Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More about Opening Weekend at Silver Creek

Although the weather was stormy and cold, we had over 200 anglers at the Preserve this Memorial Day weekend. Over the weekend there were many observations and questions about the changes in the creek. On April 6th and 7th this year, Silver Creek experienced a flood-- we measured over 400 c.f.s. above the S-turns!! The flooding changed the creek a lot in places- you will notice areas of gravel exposed in the middle of the creek where vegetation and channels used to be and areas along the banks where silt was deposited. In time, the sediment along the banks should stabilize as vegetation takes hold. Please try and be careful not to walk through these sediment deposits and stir up the silt. It is difficult, because there are so many areas now that hold silt, but if we are patient and careful this flooding that Silver Creek experienced could turn out to be very beneficial to the creek. --Dayna Smith, Silver Creek Preserve manager

Photos: Silt deposits in Silver Creek (top) and the flooding on April 6 and 7, 2006 (bottom).

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Silver Creek Starts Summer Season

Despite poor weather, about 85 visitors attended the barbecue at Silver Creek Preserve held on opening day. Some fish were caught, many stories were told and our visitors enjoyed a nice picnic at the visitor's center.

And it's just the beginning of Silver Creek Preserve's 30th anniversary festivities. Stop by the preserve to enjoy some great fishing, birding or hiking, and take in one of the many events held this summer.

Natural History Walks
Natural history walks around the preserve, every other Saturday throughout the summer starting on June 3, 2006. Join our visitor center host, Ruth, a naturalist and plant expert for a tour of the preserve. She will point out interesting plants, talk about the geology of the area, point out birds and wildflowers, explain the different processes of a spring fed creek, to name a few. This is a great way to be introduced to the area or to learn more about your backyard!!
9am- 12am June 17, July 8, July 22, August 5, August 19

Silver Creek Art Series
$15/ each or $50 for all four art and writing events. Call ahead to register.
■ Wednesday, June 14 5:30-8:00 p.m. Paper making with native plants and wildflowers.
■ Wednesday, June 21 5:30-8:00p.m. Watercolors. Come sit on the deck of the visitor center, learn how to use watercolors, and try and paint the amazing Silver Creek landscape!
■ Wednesday, June 28 5:30-8:00p.m. Landscape drawing with colored pencil. Learn about the versatility of colored pencil while enjoying the Silver Creek environment!
■ Wednesday, June 28 10am-2 p.m. ‘Writing the Landscape’ a nature writing exploration with author Diane Peavey.

Silver Creek Plant Series
Wednesday, June 7 5:30-7:30p.m
Weed night with University of Idaho weed extension agent, Ron Thaimert. Ron will talk about weeds, new weed threats, and ways to combat the spread of weeds. We will also talk about alternatives to herbicides and innovative techniques for battling weeds.
Saturday, June 10th 9a.m. -12:00
Plant and plant biology walk (and wildflowers, too!). Join Ruth, our on-site plant expert on a walk around the preserve learning about the unique plant communities of Silver Creek.

Saturday July 29th- ‘ A Day at Silver Creek’
Join the Silver Creek staff for a Natural history walk, a plant walk, Bird watching tours, fly-fishing classes, and fly-tying classes. Spend the day with us at Silver Creek!

Wednesday evenings- 5:30-8:00 p.m. Watercolors-- Join the preserve manager and volunteers for an evening of painting on the
visitor center deck. Very casual, free, everyone is welcome.

There are many other events throughout the summer. Please call 788-7910 for additional activities and events.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Opening Day Festivities at Flat Ranch Preserve

Flat Ranch Preserve will offer a barbecue and fly tying demonstrations throughout the day on Saturday, May 27, opening day of fishing season.

Located just 15 miles west of West Yellowstone, Flat Ranch is perfect place to stop on your next trip to Yellowstone National Park or the Henry's Fork.

The Nature Conservancy's Chet Work is predicting the best fishing in several years on Flat Ranch. The preserve is a good place to see wildlife like pronghorn, sandhill crane, curlew and osprey. In the summer, wildflower displays can be excellent.

Flat Ranch is located directly off Highway 20, just north of Macks Inn.

The preserve is part of the Conservancy's efforts to protect important wildlife habitat in the Henry's Lake area. We are working with area ranchers on conservation easements, which protect both the rural economy and wildlife migration paths used by elk, moose, pronghorn and mule deer.

Photo by Chet Work

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Opening Day at Silver Creek Preserve!

The Silver Creek Preserve is open for fishing on Saturday May 27th! We look forward to seeing you this summer. Stop by the visitor center prior to your visit, sign in, and hear about all the great events going on at the Preserve this summer. It is the Preserve's 30th anniversary so we will be celebrating!
May 27th, opening day, we will have a b-b-q from 3:30-7:00 pm. Come by and meet the Silver Creek staff. Everyone is welcome.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Restoration Work at Silver Creek: A Tattered Fly Report

The Tattered Fly, a blog by Idaho fly fisher and conservationist Dan Bachman, reports on this weekend's restoration work at Silver Creek Preserve. Volunteers helped shovel silt and planting bulrush plugs on a tributary of Silver Creek.

The Tattered Fly includes many great photos of the preserve and volunteer work. The preserve hosts many volunteer work days throughout the summer; contact Dayna Smith to sign up.

Photo courtesy of Dan Bachman.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Reports from the Field: Kootenai Days

Steve Grourke of The Nature Conservancy's North Idaho office sends this report from Kootenai Field Days:

We asked them to join us in the field – and they did not disappoint! From May 12-13, The Nature Conservancy and US Fish and Wildlife Service Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge hosted the inaugural Kootenai Field Days in Bonners Ferry. More than 200 participants from Idaho, Montana, Washington and Canada attended a series of events that addressed cultural, historical and natural resource-related issues in the valley.

Justin Petty, Inland Northwest land steward for the Conservancy, kicked the festivities off by hosting a weed awareness day at the Ball Creek Ranch. Natural resource experts from the Bureau of Land Management, Bonner and Boundary County noxious weeds department, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and Natural Resources Conservation Services spoke to a variety of issues from the current state and effects of weeds on the valley to native and introduced biological controls that help manage these invaders. Participants learned from “weed warriors” how to manage weeds in agricultural lands, along riparian areas and through the development and implementation of integrated weed management plans. At the end of the day, a long-time valley resident commented that “This was great! We should do this again next year.” Plans are already in the works.

On Friday night the Refuge hosted a special program – From Contact to Present: The history of the Kootenai Valley. Through the lens of explorer, entrepreneur and cartographer, David Thompson, author Jack Nisbet addressed a packed crowd of more than 85 people at the refuge environmental education center. Speaking to the historical travels of Thompson and his contact with the native tribes, Nisbet painted a picture of the landscape as it existed almost 200 years ago. From tens of thousands of acres of permanent and seasonal wetlands to “back lakes caused by the overflowing of the river,” the valley of 1808 was dramatically different than today. As US Forest Service archeologist Tom Sandberg later pointed out during the presentation, half of the 50,000 –acre valley was considered wetlands in 1890, yet by the 1960s less than 3,000 wetland acres existed. Fortunately, because of the work of the Conservancy, USFWS and its partners the balance of nature is being restored. Today, the valley is home to almost 10,000 wetland acres and migratory and resident bird species again have suitable breeding habitat and cover to survive.

Yet talking about the river and being on the river are two entirely different things. On Saturday, May 13, the 198th anniversary of Thompson’s travel down the river, 35 people participated in a 13-mile historic paddle from Deep Creek to Trout Creek. Led by Jack Nisbet, the Conservancy’s Inland Northwest conservation manager, Robyn Miller and refuge manager, Dianna Ellis, the group set off under sunny skies and with high expectations. Before even launching the armada of canoes and kayaks, the group gasped in awe and wonder seeing a moose swim from river left to right. Along the way the flora and fauna of the river offered photo ops and storied moments for the eager paddlers. From tales of the survival and sustainability of ancient sturgeon to the need to continue riparian and wetland restoration along and within the valley, the group learned about the history of the river as they traveled past the present day Refuge and Ball Creek Ranch.
Upon landing at their final destination, the paddlers were welcomed by the booming sound of black powder and the smell of a campfire set by flint and steel. The Northwest Brigade of the American Mountain Men opened up their spring encampment which they established days before along the banks of the river and adjacent to the recently restored Ball Creek Ranch wetlands. The sights, sounds and smells brought the whole weekend full circle and caused the group to reflect.

Through the lens of Thompson’s first written accounts of the Kootenai we see a native, natural and fully functioning landscape. With sound science, partnership and cooperation between public, private and tribal stakeholders, the Conservancy will continue to restore the valley’s ecological values for future generations of humans and wildlife alike.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Boise Foothills Campfire Programs Begin Tomorrow

Backyard wildlife habitats, predators of the Boise Front and wildland fires are among the topics to be discussed during this season's evening Campfire Programs at the Foothills Learning Center. The free programs begin at 7 p.m. at the Foothills Learning Center, 3188 Sunset Ridge Road, located in Hulls Gulch Reserve. Programs begin on May 16 and run throughout the summer.

The Nature Conservancy helped fund this center's interpretive features, as part of its work in the Boise Foothills.

Friday, May 12, 2006

"Off the Trail" features Henry's Lake

Today on Boise State Radio's "Off the Trail," sponsored in part by The Nature Conservancy, reporter Jyl Hoyt goes to Henry's Lake, an area where the Conservancy has worked with ranchers on conservation easements that protect their livelihood and migration paths for Yellowstone's famous wildlife like elk, mule deer, pronghorn and moose.

"Off the Trail" can be on Boise State Radio every Friday on Boise 91.5 FM, Jackpot 91.3 FM, Sun Valley/Ketchum/Hailey 91.1 FM, Burley 88.5 FM, New Meadows 93.5 FM, Lake Fork 93.5 FM and McCall 90.7 FM.

Out of the coverage area? You can still listen to free podcasts of all "Off the Trail" shows. Photo courtesy S. Vanslow.

International Migratory Bird Day

From the goldfinches on your feeder to the pelicans on the Snake River, from the ducks on every wetland to the burrowing owls in the sagebrush desert, the signs of the spring migration are everywhere to be seen.

International Migratory Bird Day celebrates the journeys of migratory birds between their breeding grounds in North America and their wintering grounds in Mexico, Central and South America.

The Nature Conservancy of Idaho is working to conserve migratory bird habitat, from the Owyhees to the Kootenai River, from Henry's Lake to Silver Creek.

May is a great time to see some of these birds at our preserves. At Silver Creek Preserve, waterfowl like cinnamon teal, widgeons and coots are everywhere, yellow-rumped warblers hop along the brush, harrier hawks glide overhead and red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds fill the air with their calls. Be sure to bring a Silver Creek bird list to record your sightings.

At Flat Ranch Preserve, long-billed curlews, ospreys and sandhill cranes can regularly be spotted. In the summer months, a spotting scope is available at the visitor's center.

Waterfowl of many species are really using the wetlands at Ball Creek Ranch Preserve and nearby Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge. These North Idaho wetlands in the Kootenai Valley provide an important migratory link with the Creston Wetlands in British Columbia.

Happy birding!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Report From the Field: Ball Creek Ranch

Justin Petty, The Nature Conservancy's North Idaho land steward, sends this field report from Ball Creek Ranch Preserve:

Hello Folks-

The last weekend in April we had 11 volunteers from the Conservation Biology Club at the University of Idaho come to Ball Creek Ranch to help plants trees and shrubs in the WRP wetlands. In 2 days they were able to get close to 2000 plants in the ground. We had a lot of fun, and they have expressed a desire to come back in the fall to help with other projects. Halleluiah for volunteers! The birds were grateful too........they were landing in the trees as quick as we could unload them, and before we could even get them planted.

This Friday we will be hosting a Weed Awareness Day at Ball Creek Ranch. The program is as follows:

Mike Gondek w/ NRCS : Seeding following herbicide applications, NRCS programs available to private landowners
Duke Guthrie w/ Boundary County Weed Control & Brad Bluemer w/ Bonner County Weed Control : Boundary County Noxious Weeds and New Invaders, County assistance programs available to private landowners
Scott Soults w/ The Kootenai Tribe : Developing a plan for good pasture management
Doug Evans w/ BLM : Biological control of weeds
Jeff Knetter w/ IDF&G : Integrated Weed Mgt.

These discussions will be followed by a field tour of Ball Creek Ranch, where we'll be identifying weeds, showing likely places to find certain species, and discussing the corresponding treatment methods.

The program will last from 9am to noon and will conclude with a catered lunch. It should be a good time and provide useful information for those in attendance.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Spokesman Review features Ball Creek Ranch

Sunday's Spokane Spokesman-Review featured an article by outdoor writer Rich Landers on The Nature Conservancy's Ball Creek Ranch Preserve, titled "Wet and Wild." As the story reports, the wetlands are filling and the waterfowl are taking full use of them on this preserve, open to the public. The Spokesman-Review also covered the full schedule for the upcoming Kootenai Field Days. Photo by Keith Lazelle.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Silver Creek Weather

Check the weather at Silver Creek Preserve, updated hourly on this independent web site.

The site will include hatch charts and water conditions beginning with the opening of fishing season, May 27.

Bookmark this blog for weekly fishing reports, free classes and more at Silver Creek Preserve this summer.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Zumwalt Prairie Preserve Expands

The Nature Conservancy's Oregon Chapter recently announced the expansion of its Zumwalt Prairie Preserve in northeast Oregon.

Zumwalt Prairie, located near Enterprise, is considered the most extensive intact swath of native bunchgrass prairie in North America. It hosts one of the densest concentrations of breeding birds of prey on the continent, including golden eagles, ferruginous hawks and other raptors that raise their young on abundant ground squirrels thriving among the deep-soiled prairie grasses.

The preserve, with the expansion will now encompass 33,000 acres, the largest privately owned nature preserve in Oregon.

There is a public access trail on the preserve.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

North Idaho Member Reception

The Nature Conservancy of Idaho invites you to a membership gathering at the Coeur d'Alene Cellar's winery. Join Idaho trustees, staff and other Conservancy members for wine, hors d'oeuvres and great conversation. Board chair Elaine French and state director Laura Hubbard will provide an update on the Conservancy's work in Idaho and beyond.

when: Thursday, June 15
5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

where: Coeur d’Alene Cellars
3890 North Schrieber Way
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83815

rsvp: By June 5
preferred by e-mail to
or [208] 676-8176

Into Hells Canyon

Last week, the first of The Nature Conservancy's seasonal weed teams headed afield in western Idaho, to protect Hells Canyon from non-native weeds. These teams are utilizing the latest technology to detect, prevent, map and control weeds in this rugged landscape.

The Conservancy will again be employing digital aerial sketch mapping, which allows staff to map weeds via computer from a helicopter.

This year, seasonal teams lead by West Idaho conservation manager Art Talsma and West Idaho land steward Mike Atchison will be on the ground in Hells Canyon, Garden Creek Ranch Preserve, the Owyhees and other areas of western Idaho.

The team's notes and photos from the field will appear on the blog throughout the summer. Check back frequently.

Photos by Mike Atchison.

Monday, May 01, 2006

News: Nature Conservancy Opposes Forest Service Sale

Conservancy finds that sale could threaten habitat for endangered wildlife

The Nature Conservancy, the world’s leading conservation organization, today submitted comments to the U.S. Forest Service expressing strong opposition to the proposed sale of 200,000 acres of Forest Service lands that had been recommended in President Bush’s 2007 budget proposal.

In a letter to the Forest Service, Conservancy President and CEO Steve McCormick said that the proposed sales could seriously harm wildlife and wild lands that the Conservancy and its partners are striving to conserve, including habitat for rare plant and animal species.

McCormick also opposed the sale because local governments, conservation organizations and private landowners were not given an opportunity to participate in the selection of the parcels and because revenue from the sales would be diverted to balance next year’s budget, rather than used to protect other lands for future generations.

“These lands are important public resources, and they should not be viewed as a disposable asset to finance unrelated, current obligations,” the letter said. “Land sales and land exchanges should be designed to enhance – not harm – the nation’s public lands heritage.”

The sale of Forest Service lands in 35 states was proposed as a method to pay for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, also known as the County Payments program. The Conservancy supports the County Payments program, but believes it should be paid for with general revenues.

In response to the land sale proposal, Conservancy field offices have reviewed hundreds of the land tracts nominated for sale and determined that a substantial portion of these lands provide important habitat for rare species, migratory corridors for wide-ranging birds and mammals and opportunities to coordinate public and private conservation efforts at the landscape scale.

Many of the tracts also include significant cultural sites or are important to recreational users of the national forests.

“Absent a careful, science-based analysis of individual tracts proposed for sale, the Forest Service risks harm to its conservation mission. Many of the parcels identified in the current proposal provide important conservation values and sale of these parcels would result in harm to those values,” the letter said. “In some cases, while parcels appear to be small or isolated, they have significant conservation value, and the harm resulting from their sale would extend beyond the perimeters of the individual tracts.”

The letter was submitted as part of the Forest Service’s public comment period on the sale, which closes on May 1.