The Wildest Place, SBFC’s Fall Newsletter, is here!

The newsletter highlights all of our summer wilderness stewardship accomplishments, welcomes new SBFC staff, and more!

We hope you enjoy reading it!

Outdoor Conversations is SBFC’s presentation and lecture series focused on different aspects of wilderness and the outdoors.

Join SBFC in conversation with splitboard/river guide and filmmaker Sam Thackeray.

In the Spring of 2021, Brian Peters, Jess Asmussen, and Sam Thackeray set off to traverse the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Covering a large part of Central Idaho, the Frank Church totals 2.3 Million Acres. As the largest wilderness area in the lower 48, the Frank Church is the definition of remote, and it’s becoming more so. The trio’s plan is to snowboard and ski from East to West across the expanse of the wilderness and experience a place few have ever had the opportunity to see in this way. Over 16 days the crew covers 130 miles and 67,000 vert, finding some amazing descents, maddening travel conditions, and a lot of time to reflect.

Sam and Brian will introduce the short film they made about their experience, screen the film, and take time for questions and answers after the presentation.

Youth Trail Crew

This was ITA’s third season for our Youth Trail Crew program. Volunteers ages 14-18 came out for seven different projects and cleared 22 miles of trails! Seeing teens experience living and working together in a new, challenging environment, growing connections with each other and the land, has been beyond rewarding.

“It’s really given me unforgettable experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.” Daunika, ITA Youth Trail Crew Volunteer

Video premiere! Check out our new video about our Youth Trail Crew program.

Catharine Beverly-Bishop
Recreation Management Specialist
Forest Service
Boise National Forest
1857 HWY 16
Emmett, ID 83617

GBR Invitation2022-12-07

Trafalgar Square Books

The 37th annual Idaho Horse Expo will be held April 7-9, 2023 at the Ford Idaho Horse Park in Nampa, Idaho. If you are a horse lover of any age, you can’t miss this event. The Expo features internationally known clinicians as well as local clinicians and trainers.

The featured clinicians are Ty Evans, UT and Evan Bonner, Sultan, WA. Ty Evans is conducting a 1 day clinic on Mulemanship prior to the Expo on April 6 in the Coverall Arena.

Idaho Horse Expo will also feature many local clinicians presenting in-hand training, ground training, Ranch Riding,  Jumping, Classical Dressage, etc.

Featured events on Friday, will be the Breed Showcase where 10 breeds of horses will exhibit a freestyle routine and a short explanation about their breed. Following the Breed Showcase will be Friday Fiesta Night, highlighting our Spanish Breeds and the Escaramuza Drill Team.

Back by popular demand will be the Miss Rodeo Idaho and Royalty Fashion Show Saturday afternoon. Meet Miss Rodeo Idaho and many other queens from rodeo courts who are from the region.

Saturday evening will be Saturday Night Horse Fever celebrating Idaho Horses and riders in musical routines and skits. See dancing horses and some of the finest horses in the state.  Following Horse Fever, will be Dueling Disciplines with a Dressage Rider and a Reiner.

Each day in the Main Arena, we will feature Collegiate teams of 3 who will demonstrate their skills in starting untrained colts. This is a challenge that will be judged with the top team receiving special recognition.

There will be over a 100 vendors, so you can shop to your heart’s content. For those who want to better their horsemanship, we have clinics by many knowledgeable local horsemen and women.

Blue Ribbon Private Treaty Horse Sale is back!! Great place to sell or buy a horse where the seller and buyer do the bartering and you can try before you buy.

Stallion Alley will feature a variety of stallions standing in the area.

Kids Activities are always a hit and we will have Breyer Stable Mate Horse painting with a model horse show to follow each day. Stick Horse Activities and races. Easter egg hunt and scavenger hunts all three days. Bouncy horses and many more activities for youngsters and remember Kids 12 and under get in FREE all three days!!!

As for competitions, an ETS (Equestrian Trail Sports) competition will be held on Saturday and a Rodear competition held on Sunday.  For those who are wondering what this is, it is a timed and scored competition involving a cowboy, his horse, his dog and a cow or couple of cows to be driven through an obstacle course. Sunday will be a Special cowboy church service presented by Wade Black!! Hope to see you there!!!  For more information contact Idaho Horse Council at 208-465-5477 or

Idaho Horse Council website:

Idaho Horse Expo website:

26. October 2022 · Comments Off on 2022 Chapter Hours & Miles Summary · Categories: Around The Campfire, BCHI /BCHA

Another Amazing Year

21. October 2022 · Comments Off on John Bush (Updated) · Categories: Around The Campfire, Member Profiles

This past weekend past member of our chapter John Bush passed away.  He was in the Landmark area doing some trail clearing with Joe Williams.  When they got back in camp, John mentioned to Joe that he was feeling very tired and needed to sit down.  Joe said that John appeared to fall asleep and shortly after stopped breathing and died.  John and Jackie were members of our chapter in the early 2000’s.  This is Jackie’s contact information:  Jackie Bush, 6700 Sage Canyon Way, Star, ID  83669

Star, Idaho – John Michael Bush, 69 years old, of Star, Idaho, passed away on October 15, 2022 in the mountains of the Idaho wilderness that he loved.

Mass of Christian burial will be Saturday, October 29, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Benedict Church in Atchison, Kansas, with Fr. Jeremy Heppler, OSB as celebrant. Interment will follow in Mt. Calvary Cemetery. Visitation with the family will be Friday, Oct. 28, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at the Arensberg-Pruett Funeral Home.

John was born on December 23, 1952, in Atchison, Kansas, the son of Francis Miller Bush and Mary Elizabeth (Langan) Bush. He graduated from Maur Hill Prep and then the University of Kansas with his B.S. in Electrical Engineering. He remained an avid Jayhawk his entire life. Following graduation, he departed Kansas for Texas and began his long career in semiconductor design working with leading companies in the burgeoning electronics and computer industries. Though his path never led back for more than visits, John was always a steadfast Kansan and son of Atchison.

He and Mary Louise (Jackie) Bush were united in marriage on April 18, 1981, in Leon Springs, Texas.

John was endlessly curious and always testing or investigating new thoughts. Throughout life, he pursued serious interests in photography, horsemanship, outdoorsmanship, woodworking, gardening, skiing, and snorkeling. He had a flair for repairing machinery and electronics, as well as building and renovation, and never failed to share his talents with those around him. John was also a member and past president of the Backcountry Horsemen of Idaho where he led members on trips deep into the mountains and maintained trails used by all entering the backcountry.

He is preceded in death by his parents and siblings, James “Jim” Bush, Robert “Bob” Bush, Charles “Charlie” Bush, Thomas “Tom” Bush and Dorothy Bush.

John is survived by his wife, Mary Bush, of Star, ID; a daughter, Kathryn L. “Katie” and her spouse, Travis Field, of Seattle, WA; a son, James C. and his spouse, Caitlin Bush, of Olympia, WA; his grandson, Samuel M. Bush; four sisters, Elizabeth Adams, Virginia Lefler, Barbara Bush, Mary Lou Weatherford; and one brother, Richard Bush.

Published by Emmett Messenger Index from Nov. 2 to Nov. 3, 2022.

John’s Wife Jackie

Pictures provided by Ellen Knapp

19. October 2022 · Comments Off on Red Flags of Phishing · Categories: Around The Campfire

Every day, regular people like you lose their hard-earned money to online phishing scams.

Phishing is a type of online scam where criminals make fraudulent emails, phone calls, and texts that appear to come from a legitimate bank. The communication is designed to trick you into entering confidential information (like account numbers, passwords, PINs, or birthdays) into a fake website by clicking on a link, or to tell it to someone imitating your bank on the phone.

Don’t fall for fake. Use these tips from the American Bankers Association to learn how to spot shady texts, emails, and phone calls by knowing the things your bank would never ask.

  • Slow down—think before you act. Acting too quickly when you receive phishing email, text messages, or phone calls can result in unintentionally giving scammers access to your bank account — and your money. Scammers want you to feel confused and rushed, which is always a red flag. Banks will never threaten you into responding or use high-pressure tactics.
  • Never share personal information. Your bank will never ask for your PIN, password, SSN, or one-time login code in a text, email, or phone call. If you receive a message asking for personal information, it’s a scam.
  • Avoid clicking suspicious links. If an email pressures you to click a link — whether it’s to verify your login credentials or make a payment, you can be sure it’s a scam. Banks never ask you to do that.
  • Watch for attachments and typos. Your bank will never send attachments like a PDF in an unexpected email or text. Misspellings and poor grammar are also warning signs of a phishing scam.
  • Be skeptical. In the same way defensive driving prevents car accidents, always treating incoming email as a potential risk will protect you from scams. Fraudulent emails can appear very convincing, using official language and logos, and even similar URLs.
  • Hang up—even if it sounds legit. Whether it’s a scammer impersonating your bank or a real call, stay safe by ending unexpected calls and dialing the number on the back of your bank card instead.

Learn more at, follow #BanksNeverAskThat on social media for quick tips, or check this in-depth guide on how to spot phishing and what to do if you fall prey.

12. October 2022 · Comments Off on PUG 2022 Season Recap · Categories: Around The Campfire, Public Lands


11. October 2022 · Comments Off on 2022 End of Season Potluck – All Welcome! · Categories: Around The Campfire, BCHI /BCHA, Current Events

2022 End of Season Potluck

07. October 2022 · Comments Off on Arctic Grayling · Categories: Around The Campfire

Anna Daly writes: Idaho’s lakes and rivers provide many opportunities for anglers looking to hook something special.

Whether it’s a type of trout or salmon, all have their own unique colors and markings.

However, there is one fish swimming in Idaho’s high-mountain lakes whose beauty stands out from the rest: the Arctic Grayling.

Its sail-like fin that fans out across its back and its vibrant markings make this fish truly a striking catch.

The Arctic Grayling – which is a type of trout – is not native to the state and is a rare find in most places in Idaho. However, they are stocked in several backcountry mountain lakes.

They don’t get very big in Idaho’s cold lakes with the last record fish caught measuring 16.2 inches. According to Idaho Fish and Game, anything over 12 inches is considered a big Arctic Grayling.

To see when and where Idaho Fish and Game has stocked the Arctic Grayling, head to the Idaho Fishing Planner.

In 2020 BCHI assisted Fish & Game in stocking one lake on the western side of the Frank Church

30. September 2022 · Comments Off on Oops, Limb through your window! · Categories: Around The Campfire, Education

Tree Limb through Window September 2022

Cedar Creek Impalement RLS Final

27. September 2022 · Comments Off on USFS – Outreach for Summer 2023 Wild/Trails · Categories: Around The Campfire, Current Events

2023 Trails / Wild Outreach

20. September 2022 · Comments Off on Hawk in a Hat – Howdy Partner · Categories: Around The Campfire

16. September 2022 · Comments Off on ITA invites you to the National Public Lands Day Dinner · Categories: Around The Campfire, Current Events

Join us for a Dutch Oven dinner to celebrate National Public Lands Day at the beautiful ranch of ITA supporters Ken and Virginia Greger. Tickets are $12 each and include Dutch Oven lasagna (vegetarian option available), salad, bread, and dessert. After dinner, our host and cook, Ken Greger, will give a llama packing demonstration with his herd. The best part? There will be baby llamas! Come celebrate our public lands and give back to your trails. The number of tickets are limited so get your spot today! Ticket sales will close Friday, September 23.

Doors open 5:00pm, dinner will be served at 5:30pm.

BYOB: Lemonade and water will be available but feel free to bring your own alcoholic drinks if you’d like.

Location: Ken and Virginia Greger’s Ranch, 2011 S. Luker Rd, Kuna, ID 83634


14. September 2022 · Comments Off on “Sehewoki’I Newenee’an Katete” is Gem County’s new official name for Squaw Butte · Categories: Around The Campfire, Current Events

The U.S. Department of Interior’s Board on Geographic Names has voted to approve replacement names for 650 places across the West, including Idaho, that included the slur “sq—.”

The board voted Thursday to approve the replacement names, including 71 places in Idaho, as part of an effort to remove the term from federal use, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Interior. Department officials said the term is used as an offensive ethnic, racist and sexist slur for Indigenous women.

“I feel a deep obligation to use my platform to ensure that our public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming. That starts with removing racist and derogatory names that have graced federal locations for far too long,” Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland said in a written statement. “I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to prioritize this important work. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”

The vote came after the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force spent months reviewing public comment and recommendations from 70 tribal governments that participated in the process, U.S. Department of Interior officials said. Overall, the task force received more than 1,000 recommendations for name changes, including several different recommendations for some of the same places or features.

The new names are in place effective immediately for federal use, officials said.

In Idaho, the changes included renaming 14 different streams named “Sq— Creek” and giving them new names that include Priest Stream, Chief Eagle Eye Creek, Pia Soko Naokwaide, Yeva Agai Naokwaide and Newe Waippe Naokwaide.

Other examples include replacing the name “Sq— Mountain” for two different mountains, which are now called Willow Spring Mountain and Spring Valley Mountain. Four other mountains named “Sq— Peak” were also renamed Santa Rita Peak, Wheatfield Mountain, Sierra Ancha Peak, and Porcupine Mountain.

The complete list of places with replacement names is available on the U.S. Geographic Survey website.

10. September 2022 · Comments Off on ITA – The Old Saw – Fall 2022 · Categories: Around The Campfire, Work Parties and Projects


09. September 2022 · Comments Off on BCHI – 2022 Officers, Directors & Chairs · Categories: Around The Campfire

02. September 2022 · Comments Off on Essential wild life corridor · Categories: Around The Campfire

The Greater Hart-Sheldon region straddles the Oregon-Nevada border and provides essential habitat for pronghorn, as well as hundreds of other sagebrush-dependent plants and animals. In 2016, the region supported more than 8,000 pronghorn. However, populations have declined since then, with the most recent count at 4,313 animals in 2019.

As information newly published by the U.S. Geological Survey highlights, this landscape is critically important to the future of North America’s “prairie ghost.” ONDA used this GIS data to create the map below, which highlights how much of the migration corridor lacks a strong protective status and how many miles of fencing still cross this corridor.



30. August 2022 · Comments Off on Here’s what the Great American Outdoors Act will bring Idaho · Categories: Around The Campfire, Current Events


Idaho public lands and forests are in line to receive $28 million for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to put toward improvements and upgrades through the first two years of funding from the Great American Outdoors Act.

Enacted in August 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act is a five-year initiative that provides about $1.9 billion per year in federal funding from 2021 to 2025. Funding is split between the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education for projects across the country.

Public lands managers in Idaho say money allocated through the Great American Outdoors Act couldn’t be coming at a better time.

“The biggest impact from the Great American Outdoors Act, for us, is really the ability to improve recreation sites,” Bureau of Land Management Idaho State Director Karen Kelleher told the Idaho Capital Sun in a telephone interview.

“Idaho’s population is growing, and that was supercharged with COVID when a lot more people moved to Idaho and a lot more people discovered the outdoors,” Kelleher said. “The timing of the Great American Outdoors Act has been really fortuitous. We definitely had a significant backlog of work that needed to be done on recreation sites.”

For the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years, the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho has received a total of $11.4 million from the act, said Serena Baker, the BLM’s deputy state director for communications in Idaho. That money should allow the bureau to tackle 75% of its backlog of deferred maintenance at recreation sites, roads and facilities across Idaho.

“We couldn’t normally fund these projects, but it’s allowing us to do bigger projects,” Rod Collins, a deputy state director for the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho said in a phone interview.

Work in the Treasure Valley and beyond

One of the projects allows the BLM to improve the water, sewer and electrical systems at C.J. Strike Reservoir, a popular fishing destination located in Elmore and Owyhee counties that has produced three state record-breaking fish in recent weeks, Idaho News 6 reported.

The bureau will use about $1.6 million from the Great American Outdoors Act to complete repairs at the boat ramp and boat dock and improve parking at Beehive Bend, a popular recreation spot along the Payette River near the town of Horseshoe Bend. Design of the project is scheduled to begin this fall, with repairs to follow.

Great American Outdoors Act funding will also go to road maintenance, campsite improvements and brush clearing at the Wolf Flats Recreation Area east of Idaho Falls. Wolf Flats is a popular, no-fee spot along the Snake River for fishing and camping.

Bureau of Land Management officials said that having five years of funding in the law allows them to focus on the design and engineering of projects in the first couple of years and move into construction and repairs in the remaining years. Projects were chosen from a database of work orders and condition assessment of sites that were prioritized and submitted to Bureau of Land Management headquarters. The amount of funding available allows officials to focus on replacing pieces of Idaho’s outdoors infrastructure that may have come to the end of their lifespan, like water systems, boat ramps or bridges.

“The public will really enjoy the sites more and be able to enjoy them, and we will be in a position where we can maintain them,” Kelleher said.

The Sun has previously reported on some of the Great American Outdoors Act projects, including improvements and upgrades at the National Interagency Fire Center facility adjacent to the Boise Airport.

Meanwhile, officials with the U.S. Forest Service identified $7.7 million worth of approved projects from 2021 and $9.8 million in requested funding and projects for 2022, according to a U.S. Forest Service overview of Idaho project and Intermountain Region press officer Marshall Thompson.

The largest of the Forest Service’s requested 2022 projects proposes spending almost $3.5 million to reconstruct Forest Service Road 214 on the way to Redfish Lake. Another proposed 2022 project aims to spend $2.2 million to improve six campgrounds in the Sage Hen Recreation Area in the Boise National Forest, Emmett Ranger District.

Timelines for completing construction vary from project to project, and some projects will take multiple years to complete.

Projects in the Boise National Forest


  • $75,000 for toilet replacements at the Buck Mountain, Troutdale and Penny Springs Campgrounds in the Boise National Forest, Cascade Ranger District.
  • $160,000 for improvements at the Edna Creek Campground in the Boise National Forest, Idaho City Ranger District.
  • $275,000 for replacing a timber bridge with a new prefabricated steel bridge at the East Fork Burnt Log Creek in the Cascade Ranger District on a popular road that leads to the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.
  • $258,000 for reconstructing the water system at the Idaho City Ranger District’s housing compound used by fire and timber crews and permanent employees.
  • $189,600 to reconstruct the water system at a Boise National Forest, Emmett Ranger District administrative site that also includes a cabin that is available for the public to rent.
  • $275,000 for replacing the bridge Scriver Creek in the Emmett Ranger District with a nail-laminated deck that U.S. Forest Service officials said will improve safety and access.
  • $53,000 for trail maintenance and signs on the Yellow Jacket, 10 Mile and Silver Creek Summit trails in the Boise National Forest.

Total: $1.3 million in approved projects.

  • $58,500 for replacing the water system at the Huckleberry Campground in the Payette National Forest, Council Ranger District.
  • $83,876 for trail maintenance along the South Fork Salmon River Trail  in the Payette National Forest, Krassel Ranger District.
  • $70,945 for rerouting sections of the French Creek and Bear Pete Ridge trails in the Payette National Forest, McCall Ranger District.
  • $167,298 for replacing fire pits, picnic tables, grills, bathrooms and signs at seven developed campgrounds and several primitive campsites in the Krassel Ranger District.
  • $51,800 for replacing picnic tables, fire rings, signs and kiosks at the Last Chance Campground and Hazel Lake Campground in the Payette National Forest, New Meadows Ranger District.
  • $134,650 for rerouting 1.5 miles of the Little Weiser Trail in the Council Ranger District.
  • $269,000 for deferred maintenance and building repairs at the Burgdorf Guard Station in the McCall Ranger District.
  • $400,000 to replace the failed Jenkins Crossing trail bridge in the McCall Ranger District to restore public access to once-popular trails.
  • $95,095 to repair bridges in the Council Ranger District and Weiser Ranger District.

Total: $1.3 million in approved projects.


28. August 2022 · Comments Off on Teens on the Trails – Programs Available · Categories: Around The Campfire

Our ITA Youth Trail Crew Program provides opportunities for youth ages 14-18 to learn about the outdoors while building and maintaining hiking trails in a safe, teamwork-oriented environment.

Students will have the opportunity to live and work together in some of Idaho’s most wild places for a few days to up to a week at a time. Through this experience, they will build skills in teamwork and communication, as well as develop confidence in using traditional tools to perform trail maintenance. Our hope is this experience will inspire teens to become lifelong stewards and voices for their public lands and trails.

Our trips are led by experienced crew leaders who are passionate about the outdoors. These projects allow teens to meet new friends, try new things and explore Idaho’s best outdoor places.

ITA will provide all the meals and supervision for the week. Tents, sleeping bags, and pads are available. Crew leaders will have cell phones/radios in case of emergency.

Contact if you have any questions about our youth projects.


The Pulaski Users Group (PUG) organizes volunteer trips focused on trail maintenance, trail reclamation, and invasive species monitoring. Volunteers receive related training which equips them with the skills and knowledge to complete a variety of trail restoration projects. We aim to inspire community members to be stewards and advocates for our public lands.

We want to acknowledge that we work and live on the traditional lands of the Shoshone-Bannock People. We acknowledge that they have stewarded this land and these waters since time immemorial. We encourage you to check out this map to learn more about whose lands you are on.



19. August 2022 · Comments Off on Four Corners Fires – West Mountain – Aug 22, 2022 (Update) · Categories: Around The Campfire

4-Corners Fire – Aug 18, 2022

Aug 22 Update -1054963

11. July 2022 · Comments Off on Sulphur Creek Pack Support – SBFC · Categories: Around The Campfire, Work Parties and Projects

Join us on this pack support project!

11. July 2022 · Comments Off on Who are these people and where are they? · Categories: Around The Campfire, Work Parties and Projects

The Answer

06. July 2022 · Comments Off on SBFC – Newsletters & Blogs · Categories: Around The Campfire, Current Events

The Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation is a community of wilderness minded and hardworking individuals dedicated to bringing citizens and youth to wilderness to work, live, and play. Since 2006, SBFC has helped steward the 4-million-acre Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, across Idaho and Montana.

02. July 2022 · Comments Off on IWF – June 2022 · Categories: Around The Campfire

Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released a draft report outlining an actionable plan – and associated costs – for removing the lower Snake River dams (LSRDs) and replacing their services. The report clearly shows removing the LSRDs is not only feasible but fiscally responsible to improve the region’s long-term infrastructure and to save Idaho’s iconic salmon and steelhead.  READ MORE

27. May 2022 · Comments Off on Western Riding Club – Equine Education Day · Categories: Around The Campfire, Education

27. May 2022 · Comments Off on lower Snake River dam debate · Categories: Around The Campfire

It seems the lower Snake River dam debate is always one side against the other: fish versus agriculture, hydropower versus alternatives, or “my science” versus “your science”. The question is: Who is actually winning?

We know fish and fish reliant communities aren’t. There are annual discussions about what restrictions will be put in place for fishing: shortened seasons, reduced limits, or entire stretches of water closed to fishing all due to worsening fish returns. Our hatchery system was built specifically to mitigate the loss of harvestable wild salmon and steelhead to the hydropower system, but increasingly we worry if we’ll have enough hatchery fish return to provide minimum broodstock needs, let alone a recreational fishery. Luckily, this year’s spring chinook return is looking better than previous years and is forecasted to be near Idaho’s ten-year average. This is good news, but combining wild and hatchery goals for a healthy and harvestable population set by the Columbia Basin Task Force, we’re forecasted to be about 25% of Idaho’s 217,000 fish goal.

Shippers seem to be making out well, but only because the rest of us pay for it. Wheat is the main commodity shipped through the lower four Snake River dams, about 90% of which is shipped overseas. Our taxpayer dollars currently prop up every barge – the latest estimates are well over $30,000 per barge – to keep river transportation cheap. I’m not saying the dams don’t provide value to those who barge, but it comes at a cost to taxpayers. Our dollars keep shipping cheap, not the barges themselves. Why not take those dollars and use them in a way that will boost the area’s economy through necessary infrastructure upgrades that help fish and support rural river communities at the same time? If we consciously choose a system that has so few winners at everyone else’s expense, then we have a system that is failing us all. If there is a way to provide transportation services for farmers that don’t impact their bottom line and get our fish back – and there is – let’s do that.

Even power consumers aren’t really winning. Much of Idaho’s power comes from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), a federal power marketing administration required to sell energy at cost. BPA is currently about $15 billion in debt, and recently had its borrowing authority more than doubled to accommodate its coming debt growth. This should concern BPA customers, whose rates are slowly rising in an attempt to pay off that debt. Yet another cost is borne by us all. Not to mention 30% of each BPA bill goes towards projects aimed at recovering fish, an effort that simply hasn’t worked.

Our current system clearly has many losers. Don’t we want this to change? Bypassing the lower Snake River dams would cost money, but it wouldn’t be wasted. It could transform the region. The investments for infrastructure, energy, and fish would be a boon for our communities, providing economic diversity and resiliency. The jobs created would give our young people the opportunity to stay here instead of them leaving to make the money necessary to raise and support a family.

Washington state, Oregon and Washington D.C. are currently looking at potentially bypassing the lower Snake River dams. I for one would like to see Idaho’s interests at the table advocating for us, rather than sitting on the sidelines and watching our future be decided by someone else. We need long-term, durable solutions that make everyone whole. I believe this is possible and then, for once, we can all win.

23. May 2022 · Comments Off on Out Horse your Email · Categories: Around The Campfire

Vacation was an ailing concept before the pandemic; covid finished it off. Oh, we still go places, but we never really leave work behind. Whether canoeing, hiking, snorkeling, spelunking or just suntanning, we’re always saddled with answering emails from the office.

Is this writerly chore really inescapable? Neigh. The good people of a small northern nation have a solution: “Let the horses of Iceland reply to your emails while you are on vacation!”

In a gorgeous (and hilarious) public service announcement posted yesterday, the Icelandic tourist bureau offers the services of three equine secretaries:

  • Litla Stjarna: Types fast, but might take a nap.
  • Hrímnir: Assertive. Efficient. Shiny hair.
  • Hekla: Friendly, trained in corporate buzzwords.

The service – “Outhorse Your Email” – reins in all your correspondence and sends it to a coastal field at the foot of snow-capped mountains. There, majestic horses tap out replies to your emails on a giant keyboard. Or sometimes, they just gallop across the keyboard, which I’ve decided is the way I’m going to start responding to certain people’s messages.

Sigríður Dögg Guðmundsdóttir, the head of Visit Iceland, the country’s tourist information bureau, tells me, “The idea, of course, was a bit out there when we first heard this, but we trust the process.” (How Iceland’s horses learned to type emails.) She and her team were responding to surveys that suggest 65 percent of people look daily at their work email even while on vacation. “So we thought, ‘Okay, here’s a problem. Is there something that Iceland can offer to help?’ And so we employed three Icelandic horses to do just that.”

To be honest, they are not particularly articulate writers, and their spelling is worse than mine, but once the horses have responded to all your email, you can also ride them around the countryside. “That,” Guðmundsdóttir adds, “is actually a wonderful way to experience Iceland.”

04. May 2022 · Comments Off on It’s Coming! Most Awesome Yard Sale May 21 2022 · Categories: Around The Campfire, Current Events

In years past, the Messenger Index has run a small article to help promote the annual fund raiser yard sale benefitting Squaw Butte Back Country Horsemen (SBBCH), a local volunteer organization.

Below is the yard sale information. Thank you.

It’s Coming! Most Awesome Yard Sale May 21 2022
Saturday May 21 you just may find that treasure you have been searching for.

Squaw Butte Back Country Horsemen (SBBCH) will be hosting their Annual Most Awesome Yard Sale fundraiser on Saturday May 21 at the Gem County Fairgrounds Emmett Idaho. An awesome variety of gently used items have been procured from around the county and from the SBBCH members themselves. Fabulous finds will include furniture, household items, clothing, books, children’s items, outdoor gear, tools, craft items, horse stuff, and more.
There is sure to be that treasure you have been searching for.

Doors open at 8 AM. Find those treasures and we will make them yours.

Our annual yard sale is a successful fundraiser and the proceeds help defer the expenses the chapter incurs in supporting its mission to perpetuate the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America’s back country and wilderness. These expenses include chainsaw maintenance, tools purchases, Wilderness First Aid & CPR training, maintaining chapter human and equine first aid kits, and providing certified weed free hay at project work weekends.

The Squaw Butte chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Idaho works to insure that public lands remain open to recreational stock use and assists the various government and private agencies in their maintenance and management of those resources.

Contact information for SBBCH is:
President: Heather Donesky
Phone: 530-615-1326

16. April 2022 · Comments Off on USFS – Opportunities of Young People · Categories: Around The Campfire, Current Events


21st Century Conservation Service Corps

The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps puts thousands of young people, veterans and emerging professionals to strengthen America’s infrastructure, boost local economies, and modernize the way government works. The 21CSC initiative supports partner organizations and service, training, education and employment opportunities for young people to learn and work on lands, waterways, and cultural heritage sites across the country. 21CSC includes Public Lands Corps, a work and education program for young people and veterans. Please contact your local Forest Service unit to learn more about how 21CSC partnerships work.

Youth Conservation Corps

The Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is an exciting summer youth employment program that engages teenagers, ages 15 to 18, in meaningful work experiences on forest lands and prairies, national parks, wildlife refuges, and fish hatcheries.

Resource Assistants Program

The Resource Assistants Program is a rigorous, immersive work and learning experience for emerging professionals interested in conservation and/or natural and cultural resources, environmental management, research and development, and other career opportunities with federal land and water management agencies.


Pathways Programs provide paid employment opportunities with the Federal government for high school students,
undergraduates, post-graduates and recent graduates:

  • Internship Program – Opportunities for students to explore Federal careers while still in school, Students may
    be hired on a temporary basis for up to one year (NTE Intern) or; for an indefinite period (Indefinite Intern).
  • Recent Graduates Program – Available to individuals who have completed qualifying degree or certificate
    programs within the previous two years. Qualified veterans may have an extended application period due
    to military service.
  • Presidential Management Fellows Program – For individuals who have completed an  advanced degree
    within the past two years.

Job Corps

Job Corps is a residential education and career training program for qualifying young people ages 16 through 24. Job Corps members learn a marketable skill, may earn a high school diploma or GED, make lifelong connections, and learn citizen stewardship values  while succeeding in today’s demanding workforce. Maximum age limits may be waived if an applicant has a documented disability.

Related blogs:

VSReports Portal Training (FS Partners)

Thank you for joining us yesterday for our VSReports Portal training for FS Partners. Attached please find a copy of the presentation. The recording has been posted on our SharePoint site: VSReports Portal Training (FS Partners)-20220414_110234-Meeting Recording.mp4 or you can also watch it here:

We are working on a user manual and a fact sheet to provide more information about the VSReports Portal. Finally, we are still looking for volunteers to assist with the soft launch of the application, if you are interested in participating, please email us at

20220414_VSPortal_PartnerTraining v2

04. April 2022 · Comments Off on The Appaloosa is Idaho’s state horse · Categories: Around The Campfire

Anna Daly writes: The Appaloosa was named Idaho’s state horse for the role it played in the state’s history. In the 1700s, the Nez Perce tribe first started breeding the horse, which provided the tribe with more mobility and was used for hunting and fishing.

“The Nez Perce tribe became excellent horsemen and breeders, creating large herds renowned for their strength, intelligence, and beauty,” the Appaloosa Horse Club website notes. The tribe was known throughout the Northwest for their hunting skills and craftsmanship. These skills allowed the Nez Perce to trade for necessary goods and services.

In the mid-1800s, settlers flooded the Nez Perce reservation – leading to the Nez Perce War of 1877. According to the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office, the Appaloosa horses helped the non-treaty Nez Perce, under the guidance of Chief Joseph, elude the U.S. Calvary for several months.

Settlers referred to the tribe’s horses as “a Palouse horse” in reference to the Palouse River in north-central Idaho. Eventually, the name evolved, becoming “Palousey”, then “Appalousey” and finally “Appaloosa”.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, more interest in the breed gradually began to grow as Appaloosas began appearing in Western roundups and rodeos – according to the Appaloosa Horse Club. The club, which was charted in 1938, works to preserve and improve the Appaloosa breed. Headquartered in Moscow today, it’s one of the leading equine breed registries in the world – according to its website.

On March 25, 1975, Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus signed a bill naming the Appaloosa as the state horse.

Today, you can learn more about the state’s horse by visiting the Appaloosa Museum and Heritage Center in Moscow.

23. March 2022 · Comments Off on Idaho – Scenic & Historic Byways · Categories: Around The Campfire

Idaho Scenic Byways Brochure.pdf

12. March 2022 · Comments Off on Man injured after getting charged by moose, Idaho Fish and Game says · Categories: Around The Campfire

A hiker was injured after he and his dog were charged by a moose south of Pocatello earlier this week.

Idaho Fish and Game says the man was on the Gibson Jack trail in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest Wednesday morning when the incident occurred. The hiker says he was unaware of the moose when it charged him from behind.

“The moose stomped him two or three times before withdrawing,” Fish and Game says.

The man was able to hike out to safety.

Authorities say conflicts with moose are pretty rate, but the animals can be defensive if they are startled.

Here are some tips from Fish and Game if you do encounter a moose.

  • Keep your distance, at least three car lengths between you and the animal. Never approach a moose, especially a female with her young.
  • If recreating with dogs, maintain control of your pets with leashes and don’t allow them to chase moose or other wildlife.
  • A moose will often bluff by pawing the ground and licking its lips. If it lowers its ears, a charge is likely forthcoming!
  • If a moose charges, run. Try to keep a tree or other object between you and the moose, or climb a tree if necessary.
  • If you find yourself on the ground, curl in a ball and do your best to protect your face and head. Try not to make noise. Moose charge because they perceive you as a threat. If you are curled up on the ground quietly, you will likely appear less threatening.
  • Discharging a can of bear spray may also deter a charging moose.
  • If you have any questions about recreating around wildlife or if you have a wildlife encounter to report in southeast Idaho, please contact the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at 208-232-4703.
10. March 2022 · Comments Off on Expect delays on Highway 55 · Categories: Around The Campfire

The Idaho Transportation Department is resuming construction on SH-55 between Smiths Ferry and the Rainbow Bridge on March 14. The stretch of highway will be reduced to one-way alternating traffic. Drivers should anticipate 15-minute delays.

In mid-April, ITD will begin four-hour closures from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Construction on Highway 55 near Smiths Ferry has been ongoing since September 2020. Crews are working to widen shoulders, install guardrails, and minimize roadway curves.

The project area has been the site of three rockslides. In January 2021, two rockslides closed the roadway for about three weeks. In January 2022, another rockslide closed the road for several days.

“We are going into spring with lessons learned from last year,” said Jason Brinkman, ITD engineering manager. “We have spent the past winter working with geotechnical experts and the project team to change designs based on new information gathered after studying the areas where slides occurred.”

The spring construction schedule is expected to last through May.

03. March 2022 · Comments Off on Local event – Sweet, ID · Categories: Around The Campfire

18. February 2022 · Comments Off on Supply Checklist and Emergency Preparation Resource Guide · Categories: Around The Campfire

Heading out for a hike or setting up camp in your favorite national forest are both great ways to explore nature, connect with friends and family, and get a little respite from your daily life. From local excursions to mountainous journeys, preparation is key. Even a short day hike close to home could require some extra supplies.

Equipment and gear, first aid kits, food, and water are just a few of the necessities every camper, hiker, or backpacker should have. Whether your trip goes as planned or you’re thrown off course, with the right supplies there is nothing to worry about. Gear up with the best outdoor recreation hats, the tools and technologies to keep safe, and the right clothes to stay warm and dry.  READ MORE

18. February 2022 · Comments Off on Small-Scale Solar for Trailer or Boat · Categories: Around The Campfire


14. February 2022 · Comments Off on Pulaski Users Group 2021 Annual Report · Categories: Around The Campfire, Public Lands


01. February 2022 · Comments Off on Bright Ideas – Embroidery – Emmett, ID · Categories: Around The Campfire


30. January 2022 · Comments Off on (IDPR) – Non-Motorized Summits & Activities · Categories: Around The Campfire, Current Events

The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR) hosted three (3) summits to discuss issues and solutions pertaining to non-motorized trail recreation in Idaho. The discussions were held in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls. Below are the meeting handouts and minutes from each location. The open discussions explored all topics pertaining to non-motorized trail recreation in Idaho and ideas for solving the non-motorized trail funding gap.

Boise – February 11, 2016

Boise, January 11, 2017

A meeting was held January 11, 2017 to share results of the 2016 summits and to organize a leadership team, willing to take suggestions and strategies through the next very important steps. Download the meeting materials.

Summit Attendees

A complete list of summit attendees is available for download here.

Next Steps – Use collective report and results from statewide summits to answer the following:

  1. Is there a need to address non-motorized trail maintenance in Idaho?
  2. Is there enough support statewide to address non-motorized trail maintenance and related funding in Idaho?
  3. Who will work together to address the need?
  4. What does addressing the need look like?
  5. What are the necessary actions / future next steps?

Want to take a leadership role? Have questions?

If you have questions, would like to lead in next steps, or were unable to attend a summit in your area, you can share your thoughts and ideas via email:

IDPR Activities

The 1,311-mile Idaho Centennial Trail (ICT) weaves through the most scenic portions of Idaho’s wild country, from high desert canyonlands in southern Idaho to wet mountain forests in North Idaho.

Designated the official state trail during Idaho’s Centennial year in 1990, the southern portion of the trail begins at 6,000 feet near Murphy Hot Springs on the Idaho/Nevada border.  Heading north, the trail descends to 2,500 feet at the Snake River near Glenns Ferry. The trail yo-yos up and down through the mountains of Central Idaho between 3,000 and 9,000 feet. At its low point (1,900 feet above sea level) the trail skirts the Selway River near the Moose Creek Guard Station then climbs again to high points up to 6,000 feet in the Cabinet and Selkirk Mountains as the trail approaches the northern boundary.

Idaho offers some of the most pristine wilderness areas in the lower 48 states. Follow a trail through 6,000 foot river canyons, hike to crystal alpine lakes or jagged peaks, or find solitude on thousands of miles of hiking trails in Idaho’s designated wilderness areas, two of which (the Frank Church and Selway Bitteroot Wilderness areas) are the largest in the lower 48 states. Some of the most popular wilderness areas for hiking include:

Another good tool to find information about Wilderness Areas in Idaho is

WHY Trails provide access to Idaho. Trails are part of Idaho’s recreation heritage, providing paths to camping, fishing and the wild places that make the Gem State great. We already have one of the most effective motorized trail maintenance programs in the country, supported by user fees. But the needed resources to maintain trails for hiking, biking and horse riding are lacking. And without adequate maintenance and improvements, access to some non-motorized trails will be lost.

The stickers are now available in person at:

  • REI in Boise
  • JD’s Bodega in Boise
  • IDPR HQ Office in Boise
  • George’s Cycles (both Boise locations)
  • Hyperspud Sports in Moscow
  • Idaho Mountain Trading in Idaho Falls
  • IDPR East Region Office in Idaho Falls
  • IDPR North Region Office in Coeur d’Alene
  • Massacre Rocks State Park in American Falls
  • Winchester Lake State Park in Winchester
  • Bruneau Dunes State Park in Bruneau
  • Lake Walcott State Park in Rupert
  • Hells Gate State Park in Lewiston
  • Ponderosa State Park in McCall
  • Heyburn State Park in Plummer
  • Dworshak State Park in Orofino
  • Farragut State Park in Athol
  • Lake Cascade State Park in Cascade


18. January 2022 · Comments Off on The powerful, elusive animal roaming Idaho’s forests · Categories: Around The Campfire

Inside the powerful, elusive animal roaming Idaho’s forests

The wolverine is an animal roaming Idaho that you’ve probably never seen – but you might have wondered, ‘what are they, exactly?’

Only 300 are estimated to be left in the lower 48 – mostly in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. It’s also the mascot of several Idaho schools including Wood River Valley High School in Hailey.  READ MORE

North American Wolverine

The North American wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus) is a medium-sized, solitary carnivore adapted for digging, climbing, and traveling long distances in deep snow during the winter. Since the wolverine is a highly elusive creature, the 2018 Species Status Assessment (SSA) mapped the current potential extent of occurrence for the North American wolverine spanning through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, and Canada. As mentioned in the SSA, the wolverine occupies a variety of habitats including Arctic tundra, subarctic-alpine tundra, boreal forest, mixed forest, redwood forest, and coniferous forest.

11. January 2022 · Comments Off on NWSA Webinar – Stock use rule · Categories: Around The Campfire, Public Lands

Stock use rules in BLM and USFS-managed wilderness.

One of the most common categories of rules in wilderness is rules associated with stock use. Stock rules can include feed requirements, party size limits, camping setbacks from water and/or trails, grazing restrictions, as well as stock restrictions to certain trails or outright prohibition of stock. This research describes the frequency of stock rules in wilderness areas managed by the BLM and USFS. Additionally, the differences associated with the rules that are included in Wilderness Character reports as well as how they are weighted are also explored.

C. “Griff” Griff is a Professor in the Biology Department at Grand Valley State University. Her research focuses on unconfined recreation in the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Randy Rasmussen, Public Lands Policy Expert for the Back Country Horsemen of America will also participate in this discussion with a horseman’s perspective.

National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance


One of the most common categories of rules in wilderness is rules associated with stock use. Stock rules can include feed requirements, party size limits, camping setbacks from water and/or trails, grazing restrictions, as well as stock restrictions to certain trails or outright prohibition of stock. This research describes the frequency of stock rules in wilderness areas managed by the BLM and USFS. Additionally, the differences associated with the rules that are included in Wilderness Character reports as well as how they are weighted are also explored.

C. “Griff” Griff is a Professor in the Biology Department at Grand Valley State University. Her research focuses on unconfined recreation in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Randy Rasmussen, Public Lands Policy Expert for the Back Country Horsemen of America will also participate in this discussion with a horseman’s perspective.

11. January 2022 · Comments Off on Wilderness Connect – a valuable resource · Categories: Around The Campfire, Education, Public Lands

Wilderness Connect Link

Contact Lisa Ronald if you have a question.

09. January 2022 · Comments Off on AirFlare Rescue App · Categories: Around The Campfire, Education

This App will not replace a satellite beacon service rescue device like inReach or Spot, but is a very useful low cost tool that should be part of every back country riders tool kit.


04. January 2022 · Comments Off on ITA – Trail Talks · Categories: Around The Campfire, Current Events, Education

16. December 2021 · Comments Off on Senate Energy & Natural Resources Legislation Hearing 12-02-21 · Categories: Around The Campfire, Public Lands

PDF: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Outdoor Recreation Legislation Hearing 12-2-21

08. December 2021 · Comments Off on Trail Meister Christmas · Categories: Around The Campfire





05. December 2021 · Comments Off on Val Johnson – Visionary and founder of Back Country Horseman of America · Categories: Around The Campfire, Member Profiles

Val Baker Jonhson, husband, father, brother, friend, grandfather, packer, mule-man, teacher, and political scientist passed away Friday morning, November 12, 2021, at Grace Assisted Living in Twin Falls, Idaho with his family by his side.

Val was born in Nampa, Idaho on March 6, 1941, to Marie Baker and Lafe Gwilliam Johnson. He was raised in Cascade and joined by sister Sharon and later, brother Joe. Being older, Val was their caregiver and backbone of the family for many years. As a youngster, he traveled to the backcountry with his dad, uncles, grandpa, and grandma to the Snowshoe Cabin area, many summers herding sheep.

Val graduated from Cascade High School in 1959 and went to Brigham Young University that fall. The second semester he tried the University of Idaho but did not like beer, so transferred back to BYU and graduated in 1963 with a degree in Political Science. Figuring he would get drafted, he enrolled in the US Air Force Officer Training School in San Antonio, Texas in November of 1963. Thereafter, he was assigned to Strategic Air Command (SAC) HQs at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska as a 2nd Lt. Photo Intelligence Officer. It was here that he met Stephen P. Mealey with whom he would later partner and run an outfitting and guide business in Salmon. Val was sent to Vietnam from December 1965 until December 1966. Upon his return, in his new blue GTO with white leather interior, he made it to Offutt AFB for a New Year’s Eve party where he first met Sara Lee McConnell, also an AF Intelligence Officer.

Val and Sara were married on June 9, 1967, at the Offutt AFB Chapel. Their USAF obligations were met within two weeks of each other in February of 1968 at which time they moved to Salmon, Idaho, and with Steve Mealey, started Nez Perce Outfitters and Guides. Big-game hunting and summer float and pack trips were the results. Val and Sara bought 120 acres on the Salmon River, which was ideal for keeping pack string animals and later Hereford cows and pigs. Val and Steve sold the outfitting business in 1971 and Val opted to go to Idaho State University to get his teaching certificate in Social Studies. He kept the float business for a few years and continued his many backcountry explorations.

Daughters Laurie and Suzie were born in 1968 and 1969, respectively, and they all lived in the old log house. The pastures were irrigated via ditches from a pipeline just south along the Salmon River. Wheel lines were added when the kids were gone! In 1971, they built a house east above the highway, and Erik came along in 1974.

For the 25+ years that Val taught at Salmon High School, his voice rang through the hallways. The relationships that he developed with students and faculty went beyond the classroom and continued throughout his life.

In 1978, Val was instrumental in joining three Montana state chapters of Back Country Horsemen, with a newly formed Salmon River Back Country Horsemen, the first in Idaho. Val, Dave Couch, and Richard Smith were the visionaries for the future Back Country Horseman of America. Now in 2021, there are 212+ chapters in 32 states with roughly 13,000 members throughout the US and Canada.

Val’s extreme love of the backcountry and his mules were part of his DNA. His favorite mule, Reuben, carried him thousands of miles and still carries his grandchildren today. He shared his appreciation of mules, hunting, and the backcountry with his children and grandchildren. Lick Creek hunting camp and fellow riding companion stories abound to this day.

From plaza backgammon games in Turkey, travel to India, visiting Suzie wherever she was stationed, 30 days with Cole in South Africa, rodeoing with Erik, and attending high school sports with grandchildren, Val so enjoyed seeing different places and varied cultures. In 2009, Val and Sara purchased a second home in Arizona, where his pace slowed to the desert and warmer climate.

Val is survived by wife Sara of 54 years; daughter Laura Marie (Bill) Lickley of Jerome, Idaho, grandchildren Valene Marie Lickley and Cole Johnson (Anna) Lickley; daughter Suzanna Kay Hardy and grandsons Andrew Johnson Hardy and Kyle William Hardy; and son Erik McConnell Johnson of Eltopia, Washington, and grandchildren Tiegan Grace, Tessa Faith, and Traver Imes Johnson. He is also survived by his sister Sharon (Joe) Stippich of Weiser and half-brother Joe (Marla) Worthington of Red Oak, Iowa.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Salmon Public Library or your favorite educational or outdoor charity in memory of Val.

BCHA Announces 2012 Legacy Award Winner

Back Country Horsemen of America leads the nationwide effort to preserve trails for horse use, not only for today’s equestrians, but also for tomorrow’s. They seek to leave an inheritance to future generations; a legacy of responsible enjoyment of America’s wild lands the way our forefathers did: by horseback.

With that goal in mind, Back Country Horsemen of America selects an individual member each year whose numerous contributions, made over many years of dedicated membership, exemplify their mission and values. In 2012, BCHA chose Val B. Johnson of the Salmon River Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Idaho.

There From the Start

Val was an organizing founder of Salmon River Back Country Horsemen in Idaho in 1978, the fourth group in the original BCH organization, and the first outside of Montana. Val joined the presidents of the three Montana groups (the Flathead, Missoula, and Bitterroot BCH), to outline a proposal for uniting the existing groups into a formal organization. The presidents presented their plan at the first BCH annual convention in Kalispell, Montana, on March 17 and 18, 1979.

That weekend, Back Country Horsemen was born, with stated purposes that Val helped draft: 1) to perpetuate the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America’s back country and wilderness; 2) to work to ensure that public lands remain open to recreational stock use; 3) to assist the agencies responsible for the management of public lands; and 4) to educate, encourage and solicit active participation in the wise and sustaining use of the back country resource by horsemen and the general public commensurate with our heritage. Over the years, slight updates were made, and a fifth was added: to foster and encourage the formation of new state Back Country Horsemen organizations.

In March, 1983, Val was elected Vice Chairman of Back Country Horsemen. He took the Chairman’s seat a year later, with the goal of affiliating with Washington Back Country Horsemen and the High Sierra Stock Users Association of California. Val was also very involved in the drafting of the BCHA constitution, which was adopted in 1986 by representatives of the groups in Montana, Idaho, Washington, and California. The organization officially became Back Country Horsemen of America.

In 1989 and 1990, Val was again elected Chairman. He served on the BCHA National Board of Directors through 1991, and again from 1999 until 2011. Val was also Chairman of the Visions Committee for a number of years, and the unofficial historical and constitutional watchdog.

Many Roles of Service

Born in Nampa, Idaho, and raised in Cascade, Val spent his early years with his father and grandfather at Snowshoe Cabin at the head of Pistol Creek in the Idaho Primitive Area. After college in Utah, he worked one year as the Sulphur Creek Patrolman on the Landmark District of the Boise National Forest. That fall, he attended Officer Training School and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He served in Vietnam from December 1965 to December 1966 as an intelligence officer.

Upon returning from Vietnam in 1967, he and a fellow officer from Oregon bought an outfitting and guiding business, offering big game hunts and summer float and pack trips out of Salmon. They sold it in 1971, but retained the summer float and pack trip portion of the business. After earning a teaching certificate, Val began teaching social studies in the Salmon High School in 1972.

Driven by his love for the former Idaho and Salmon River Breaks Primitive Areas, along with the Middle and Main Salmon Rivers, Val became involved with the management of those areas, and eventually became dedicated to promoting the use of horses and mules on public lands.

About Back Country Horsemen of America

Back Country Horsemen of America commends Val B. Johnson of the Salmon River Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Idaho for his outstanding example of commitment and dedication to the vision and principles of BCHA. They encourage horsemen from coast to coast to allow his accomplishments to be an inspiration and encouragement to achieve their goals for protecting our right to ride horses on public lands.

BCHA is a non-profit corporation made up of state organizations, affiliates, and at-large members. Their efforts have brought about positive changes regarding the use of horses and stock in the wilderness and public lands.


23. November 2021 · Comments Off on Sawtooth Society – 2021 Year in Review · Categories: Around The Campfire

Sawtooth Society-2021 year in review