Salmon Trails Planning & Placemaking Workshop April 12-14

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Salmon Valley Stewardship in partnership with Bureau of Land Management Salmon Field Office, Lemhi County, City of Salmon, and Lemhi County Economic Development will host a Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) Workshop scheduled in Salmon, Idaho, at the Sacajawea Center (2700 Main Street) on Wednesday, April 12 through Friday, April 14, 2017. This workshop is fully open to the public, though RSVP is requested for participation in daytime events Wed – Fri, April 12 – 14.

Please RSVP here, by March 29, 2017 or contact for more information about this event.

Visiting resource team members who will help local participants work through the planning workshop includes:

  • Ceara O’Leary – Senior Designer & Project Director, Detroit Collaborative Design                                                                                           

  • Amy Camp – Owner, Cycle Forward Consulting, Pittsburgh, PA (Workshop keynote speaker)

  • Laura Torchio – Deputy Director, Transportation Initiatives, Project for Public Spaces, New York, NY

  • John Bosio – Partner, Merje, West Chester, PA

Wednesday, April 12

9:00-3:30 – Workshop sessions (open to the public – please RSVP)

Setting the Context:

  • Placemaking, Tourism Pros & Cons and Common Ground 
  • Wayfinding
  • Community Design Process
  • Placemaking Connectivity presentation
    • Interactive Group Exercises
    • Place Mapping
    • Connectivity – opportunities, constraints, needs, priorities
    • Report outs from participants
5:30 – 7:30 pm – Keynote Presentation by Amy Camp, Cycle Forward Consulting 
Sacajawea Center – Open House – Appetizers and Drinks
Thursday, April 13

9:00 am -12:30 pm – Workshop sessions (open to the public – please RSVP)

Diving In:

  • Trails and Tourism – Touch on Long Term Land Use Planning
  • Wayfinding – Shared Community Identity
  • Best Practice Design Options – Connecting Outskirts to Town

4:00 – 6:00 pm – Community Design and Placemaking Activities with the Salmon Community

Veteran’s Memorial Park – Main St., Downtown Salmon

RSVP to one or both days of the workshop here.

Please RSVP no later than March 29, 2017.

Friday, April 14

9:00 am -12:00 pm – Wrap-up and next steps 

Team meeting, wrap-up, finalize next steps. Friday morning workshop session also includes a chance for engaged stakeholders and very interested citizens to have a chance to work with the resource team one-on-one.

The Community of Salmon was selected in a national competition to host a CIRD Workshop by a national partnership, including the National Endowment for the Arts, USDA-Rural Development, Project for Public Places and the Orton Family Foundation. The goal of the workshop is to create a big-picture design for Salmon Valley’s trails system, wayfinding and placemaking for communicating this locally designed recreational experience; an integrated system with continuity that sets our town apart by connecting people – locals and visitors alike – to the entire community. We hope to accomplish the following goals:

  • Explore commonly held community values to inform placemaking and develop our community’s main interpretive themes. If we agree on our story, we can invest in it, and more readily communicate our identity & values to visitors.

  • Forge new bonds among stakeholders such as local government entities, NGOs, public agency partners, and citizens  Leverage resources and inspire future investment and cooperation among stakeholders.    

  • Engage the public in evaluating community infrastructure and its use/significance, and explore intuitive opportunities for connectivity.   

  • Inform trails system wayfinding from the community of Salmon to outlying trails and recreation/cultural sites around the Salmon Valley.   

Pollinator Project and Kitchen Classroom

Hello! My name is Elizabeth Heck, and being an Americorp Vista Volunteer, I have had the wonderful privilege of participating in and coordinating an assortment of projects that heavily rely on the help of dedicated and caring volunteers.

One of those projects is the Native Pollinator Art & Education Project that took place the week of February 6th through 9th. It was early Monday morning, the week of the Native Pollinator Art & Education Project, when the SVS crew, local volunteers, and a team of educators from the O’Hara Commons & Sustainability Center in Hamilton, Montana met together, steaming cups of coffee in hand, to prepare for the first class of the day. With the Trailblazer loaded with art supplies and pollinator education materials, the
team was off to Pioneer Elementary School!

The first group of students to participate consisted of 5th graders. They rotated between education stations that exhibited colorful, vivacious posters, and painting the wooden cut-outs of pollinators. Each grade was allocated a particular pollinator cut-out ranging from: butterflies, bees, moths, beetles, hummingbirds, Sphinx moths, and wasps. Each group of students were also thoughtfully assigned a specific color palette of paints to ensure the best color combinations. As the fifth graders entered the room, they were individually tarped with T-shirts by the crew in lieu of smocks. The table was set with butterfly cut-outs, vivid paints, and paint brushes.

The students showed no hesitation, grabbed their paint brushes, and delicately dipped them in the assortment of fresh paint. The imagination of these students was incredible! With every purposeful stroke of the brush, the bare butterflies developed into colorful masterpieces ranging from the designs of the American flag to the sun setting over green, rolling hills. As additional groups rotated to the art station, the volunteer crew replenished the paint supply with new color palettes from squeeze bottles filled with paint. With the limited amount of time that students had to decorate the butterflies, every single wooden cut-out demonstrated the precision of a thoughtful artist.

After students put the finishing touches of paint on their pollinator cut-out, the crew delicately packed them up in pizza boxes so that they could be easily transferred without disturbing the drying paint. The crew then hastily packed up the art supplies and plastic tarps in tubs, and loaded them in the Trailblazer to prepare for the next group of students. Each class was not only intrigued by the art, but also the pollinator education that was tailored to their grade level. The Kindergartners were especially attentive to the educators from the O’Hara Commons, contributing their own personal encounters with pollinators. One student conveyed his pain and anguish of being stung by a bee. After learning that moths are important pollinators, another student admitted that his grandma is known as the “moth killer”; he then reassured the class that he abstains from killing the moths.

Every class from kindergarten to 8th grade produced uniquely, beautiful artwork that was gazed upon with awe and admiration by the crew. The installation of the pollinator cut-outs on the elementary fence in May will ensure that both the entire community of Salmon and people just passing through will get to observe and marvel at the picturesque mural of our important, native pollinators.

It was an honor to be a part of this exhilarating project. I want to genuinely thank every volunteer who contributed their valuable time and effort out of their busy day to assist with this project. We could not have successfully accomplished this without them! I look forward to the installation of these beautiful pollinators in May, and hope to see these supportive volunteers again, along with new faces who are also charmed by this exceptional endeavor.

I am currently launching a kitchen classroom pilot project at Pioneer Elementary with participating 3rd and 5th graders. The purpose of this venture is to introduce basic kitchen skills to young students. This program will help students develop the essential aptitude of preparing food and becoming familiar with tools in the kitchen. Exposing young ones to recipes which incorporate fresh food that can be grown in a garden at home not only provide them with life skills, but connects hands-on learning with academic standards in a fun, exciting approach.

The recipes for this five week project include: Veggie Rounds & Hummus, Mixed Greens Salad & Vinaigrette, Popcorn, Three Sisters Soup (squash, corn, and beans), and Quinoa Taco Lettuce Wraps. Students learn how to read and follow these simple recipes right inside their classroom with the help of portable kitchen stations. These kitchen stations consist of three, large plastic tubs that have an array of kitchen tools and supplies in them. It is sincerely a joy to observe the participation of these students. Watching them measure spices with a teaspoon and reaming a lemon awards me with a personal satisfaction that can be instilled only by aspiring and curious young minds.


Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition


Downtown Joseph, Oregon

Incoming Salmon Valley Stewardship executive director Toni Ruth and I traveled to Enterprise, Oregon, last week to spend time with a group of people who have had a profound influence on me. Longtime Wallowa Resources Executive Director Nils Christoffersen had offered up his hometown for the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition strategic planning retreat.

By retreat, I mean 13 of us stayed in a beautiful old (circa 1896) farm house with 3 creeky floors, 3 bathrooms, 1 deck, 2 porches, and the Eagle Cap Wilderness staring into our windows. Thirteen people sharing 3 bathrooms set the stage for cooperation.

The site of RVCC's strategic planning retreat.

The site of RVCC’s strategic planning retreat.

Many of us in RVCC live and work in the rural West, most of us interacting daily with the public lands in our backyards. Others in our coalition approach this work from cities like Portland and Santa Fe, or campuses in Eugene and Fort Collins. This combination of perspectives has proven to be a mighty one. RVCC has taught me the power of collective action, the neighborliness of sharing, and the value of persistence.

One of RVCC’s strategies that is so important to our work at Salmon Valley Stewardship is to insist that community benefit be a priority when public land management decisions are made. This strategy has the potential to save community schools, hospitals, and Main Streets, in addition to stewarding our forests and rangelands.

RVCC renewed our commitment to linking community benefit and stewardship of our land, air, and water. We agreed that this happens only when we knit our stories together, and we continue to connect and support the community-based organizations who are on the front lines.  By doing so, we leverage every place-based success so resource-strapped communities don’t have to re-invent the wheels of more productive relationships with public land managers, policies that serve the local workforce, and public-private partnerships that accelerate on-the-ground conservation.

Spending time in Wallowa County’s Enterprise and Joseph, it’s easy to understand why rural places are worth the extra imagination and effort. I am so incredibly grateful that my RVCC colleagues are willing to invest their time and considerable mind power devising strategies to strengthen the bond between people and place. As Toni takes the wheel of the SVS ship, I’m sure she will appreciate the able navigators of Rural Voices as much as I have.

RVCC 2016 Team Photo

Top Row: Nils Christoffersen (Wallowa Resources), Gary Burnett (Blackfoot Challenge), Heidi Huber-Stearns and Dr. Cassandra Moseley (Univ of Oregon Ecosystem Workforce Center); Middle Row: Jay McLaughlin (Mt. Adams Resource Stewards), Greg Block (Sustainable Northwest), Johnny Sundstrum (Siuslaw Institute); Bottom Row: Toni Ruth and Gina Knudson (Salmon Valley Stewardship), Bob Christensen (SE Alaska Partnership), Karen Hardigg (RVCC Coordinator), Nick Goulette (Watershed Research & Training Center), Dr. Zander Evans (Forest Stewards Guild)

Introducing New SVS Executive Director, Toni Ruth

Exciting news here at Salmon Valley Stewardship: Toni Ruth will step in as executive director of SVS this fall. Gina Knudson, who has been with SVS since 2006, will be the new collaboration specialist at the Salmon-Challis National Forest beginning in October.

Toni Ruth, courtesy of OpenView Photography

Toni Ruth, courtesy of OpenView Photography

Since 2005, Ruth has served on the Board of Directors of SVS as a founding member, secretary, treasurer, and most recently, Board President. Having served in this capacity, Ruth will bring a smooth transition to the organization, whose mission is to promote economic sustainability and a healthy environment in the Salmon River Valley.

“It’s with great honor that I step into the role of Executive Director and I look forward to putting my strengths to work for Salmon Valley Stewardship. I am deeply committed to SVS’s core values, mission, and our community and I plan on building upon what our previous Executive Director, Gina Knudson, accomplished for us. I’m extremely excited about working with our incredible staff, board of directors, and our community to guide our organization forward.”

Ruth holds a Ph.D in wildlife biology from the University of Idaho, and is in the final stages of completing a book, Yellowstone Cougars: Ecology Before and During Wolf Restoration, encompassing 15 years of research. She has lived in Salmon since 2005 and worked seasonally for Idaho Department of Fish and Game and as the High Divide Coordinator for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers since November 2014. She has worked as a biologist in the non-profit sector for over 20 years.

Knudson said, “My time at Salmon Valley Stewardship has been a highlight of not just my career, but my life. At a time when civil dialogue seems missing at the national level, the people of Lemhi County have managed to tackle tough issues and find common sense solutions that benefit both the community and this amazing landscape.”
“The idea that the Salmon-Challis National Forest would hire someone specifically to work on collaboration shows me how far we’ve come,” she added. “Not only do I leave SVS in the capable hands of Toni, a wonderful staff and dedicated board members, but I get to continue to work on public lands issues that are so important to me, my friends and family, and my neighbors. Win-win.”
Ella Deutchman, Salmon Valley Stewardship’s vice-president, noted, “Gina and Toni have been working together since 2006 with the common goal of building Salmon Valley Stewardship into an organization that promotes realistic, sustainable solutions to the tough issues that we face as a community.  Their combined efforts have resulted in a phenomenal organization.  I was invited to sit on the Board of Directors in 2013, an opportunity I enthusiastically accepted.   While I know that SVS will feel the loss of Gina, I cannot think of a more uniquely qualified person to tackle the job at the Salmon-Challis National Forest.  Likewise, SVS is fortunate to have an extremely qualified person to take on Gina’s legacy.  Toni has the experience and the vision to step into Gina’s shoes and continue the mission for SVS.  I feel extremely grateful to work with this organization.”

Heading to North Fork

I can’t think of a better place to talk about the future of public lands than North Fork, Idaho. Since the Lemhi Forest Restoration Group started in 2006, we’ve been going out in to the field with North Fork residents, outfitters who use the area, county commissioners, folks from out of town, firefighters, etc. We’ve talked a lot about fire, and rightfully so. We worked together on the Hughes Creek project, creating a more resilient forest that firefighters say saved their bacon when the Mustang Fire came over the ridge in 2012. We’ve seen young salmon and steelhead habitat improved thanks to the generosity (and patience) of conservation minded ranchers.

We have shared stories of favorite hunting spots, whitewater rapids, huckleberry patches, high mountain lake trout, wolf packs, wolverine, ATV trails, placer mining, and the Continental Divide Trail.

Upper North Fork imageOn Wednesday, August 17, at 2 p.m. we’ll meet where many of our field trips over the year have started — the North Fork Fire Station. Rumor has it that Amy Taylor and Darren Parker of Sen. James Risch’s staff will be joining us to see what a collaboratively designed forest restoration project can do to make communities safer from wildfire, improve forest health, and maybe even boost the local economy.

We’re taking advantage of having Sen. Risch’s staff in town so we’ve added a Part 2 to the field tour. Starting at 5 p.m., back at the Fire Station, we’ll talk about how community members and citizens can help direct the upcoming Salmon-Challis National Forest plan revision. We’ll highlight what is working on our public lands, and talk about areas that could be improved upon. Lemhi County is a public lands community. Our area is unique because nearly all of us live here because our livelihood is tied to natural resources on public lands or our lifestyle is.

Our existing Forest Plan is about 30 years old, and many of the assumptions made then are being challenged on a daily basis. The experience I’ve had working with the many, many people of the Lemhi Forest Restoration Group makes me believe that we can chart a future for our public lands that addresses the multiple reasons that people, and animals, have such an affinity for this place.

We’ll see you at the North Fork Fire Station at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17.

Meet Our Fish & Wildlife Service America’s Youth in the Great Outdoors Intern

Editor’s Note: Salmon Valley Stewardship and Lemhi Regional Land Trust have been honored to work with US Fish and Wildlife Service and their America’s Youth in the Great Outdoors program. We have used this program for the past 3 years to hire summer interns, exposing high school and college students interested in a natural resources career to on-the-ground work in conservation. We’ve been pleased to welcome Sam Zuger to our community this summer.

My name is Samantha Zuger and I am a student at Walla Walla community college in Walla Walla, Washington. I am pursuing a degree in Natural Resource Management and Technology. I was raised on a wheat farm in a small rural town on the Palouse and participated in 4-H and FFA for several years. I am very passionate about conservation and land stewardship. I am always trying to get outside to hike, fish, ski, snowmobile, or anything else I can find!

Samantha Zuger serves as this summer's SVS/LRLT intern thanks to an agreement with US Fish and Wildlife Service

Samantha Zuger serves as this summer’s SVS/LRLT intern thanks to an agreement with US Fish and Wildlife Service

I am really excited to be in Salmon for the summer. I have met many people so far, and I find it heartwarming at how welcoming and genuinely nice everyone has been.It makes being away from home not as difficult!

I can’t thank the Lemhi Regional Land Trust, Salmon Valley Stewardship, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enough for this wonderful opportunity to grow and broaden my knowledge. I am excited to learn more about conserving working lands, and I have started projects on conservation easement photo monitoring, and recycling baling twine and monofilament line so fish and wildlife don’t get entangled. This is my first job where I am working towards something I am passionate about and can’t be more excited to do so! I’ve always been told that when you love what you do you never work a day in your life, and so far working here I have found just that.

Discovery Hill Podcast Trail

Located at Salmon’s Scenic Discovery Hill Recreation Area, this 1.3 mile loop is well-suited to all skill levels!


Salmon High School Volleyball Team members assist Salmon Valley Stewardship and Salmon BLM Field Office with trail maintenance along Discovery Hill Podcast Trail.

The Discovery Hill podcast loop is approximately 2 miles northeast of Salmon, an extremely scenic and remote town of 3,000 situated between the Continental Divide Trail and the Salmon River Mountains. From Main Street (also Highway 93), turn on North St. Charles Street and travel 2.2 miles. The pavement ends after 1.3 miles, but the gravel road is easily passable in a sedan. A large BLM trailhead, parking lot, and restroom are on the right, but to get to the podcast trailhead, travel 0.4 more miles to a parking area on the left. The Salmon River overlook is to the east of the parking area, and the beginning of the podcast loop is to the west, just across the road.

There are 6 stops along the trail, where you can listen to descriptions of the unique natural, cultural, and social resources that make this area so unique, and which make Discovery Hill such a significant place in our community. Podcasts are narrated by Salmon’s own Jr. High and High School students.

To download the podcasts, visit our iTunes page

Stay tuned for six new podcasts in this series, coming soon!


Welcome Olivia Sasaki, Our 2016 Whitman Intern

Hello! My name is Olivia Sasaki, and I’m from La Crosse, Wisconsin where I enjoy hiking in the beautiful bluffs lining the Mississippi river and eating lots of ice cream and cheese. I just finished my junior year at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington where I am a Biology major and a Math minor. After graduation I hope to travel for a bit and maybe teach English abroad before going back to school and earning a teaching degree.

Olivia Sasaki, 2016 Whitman College Intern

Olivia Sasaki, 2016 Whitman College Intern

I’ve always loved the community aspects of school, so I’m eager to learn more about community outreach and engagement as well as biology, my favorite subject, this summer! Getting to spend the whole summer in the gorgeous Salmon Valley area isn’t too bad either…I’m excited to learn more about how the Salmon community navigates sustaining its economy while conserving the beautiful local environment!

Some projects I’ve started on are the Baling Twine Recycling Project, Trailapalooza, and the Salmon Bike Challenge, and I’m excited to take on more. Thank you so much to Salmon Valley Stewardship and the Lemhi Regional Land Trust for this fantastic opportunity!

From the Whitewater Capital to the Nation’s Capitol – Day 5

My final day in Washington DC ended on a couple of high notes. We started out meeting longtime Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition partners American Forests, The Nature Conservancy, Society of American Foresters, and The Wilderness Society. We talked about a shared commitment to helping find a policy fix for a problem that impacts almost all RVCC members — wildfires and their increasing share of the Forest Service’s budget. Will Whelan of The Nature Conservancy does a great job of explaining the problem, and realistic solutions, in this blog. I was also interested to hear that American Forests is placing a strategic focus on whitebark pine, something that has been near and dear to us at Salmon Valley Stewardship and the Lemhi Forest Restoration Group. A conversation that surfaced about the social and economic circumstances of the rural West that we continued later in the day with White House Rural Affairs Policy Advisor Doug O’Brien.

RVCC meeting with White House Policy Advisor on Rural Affairs, Doug O'Brien.

RVCC meeting with White House Policy Advisor on Rural Affairs, Doug O’Brien.

I was pleased to join some of RVCC’s most promising talent at this meeting. Becca Shively is an intern working with RVCC, Rachel Plawecki is our program associate, and Emily Troisi works with our partners at the Fire Adapted Communities Network. Rural Affairs are dramatically different throughout the country, and the dominance of public lands and the influence of factors like wildfire distinguish RVCC communities. We talked about the possibility of increasing the local workforce share of public lands contracts as one strategy to reduce poverty and outmigration in the rural West. We came away with an understanding that RVCC’s bi-partisan, non-partisan, anti-partisan approach to Rural Affairs and the conservation factors that influence affairs in the Rural West is essential, and welcome.

Rachel Plawecki, Emily Troisi, Gina Knudson (chaperone) and Becca Shively at our Air BNB.

Rachel Plawecki, Emily Troisi, Gina Knudson (chaperone) and Becca Shively at our Air BNB.

My time spent in the Nation’s Capitol (and time spent traveling to and from!) left me feeling unexpectedly optimistic. When we think of politics and the heartbeat of America’s political scene, Washington DC, we might bring to mind visions of mayhem or discourtesy. Instead, I feel proud to be affiliated with a coalition of people who have a vision of communities and environments that are alive, healthy, and productive. I feel humble and grateful to work side by side with people who are simultaneously brilliant and down to earth.

And then, of course, I feel thrilled to be back home in Salmon, my Capital City.

Click here for Day 1

Click here for Day 2

Click here for Day 3

Click here for Day 4


From the Whitewater Capital to the Nation’s Capitol – Day 4

When Rural Voices for Conservation first started, we knew policies at the national level needed to shift. Members advocated for collaboration to become the norm in decision making on public lands, for example. They helped find solutions like stewardship contracting that recognized the importance of local workforce benefit and ecologically intact communities.
This trip to Washington DC finds us with fewer policy fixes, and more inquiries about using the hard won authorities to truly make a difference on the ground. Because, believe it or not, change doesn’t happen overnight.
I had the pleasure of talking with several Forest Service leaders today. They recognize that groups like RVCC can not only help the communities find new ways to engage, but we can also help agency personnel adapt to what amounts to an exciting cultural shift. We are all in this together.


Astor Boozer, regional conservationist for the West

Astor Boozer, regional conservationist for the West

At the end of the day (after 2 fire drills that evacuated Senate and Agriculture buildings!), I met the charismatic Astor Boozer of the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Mr. Boozer is the NRCS regional conservationist for the West. His job is to help landowners put conservation practices in place. My best takeaway from this exchange is the enthusiasm NRCS shares with Salmon Valley Stewardship and our partners about protecting pollinators and monarch butterflies. I promised to keep them posted as we kick off the Pollinator Project later this month!

Click here for Day 1

Click here for Day 2

Click here for Day 3

Click here for Day 5