Behind the Stories

Outdoor Idaho’s 34th season

By Bruce Reichert
June 21, 2016

Scenic Valley near the Idaho/Canada Border | Photo by Chuck Cathcart
Almost Canada photo by Chuck Cathcart


Helicopter fly-overs of the new McClure-Jerry Peak wilderness...
a journey to the awakening ghost town of Chesterfield...
a wet, tricky descent into the breathtaking Owyhee Canyonlands...
a scramble to the very top of iconic 11,815 foot Castle Peak.

The new McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness-Boulder Mountains in background. | Photo by Jay Krajic
Jerry Peak photo by Jay Krajic
We're pulling out all the stops for Outdoor Idaho's 34th season. That's right, our 34th season! Not too many shows can claim that milestone.

Starting in October with “The Outfitters,” followed by November's “Almost Canada” and December's “Beyond the White Clouds,” Outdoor Idaho is definitely not resting on its laurels. Other titles in our upcoming 34th season include “Where the Road Ends,” “Desert Adventures,” “The Big Easy,” and “Off the Grid.”

Each of these programs presents a fascinating cross section of people and places, something viewers have come to expect from Idaho's award-winning series. And this summer is when much of the actual shooting occurs.

Outfitter Bill Bernt on the river. Photo by Steph Bernt Ellis
Salmon outfitter photo by Steph Bernt Ellis
Take, for example, the first show of our 34th season, “The Outfitters.” The men and women who comprise Idaho's outfitting industry are uniquely qualified to thrive in a wilderness setting. These are people you wouldn't mind getting lost with... except, they seldom get lost! With so much public land in the state, Idaho has become a national leader in the management of this important industry. We'll explore some of the issues facing lawmakers, federal agencies, and the outfitting licensing board.

But we'll also take you deep into the world of the outfitter, profiling river runners, hunters, anglers, and packers in their favorite parts of the state. It seems that the outfitting business is changing, even as the concept of “vacation” is changing.

If there's one part of the state that has been overlooked recently by the Outdoor Idaho crew, it's the part we're calling “Almost Canada.”

Outfitter Darl Allred forced off-trail by downed tree in Sawtooths. | Photo by Tim Tower
Sawtooth outfitter photo by Tim Tower
And come November, we plan to correct that oversight. It's kind of a different world up there, eh?

We've been called “the Wilderness State,” and with good reason. We have more designated wilderness than any state except Alaska and California. In 2015, Congress added another 431 square miles to the mix, in a place most of us refer to as the Boulder-White Clouds.

Of course, it's a bit more complicated than that, and we'll take you on an hour journey into the heart of America's three newest designated wildernesses: the White Clouds; the Hemingway-Boulders; and the McClure-Jerry Peak wilderness. We're already polishing off the adjectives!

We think there's something for just about everyone this season; and we hope to present some opportunities for you to actually participate, using our Outdoor Idaho Facebook page. So be watching and listening as we roll out our 34th season, starting in October.


Castle Peak - White Clouds | Photo by Peter Morrill
Castle Peak photo by Peter Morrill

Health of Our Lakes

By Joan Cartan-Hansen
May 19, 2016

Sunrise over lake


Chuck Cathcart safely on land.

Usually working on Outdoor Idaho is a change of pace for me. My major assignment at Idaho Public Television is producing Science Trek, our effort to teach science topics to elementary-age students. Producing an Outdoor Idaho is a chance to work on something totally different, but not this time. “Health of our Lakes” is science reporting, just with an outdoor flair.

Deborah Blum, the author of the book “The Poisoner’s Handbook” (which I loved) is also a national prize-winning science writer. When she starts a science story, she writes the first paragraph and then covers up all but the first sentence. She then asks herself, “Would I want to read the second sentence?” That is the challenge to science journalism. Can you capture your audience and keep them long enough to explain the science and help them understand why they should care?

Testing the Water.
The other side of science journalism is working with scientists. Some give you the cold stare and ask how you dare reduce their body of work to a shallow sound bite. I take that challenge personally. My parents were both chemists and I know how hard scientists work, how detailed they must be to do good research. And let’s face it; television is not the medium for fine detail. But television can reach a broad number of people and can inform people about issues important to their lives. This story was a chance to show off the work the MILES scientists and others are doing in Idaho’s lakes. It was also a chance to inform all our viewers about the importance of water quality. What is more basic and more important to all of us than clean water?

Fortunately, all of the scientists with whom we worked on this show were smart, gracious people open to sharing their work and kind enough to trust me to do my best to tell their stories. And even better, the work they do takes place in a beautiful spot. It was not too hard duty to be out on a boat in the middle of the lake on a sunny summer day.

Pat Metzler diving in for the shot.
This show required some of the Outdoor Idaho crew’s more unusual skills. Pat Metzler is a scuba diver, and he took his scuba gear and camera under the waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene to follow the scientists collecting underwater plants. It was a chance to capture a world most of us never get a chance to see... that is, when the swirling dirt didn’t obscure his view.

Jay Krajic had to tromp through mud, twist and turn on moving boats on various shoots, as did Chuck Cathcart. These amazing videographers are the ones who make Outdoor Idaho such an incredible show to look at and enjoy. I’m grateful to all of them.

We experienced one event in filming “Health of Our Lakes” that didn’t make it into the show. When we attended the Coeur d’Alene tribes ‘Water Potato Days,’ we were there to witness the tribe’s blessing of a number of hand-made canoes. Out of respect for their religion, we did not film or take pictures of the blessing ceremony, but we did capture a picture just before it started.

Finding Potatoes in the mud.
It was a fascinating and moving ceremony and I feel lucky to have been there. ‘Water Potato Days’ is so much more than just a chance to dig for a crop used by tribe members for generations. It was a chance for children throughout the area to experience the tribe’s traditional skills and understand the past.

And, there is nothing like the chance to film kids playing in the mud. I couldn’t resist not putting that in the show.

I hope that viewers will come away from this show understanding that we all play a part in keeping our water supply safe, the stuff for drinking and the stuff for recreation. I also hope viewers appreciate the work these scientists are doing on our behalf. They cannot do it alone. They need everyone’s involvement. There are links on this program’s website to find ways to be a part of the solution in the area, or contact your local Department of Environmental Quality office. The problem of toxic blue-green algae affects everyone in our world and we all need to be aware. If viewers get those messages, then our team created a good science story, with an Outdoor Idaho style.


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