Behind the Stories

50 Years of Wilderness

By Bruce Reichert
April 8, 2014

Frank Church Wilderness near Elk Meadows [Credit: Jay Krajic]

Boulder Lakes in the White Cloud Mountains [Credit:Allen Powers] It's not every day that we explore the 50th anniversary of a piece of legislation that has had such a profound impact on Idahoans. But that's exactly what we intend to do in an upcoming Outdoor Idaho show, tentatively entitled “50 Years of Wilderness,” airing this fall.

The 1964 Wilderness Act has affected how we play and work in the outdoors. It has even affected how we view our surroundings and our place in the grand scheme of things.

Rafts on the Middle Fork of the Salmon [Credit: Bruce Reichert]There are those who think wilderness designation has been a real bust, especially when they view all the trees destroyed by the massive wildfires we've been having since the 1980's. And there are many more who say, “Whoa, we've already got 4.5 million acres of designated wilderness in Idaho. We don't need any more.”

Of course, getting any more wilderness in Idaho is virtually impossible, without a major collaborative effort similar to what folks pulled off in the Owyhee Canyonlands. In fact, one can look at the proposed Boulder-White Clouds national monument in central Idaho as a slick end-run around the Wilderness Act and around Congress, which must OK any new wilderness.

That's because getting a national monument only requires the signature of one person: the President. Using the Antiquities Act of 1906, nearly every president since Teddy Roosevelt has created national monuments, from the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty to lesser known icons. And some say it was the threat of a national monument in Owyhee County that brought folks to the bargaining table to hammer out Idaho's newest wilderness in the canyonlands.

We'll begin working on our “50 Years of Wilderness” show in April, when we join up with some folks following in the footsteps of adventurer Robert Limbert, who walked across southern Idaho's Great Rift in 1920, to publicize Craters of the Moon.

This group is planning to spend a week out on the lava flows, walking 60 miles to honor the fact that Craters of the Moon wilderness was the first designated National Park Service wilderness area in the nation.

Robert Limbert and Friend peering into a hole at Craters of the MoonMost of Idaho's other wilderness areas are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and we hope to examine each of these — the Selway-Bitterroot, the Sawtooth, Hells Canyon, Gospel Hump, the Frank Church River of No Return. We have been meeting with several Idaho F.S. employees to ensure that we get permission to enter these wilderness areas with our camera this summer, so we can tell their story.

Of course, we believe that Outdoor Idaho is the perfect venue to explore the complex and evolving nature of wilderness, and we're willing to go the extra mile to make it happen. Or, as our former general manager Peter Morrill commented in a previous discussion about filming in the wilderness, “we are not-for-profit and are owned by the people of Idaho. Our mission and our very DNA mean we exist to serve Idahoans with great educational content; and we've been recognized by the FCC, the IRS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the state of Idaho to do just that.”

Oh, and now that he's retired, Peter is planning to be one of our volunteers, helping us to tell the story of 50 Years of Wilderness. In fact, he plans to hike across the Frank Church in July, a distance of some 50 miles, with a small camera to document what he sees. Should be a great adventure!

Fire in Frank Church River of no Return Wilderness [Credit: Jay Krajic]

Idaho, the Adventure State

By Bruce Reichert
February 11, 2014

“Adventure Idaho” airs March 6th at 8 p.m.

The online publication “Adventure Journal“ conducted a poll last year, and hands down voted Idaho the best state for adventure. And that's the premise of our hour long show, that the Potato State really could be called the Adventure State.

Getting camera gear down the canyon [Credit: Tim Tower]Dozens of books have been written on all the amazing adventures that have transpired in Idaho. Trouble is, still photos – when available – only go so far in the TV world.

So we knew we had to tag along on some new adventures with our TV cameras. We also asked our Facebook friends to supply us with their GoPro footage; and we searched the archives for our own adventure footage.

Erik Ryan Rappelling down a waterfall in Poison Creek.



We also interviewed folks like Cort Conley and Jo Deurbrouck, two Idaho writers who have tackled the adventure genre in their work. They helped us explore some of the state's ‘big ticket’ adventures – like Lewis & Clark and some of the famous boatmen on the Salmon River.

Two ‘big ticket’ adventures would have to be those of Edith Clegg in 1939 and Mike O’Brien in 2012. Clegg was a widow and socialite who decided, when almost 60 years old, that her adventure would be to travel cross-country, from the Columbia River to the Hudson River, via a water route. Just going upstream in Hells Canyon in 14 foot boats with 9 horsepower motors took them a month; and her chief boatman nearly drowned in one of the rapids.

Mike O'Brien plans another hike around entire state of Idaho

In 2012 Mike O‘Brien circumnavigated the state of Idaho, a journey of 2,500 miles; and he did it in about 100 days. “About 100 miles of that was me walking in circles trying to find out where I was going,“ said O’Brien; “so if I was to do it again, it would only be 2,400 miles.“ Can you believe he's going to do it again, in 2014, at the age of 70? Simply amazing!

Snow shoeing to summit of Vienna Peak in Sawtooth National Recreation AreaOne thing we discovered is that today's weekend adventurers use the internet to connect with like-minded folks. We joined two recent adventures, and both trips were planned online in about a day. One required a rappel down a 60 foot cliff to get to the Bruneau River. The other, on Super Bowl Sunday, took us into Poison Creek canyon to rappel down a waterfall. Many of these adventure types came to know each other via “Idaho Outdoors,” a Yahoo page that now boasts about 1,800 members.

Our hour-long “Adventure Idaho“ program will also profile two Wood River Valley characters. Ernest Hemingway needs no introduction. And Dick Dorworth is a well known skier, now in his 70's, who once held the world ski speed record.

We'll also feature Idaho's Search & Rescue team, the ones who volunteer to help the unlucky souls whose adventures go south on them.

And here's something we've never done before: we asked our Outdoor Idaho Facebook friends to send us their best adventure footage. And with the help of the musical group Hillfolk Noir, we created a montage of GoPro footage using the song “Don't Fence Me In.” It's a real treat.

This show seems – even to those of us feverishly working on it – to be a real potpourri of stories and ideas. But maybe that can't be helped, ‘cuz these days adventure in Idaho is all over the map.


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