People from around the state and a variety of viewpoints participated in person and online in the Idaho Wildlife Summit over the weekend of August 24-26.
More than 500 people participated in person. Many others participated online; more than 3,000 logged on to watch the streaming video. The list of those tuning in online spanned the globe, with people logging in from across the United States and countries that included the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Hungary.
Featured speaker Shane Mahoney, of Newfoundland, Canada, praised Fish and Game for taking on the challenge of bringing together the diverse interests in wildlife conservation - people who have a passion for wildlife and conservation in common.
"I'd rather have a world with people who are so vitally concerned with wildlife that they fight amongst each other, than a world with people who don't give damn," Mahoney said during his presentation Saturday, August 25.
The entire three-day event was recorded. Video is available on the Fish and Game website arranged by presentations and activities, such as individual speakers and the Idaho CafŽ group discussion session.
In June, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter appointed two new members to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.
Joan Hurlock of Buhl and Will Naillon of Challis began four-year terms July 1, but they must be confirmed by the Idaho Senate when it convenes in January 2013.
Hurlock succeeds the outgoing Commissioner Wayne Wright of Twin Falls, representing the Magic Valley.
Hurlock, the daughter of a game warden, is a former forensic chemist for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' Explosives and Arson Unit, and a former member of the United States Capitol Police in Washington, D.C. She has owned and operated The Body Works fitness center in Buhl since 2002 and has been active in various civic, business, education and sportsman's organizations in the Magic Valley.
Naillon succeeds the outgoing Commissioner Gary Power of Salmon, representing the Salmon Region.
Naillon, a Salmon native and fifth-generation Custer County miner, has worked for Hecla Mining Co.'s Grouse Creek Unit for 18 years - most recently as an environmental operations technician. He has been active in hunting, fishing, trapping, hunter and trapper education, and is a member of the Boone and Crockett Club, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Central Idaho Rod and Gun Club.
Medal of Honor
In May, Idaho Fish and Game's Paul Alexander was awarded the Idaho Medal of Honor for saving the life of a man whose car went into Black Canyon Reservoir.
While on patrol along the reservoir a little after 5 p.m. on April 15, 2011, Alexander, a senior conservation officer, saw a vehicle in the water.
When he turned around to investigate, the vehicle was completely submerged and the driver was struggling to swim to shore. After the man had gone under a third time, Alexander dove into the 40-degree water and swam 30 yards to pull him back to the surface and to safety.
Alexander was one of 10 peace officers and two firefighters to receive the Idaho Medal of Honor in 2012 for their extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty.
"The Idaho Medal of Honor is the state's highest honor to recognize the extraordinary bravery of law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS providers," said Lawrence Wasden, Idaho attorney general and Medal of Honor Commission chairman.
A New Sockeye Hatchery
A new hatchery near Springfield in southeastern Idaho means an increase up to five-fold in the capacity of the sockeye recovery program that has kept Snake River sockeye salmon from extinction.
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council recently recommended construction of a $13.5 million hatchery to boost production of Snake River sockeye, listed as an endangered species in 1991, and it will continue a long-term effort to rebuild the population to naturally spawning, self-sustaining levels.
The new hatchery is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration as part of its obligation to mitigate the impact of hydropower dams on salmon. When completed in 2013, it will be operated by Idaho Fish and Game and will be capable of producing up to 1 million juvenile sockeye annually for release in the Sawtooth Basin of central Idaho, the headwaters of the Salmon River.
The Springfield Hatchery will provide additional incubation and rearing space so the program can grow beyond the conservation phase and transition to a re-colonization phase. The emphasis will be placed on returning increased numbers of ocean-run adults to use in hatchery spawning plans and to release to the habitat for natural spawning.
The new hatchery is a component of a proposed Snake River Sockeye Salmon Recovery Strategy submitted by Idaho Fish and Game to NOAA Fisheries, which implements the Endangered Species Act for salmon. NOAA's recovery plan for the Snake River sockeye salmon is anticipated in early 2014.
The Idaho Fish and Game strategy recommends incorporating hatchery facilities, captive broodstock technology, genetic support and a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation plan to maintain the current population and rebuild the number of naturally produced anadromous sockeye in the basin. The agency's goal is to re-establish a natural population that can be de-listed and even provide treaty and sport harvest opportunities.
The Farragut Range
The Idaho Supreme Court in November lifted an Idaho First District Court injunction that had blocked the opening of Idaho Fish and Game's upgraded
Farragut shooting range.
Fish and Game renovated shooting areas at the historic Farragut shooting range to improve safety and reduce noise. The Supreme Court concluded that Fish and Game complied with safety requirements to open a renovated part of the range for up to 500 shooters per year.
The Supreme Court also sent the case back to the district court for further proceedings to consider the range's compliance with requirements for reopening the range for more than 500 shooters per year. The Court also found noise and other standards adopted by the Idaho Legislature in 2008 for Farragut and other state outdoor sport shooting ranges to be constitutional.
The range traditionally has been closed in the winter. Fish and Game will apprise the public of an opening date, as well as use limits for the range.
Fish and Game Headquarters Move
In mid-December, Idaho Fish and Game relocated the license and tag sales and public service desk across the street to the lobby of the Walnut Street building in preparation for moving part of its operation to new offices.
The building on Park Boulevard is no longer open to the public. When the lease on the building expired, Fish and Game located less expensive and more efficient offices in the Washington Group Plaza between Broadway and Parkcenter Boulevard for part of its operation.
The move is expected to be completed by February 1.
Most staff offices, including public services, will remain in their present location on Walnut Street.