesman.com/zimo.