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Idaho Nuclear Scientists Say Fuel Rods can be Safely Studied

IDAHO FALLS (AP) | An eastern Idaho nuclear facility can safely handle two shipments of 25 spent fuel rods for research and it's not the start of turning the state into a nuclear waste dump, officials at the site say.

The U.S. Department of Energy wants to better understand "high burnup" spent fuel that is accumulating at nuclear power plants in the U.S., said Todd Allen, deputy director of science and technology at the Idaho National Laboratory.

High burnup fuel remains in nuclear reactor cores longer to produce more energy but comes out more radioactive and hotter. It's cooled in pools before being encased in steel and concrete.

"There's an increasing amount," Allen said. "Most of the 100 existing plants are now using higher burnup fuel."

But a legacy of mistrust with federal officials concerning nuclear waste prompted former Govs. Phil Batt, a Republican, and Cecil Andrus, a Democrat, to blast current Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter when the proposed shipments became known in January. The former governors said the shipments — one in June and another in January 2016 — were the start of turning the 890-square-mile federal site into a nuclear waste dump that violated a 1995 agreement they hammered out.

Political supporters of the shipments say Idaho will lose millions of dollars if it turns them away, and that the INL could lose jobs as well as status as a nuclear research facility.

So on Monday, members of a committee formed by Otter to find ways for Idaho to benefit economically from the federal facility toured the site 50 miles west of Idaho Falls along with some members of the public to hear nuclear scientists explain the lab's capabilities and safety measures.

"This is a one of a kind for the country," said Mark Henry, manager of the lab's Materials and Fuels Complex operations, explaining how the shipments would arrive and be handled.

The INL would examine the spent fuel, Allen said, to determine how its properties change and what that means for storage at power plant sites and eventually moving for permanent storage. Scientists are also interested in recycling the fuel rods.

Idaho residents first learned about the shipments in January. It turned out that U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, in a letter to Otter dated Dec. 16, said funding for the research associated with the nuclear waste could bring up to $20 million annually through the end of the decade, a fact Otter noted in defending the decision.

At the moment, though, the Department of Energy is in violation of its 1995 agreement with Idaho in two areas. Malfunctions with a $571 million facility are causing delays turning 900,000 gallons of liquid waste into a solid form.

Todd Dvorak, spokesman for Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, said Wasden reiterated to federal officials on Monday that the state won't accept the spent fuel rods until the Department of Energy shows it can successfully process the liquid waste.

Bill Lloyd, the project's manager, said Monday they would try again to process the waste in the fall, and that he had "100 percent" confidence they would eventually succeed.

The second violation is because an underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico is not taking shipments of low-level waste due to recent mishaps at that facility, leaving the waste stuck in Idaho past deadlines set in the 1995 agreement.

On another front, Batt said Tuesday that he, in consultation with Andrus, is in talks with the Department of Energy to work out a deal to allow in the spent fuel for research. Batt and Andrus are no longer in power, but they retain significant sway, particularly on nuclear waste issues.

The INL is doing important research work, Batt said. "But I vowed to the people I would not let commercial waste in, and to increase that amount without decreasing it somewhere else is not satisfactory to me."

A U.S. Department of Energy official didn't return a phone call from The Associated Press on Tuesday seeking information about the first shipment.


Up to 175,000 Idaho Verizon and Sprint Customers May Receive Refunds

BOISE | An estimated 50,000 Sprint customers and 125,000 Verizon customers in Idaho may be eligible for refunds from a settlement Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced Tuesday.

Idaho joined 49 states, the District of Columbia and two federal agencies in settling allegations that Sprint Corp. and Verizon Wireless imposed unauthorized charges for third-party services on consumers’ monthly mobile telephone bills — otherwise known as “cramming.”

The total settlement nationwide is $158 million. Of that, Sprint will offer $50 million for consumer refunds, and Verizon will offer up to $70 million for consumer refunds.

The companies also agreed to pay Wasden’s office a combined $322,000 to cover attorney fees and investigation costs.

“There is simply no good reason why Idaho consumers should have to be responsible for mobile phone charges they never wanted or agreed to pay for,” Wasden said. “The settlement is a victory for consumers who are now eligible to receive refunds and for holding Sprint and Verizon accountable for their past actions.”

This is the latest in a series of agreements with telecommunications companies to settle similar allegations. Last year, Idaho joined other states and federal officials in a $105 million settlement with AT&T and a $90 million agreement with T-Mobile.

The cramming cases typically involved charges of $9.99 per month for “premium” text message services the consumer never ordered, such as horoscopes, trivia and sports scores.

Think you’re eligible for a refund? Visit www.SprintRefundPSMS.com and/or www.CFPBSettlementVerizon.com to file a claim. Call (877) 389-8787 for Sprint and/or (888) 726-7063 for Verizon if you have questions.

In addition to the refunds, Sprint and Verizon have agreed to:

• Give consumers the chance to receive a full refund or credit when billed for unauthorized, third-party charges.

• Inform customers — when they sign up for services — that their mobile phone can be used to pay for third-party charges.

• Show third-party charges in a dedicated section of monthly bills, clearly distinguishing them from the cell-phone provider’s own charges and explaining how to block third-party charges.


Skinny Dipper Hot Springs Could Stay Open if Fans Reach Deal with BLM

BOISE | A coalition of volunteers would maintain trails, pick up trash and monitor safety around Skinny Dipper Hot Springs.

In this scenario, the Bureau of Land Management, which owns the land, would put up signs warning people to stay on the trails, pack out their trash and leave before sundown — or pay a fine.

That’s one option that’s emerging in the discussion of what can be done to keep Skinny Dipper, located just north of the Banks-to-Lowman Highway a few miles east of Banks, open.

Nothing’s official yet. Tate Fischer, who manages the BLM office for most of southern Idaho, said he’s meeting with the agency’s upper-level management this week to discuss a compromise between users of the popular hot springs and the federal government. Later this week, Fischer said he’ll meet with members of the public who are interested in Skinny Dipper’s fate.

“The public outcry has been very well-received,” Fischer said. “I think it’s a step in the right direction, and we’re going to do everything we can to try to remedy the problem.”

FED UP

On April 28, the BLM announced that it would close Skinny Dipper on May 28. The problems are just too many, the agency said. It has responded to more than 125 incidents related to the hot springs, and the BLM cited litter and human feces on the ground, concern about people using drugs there and committing other crimes, fire danger and erosion along the access trail. Two people have died there since 2009.

The most avid users of Skinny Dipper admit some people litter, and some cut off the trail’s switchbacks, degrading the land. But the BLM is exaggerating the danger and yuck factor, they say. Some suspect the agency just doesn’t want to deal with the nuisance.

A tiny minority of users are responsible for most of the problems, Skinny Dipper fans say.

“In life, you know how it is. There’s some people who get it, and there’s some people who don’t,” said Britton Valle, a Meridian man who started the “Save Skinny Dipper Hot Springs” Facebook page after the BLM announced the closure. “The people who fight, the people who do drugs, the people who do anything they’re not supposed to, I’d say the vast majority of it happens when the sun starts to go down or is gone. And I’ve seen it.”

By Monday, the Facebook page had more than 8,000 likes.

‘BARE HABITAT’

Twenty years ago, Ken Palmer started packing bags of cement up the hill above the Banks-to-Lowman Highway to the drainage where Skinny Dipper Hot Springs is located now. The Boise man had often noticed steam coming off the hillside as he drove by on his way to the Bonneville Hot Springs, east of Lowman, where he and his friends liked to soak in the nude.

After a while, Bonneville got overrun by people who weren’t big fans of seeing strangers naked. Palmer vowed he’d find a hot springs off the road where the skinny dippers could soak undisturbed.

So Palmer built Skinny Dipper. The hot water was too hot, so he installed hundreds of feet of PVC pipe to control the flow of cold and hot water into the pools he built. He had help, but he wouldn’t say from whom. He didn’t want to out someone who might be held financially or legally liable for installing the pipes and cement without permission from the agency that manages the public land.

Signs by the trail warn that nudity is likely. They say things like “Bare Habitat” and “You may encounter bare.”

Skinny Dipper has become a destination for thousands. Its biggest fans talk about it in almost religious terms. The word “spiritual” comes up a lot.

“This is where I’ll really plan out my life,” said Valle, who likes to arrive early in the morning, when he can have the pools to himself and watch the sunrise. “When I have a question, this is where I go. There’s something about nature that’s really powerful.”

SERMON ON THE HILL

On Friday, there was about as much litter as you’re likely to find in a well-used campsite: a discarded bikini top, a blown-out flip-flop, cigarette butts, packaging for glow sticks. Christina McCarty, a Boise woman who’s been going to Skinny Dipper for 15 years, said she’s as disgusted with the people who abuse as with the BLM.

“Feral is feral,” she said. “I play by the rules, and now they’re taking it away from me, and it makes me irate to no end.”

Palmer said he constantly picks up trash other people leave behind.

“It’s a labor of love,” he said. “A lot of people have come up and said to me, ‘That’s got to really make you angry.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, it probably would except for I enjoy the springs enough that I’m just going to take care of it. I don’t care how bad it is.’ ”

He and some of his friends commend the conscientious people they see. They anoint them “Keepers.”

“We’ve said it for years to everybody that goes up: ‘You have to treat this good or we won’t have it,’ ” he said. “But, you know, I can’t preach to the ones that I don’t see.”

PIPES, CEMENT AND NATURE

Kyme Graziano said she’s meeting with Fischer on Friday to start down what could be a long path to compromise on Skinny Dipper.

The Boise woman is spearheading the effort to keep Skinny Dipper open. But that’s not all she wants. Graziano said she’s worried about the same problems the BLM identified in announcing the looming closure. A successful agreement will mean addressing those issues permanently, she said.

She wants to put some kind of toilet near the springs and rehabilitate the degraded hillside where people have cut across the trail’s switchbacks. She hopes the BLM puts up signs educating people to follow good stewardship practices.

“This is a location that is worth saving and we are working hard to do it in a positive, productive manner,” Graziano said.

The existence of pipes and cement is a potential obstacle to an agreement. Fischer said there’s no precedent for allowing that level of unauthorized material to remain in place. One possibility is to remove it and develop pools and water channels with natural materials, he said.

“That might be a little more work, but it definitely retains the resource value,” Fischer said.

Graziano would rather leave the unauthorized pipes and cement in place and obscure them from view. But she doesn’t take a hard line. She’s open to removing them, if that’s what it takes to keep Skinny Dipper open.

Valle suggested harsh fines and other penalties for people who abuse the hot springs and surrounding land. He said he might be in favor of prohibiting alcohol and smoking, or even temporarily shutting down the springs when there’s a blatant violation of rules.

“I was hoping that word would never get out (about) this place,” Valle said. “But I’m switching focus now. Now I know that the only way to save this is really raise a lot of awareness and really show people the benefits of it.”


Twin Falls BLM Fire Crew Honored for Valor

SHOSHONE | Three Twin Falls District BLM firefighters traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to receive an award for valor and exceptional service to the nation as public servants at the 70th Department of the Interior Honor Awards Convocation.

Engine Captain Eric Killoy of Heyburn, Engine Operator Camas Beames of Hazelton, firefighter and certified emergency medical technician Mackenzie Tiegs of Buhl, and firefighter and EMT trainee Dylan Forrester of Caldwell were recognized for their heroic actions last summer when they were the first to respond to a helicopter crash.

The aircraft, operated by Reeder Flying Service, of Twin Falls, was flying northeast on June 29 when it came down in a hay field about 300 yards north of Idaho Highway 24 near mile post 40.

The four firefighters found three victims with varying injuries. They stabilized and treated them until advanced medical help arrived. Two of the victims were flown to the Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello, and one was transported to St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls. All three victims survived.

“We are extremely proud of the actions our employees took that day,” said Curtis Jensen, acting fire management officer. “Their calm thinking and quick action saved lives, and we are honored to call them Twin Falls District employees. We are also confident that any one of our engines on the district would have responded in the same manner."

“These employees have made a genuine difference to our nation through their dedication and hard work for the BLM,” said BLM Deputy Director Linda Lance. “All of us at the BLM are proud of the enormous contributions that these employees have made to their communities to benefit the public lands.”


Boise Veteran Home from Nepal after Canceled Everest Climb

BOISE (AP) | A Boise veteran who had planned to reach the summit of Mount Everest is back in the city after a devastating earthquake in Nepal forced his expedition to return home.

KTVB-TV reports that Marine Staff Sgt. Charlie Linville returned to Boise Monday. Linville had his right leg amputated after being hit by an explosive device during a tour in Afghanistan in 2011. He's since used his experience to inspire others, with the goal of climbing Mount Everest.

The April 25 earthquake killed more than 8,000 people and injured more than 16,000 others, as it flattened mountain villages and destroyed buildings and archaeological sites in the Himalayan region.

Linville and the Heroes Project, the group he was climbing with, stayed in Nepal for two weeks to help with earthquake relief.


Questions About Syrians: A Q&A with Refugee Center Director

TWIN FALLS • The College of Southern Idaho’s Refugee Center announced late last month it will likely receive Syrian refugees starting in October.

It wasn’t long before questions started swirling in Twin Falls about these new arrivals from a war-torn part of the Arab world.

We turned to Refugee Center Director Zeze Rwasama for answers to frequently asked questions about how the center works and what we can expect from the new refugees.

Q: Tell me a little bit about the reaction you’ve received so far to the news of Syrian refugees coming? Has that been different than what you’ve experienced in the past?

A: You know, I think this is something that is normal when there is a new refugee population. The community reacts the same way. They want to know about it. It’s a good opportunity for me to educate the community about the new population that is coming.

My experience was a lot of phone calls, but I also got some callers call back the next day or after two days and say, ‘We now understand. We didn’t know, but now we know. We are very happy that you were able to explain the process.’

So most of the people that were calling thought that the refugee center here decides who comes. They didn’t know there is the federal government that is involved in determining who gets to come to the U.S.

Q: What’s the process of the federal government in deciding who comes to Twin Falls?

A: Well, first of all, the executive branch of the U.S. government — after consulting with the Congress— determine how many refugees will come in that year. For last year, in 2014, they said the cap was 70,000. This year, the same thing: the cap is 70,000. Now, there’s a lot going on before they select the 70,000.

There’s only less than 1 percent of refugees that get the resettlement in a third country. And there’s only 25 countries on the planet that resettle refugees and the U.S. is the biggest one.

So the United Nations High Commission on Refugees will determine if the person gets the refugee status first… After that, then the United Nations also would look at the people they have and see who meets the requirement to be resettled in the U.S. Once they determine who, they’ll refer that person to the Department of State. And the U.S. embassy in those countries are also involved in referring people to the Department of State...

And after that, if the person has a good case, then the Department of State will refer the case to Homeland Security. Homeland Security would then do multiple checks, security checks, with them. In fact, they’ll even send a person from the U.S. to that country to interview them face-to-face...

The other thing I want to add is the U.S. does not resettle refugees just because they are refugees… They wait until a long time. Some of these refugees have been in the camp for 20 years, five years, 10 years. And during that time, they are collecting information about those people...

Then, after all the clearances, the other concern is health. They don’t want to bring into the country someone with some kinds of diseases that would affect the health of Americans. So the health department is involved and they do health screenings outside of the U.S. and within 30 days of arrival, they do other health screenings here so we can identify what kind of treatment they need to undergo. If there’s a health issue, it’s really taken care of immediately after arrival.

Now, at the port of entry — and this is what I just want to make sure people understand — it’s the last, last security screening… Now, the security issue, I like the fact that the community is really concerned about this. And the government is concerned about this. I am personally concerned about the security. I came here as a refugee myself running away from atrocities. I don’t want the same thing to happen to me here or to happen to these good people who are welcoming these refugees. I don’t want that to happen myself.

And I have numbers that I want to talk about… In 2010, we resettled in the U.S. 73,311 refugees, but in 2011, they approved the ceiling at 80,000. They ended up resettling only 66,424 refugees… And the reason for that — meaning the numbers — is because of the security clearances. Of the people that were selected, some did not pass the security clearances and they did not come.

Q: Have you heard concerns specifically about refugees coming in with radical Islamist backgrounds? Are those concerns legitimate?

A: My point of view about that is, yes, everybody is concerned about this. But the calls I get, I make sure I explain to them the security clearances so the concern that they have, the U.S. government has that same concern as well. And that’s why all those federal agencies are involved to try to make sure that there are only good people that are coming.

And you can even prove it. Since we started resettling refugees, I haven’t heard any terrible thing that these refugees have done in the community. And that proves that U.S. government and its agencies are doing all they can to just bring good people.

Q: What’s the process once refugees arrive here in Twin Falls and what kinds of government services do they receive?

A: When they come in, we operate with federal grants and we have the first grant… which is a grant that helps us resettle them within the first 30 days. From out of the money, we pay a deposit for the apartment, the first month of rent, the second month of rent out of that money and then we buy furniture for them out of that money.

Now, sometimes the money isn’t not enough because one person, we get to spend $925. So if a single person comes in, that’s all we have… But we’re very grateful because the community comes in to help us with donations, so we don’t need to buy a couch for the money. We get some kitchen items from the community… So we balance from the money we get supplemented with donations in order to have a very successful resettlement of these refugees.

Now, after that 30 days, then we have another federal-funded program to help them with financial assistance… And our goal within those eight months is to help them get a job.

Q: Could you talk about what the center adds to the community and why it’s important to resettle refugees here?

A: First of all, I think resettling refugees, it’s the right thing to do. Second, the U.S., if you look at the history of the U.S. and see how America was started in the beginning, it’s a land of immigrants that came and made America what it is today. Second, one of the very important value of Americans are humanitarian efforts that they do everywhere...

On top of that, these refugees come with diverse skills that they’ve developed outside the U.S. and then they’re coming with those skills in addition to the local skills to help some of the companies grow. I’ll give you an example. Right now, we do provide workforce to dairies, which I think is a good thing. If these dairymen don’t get people to work for them, now that would affect the economy of our city, the economy even of the state.

Q: How welcoming have Magic Valley residents been to refugees in the past and do you see that changing?

A: No. No, I’m not seeing that changing. If it wasn’t for the community, as I said, the money we get from the government is not enough to resettle the refugees. We’ve seen refugees succeeding. I know a refugee that bought a house after two years after two years of arrival in this area. That shows you how the supportive the community is.

Q: Is there anything else that would be good for people to know?

A: Well, I think that if people are very concerned about the security of this city, I think the best way to even know more is to get involved in helping these refugees and understanding them... And I guarantee they will even love them more just being around them. But if there’s that distance, then it’s not doing a good thing for our city. It’s better for you to know the refugees and then if there’s a concern, then you can raise the concern that is well founded.


New Water Pact a ‘Momentous Occasion’

TWIN FALLS • Details of a historic agreement between groundwater and surface water users are coming to light after the groups say they reached a landmark deal last week.

Water managers on Thursday negotiated a deal intended to settle all short- and long-term disputes brought on by over-allocation of water from the aquifer that supports much of south-central Idaho.

Groundwater and surface water users have had a long and contentious battle over water rights. While most of the spats have been handled administratively through the state, some have gone to the Supreme Court.

The deal reached last week aims to end the fighting and bring back health to the aquifer, which has reached its lowest levels since 1912.

“This is a momentous occasion,” said Randy Budge, a lead attorney for the groundwater users.

In 2016 and beyond, groundwater users will give up a whopping 240,000 acre-feet — enough water to cover Twin Falls County with 2.33 inches of water — per year. This will require an estimated 13.1 percent reduction in diversions by each water user.

On Friday, Gary Spackman, director of the Idaho Department of Water Resources, approved the agreement and outlined how the 2015 mitigation obligation will be met.

The state has given water managers until July 1 to complete the agreement to avoid massive shutdowns that could devastate many farmers and businesses with junior water rights.

“Groundwater users were pretty well represented during negotiations,” Brian Olmstead, general manager of Twin Falls Canal Co., said Monday. “If there is any push-back, it would come from those groundwater users with senior water rights. They may not feel they need to carry the burden for those with junior rights.”

Idaho’s first-in-time, first-in-line water law stipulates that older senior water rights have priority over generally younger junior rights. Surface water rights tend to be senior to junior groundwater water rights, but many irrigators have a mix of senior and junior rights.

According to a document obtained by the Times-News, Idaho Ground Water Appropriators and the Surface Water Coalition agreed on a set of objectives including stabilizing the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, increasing Blackfoot to Milner reach gains, and providing a “safe harbor” from curtailment to participating junior ground water users in participating ground water districts.

The IGWA has agreed to acquire 110,000 acre-feet of storage water for the coalition to meet all 2015 mitigation obligations. That’s enough water to cover Twin Falls County with more than an inch of water. This will be from private leases and the common rental pool.

Also in the near term, IGWA will secure additional water if possible for delivery to existing conversions in 2015, up to a maximum cost of $1.1 million. The Idaho Department of Water Resources director’s April 16 methodology order will be stayed and the director’s as-applied order will be rescinded.

Annually, IGWA will lease and deliver 50,000 to the SWC 21 days after the date of allocation of storage water to meet irrigation requirements. If not needed for irrigation the excess will be used for conversions and recharge.

Additional terms include:

  • The IGWA will use its best efforts to continue existing conversions.
  • Objective goals will be identified with adaptive water management measures.
  • The state will sponsor managed recharge of 250,000 acre-feet annually, ramping up within three years.
  • The agreement will provide safe harbor from any future SWC delivery call for all participating ground water districts.
  • The long-term agreement will remain in effect for so long as obligations and objectives are met.
  • Idaho Power participation will be sought to extend safe harbor for Swan Falls minimum flows.
  • Work will proceed to reduce this to a written agreement by July 1. The settlement agreement will then taken out to the parties boards for final approval by Aug.1.

Spackman ordered on Friday the following for IGWA’s 2015 mitigation obligations of 110,000 acre-feet:

  • 75,000 acre-feet of private leased storage water on the date of allocation of Upper Snake storage accounts.
  • 15,000 AF of private leased storage water within 21 days of the date of allocation of Upper Snake storage accounts.
  • IGWA shall pay Twin Falls Canal Co. the amount required by Upper Snake to apply for rental of 20,000 acre-feet of common pool water from the Upper Snake rental pool, to be delivered within 21 days of the date of allocation of Water District 01 storage accounts.

Volunteer Builds Docks for Kids’ Fishing Derby

FAIRFIELD • The new wooden dock floating on the Camas Kids Pond means more children who come for the town’s annual fishing derby will fish from docks instead of casting over long grass on the bank.

It took 22 hours for Fairfield volunteer Fred Marolf, 77, to build that dock for the pond where once his children fished and now his grandchildren and great-grandkids.

But he doesn’t want anyone to think they’ll have an advantage at the Kids Free Fishing Derby on June 6.

“If they don’t get there early enough, they’ll be fishing from the bank,” Marolf said.

The derby draws 60-70 kids each year, some still young enough for diapers. The city, the chamber of commerce and their donors make sure everyone gets a prize, if only a chocolate fish. Bigger prizes might include fishing poles, tackle boxes, lures, sleeping bags and camping chairs. This year, four tagged fish will earn their anglers four $50 gift certificates.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is scheduled to stock the Camas Kids Pond with 950 rainbow trout in late May. On June 6, the agency will show up with its “Take Me Fishing!” trailer from 8 a.m. to noon — the trailer’s first Magic Valley appearance of the season. No fishing license is required that day for anglers of any age if they register at the trailer, and Fish and Game employees supply rods, worms and everything else needed for a morning of fishing.

By derby day each year, grass on the bank is long enough that little anglers have trouble reeling in their fish. But the pond’s two docks left most kids fighting the grass.

Marolf wished for more docks for years, but Fish and Game told him it didn’t have the money. Then Marolf asked for permission instead and started figuring how to get it done.

He thought for four years before he saw a Craigslist offering of floats manufactured for aerators in city waste lagoons. When the seller learned why Marolf wanted the floats, he sold them all for $100.

They weren’t meant to float fishing docks, but they do it well.

The proof is Marolf’s first dock, installed at the pond May 5 with Fish and Game’s help. The other materials for that 8-by-16 dock cost about $450, and Marolf intends to build three more before derby day.

Marolf paid part of the bill himself and got donations from a neighbor and another buddy. He hopes to recruit help with the labor of the next three docks, too.

The neighbor who chipped in had a leg operation recently, Marolf said, “and he’s going to be seven months getting back to kind of normal.” But the neighbor is also a fly fisher who relishes a catch-and-release session at the pond about four times a week. So the first of Marolf’s docks will become handicapped-accessible when Fish and Game builds a ramp for it.

For children who aren’t yet good at casting, a dock helps get the line into deeper water where the fish hang out, said Dean Grissom, Fish and Game’s recreation site maintenance foreman. “Those rainbow trout, they go as deep as they can when it’s warm.”

Another benefit will become apparent if Fish and Game ever decides to stock bluegill or perch in Camas Kids Pond, Grissom said. Those species like to find cover underneath docks.


Jerome Firefighter, Cop Rescue 2 People and a Dog

JEROME | A Jerome police sergeant and a firefighter rescued two people and a dog from a fire Saturday night at the Clover Creek Apartments.

Sgt. Jim Baker and off-duty firefighter engineer Sam Craig were the first to arrive at the fire, with initial reports stating two residents of Unit C were unaccounted for, city officials said in a statement. The two found the Unit C exit was blocked by fire. Baker broke a front window, and he and Craig helped the first resident out. Craig went in and found the second person and a dog and helped them escape.

The fire engine arrived a few minutes later and quickly put the fire out. The three other units were evacuated. City officials said the fire was contained to the outside of the building and nobody was hurt.

The fire's cause is under investigation.


Curious Mind: 100 Mouthfuls of Mud for a Nest

Q: Regarding those little birds that flit in and out of the canyon walls at Shoshone Falls: Are they swallows or something else? Why do they build their nests in cliff sides? Why are they drawn to the Shoshone Falls area?

A:“Folks are definitely seeing cliff swallows at Shoshone Falls, along with white-throated swifts and violet-green swallows,” said Sarah Harris, president of the Prairie Falcon Audubon Society. “All three take advantage of the canyon cliff face for their nests.”

Cliff swallows build elaborate mud nests with small round entrances. And swifts and violet-green swallows build cup-shaped nests in cracks and crevices.

The white-throated swift is one of the fastest flying birds in North America, making its home in the canyons, foothills, and mountains of the West.

“Canyon walls provide a relatively safe place to raise young,” Harris said. “The river provides nest material (mud) for cliff swallows and an abundant supply of insects to eat and to feed to young.”

Cliff swallows often swarm in summer. They build mud nests in colonies on cliff ledges or under bridges, overpasses, eaves and culverts.

“Cliff swallows have a dark blue back, white front and brown throat,” Idaho Department of Fish & Game statistician Bruce Ackerman said. “They build a nest on the side of a cliff, usually in groups. The nest is made of mud, a hundred mouthfuls of mud shaped sort of like a gourd.”

They always nest on cliffs, high buildings or other cliff-like structures like the face of a dam, said Ackerman, who is also vice president of the Golden Eagle Audubon Society in Boise.

“They eat small flying insects, which are likely to be more plentiful near water and in humid areas such as the spray zone around waterfalls and canyons,” he said.

“There are six kinds of swallows in Idaho, but only cliff swallows nest on cliffs. Any of them could be feeding near cliffs and waterfalls, but only cliff swallows nest on cliffs like that,” said Ackerman.

They’re sometimes hard for beginning birders to spot because they swoop fast and seldom pose for photographs.