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Poverty in North Idaho

SANDPOINT - The city and the beauty of its natural surroundings get plenty of kudos for being one of the best places to live, retire, and for generally being one the most beautiful places in America.

Glossy magazines tout high-end architecture, sailing on Lake Pend Oreille, or winter skiing. USA Today in 2013 touted the town's cultural and arts community, its wineries and breweries. National Geographic labeled the city one of the top 100 U.S. adventure towns, with great places to play, stay, escape and eat.

Who can deny it? It's a cultural oasis tucked in the North Idaho panhandle.

But beneath Sandpoint's well-planned economic and community development, highly-rated schools, and trendy and increasingly gentrified outer shell, exists a completely different culture, one that has nothing to do with adventure and fine dining and everything to do with economic survival. Full story. Lee Hughes, Hagadone news network


Scotchman Peaks Wilderness endorsed by Missoulian

PUBLIC LANDS — The Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness recently won a critical endorsement for protecting 88,000 acres northeast of Lake Pend Oreille from Bonner County Commissioners.

Last weekend, the group continued to win mainstream acceptance for the proposal, with the editorial endorsement of the Missoulian:

Scotchman Peaks Wilderness Area should be next on Montana's agenda
Of all the wilderness proposals under consideration in Montana, the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness Area, which spans 88,000 acres of a roadless area on the Montana-Idaho border, is the one that appears to enjoy widespread support. Montana's federal lawmakers should work with their counterparts in Idaho to craft legislation to designate the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

Bonner County and Global Warming

However, only 43 percent of the residents polled believe global warming is a result of human activities and only 36 percent believe the scientific community is on the right track with regard to climate change.

More than a half million of Idaho's residents were polled and 58 percent of them believe global warming is happening.

The Yale Project polled Bonner County residents in 2014 to gauge the community's beliefs about global warming, risk perceptions and support of policies which address climate change. More than 17,000 of the county's 29,000 residents were polled. Full story. CdA Press

Has your opinion about global warming changed over time?

Scotchman Peaks’ brewing support, time to toast

PUBLIC LANDS — You know you've arrived when someone names a brew in your honor.

MickDuff's Brewing Company's new Goat Hope Ale is debuting in honor of the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness and the group's efforts to protect an 88,000-acre wild area northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.  The suds are named for the mountain goats that often great hikers who make the trek to the summit of Scotchman Peak.

Last month, the Scotchman's wilderness proposal was endorsed by the Bonner County Commission.

Now it's time to tap into the party on Thursday, April 9, starting at 5:30 p.m. at MickDuff's, Third and Cedar in Sandpoint.

Live music and one handcrafted keg of extra-hoppy, golden-pale ale will be available through 8:30; proceeds from all pints of Goat Hop Ale will go directly toward working for wilderness.

Check in regularly with the FSPW to join them on hikes, trail work days, kids outings and education days throughout the year.

Bonner County commissioners endorse Scotchman Peaks Wilderness

Updated 5 p.m. with quotes and more detail.

PUBLIC LANDS — Bonner County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday calling for the U.S. Congress to designate the Idaho portion of the Scotchman Peaks as a wilderness.

This is another milestone in an effort to protect a worthy spread of  mountain real estate northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.

“The Scotchmans is a perfect area for wilderness,” said Cary Kelly, chairman of the three-man board.

“There’s not a lot of timber that could be used because of the soil composition and terrain and no big mining interests. There’s not really any opposition other than from the element that doesn’t want any federal rules on our forests.”

The entire 88,000-acre wilderness area proposal straddles the Idaho-Montana border in the Kaniksu and Kootenai national forests.

The steep, rocky, mountainous area northeast of Lake Pend Oreille has been recommended for wilderness by Forest Service management plans that were debated for more than a decade and approved in January.

The Idaho side of the proposed wilderness area encompasses about 14,000 acres of national forest land, including Bonner County's tallest mountain. Scotchman Peak, elevation 7,009 feet, is a popular hiking and mountain goat viewing destination overlooking Clark Fork.

“It’s one of the few areas that commissioners can support as wilderness,” Kelly said. “It’s kind of the exception to the rule.”  

The Sandpoint-based Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness was founded in 2005 to work with the region's communities, elected officials and outdoors enthusiasts to find common ground for protecting the roadless area.

“We appreciate the leadership and support from the Bonner County Commission,” said Phil Hough, the friends group’s executive director.

Individual commissioners in adjoining Sanders County, Montana, have shown support for the wilderness, he said. Other formal endorsements have been approved by the Sandpoint City Council and Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce as well as the current and former Montana governors, he said.

“For a county commission to offer unanimous support for wilderness, while not unheard of, is pretty unusual,” Hough said. “It’s a reflection of the widespread support for the wilderness among residents of Bonner County and around the region.”

Kelly said the Bonner County board has supported the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness proposal since 2006, but the time was ripe for a formal endorsement.

 “Only Congress can designate wilderness, and the (friends) group is trying to move forward with the proposal in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

“Most attempts at declaring wilderness probably are not very popular with a Republican conservative House and Senate. But we’re looking at the exception to the rule and the commission is urging Idaho congressmen and senators to try to support this proposal.”

Brad Smith, North Idaho conservation association with the Idaho Conservation League, was at the meeting and reported the vote on his ICL blog.  Smith posted the following resolution approved by the board of commissioners:

WHEREAS the Scotchman Peaks provide outstanding views and recreational opportunities to residents and visitors of Bonner County, Idaho; and

WHEREAS the Scotchman Peaks contribute to the economic vitality of the region through recreation, tourism and as an attraction which draws individuals and businesses to our area; and

WHEREAS the Scotchman Peaks provide habitat to a diversity of native flora and fauna; and

WHEREAS there is broad public support amongst residents of Bonner County to protect the Scotchman Peaks; and

WHEREAS protecting the Scotchman Peaks will benefit current and future generations of Bonner County by endowing them with an enduring resource of wilderness.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Bonner County Board of Commissioners call upon the United States Congress to enact legislation designating the Idaho portion of the Scotchman Peaks as a wilderness area, consistent with the boundary delineated in the revised Land Management Plan for the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

Plan To Arm Teacher Draws Crowd

A proposal to arm school employees in this North Idaho resort community (Sandpoint) brought about 300 residents before the school board Tuesday night. And after 90 minutes of public testimony, it was clear the debate here is just beginning. About three dozen parents, teachers, students and others weighed in on the board chairman’s idea to beef up school security by giving certain staff members access to guns. A little over half said they were in favor of that, or at least serious study of the idea. “Gun-free zones are a target for criminals. It’s a red flag … that there will be no return fire,” Maureen Paterson told the Lake Pend Oreille School Board/Scott Maben, SR. More here.

Question: If you don't support arming teachers, do you have a proposal to make our schools safer?

County Wants To Shoot Dump Ravens

A handful of ravens may nevermore plague Bonner County’s garbage collection site in Colburn. The county is securing a permit from the Idaho Department of Fish & Game to shoot some of the crafty corvids to discourage them from raiding the site and strewing trash about. A couple of the luckless birds may be put on display as a warning to the survivors, a message that apparently is not lost on ravens, which are renowned for their intelligence. Dead ravens brought in for disposal have been displayed in the past, which has deterred other ravens from stalking the site, said Solid Waste Director Leslie Marshall. “When we hang one up in the trees they don’t come around. It’s like they get it, that it’s not somewhere to go,” Marshall said/Keith Kinnaird, Bonner County Bee. More here. (Wikipedia photo)

Question: Is this a good solution for pesky ravens?

GOP Leader: Embrace NIdaho Values

Local Republicans had the opportunity for celebration and soul-searching in equal measure at the annual Lincoln Day dinner Friday night. Party leaders and members alike gathered at the Bonner County Fairgrounds to socialize and get a sense of where the party is at and where it is headed. Speaking was Idaho Republican Party Chairman Barry Peterson, who traveled from Boise to Sandpoint for the occasion.  Inspired by the conservative ideals expressed by Barry Goldwater during the 1964 presidential campaign, Peterson said he felt the GOP was the party that best advocated personal liberty and a reverence for God.  “It makes my heart hurt that we have turned aside from the deity that gave us the opportunity to pursue liberty,” he said. He also encouraged attendees to maintain their efforts in promoting the conservative agenda and North Idaho values/Cameron Rassmusson, Bonner County Daily Bee. More here.


Court say crashing into anchored boat isn’t illegal; county appeals

BOATING — Idaho boaters may want to upgrade their vessels to the equivalent of old Iron Sides if a court ruling on negligent boat driving holds.

Bonner County is appealing a North Idaho magistrate court judge’s ruling that the state’s statute regarding the negligent operation of a vessel is unconstitutionally vague.

That's good news for the boaters who crashed into anchored boats at Priest Lake last summer.

Read on for details from the Associated Press.

Environmental groups to sue feds over caribou habitat

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Environmental groups have just released a notice that they plan to sue the federal government over its recent decision to cut more than 90 percent of the land originally proposed as critical habitat for the last woodland caribou in the Lower 48 states. 

A media release was issed by the Center for Biological Diversity. It lists The Lands Council based in Spokane as one of the five groups challenging the federal decision.

In November, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a plan that slashed its previously recommended protected caribou habitat in Idaho and Washington from more than 375,000 acres of 30,000 acres. 

That decision came after an outcry from some politicians and snowmobile advocates, who complained that too much land was being set aside to help a small number of caribou.  Federal biologists said the outcry did not influence their decision.

While there are large herds in Canada, the woodland caribou in the U.S. is limited to a small corner of northern Idaho and northeastern Washington.

The animals face conflicts in Canada as well as in the U.S. with humans over road construction and snowmobile recreation.

Feds agree to review endangered status of caribou

ENDANGERED SPECIES — "Maybe you got a point there," the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seemed to say today as it annouced its response to a petition questioning whether the Southern Selkirk Mountains Population of Woodland Caribou deserves status as an endangered species.

The petition to remove the rarest mammal to venture into the USA from Endangered Species Act protection was filed in May, 2012, by the Pacific Legal Foundation (representing Bonner County, Idaho), and the Idaho State Snowmobile Association.

The southern Selkirk Mountains woodland caribou was protected under the ESA in 1983 as an endangered species stemming from the threats posed by poaching, habitat loss due to timber harvest and wildfire, motor vehicle collisions and genetic problems through inbreeding. It occupies high-mountain habitat in the Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho and northeastern Washington and southern British Columbia.

Most of the controversy over caribou protections stems from the habitat issues that have precluded winter snowmobiling into their high habitat at their most vulnerable time of year.

The Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced a dramatic scaling back from its original recommendation for designating critical caribou habitat in the Selkirks.

Brian T. Kelly, the Service’s Idaho State Supervisor, said today that the separate petition from Idaho groups "questions whether the southern Selkirk Mountains population of woodland caribou warrants listing under ESA. Our initial review found that information in the petition was substantial enough to conduct an in-depth status review.”

More information is available on the Idaho website for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.http://www.fws.gov/idaho/

Here's the viewpoint of the petitioners.  (I must point out that this website uses a photo of the barren ground caribou that roams this Alaska tundra by the hundreds of thousands. This woodland caribou that range into Idaho and Washington are a different subspecies that has a much smaller population.) 

Here is the viewpoint of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Effort to save woodland caribou has clashed with snowmobiling

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A few rebel snowmobilers helped write a restrictive sentence for Selkirk Mountains snowmobilers with the tracks they left along the Selkirk Crest in the early 2000s. 

Warned to stay away from areas protected for the survival of the last remaining woodland caribou herd venturing into the Lower 48 states, they kept coming, defiantly.

Several conservation groups took to the air, photographed the snowmobile tracks in proximity to wintering caribou areas, and made their case to a federal court, getting an injunction on snowmobiling on a larger area of the crest in 2005 and a court ruling in their favor in 2007.

The closure continues this winter as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Idaho Panhandle National Forests continue to work through the science, lawsuits, budget woes and other issues related to managing on-snow motorized recreation with wildlife protection.  (See my Thursday outdoors column.)

Following are links to maps, documents and background stories related to caribou and snowmobiling in the Selkirk Mountains:

2012-2013 map and Snowmobile Guide for Priest Lake, Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint Ranger Districts. The dark purple areas are closed to snowmobiling, with the exception of specific marked routes, because of the 2005 court injunction.

Critical habitat designated for Selkirk woodland caribou, US FWS media release, Nov. 27, 2012

Bonner County files petition to delist caribou, S-R, May 10, 2012

Public land decisions run into roadblocks, S-R, Feb. 26, 2012 

Caribou face precarious prognosis, S-R, Feb. 26, 2012

Caribou protection worries officials, S-R, Dec. 21, 2011

Plan designates land for Selkirk caribou, S-R, Nov. 30, 2011

Agencies increase snowmobile protections for caribou, S-R, Dec. 3, 2010

Lawsuit filed to protect caribou, S-R, Jan. 17, 2009

British Columbia announces caribou plan, S-R, Oct. 18, 2007

U.S. Forest Service crafting caribou plan, March 20, 2007

Caribou buffer zone in Selkirks expanded, S-R, Feb. 28, 2007

Snowmobiles and caribou: Tense trail mix in the Selkirks, S-R, Dec. 17, 2006

British Columbia to transplant more caribou, S-R, Dec. 6  2006

Snowmobilers lose access in court case, S-R, Sept. 26, 2006

Ungroomed ghost town, S-R, Jan. 29, 2006

Group wants snowmobiling halted through caribou land, S-R, Dec. 6, 2005

Caribou numbers desperate, S-R, Nov. 30, 2005

Canada might abandon caribou recovery, Oct. 29, 2005

 Opinion: Caribou lawsuit forced by agency inaction, S-R, Sept. 3, 2005

More snowmobiling restrictions advocated, S-R, Dec. 14, 2004

Caribou facing uphill battle to survive, S-R, July 2, 1997

Caribou transplants survival low, but inching to success, S-R, March 3, 1996

Rare caribou dwindline to 13 in Idaho, S-R, Sept. 3, 1995

More caribou habitat off-limits to snowmobilers, S-R, Jan. 3, 1995

Idaho delegation lauds new, smaller caribou habitat designation; ICL says it’s not enough for recovery

Idaho's congressional delegation is praising the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for its final designation of critical habitat for endangered woodland caribou in the Selkirk Mountains, which, instead of the original 375,552 acres, designates just 30,010 acres, only 6,029 of it in Idaho. That Idaho habitat is all on national forest land in Boundary County; no land in Bonner County was included.

"I am pleased that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service listened to the public outcry regarding the impacts this expanded critical habitat designation would have had upon people's livelihoods," said 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador. "This is an example of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recognizing the need for improved species management and we applaud the efforts of the men and women on the ground in Idaho who made this decision."

Sen. Jim Risch called the final designation "more realistic than the initial proposal," and 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson called it a "reasonable and fact-based decision." Click below for their full statements.

Meanwhile, the Idaho Conservation League noted that the number of caribou has dropped from 46 in 2009 to just 27 in 2012. Brad Smith, ICL conservation associate in Sandpoint, said of the new habitat designation: "Unfortunately, this represents that habitat used by an imperiled herd rather than a recovered herd. More habitat must be protected to have a growing herd and achieve recovery." He released a Q&A on the caribou habitat designation; you can read it here.

Bonner County sues over caribou protections

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) ― A northern Idaho county and a snowmobile group have sued the U.S. Department of Interior in federal court, the latest step in their bid to have Endangered Species Act protections lifted from rare woodland caribou that roam the U.S-Canadian border region. Bonner County and the Idaho State Snowmobile Association filed their complaint Thursday in U.S. District Court. They're being represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group. Their complaint contends U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has failed to act on their petition lodged earlier this year contending the caribou were improperly given ESA protections starting in 1983. They want Salazar to make a decision on the petition ― and to pay for their lawsuit. Four caribou were counted south of the Canadian border during an aerial census last winter.

Mag: Sandpoint Is ‘Where To Retire’

Bonner County is already well-known among folks around the country as a prime spot to rest after a hard life’s work. Now that reputation has spread even further. “Where To Retire,” a nationwide magazine that assists individuals in selecting a retirement location, will feature Sandpoint in its upcoming June 19 issue. In a feature entitled “Laid-back Lakeside Living,” the magazine staff list out the many qualities that make Sandpoint a popular destination for retirees seeking an exciting location to spend their twilight years. In addition to Sandpoint, the magazine also examines seven other towns known for their great lakeside locations — Traverse City, Mich., Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., Murray, Ky., Gainesville, Ga., Granbury, Texas, Lake Tahoe, Calif. and Nev. and Lake Havasu City, Ariz./Cameron Rasmusson, Bonner County Bee. More here. (Rich Landers SR photo of hikers on Gold Hill overlooking Sandpoint)

Question (for those considering it): Do you plan to retire in a North Idaho town?

Sheriff wannabe Winkler defends cross burning

A white power activist campaigning to be the next Bonner County sheriff hosted a cross burning last week with fellow Ku Klux Klan members and is defending the ceremony as a historic Christian ritual.

Shaun Winkler, 33, said mainstream society misses the point about cross-lighting rituals, seeing them only as a symbol of hate and racial intolerance.

“We look at it more as a religious symbol,” Winkler told the Bonner County Daily Bee. Full Story.

"Most people don’t know that we don’t just oppose the Jews and the Negroes,” Winkler said, according to the newspaper. “We also oppose sexual predators and drugs of any kind.”

Oh…it was purely a historic Christian ritual! What can be done to combat the hate and ignorance of Winkler and his ilk?

Charges dropped in biker gang case

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SANDPOINT — A North Idaho county is dropping criminal gang-recruitment charges against five people following an Idaho Supreme Court decision making it more difficult to prove the law was broken.

Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Shane Greenbank has moved to dismiss the charges against five people associated with the Hermanos Motorcycle Club, the Bonner County Daily Bee reports.

The Supreme Court upheld the recruitment law in January but said prosecutors would have to prove a person was drawn to a gang specifically to engage in criminal activity.

Read the rest of the story here.

Past coverage:

July 5: Biker cites gender disorder at sentencing

Jan. 18, 2011: Sandpoint bikers indicted in Montana

Oct. 11, 2010: Biker gang arrested in Bonner County drug sweep

Reuters Weighs In On Sheriff’s Race

The 33-year-old is running for sheriff in Bonner County, Idaho, despite his affiliation with the Aryan Nation and the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian. He calls himself a “concerned citizen,” and believes law enforcement isn’t doing enough to combat drugs and sex offenders. He also claims he won’t discriminate on the job. Whether or not voters will believe Shaun Winkler remains to be seen, but some question whether he should even be able to run for office. He’s an admitted white supremacist running for a law enforcement position. That’s got to be illegal, right? Wrong. There’s nothing illegal about a white supremacist sheriff candidate/Stephanie Rabiner, Reuters. More here. (SR file photo: Bonner County GOP sheriff's candidate Shaun Winkler, left, at a neo-Nazi march on Sherman Avenue)

Question: Isn't it nice to know that the Bonner County sheriff's race has gotten the attention of international media organization Reuters?

Caribou habitat comment period extended; Bonners Ferry meeting set

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Citing requests from Idaho’s governor, local governments and the Kootenay Tribe, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a 60-day extension for public comment on a proposal to designate critical habitat for woodland caribou in the Selkirk Mountains.

The federal agency made the announcement this morning along with scheduling a public hearing on the proposal for April 28 in Bonners Ferry.

The woodland caribou that range from North Idaho and a sliver of northeastern Washington north into British Columbia are listed as an endangered species.

Federal biologists have proposed designating 375,565 acres of high-elevation critical habitat in Idaho and Washington for the caribou. They say the designation would have little impact on protections that already are in place.

Idaho’s Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, and Boundary County officials asked for an extension to the comment period that was announced in November as well as additional opportunities for citizens to participate in public processes regarding the proposal, FWS officials said.

“We recognize the public’s interest in this issue and will work together to help citizens fully understand our proposal to designate critical habitat for caribou,” said Brian Kelly, the Service’s State Supervisor for Idaho.

FWS is re-opening the public comment period on the caribou proposal until May 21, 2012.

Read on for more details about the proposal and the public meeting in Bonners Ferry.

Schweitzer ski area expansion to be considered

SKIING — The Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission has scheduled a hearing next month to consider a Schweitzer Mountain Resort request for a zoning change to accommodate recreation trails and 11 more lots at The Spires.

The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. April 12 and the Bonner County Administration Building, 1500 Highway 2, in Sandpoint.

Staff reports on the proposal will be posted online at the planning department website seven days before the meeting.

Bonner County mounts case to remove caribou protection

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Bonner County commissioners in Sandpoint have approved spending up to $10,000 as part of plan to have Selkirk Mountains woodland caribou taken off the federal endangered species list, according to a story moved by the Associated Press.

Commissioners last week unanimously approved a plan that involves a contract with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a public interest law firm that focuses on property rights. Commissioners also approved a memorandum of understanding that allows the public to contribute money to the effort.

"We're going to seek out donors," Commissioner Mike Nielsen told the Bonner County Daily Bee.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1984 listed the caribou as a protected species. Woodland caribou, rarely-seen creatures with their antlers stand as tall as a man, are struggling to survive in the United States, precariously occupying one remote area of the Northwest as a final toehold in the Lower 48.

Continue reading, more from the AP:

Bonner Co Wants Caribou De-Listed

Bonner County is contracting with the Pacific Legal Foundation to petition the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to remove the southern Selkirk Mountain woodland caribou from the federal endangered species list. County commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to contribute up to $10,000 toward the effort. “Getting into contractual agreements with a not-to-exceed amount always makes the most sense,” said Commissioner Lewie Rich. A memorandum of understanding approved by the board also allows the public to contribute financially to the de-listing move/Keith Kinnaird, Bonner County Bee. More here. (AP/British Columbia Forest Service file photo: A South Selkirk caribou moving with its herd north through the Selkirk Mountains about three miles north of the U.S.border)

Question: Should woodland caribou be de-listed?

Bonner PRC Rejects Water Protection

As Bonner County Property Rights Council member Tom Cleveland explained, the whole idea behind drinking water protection in Bonner County was “with the blessing of the EPA” which he called a “Gestapo agency” and “out of control.” He followed with an ominous non-sequitur, warning that “people should start thinking about where their food is coming from.” And when his tirade was completed, the PRC unanimously* voted down the proposed watershed protection ordinance on Monday evening. Even setting aside Cleveland’s obscene Gestapo comment, and setting aside the fact that the EPA really has nothing to do with this proposed ordinance, logic and legal acumen was not exactly on display at the PRC Monday night/KEA Blog. More here.

Question: Do you envision the possibility of a Property Rights Council for Kootenai County someday?

‘Unreasonable’ PRC Opposes All

The bizarre Bonner County Property Rights Council (PRC) has issued its first draft “decision” in which they conclude that a simple common sense watershed protection ordinance is “unreasonable, unnecessary, and arbitrary.” How do they come to this conclusion? They simply presume ALL proposed ordinances are “unreasonable, unnecessary, and arbitrary.” Furthermore, as made clear from the eight pages of rambling nonsense in their decision document, no amount of evidence or reason is going to change their minds. In January, the PRC began its review of a “Watershed Overlay Protection District” approved by the Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission in August of last year. The overlay is designed to protect public drinking water supplies that pull from surface waters. The new districts would allow a public water supply to identify potential upstream risks and establish best management practices in order to avoid contamination of public’s drinking water supplies/Terry Harris, KEA Blog. More here.


3 Charged In Bonner County Murder

Three Bonner County residents have been charged with the murder of Michael Wyatt Smith, 19, (below) who was last seen walking along Peninsula Road in Hope, Idaho, at 11 p.m. Sept. 13, according to the Bonner County Sheriff's Office. Austin Thrasher, 19, (upper left) Thrasher's wife, Jennifer, 22, (middle) and Christopher Garlin, 19, (upper right) of the Cocalalla and Hope areas were arrested after several vehicles and firearms were seized by the authorities. The sheriff's department was tipped off to the possible murder of Smith on Jan. 6. His body has since been found in a shallow grave off Wellington Road in the Rapid Lightening area. Next of kin were notified in California last week. Allegedly the three suspects picked Smith up under the pretense of attending a party. Later, he was reportedly taken into a treed area near Cocalalla and shot twice. His body was transported for burial. Thrasher has been charged with first-degree murder; his wife and Garlin with accessory to murder. More here.


Hucks: Paranoia Strikes Deep

You may think the Property Rights Council birthed by Chairman Cornel Rasor and fellow commissioners is simply a strange extension of Bonner County government. But Right Side News online considers the council to be a “major new weapon in the fight against the UN.” Yeah, U.N., as in United Nations. (Remember that line from “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield? “Paranoia strikes deep, into your life it will creep.”) Right Side News explains the purpose of the council: “The mission of the PRC is to review county government activities and inter-governmental activities to determine whether the activities may cause adverse impact to private property rights. The PRC then is charged with supplying to county officials an opinion on that impact.” With tea party queenpin Pam Stout on the county payroll to oversee the council, you can bet those opinions come from the extreme right precincts of North Idaho’s political rabbit hole/DFO, SR Sunday Huckleberries. More here.

Question: Does Kootenai County need a Property Rights Council?

Bonner PRC New Weapon In UN Fight?

The paranoid silliness of the Bonner County Property Rights Council has evidently gone national. A far-right website (in their Homeland Security section, of course) has picked up on the establishment of the Property Rights Council and is promoting it as a heroic development in a battle against the forces of the United Nations and their monstrous “Agenda 21.” The headline calls the Bonner County Property Rights Council a “Major New Weapon in the Fight Against the UN”/Terry Harris, KEA Blog. More here.


Bonner County Rips Caribou Plan

Courtesy of Pecky Cox and As the Lake Churns, Rod Stafford provides this "Caribou Bob" 'toon, revealing the feelings of some North Idaho residents toward the region's protected caribou. You can see the rest of the cartoon here.

Question: Do you think Selkirk Caribou are overprotected in northernmost Idaho?

Blanchard Fire Claims 2 Women

Two bodies found in a home near Blanchard, following a fire early this morning are believed to be those of the homeowner’s wife and daughter. When Bonner County Sheriff’s deputies arrived, homeowner Robert Sands, 66, said he believed his wife, Mary, 52, and daughter, Angela Sands, 23, may have been trapped in the home, a news release from the sheriff’s office said. The fire began early this morning at 320 McDonald Creek Road and fully engulfed the home, the release said/SR. More here.

Tolerance Sculpture On Last Legs?

In this Jesse Tinsley SR file photo, Jeff, Alisa and Colin, 3, Brummer of Marysville, Pennsylvania stop to see the wooden sculpture called "Tolerance" at the Bonner County Courthouse in Sandpoint.

It has survived controversy, complaints and at least one arson attempt, but the Tolerance sculpture at the Bonner County Courthouse is not enduring the elements too well. “The legs are rotting off,” Commission Chairman Cornel Rasor said of the sculpture’s timbers. Commissioners began deliberations Tuesday on what to do with the sculpture, but put off a decision until they had a chance to discuss the matter with those who donated the piece to the county 11 years ago/Keith Kinnaird, Bonner County Bee. More here.

Question: Do those upright logs say "Tolerance" to you?