March 24, 2018

What Happened To Fall?

This has been a really odd fall in Island Park. Last year we experienced a change in colors that viagra online canada pharmacy was almost indescribable. It started with the trees in September and continued with the ground cover all the way to November. As you drove around it was almost as if the forest was ablaze with all the red, yellow and orange color.

But it hasn’t been that way this year! An early HARD frost (temperatures below zero) in September froze things just like they were. There was no additional change in color. Everything just froze hard and died. Leaves have been ripped from the trees by the pounding of wet, heavy snow coming almost daily. Sure, it gets up to the thirties and forties during the day to melt the snow, but the early signs of winter keep on punishing what’s left of the leaves and ground cover.

But the good news in all this is, the national weather service says this winter is supposed to be warmer and drier than usual. Hmmmm. It’s rained or snowed almost every day in September and October. There have been many days that have been 25 degrees below what we would normally expect for this time of year. There has really been no fall this year (traditionally the most beautiful time to be in Island Park.) We jumped right from summer to winter.

I guess that’s just global warming at work for us. And praise Allah we’ve had it. I can’t imagine where we’d have been this year without it.

5 Lessons Learned About Gardening In Island Park

greenhouseYou know, a lot of people would say this year’s gardening efforts were wasted. I know of many people who got little to no produce from their gardens. But there is more than food that comes from the attempt to grow a garden and this year may have been an especially good teacher.

With that in mind, here are five things I learned this year from my (mostly failed) attempt at gardening here in Island Park:

1. Tomatoes are like candy to bears. If you’re going to grow them (and they are difficult to get a good harvest from) you must do so in grow boxes that can be taken into the garage (or house) at night. It’s not enough to put them up on the porch or hang them from a doorway. Bears will get them wherever you put them unless they are actually inside.

2. You must have some sort of greenhouse to grow food here. Now that doesn’t mean you have to invest thousands of dollars. It means your veggies have to be covered virtually every night of the summer. I’ve seen some “greenhouses” that were as simple as a two foot high frame all the way around the garden covered with viz queen and then a layer that can be pulled over the top at night and pulled back in the morning. Some people use an “A” frame arrangement. It doesn’t matter what you use, but you must use something.

3. You can garden later if you put buckets of water into your greenhouse before you button it up for the night. The water will heat up from the sun during the day and then give off its heat at night. It’s a small thing, but it makes a huge difference. If you use buckets of water you can usually garden clear into October. If not, you’re done in mid September. That could be the difference between having a garden and not.

4. Root vegetables do better than most others. That includes carrots, onions, radishes, potatoes, parsnips, etc., etc. Other veggies that do well here are peas, strawberries, and other crops with a short growing season.

5. You must be long-winded if you’re going to garden here. If you’re the kind of person who gives up with just one failure, you’re going to be out of the gardening business very quickly in Island Park. There is a process to learning how to garden here and it requires patience and creativity.

Gardening can be successfully done here. But like anything else, you have to work at it. you have to twist it and turn it until it makes sense. With food costs rising like they are, a garden is more important now than at any time in recent memory. Use these guidelines to get started and then move on from there.

If you would like to add to my lessons learned, please reply to this post and we’ll get a discussion going. If not, you’re armed with the basics. Get going on your own.

No More Semi-Trucks In Island Park?

trucks1It seems our neighbors to the north are about fed up with the noise, pollution, road degradation and danger of big trucks and are actively pursuing an ordinance preventing them from driving on their roads. Residents of the Madison River Valley from West Yellowstone to Ennis (and from Henry’s Lake to Ennis) have asked the Montana Governor, Attorney General, and Department of Transportation to consider legislation banning the trucks from highway 87 and 287.

What does that have to do with Island Park? Well, if the montanans are successful in their bid to keep trucks off their roads, it will mean there will be no trucks on our roads either. Because most of the truck traffic coming through Island Park takes highway 87 to Ennis then on to points northward. If highway 87 was to be closed, highway 20 (through Island Park) would be a dead end as far as trucks are concerned. The only truck traffic we would see would be trucks heading for West Yellowstone (and that would amount to a miniscule percent of what we have now.

If we’re being completely honest, I have to admit reducing the truck traffic would bring a measure of peace to Island Park I have been missing for some time. On the other hand, however, any time you start telling people where and when they can travel, you’ve just reduced the level of freedom for a whole nation. Not to mention the fact that the increased cost associated with “going around” this area will immediately manifest itself in higher prices for goods and services.

So do I support it? I’m not sure. From a purely selfish perspective there’s a definite upside. From a “common good” perspective, I don’t think it makes very much sense. But the good news is, our friends from the Madison River Valley are wearing the burden on this one. I just hope all sides of this issue are thoroughly considered and that it works out in such a way that it’s good for everyone.

Electric Rates Will Increase In January

Fall River electric co-op announced this week it will raise rates on electricity effective this coming January. While any rate increase is bad news, there is also good news. Rate increases nation-wide have averaged some 23% and the rate we face this coming year is 8.3%.

At the end of the day, nobody wants to see energy prices increase, but the reality is we still enjoy some of the lowest per-kilowatt-hour rates in the country. At less than ten cents an hour, we’re well below all of our neighbors in Idaho and significantly below high-energy-cost states like Alaska, where they pay over thirty four cents and hour.

If this still makes you crazy and you would like more information and a chance to express your displeasure, you can go to and look for information in the “FAQ” section. Then you can raise whatever Cain you think is necessary by going to the “contact us” section. Our advice is roll with the punches on this one. They’re doing the best they can with what they have to work with and they’re still considerably lower than almost anywhere else you can think of.

Recycling In Island Park

As a person who doesn’t have a bear-proof garbage can, I’m at the Island Park landfill a couple of times a week. And I have to say I’m amazed at the amount of garbage that goes into that place. I mean, we’re a small community. Yes there are many homes here, but on any given day, a large percentage of them aren’t being used. But that doesn’t stop an incredible amount of garbage going into the landfill.

For those who haven’t noticed, the folks over at the landfill have placed bins for those who care about our community and want to do their part by recycling. There are specific bins for glass, cardboard, magazines and newspapers, aluminum, etc. Please note that these are by the entrance to the landfill, not over by where you throw everything else.

Yes, I know it’s inconvenient to separate the garbage. Yes, I know you don’t have room at your home for three or four garbage bins. Yes, I know you’re only here infrequently and it’s not you who is responsible for all the garbage. But at the end of the day, would you rather separate out your garbage or come to a formerly pristine wilderness now dotted with old landfills?

It’s not that hard. Please consider keeping our garbage impact to a minimum by recycling. If everyone just does a little, the result will be huge. Please join all of us here at Island Park dot com and recycle while you’re here. Thanks!!!!

Harriman Park Still Going Strong

harrimanIf you haven’t been in Harriman in the fall, you haven’t been to Harriman. The park is beautiful as the colors start to change and the elk start to bugle. It’s like stepping back in time about 3,000 years. The sounds are prehistoric.

I remember by first foray into Harriman in October. It was crisp and cold in the morning and we rode horses across the big meadow and into the forest beyond. A few calls in the elk bugle brought big bulls right up to where we were. There is something magical about watching one of these monarchs of the forest raking their antlers through the trees and pawing the ground.

But it’s more than elk, as I’ve come to learn. The horse flies are gone, the ducks and geese are everywhere, the air and water are crisp, cold, clear, and beautiful. All trails are still open and they have something for everyone. You can walk or ride horses. You can take trails a few hundred yards long along the river or head into the mountains and hike as far as you want.

Rangers recommend bear spray, and bells to wear as you hike along to deter bears who are aggressively getting ready for a long winter’s nap. Of course no guns are allowed in the park, so if that’s your normal mode of protection, you’d better stop and pick up some spray.

Don’t miss the fall colors this year. It’s going to be a great year for photography, so bring your camera and we’ll see you there!

Number Of Yellowstone Visitors Way Up This Year

morning-gloryYellowstone National Park had a banner year this year with over 2.3 million visitors. With the price of gas being down and people travelling closer to home, the park enjoyed a daily influx of roughly 26,000 people. If you propose an average of 3 people per vehicle, that’s about 8,600 cars per day (which didn’t have near the apparent impact on animals and the environment that 300 snowmobiles would.) Multiply that by $25 per car, and we’re talking over $200,000 per day in park entry fee revenues. That would be the reason they don’t dare limit the number of cars each day like they do snowmobiles.

But I digress . . .

Of those roughly 26,000 daily visitors, about half used the west entrance to the park, which means a large percentage of them passed through Island Park as well. This was a good year for local businesses. Many of those passing through stopped for lunch or dinner, for gas, for a float trip, to fish (and buy fishing supplies,) to ride ATV’s, to hike or bike. The bottom line is when Yellowstone has a good year Island Park does too.

Yes, that means we don’t go to the park between Memorial Day and Labor day (so we don’t have to fight the crowds.) It also means we have to just slow down and take our place in line when we go to the valley. But at the end of the day, it’s those people that make the life of many of our friends and neighbors here in Island Park possible.

So if you’re not from here, thank you for coming and making our lives possible. We’re happy to share it with you and hope you enjoy it. I don’t know that we’ll leave the light on for you, but you will always be welcome when you knock on the door. Thank you for making this a good year for us and please know that we appreciate your business!

Poachers Caught In Grand Teton National Park

You know, although I switched from hunting with guns to hunting with cameras years ago, I respect the right of anyone who wants to, to get up in the middle of the night, dress in camo clothing, and chase the wild animal of their choice. It’s a time-honored tradition in the west and a large part of our heritage.

On the other hand, if there’s one thing I can’t tolerate in any degree it’s so-called “hunters” who feel they are somehow above the rules the rest of us play by. Last week park rangers in Grand Teton National Park arrested two men for attempting to poach an elk in the park. Really. Where’s the challenge in walking up to an elk in a place where they’re not afraid of people, and sticking it with an arrow?

In my estimation, these people are not hunters — they are thieves. Anyone who stoops low enough to hunt in a national park is a loser and the hunting community should be outraged by this behavior. Not only are these people not honorable in any way, they give the rest of us a bad name.

If you come to Idaho to hunt or fish, do so according to the regulations. If you think you’re just too weak of character to do that, go hunt somewhere else — you’re not welcome here. Our game is managed and our herds are growing. These animals are a treasured resource in Idaho and there is no room here for someone who thinks they’re above the law. So if you’re a hunter or fisherman who believes in chasing your quarry according to the rules and regulations, we welcome you with open arms. If not . . . we look forward to having you ply your craft elsewhere. ‘nough said.

Bargains Abound Right Now

cabin-for-sale-1With summer coming to a close and the fall chill in the air, an otherwise pretty bleak real estate season is drawing its last breaths as well. Sales were slow this summer as the economy put a damper on second homes, and people who really wanted to sell are faced with carrying their properties for another year.

Because of that, now may be the best time in recent years to buy something up here. If you’ve been waiting for just the right time, don’t let this fall pass away without making an offer on something. The selection is great, prices have never been better (and probably never will be better,) interest rates are low, and most sellers are highly motivated.

If you are interested in looking at something up here, you can start on the internet at and search in your price range in Fremont county. The website also has a list of all the realtors in the area so you can make that connection when you’re ready to go look. This is a great time to buy. Don’t miss it!

After School Program Successful In Island Park

Concerned over the challenges facing our youth, local civic and church leaders collaborated on a program for youth dubbed the “after school program,” where mentors (experts in their fields) teach the youth — one-on-one or in small groups — a variety of life skills.

There are math tutors, science tutors, music teachers, sewing and homemaking teachers, various sports and other skills teachers. Just about anything a youth could be interested in could be offered.

The real beauty of the program is it not only helps the youth expand his or her talent and skill base, it provides something to do after school a day or two a week that makes them unavailable for less desirable activities. Instead of doing things that tear them down emotionally, morally, physically, etc. they are doing those things that not only build character but build self-esteem as well.

This has been a well-received program both by the youth and by the community. It is funded entirely by donations and local people have been very generous. If you would like to make a donation, or learn more about the program (perhaps to do something similar in your area,) you can contact the Island Park chamber of commerce at 208-558-7755.

Service Builds Character / Benefits Everyone

clean-upIf you love Island Park, and I know you do or you wouldn’t be reading this, consider volunteering for one of the many cleanup opportunities in the area. The Henry’s Fork Foundation just sponsored a cleanup of the stretch of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake that runs through Island Park and they did a tremendous work. Cleaning up both in and around the river made a better situation for everyone.

Not only does service improve the quality of life in the community, it strengthens the character of those who participate. Did you know that youth who regularly participate in service projects actually do better in school than those who don’t and are less likely than their peers to have problems with parents and with the law? It’s true.

This season’s about come and gone, but if you’re planning on coming again next year, schedule a half day to do clean up work. If one of the major campaigns is under way you can join with them. If not, gather your family around you and select a stretch of road or a stretch of river and start filling garbage bags. If you call the county they will provide the bags and signs notifying motorists you are there.

The bottom line is don’t let the little things deter you. You can afford a bag for each family member. Tell them you’ll collect trash until each has a bag that’s full. A quick trip to the dump and you’re done. This is a great way to build family unity, to build individual character, and to make Island Park a better place for all of us. See you out there!

Black Bear Put Down In Macks Inn

The bear everyone’s been talking about here in the Macks Inn area was put down this last week. It turns out the bear had been a problem bear in the Big Hole region of Montana and was relocated to the northern Centennial mountains. From there he discovered Island Park and resumed his human-food-filching habits.

Local rangers spent considerable time and effort urging people in the area to “bear proof” their homes and campsites, but to no avail. Garbage was readily available in the area (even after all the warnings,) and the bear became more and more brazen in his “raids” on human food.

Last week, wildlife officials agreed there was no rehabilitating the bear, and relocating him would likely just shift the safety burden to someone else, and the decision was made to put the bear down.

Sadly, this was an avoidable situation. Had residents and visitors been more diligent in cleaning their cabin and campsite areas, the bear would have had no choice but to find food elsewhere. Since that didn’t happen, the bear was killed. Hopefully this is a wakeup call to everyone. If you like the wildlife here in the area, you can make a difference in seeing that exists like it is now for many years to come. All we need to do is be vigilant in not providing food for wild animals. That seems to me a small price to pay.

Smart Growth Coalition To Host Wildlife Forums

deerThe Ashton, Idaho-based Smart Growth Coalition will be holding four forums beginning tomorrow night (August 27) on how to balance growth in Fremont county with the habitat needs of wildlife. The meetings will be held in the SGC’s headquarters at 512 main street in Ashton. From 6:30 to 7:00 p.m., light refreshments will be served and you will have an opportunity to mingle with the experts in this field.

If you value Fremont County wildlife and would like to be a force for making sure there is always wildlife here to enjoy, be sure to attend. While the SGC isn’t a governmental or legislative body, they will be making recommendations that are likely to be implemented by county commissioners. Therefore, if you’re the type of person who wants to be heard before any new laws are voted into being, you’d better come listen, question and / or comment. On the other hand, if you’re the type of person who doesn’t care to get involved, please don’t complain after the fact.

See you there!

Some People's Kids!?!

bear1Something happened Friday afternoon in Island Park that almost defies description. About 3:00 p.m. on a very hot and humid (for Island Park) afternoon a bear stepped out of the forest and into the river for a drink and to cool off. This all occurred about 75 yards upstream from The Landing Restaurant at Macks Inn. By some accounts the bear was a big black bear. By other accounts it was a grizz.

But that’s not important.

What’s important is that while most people headed into the restaurant or over to their vehicles to watch from the relative safety these provide, one woman, half dragging half carrying her child ran directly at the bear, to be able to “see it better.” Now, I’m no wildlife biologist, but I have enough experience in the wild to know that if you “charge” a bear, it’s going to take that as an aggressive move. Bears fight, they don’t flee. You charge a big bear (or even a small one) and it’s going to charge back. Unless you’re packing some significant firepower, you’re going to lose — every time.

I never cease to be amazed at the stupidity of some people. I’ve seen those “darwin awards” emails that have circulated, and I thought, “nobody could possibly be that stupid.” But after seeing this woman risk her life and the life of her child to be able to “see better” I have to agree there is no limit to some peoples’ stupidity.

The bottom line is this: bears are predators. They are at (or very near) the top of the food chain. They are predators. They are carnivores. They will hurt you if you don’t respect them. And it’s not just bears. Moose, wolves, elk, bison, can and will inflict serious bodily damage if you don’t allow them their space.

These animals are majestic beyond belief. They are beautiful to watch in their native habitat. But as one man on the Landing deck noted, these aren’t the “tame bears from Yellowstone, these are wild bears.” I would reply this way: “No, there aren’t any tame bears in Yellowstone. Yes these are wild bears. Yes, they will hurt you if you don’t give them the respect they demand and deserve.”

Please come and enjoy our wildlife. But please do so in a safe and responsible manner. This situation on Friday wasn’t tourists from Japan who knew no better. This woman was from an adjoining state. She should have known better. Please be safe. The life you save may just be your own.

For The Benefit Of All

kayakI read with interest (and some frustration) the article in the Island Park News about the plight of the grizzly bear in America. It seems that they haven’t been introduced and / or haven’t flourished over the years. They don’t do well around people or civilization, and they apparently need some good, old-fashioned, peace and quiet (like me on a Saturday morning.)

While it’s easy to get caught up in worrying about the poor grizzly bear, I think several things need to be kept in mind. First, when the grizzly bears flourished here, people didn’t really populate this area. Sure, there were a few Indians (native Americans if you’re left handed,) but by and large, there wasn’t a population base to speak of. When the people came, the bears dwindled. So if you’re going to have a bear population you have to get rid of the humans.

How do you do that? By designating wilderness areas, etc. I know some of the best country for ATV’ing and snowmobiling is up on black canyon. But they shut that down to motorized vehicles to give the grizzly bears a place to be. Yes, you can hike there, but nobody does. Really, who wants to go hike in a place infested with grizzly bears? So the land is, in effect, useless to humans. We don’t use the resources, we don’t enjoy the beauty, we don’t go there and photograph it — nada.

And when you get right down to it, that’s true of most of Idaho. Our last real democrat senator, Frank Church (of the Panama Canal giveaway fame,) somehow designated much of Idaho as “wilderness area.” Wilderness area means no motorized vehicles, no development, etc. What this does is effectively shut down this area. For what? To have a place where people can go to see how things were 200 years ago.

I like that idea — intellectually. Isn’t that great? We were told it was being done for the common good. Now there is a place where everyone can go and see how things used to be. That’s a great and very noble intent. The problem is, nobody does. To get into that country you have to float, walk or ride a horse. Floating doesn’t really get you “into” the country, you’re really just passing through. So you have to walk or ride a horse. (NOTE: There are a few airstrips they haven’t closed yet, but they are not widely used.)

So what percentage of the population has even seen this area? If you mean the population of Idaho, it’s a tiny percentage. If you mean the population of the USA (which people are the “owners” of the land,) the number is so small as to be ridiculous.

I guess my question is, what good is a place that everyone can go if nobody goes? What have we accomplished? We’ve created a place where a teeny tiny percentage of the population (the “elitists”) can enjoy. The rest of us get no benefit from it whatsoever.

It’s also interesting to me that these things happen in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, and not in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, etc. There used to be wolves, grizzlies, cougars, etc., there that were pushed out by humanity. Why are the people from those states so hell-bent on re-introducing them here? Why do they want us to bear the brunt of “the benefit of all?” Why are they not “blooming where they’re planted?” Why do they not push their people aside for the benefit of the animals (endangered and otherwise) whose well being they so jealously protect?

More than half the state of Idaho is “public” land. Meaning it’s “locked up” to the point the average person will never use it. How much of those above-mentioned New England states are taken up in “public” land? Or what percentage of their states is designated wilderness area? That all used to be wilderness. I think we should put some of it back into wilderness and re-introduce wolves and grizzly bears and see how well they like that. I’d be really curious to see if they still feel the same way.

The bottom line of this whole discussion is, if you want to see grizzlies flourish, you’re going to have to do so at the expense of humans. Most liberals have no problem with that (especially if it’s not in their back yard.) Most conservatives think the rights / needs / activities of humans trump those of the animals. Neither side is going to be convinced by the other.

As far as the grizzlies, let’s see Washington, Oregon, Northern California, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and others do their part then I’m ready to take the next step here. If we’re all going to do it, great. If I’m the only one doing things for “the benefit of all” then count me out. Thus far this has been a give and take relationship — we give they take. . . . not exactly what I would have proposed.