Outdoors Blog

Boise State ranks third for outdoors-minded students

Fish and Game wildlife biologist Hollie Miyasaki releases a bighorn ram after being processed and collared during a study. The deadline to apply for controlled, bighorn-sheep hunts is Saturday.
Fish and Game wildlife biologist Hollie Miyasaki releases a bighorn ram after being processed and collared during a study. The deadline to apply for controlled, bighorn-sheep hunts is Saturday. Idaho Fish and Game

The weekly Playing Outdoors notebook turned into two weeks of notes this time. So, cleaning out the inbox:

Boise State ranks third for outdoors opportunities

The Outbound Collective recently ranked Boise State as the third-best college for outdoors adventures — a nice feather in the school’s recruiting cap.

The school is a rarity in the top 10 in that it’s located in the state’s population center. Appalachian State in Boone, N.C., was No. 1, followed by Berry College in Mount Berry, Ga.; Boise State; College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine; and Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y.

The Pac-12 dominated the 11-20 stretch with No. 11 Stanford, No. 13 Arizona, No. 14 California, No. 16 Colorado, No. 17 Oregon, No. 19 Utah and No. 20 Washington.

“We know that the outdoor opportunities and access students enjoy at Boise State are a big draw — and one of the attributes of Boise State that makes us distinct among their college choices,” school spokesman Greg Hahn said via email.

Deadlines approach for moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats

From Fish and Game:

The deadline to apply for these controlled hunts is Saturday.

Hunters can apply at any Fish and Game office, license vendor, or use a credit card by telephone or over the Internet. Telephone applications may be made at (800) 554-8685. Internet users may apply through Fish and Game's website at fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/licenses/fees/. Mailed applications must be postmarked no later than April 30.

Each applicant must possess a valid 2016 Idaho hunting or combination license to apply for a controlled hunt. Application and tag fee must be included for moose, bighorn sheep, or mountain goat applications. All but the application fee ($6.25 for residents, $14.75 for nonresidents) will be refunded to those who do not draw. Unsuccessful resident applicants will receive a refund of $166.75, while unsuccessful nonresident applicants will receive a refund of $2,101.75.

Drawing results will be posted on the Fish and Game website in early June. It is the hunter’s responsibility to verify results.

It’s time to register for hunter education

Fish and Game recommends taking hunter-education courses now rather than waiting till late summer or early fall.

“Class demand is always high at that time and you might not find a seat available,” said Jaime Creson, a Fish and Game hunter-education representative.

Hunter-education classes are required for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1975, in order to get a hunting license. The minimum age to participate is 9. More info here.

Adopt a trail in Blaine County area

The Ketchum Ranger District of the Sawtooth National Forest, the BLM Shoshone Field Office and the Blaine County Recreation District are working together to revive the Blaine County region’s Adopt-A-Trail program. The program had been placed on hold because of wildfires and other needs.

The BCRD will coordinate the program — the latest effort to start chipping away at Idaho’s backlog of trail maintenance.

“Budgets for trail maintenance have been slashed year after year, and with the fires we’ve had, land managers have fallen further behind in their ability to keep our trade routes in good repair,” Chris Leman of BCRD said in a press release. “Yes, our most popular trails need attention.”

Interested parties can contact Leman at cleman@bcrd.org or (208) 720-7713.

Migratory game bird seasons set

Migratory game bird seasons have been set. Details here.

Fish and Game conservation officer receives national award

From Fish and Game:

Veteran Idaho Fish and Game conservation officer Blake Phillips looked stunned as he stood before his colleagues gathered Saturday, April 16, to celebrate his recent retirement. His former boss, Enforcement Chief Greg Wooten just announced Phillips is the 2016 recipient of the Guy Bradley Award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

“I don’t think I deserve it” was Phillips’ initial response.

Florida game warden Guy Bradley was killed in 1905, the first game warden in the country to lose his life in the line of duty. In 1988, NFWF established the award in his name to recognize individuals who have made outstanding lifetime contributions to wildlife law. Chief Wooten, and many others who nominated Phillips for the Bradley Award, said he absolutely deserves it.

“Blake is the most honorable and duty-oriented person I know,” Wooten said. “I have benefited greatly from his experience. He maintained a high level of productivity throughout his career, and he set an example we should all emulate.”

Blake and Janna
Blake Phillips, shown with wife Janna, received the 2016 Guy Bradley Award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Idaho Fish and Game

Fish and Game Southeast Regional Supervisor Mark Gamblin said Phillips had one of the longest and most-productive careers he’s seen at Fish and Game.

“Blake built a well-earned reputation for scrupulous honesty, personal integrity and stellar public service,” Gamblin said. “Blake’s career is an example for all Fish and Game employees, and I am proud to have served the Idaho public with Blake Phillips.”

Phillips’ career started 36 years ago as a research technician. In 1983, he landed his dream job as a Conservation Officer and made $8.25 an hour. Phillips says he was in heaven. Other than four years working in Garden Valley, Phillips spent most of his career patrolling the Southeast Region.

“I got to know most every cranny in the region,” Phillips said.

In 2014, he capped his career by becoming the Assistant Enforcement Chief, based in Boise.

“I can’t think of a day, other than maybe when I had to testify in court, that I didn’t look forward to going to work,” he said.

One event early in his career profoundly affected him — the 1981 killings of Conservation Officers Bill Pogue and Conley Elms by a suspected poacher.

“That incident changed Idaho Fish and Game, gave me a new appreciation and perspective on what being a Conservation Officer meant, and the risk associated with the position,” Phillips said.

In the following years, Phillips befriended Dee Pogue and Cheri Elms, the widows of his fallen colleagues. He was honored by their presence at Saturday’s retirement celebration.

After two days to reflect on receiving the Guy Bradley award, Phillips wrote: “I can only say I am humbled and feel so undeserving of such accolades and recognition. I have worked with so many great men and women, not only at Idaho Fish and Game, but other agencies also. If I have done a few things right over my career, it is more because of what I learned from them than anything I have done. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of the state of Idaho as a protector of the beauty, resources and wildlife of the great state of Idaho.”

Birds of Prey float

After my story on the Snake River Birds of Prey area ran, a reader asked about the option to float the river through the area. Larry Ridenhour of BLM provided the following answer:

“There are currently no commercial outfitters that operate on that stretch of the river for general sightseeing trips.

“The most popular segment to float is from Swan Falls Dam to Celebration Park. It's a 10-mile trip and depending on the water flows, wind, boat type, and stops made along the way, can take as little as two hours to most of the day. The river is suitable for most any watercraft — raft, kayak, canoe, etc., but you should be confident if you use a craft other than a raft because the currents are very strong. You may also encounter power boats of various styles on the river. There is really just one rapid to go through which is rated as a Class I or II, depending on the water flows. It's a pretty straight forward rapid with just a series of standing waves. The river is flowing at about 6,000 cfs right now which is about normal. A popular spot to stop for lunch is at Wees Bar. There are petroglyphs on many of the boulders on the upper bench to explore and the remains of an old stone house near the river.

“The shuttle for this trip is about 12 miles and will take about 25 minutes one way.”

Watch a peregrine falcon nest

A webcam is showing a live feed from a peregrine falcon nest box on the 14th floor of One Capital Center in Downtown Boise.

Mushroom permits in Payette National Forest

From the Payette National Forest:

The Payette National Forest is announcing the following guidelines for personal and commercial wild mushroom picking this year on the Forest. Following last summer’s wildfires, morel (more-ELL) mushrooms are anticipated to appear in burned areas of the forests. Use caution in recently burned areas due to stump holes, snags, and loose soil or rocks.

Personal Use: Harvesters may gather up to 5 gallons of morels or other mushrooms per day for personal use without a permit. There is no age limit on personal use mushroom pickers. Personal use mushrooms may not be sold or bartered to another party.

Commercial Use: Commercial Mushroom permits will be available starting Monday, May 2, 2016. Each individual selling or bartering any mushrooms or gathering more than 5 gallons per day is required to have a valid Commercial Permit. They must have this permit in their possession while gathering and transporting mushrooms. A 21-day commercial gathering permit costs $200 dollars. When purchasing a permit, commercial mushroom harvesters must present an acceptable form of identification such as a Birth Certificate, Green Card, State ID, Passport, Tribal ID, or other identification issued by a Federal or State Government. Commercial permits will not be sold to anyone under the age of 18 years old.

Commercial mushroom permits will only be available for the New Meadows and McCall Ranger Districts of the Payette National Forest and will only be sold at those district offices during their regular business hours of 8a.m. to 4:30p.m. Commercial permits will not be available at local vendors.

The Payette National Forest is not issuing buying permits and buying stations will not be permitted to operate on Forest land. Commercial pickers and buyers may not camp in developed campgrounds. Dispersed camping within five miles of the same site for a period longer than 18 days in any 30 consecutive days is prohibited.

“We want the public to enjoy this delicious seasonal treat, while at the same time managing the potential impacts of a larger commercial harvest,” said Brian Harris, Payette National Forest Public Affairs Officer. “Having a permit system that accommodates both personal use and commercial harvest allows us to do both.”

Golf Digest honors Sun Valley Resort

Golf Digest gave Sun Valley Resort the Editor’s Choice Award for Best Resorts of The Americas 2016.

Idaho State Parks and Rec needs committee members

From Idaho State Parks and Rec:

The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR) is accepting applications to fill vacancies on the following Advisory Committees in the following areas:

▪ Recreational Vehicle (RV) Advisory Committee;

▪ Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Advisory Committee;

▪ Waterways Improvement Fund (WIF) Advisory Committee;

▪ Off-Road Motor Vehicle (ORMV) Committee;

▪ Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Evaluation Committee;

These committee members evaluate grant applications based on established criteria and make recommendations to the Idaho Park and Recreation Board for funding. Members are required to attend meetings during the year with travel expenses reimbursed. Successful applicants representing specific user groups with equipment must have a current registration and tags on file with the DMV and Idaho Parks & Recreation.

Applications are due no later than June 17, 2016 and may be obtained by contacting Kathy Muir at the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation State and Federal Grants Program:

Kathy Muir, State and Federal Grants Manager

(208) 514- 2431