Posts Tagged ‘middle-fork’

Celebrating Idahos Payette River


By Zimo – Idaho Statesman Edition Date: 07/22/07 Link is HERE

The weather was blasting past 100 degrees and the parking lot for the whitewater run on the Main Payette River at Banks was overflowing with trucks, cars, boat trailers and buses.
The smell of sunscreen was thick as throngs of tanned, swimsuit-clad river runners carried rafts and kayaks to the river. It was a circus, but a good circus.
That’s because thousands were enjoying the cool waters of the Payette River and the bouncing rapids along the seven-mile run from Banks to Beehive Bend last weekend, as they have all summer.
It’s estimated that 60,000 to 100,000 people float the North, Main and South forks of the Payette River each year.
Stop by the Banks or Beehive parking lots along Idaho 55 on a hot weekend, and you’ll realize what an incredible river resource we have less than an hour from Boise.
There aren’t many towns with Class III (intermediate), Class IV (advanced) and Class V (super expert) rivers so close. Some kayakers back East drive days to get to a river. We drive minutes.
The river system isn’t used by only boaters. Swimmers, picnickers, campers and anglers also enjoy it. The Banks Beach, south of Banks, looks like Coney Island on weekends.
But think about this for a moment. The incredible resource we know as the Payette River might not be here today if it weren’t for the efforts of conservationists and whitewater boaters who fought to keep dams off the river system.
The threats started almost 30 years ago. With that in mind, there’s a party to celebrate the Payette River, from 6 to 9 p.m. July 30, at Idaho River Sports, 3100 Pleasanton Ave. A suggested donation of $5 includes barbecue and a drink.
Here’s a quick history. The onslaught on the Payette River system started with a proposed hydropower project on the North Fork in 1978. The Idaho Whitewater Association was soon formed to fight the project.
Luckily, the project was withdrawn in the early 1980s because of public opinion, changes in the energy market and opposition from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.
But another attack came in 1986 with a proposal to dam the North Fork.
Damming the North Fork would have been a disaster because it is one of the most famous Class V boating stretches in the country.
It also supplies water for the Class III fun stretch from Banks to Beehive Bend on the Main Payette.
There was another threat to the Payette River system back in the late ’70s and early ’80s when people began talking about putting a dam on the South Fork in the beautiful Canyon stretch between Garden Valley and Lowman.
Can you imagine if that stretch, which also is an incredibly popular whitewater run, today was under a warm, stagnant, silty reservoir? Today, its waters run cold and clear.
The Payette River system is a unique resource because four forks of the river provide different river-running experiences.
Here’s a little geography. The North and South forks of the Payette come together at Banks and form the Main Payette River. There’s another section, the Middle Fork, which flows through the Crouch area and joins the South Fork. A section of the Middle Fork is popular for easy canoeing.
Anyway, threats to the North Fork also spawned another conservation group called the Friends of the Payette.
Hundreds of volunteers worked untold hours fighting for a free-flowing Payette. They hit the halls of the state legislature, went to Congress, lobbied the Idaho Water Resource Board and also took to the streets.
In the early ’90s, they succeeded in getting protection for the North Fork Payette, the South Fork Payette from the Sawtooth National Recreation Area to Banks and the Main Payette from Banks to Beehive Bend.
In 1999, a bill proposed by the Idaho Water Resource Board to protect the Payette River was adopted by the Idaho Legislature.
As a result of the fight for the Payette, another organization was spawned. It is Idaho Rivers United, which is a statewide river conservation organization.
Anyway, when all the smoke cleared in the late ’90s, the rivers we know and love were protected from dams.
“It was a tremendous resource that we almost lost,” said Bill Sedivy executive director of Idaho Rivers United.
It doesn’t mean that friends and lovers of the Payette should relax.
The North, South and Main forks of the Payette are state-protected rivers, and short-sighted lawmakers could come up with a hair-brained scheme to reverse the decision if the energy market were to change and the price was right.
But for now, thanks to all those who fought to keep the Payette River system the way it is today.
Party on!

Road open to Boundary Creek


Idaho Statesman – Edition Date: 05/15/07
The road to Boundary Creek, the launch site of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, is open. The U.S. Forest Service send out an e-mail alerting river outfitters.

The road, which is accessible through Bear Valley, is the main route to the launch site on Idaho’s famous Middle Fork in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. When the road is closed by snow in spring, river runners have to run Marsh Creek off Idaho 21. Marsh Creek is a rocky, log-strewn creek, which is a tributary of the Middle Fork.
Boundary Creek is reached by taking the forest road to Bear Valley off Idaho 21 between Lowman and Stanley.

Temporary Camps for Middle Fork Floaters


Idaho Statesman – Edition Date: 05/11/07 Here’s the latest news on the logjam at Pistol Creek on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

The U.S. Forest Service said today that river runners, who are choosing to launch on the river above the logjam, are experiencing problems because of the lack of approved campsites in the Pistol Creek area, where the logjam is located. Normally, there are only a limited number of campsites on the whole length of the wilderness river, and they are in established places.
To address the problem, the federal agency will establish several temporary campsites in the area of the logjam. These additional camps will allow floaters the ability to camp near the logjam as they portage around it.
River rangers will be stationed at the Dolly Lake campsite upstream to contact floaters prior to reaching the logjam, and near the logjam site itself, to provide detailed information on the temporary camp locations.
Since it takes additional time to portage around the logjam, the Forest Service will authorize an additional day on the river to any group that requests it in advance. The standard fees will be applied for this additional day, the agency said.
These temporary measures will be in place as long as needed and will be modified, the agency said. The Forest Service said it will not clear the logjam.
The logjam is blocking the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in the same place as one last July. The Forest Service dynamited the logjam last summer because several hundred whitewater boaters were stranded upstream.

U.S. Forest Service will not clear logjam


April 30 — Zimo: By Zimo – Idaho Statesman Edition Date: 04/30/07
It doesn’t sound like the U.S. Forest Service will be going into the Middle Fork of the Salmon River to clear logjams. At least that’s the most recent news from the agency.

The Forest Service issued a press release saying that the Salmon-Challis National Forest will not be clearing obstacles from the rivers in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness to assure passage for boaters.
“It’s springtime on the rivers of Central Idaho, including the Middle Fork of the Salmon and the Main Salmon River. The Salmon-Challis National Forest has been getting reports from boaters that there are pileups of logs and debris in the Middle Fork,” the agency said.
Last week the Idaho Statesman broke the news that there was a logjam at Pistol Creek Rapids again. It was in the same spot as a logjam last summer, which stranded hundreds of boaters. The Forest Service blasted that logjam.
“It is important to remember that the Middle Fork is within the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and is designated a Wild River under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. What that means is that the Forest Service is obligated to manage the Middle Fork for its wild character,” the agency said.
“It is the responsibility of every boater to be aware of conditions on the rivers and take appropriate precautions including being heads-up and scouting the rivers. It may mean portaging or lining your boats around hazards,” the Forest Service said.
From the photos of the Pistol Creek logjam last week, portaging and lining boats is going to be a pretty difficult job.