Boise River flows dip, but it's not time to float yet

Boise River flows are headed down, providing some hope that the river could be open for floating by the July 4 weekend.

The flow at the Glenwood bridge was at 2,660 cubic feet per second Thursday evening, down from more than 3,200 cfs earlier in the week.

The flow is expected to drop another 500 cfs Friday.

It needs to reach about 1,500 cfs for Boise Fire to clear debris from the river and floating season to begin.

"We will probably hold (the approximate flow of 2,100 cfs) through the weekend and then we'll ramp it down next week," said Brian Sauer, a water operations manager for the Bureau of Reclamation. "That should get us to the point where the fire department can get in and start clearing the snags out."

The river-clearing job will be more extensive this year with the high water, said Scott Koberg, the director of Ada County Parks and Waterways. His agency manages the floating season from Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park.

Already, Koberg has seen out-of-town visitors show up at Barber Park expecting to float. Ada County has started a Facebook page — Float the Boise River — to provide updates.

This is setting up to be one of the later-starting float seasons in recent years. In the past 15 years, three seasons have started July 1 and one started July 15, Koberg said.

Last year, floating began June 12.

River flows have stayed high this spring because of the large snowpack in the mountains from the winter and a deal that has relied on more water from the Boise River and less from the upper Snake River to meet salmon needs, Sauer said.

"The main reason it's running as high as it is is we're trying to get salmon flow-augmentation water out of the system," he said. "... This is the first year we've taken less out of the upper Snake and this year, with the high water, it postponed the salmon water releases."

Track the flow changes here.

Brundage starts lifts Saturday

Brundage Mountain Resort near McCall begins lift service Saturday for biking, hiking and sightseeing — its earliest ever summer opening. Tamarack Resort begins lift service next week and Bogus Basin on July 2. We'll have a full breakdown of the options in Wednesday's Idaho Statesman.

Here's more info on Brundage's program. Click on the "summer fun" menu.

Road work resumes on Redfish Lake Road

From the U.S. Forest Service:

The Sawtooth National Forest will be working on Redfish Lake Road starting June 13-17 and June 20-24. There will be no work on the weekends. During this time visitors can expect delays and noise that will be occurring while the contractor improves a new section of road.

The project will start near the entrance to Chinook Bay Campground and conclude at the new section of road completed last year. This project includes approximately 2,200 feet of road. During the first week the contractor will grind the existing road and reshape it to the new design width; the following week they will incorporate cement to the new base and place asphalt over the new rebuilt section. For this work to occur, traffic will be reduced to one lane through this section. Flaggers will be posted on either end to control traffic. Due to construction, those camping in Chinook Bay and Mountain View Campground will hear construction noise during the day.

Bighorn sheep poacher gets lifetime ban

From Idaho Fish and Game:

A lifetime hunting ban, jail time and thousands of dollars in penalties are the price a Nampa man must pay for last year’s poaching of a trophy bighorn sheep along Idaho’s Main Salmon River.

Appearing in Idaho County Court on June 6, Paul Cortez (53) of Nampa stood silent as District Court Judge Gregory FitzMaurice handed down the poaching sentence. In addition to a lifetime hunting license revocation, Cortez received 30 days in jail, a $10,000 civil penalty, fines/court costs totaling $753 and four years of probation.

On November 6, 2015 while on routine jet boat patrol along the famous river, Fish and Game conservation officers Roy Kinner, Craig Mickelson, Dennis Brandt and Brian Perkes contacted Cortez at his hunting camp. Cortez’s hands and forearms were bloody, and after a brief conversation, Cortez admitted to shooting the bighorn ram from his camp as the animal came to the river for water. He then field dressed and stashed the carcass among rocks above the river. The poaching location is in Hunt Unit 19, where the bighorn sheep season closed on October 13.

Perkes then cited Cortez for unlawfully killing a trophy big game animal, possession of an illegally taken bighorn sheep, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. An April plea agreement with Idaho County Prosecutors allowed Cortez to plead guilty to one felony count of unlawfully killing a trophy big game animal, which included 15 days in jail. The second felony count and other charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.

In his comments during sentencing, Judge FitzMaurice noted that, “It’s my view that you’ve been given fairly lenient treatment. My view is that a signal needs to be sent out to others in your situation.” At his discretion, Judge FitzMaurice then doubled Cortez’s jail time to 30 days. Cortez addressed the court only briefly, stating that he “made a huge mistake in my judgment. I regret it.”

Cortez also asked the Judge not to revoke his hunting privileges for life, but the request was ignored. “The [illegal] killing of animals, especially rare animals, has serious consequences in this state,” Judge FitzMaurice said.

Only a remnant herd of bighorn sheep now traverse the rocky canyons above Idaho’s Salmon River. As such, lawful hunting is highly regulated, with only four bighorn tags allotted in Hunt Unit 19. “Only a handful of those applying for one of these coveted tags got their chance at a bighorn sheep during the 2015 hunting season,” Perkes noted. “This poaching crime robs legal hunters of next year’s opportunity to pursue this prized nine-and-one-half-year-old ram.”

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