Behind the Stories


By Melissa Davlin
September 23, 2015

The Owyhees that straddle the Oregon-Idaho border are home to gorgeous varieties of jaspers and agates.

A selection of fossils found at Clarkia Fossil Bowl. The fossils found at Clarkia are 15 million years old, and attract researchers from around the world.
At the top of the bookshelf in my living room sits a cardboard box filled with stones and pebbles. I call it Garrett's Rock Box, and whenever he has a chance, my two-year-old son will show off his collection to visitors.

The rocks aren't remarkable from a geological or aesthetic standpoint, but something about each one of them had caught Garrett's eye. Every time we go on walks, he scans the ground for a rock, pine cone or acorn to stick in his pocket and add to his stash. (We keep Garrett's Rock Box out of reach because he has a tendency to throw the rocks when he gets excited. I'm hoping he grows out of this.)

Whenever he sticks another rock in his pocket, I'm reminded of “Rockhounds” and the people I've met while working on this episode.

Star garnets, Idaho’s official gem.
When I was assigned to produce half an hour about rockhounders, I wasn't sure how to approach the show. It was my first Outdoor Idaho, and though I'd gone garnet digging and fossil hunting in north Idaho in college, I can't say I'd ever been interested in making it a hobby. So I started making phone calls, which led me to rockhounding enthusiasts across the state.

Regardless of their specialty or experience, each was friendly and eager to help. The reporting trips took me to some of the most gorgeous places in Idaho, some of which I'd never been to despite living in the state for 30 years. My personal favorite: a trip to hunt jasper and fossils in the Owyhees with rockhounders Brent Stewart and Greg Biebel. The journey took a few hours, and we spent the last leg on ATVs that allowed us to ride into a steep canyon with breathtaking views.

Outdoor Idaho photographer Seth Ogilvie shoots video at the Emerald Creek garnet area.
I learned plenty about production during the assignment, too. I have a background in print journalism, and while I've worked on Idaho Reports for two legislative sessions, I quickly (and painfully) realized producing outdoor programs is a different beast. The shooters and editors I worked with were mostly patient with me during the process, and hopefully, the next Outdoor Idaho I work on will go more smoothly.

There was another snafu: in early July — right in the middle of writing “Rockhounds” — a freak storm slammed Boise, resulting in a flooded production area and a couple inches of water in our offices. I was on vacation at the time, but other IdahoPTV employees saved my belongings from the flood.

Among those items: All the rocks and fossils I had collected over the previous 12 months while producing
“Rockhounds.” General manager Ron Pisaneschi had carefully packed them up and labeled the box “MELISSA'S ROCKS.”

Now both my son and I have our rock boxes, and I'm beginning to understand the allure.

Outdoor Idaho photographer Jay Krajic films near Clarkia, Idaho.

The Boise: Old Friend, New Understanding

By Peter W. Morrill, Volunteer
September 4, 2015

Photo by Peter Morrill

. Photo by Peter MorrillSometimes you think you know everything about an old friend. Such is the case with the Boise River. My image of it is a lazy summer afternoon, with people floating through cottonwoods, traveling down its crystal clear waters. All of this amidst Idaho's largest city. Simply amazing.

Over the years, I have traveled along sections, but never in a way that allowed me to see the river completely. There is so much more to it, beyond what we see each day. In fact, I'd venture to say that the Boise is the state's best known Idaho river that few have fully experienced, including me.

It is the dominant, life-giving source for this region of Idaho. It also helps shape the personality of the capitol city. If the foothills provide the backdrop, then the Boise must be its liquid soul. So, when the chance came to volunteer to shoot video and explore from its namesake to its headwaters, I readily agreed.

. Photo by Peter MorrillThe project began in late August, when friend Rick Gerrard and I drove the 80 bone-jarring dirt miles, to film the river from Boise to Atlanta, Idaho. There we met up with an Outdoor Idaho crew led by Executive Producer Bruce Reichert and Videographer/Director Jay Krajic. Our group then hiked 16 miles to Spangle Lakes, the headwaters of the Boise River, in the heart of the Sawtooth Wilderness. All this work was to gather video for a new, one hour documentary entitled “Idaho Headwaters,” premiering December 6, on Idaho Public Television.

What surprises me most about this remarkable river are the personalities it reveals... and the challenges it faces. Alpine stream, classically clear Idaho river, deep blue reservoir, urban wildlife habitat, and sadly, over-worked resource.

. Photo by Peter MorrillFrom its genesis in the rock formations at 9,000 feet around Spangle Lakes, its water quickly picks up volume as it descends past Flytrip, Rock and Mattingly creeks, to the historic mining town of Atlanta. There it meets the first of many dams and diversions. The flow continues through deep canyons, past mining claims, to the reservoirs of Arrowrock, Lucky Peak, Diversion and Barber Pool, before it passes gracefully through the city of Boise. From there, the river’s personality evolves into an over-worked resource, with its final 60 mile drive to its confluence with the Snake.

The 120-plus mile length of the Boise River isn't much compared to the Salmon or the Snake, whose distances are measured in hundreds and thousands of miles. But what it lacks in size, the Boise excels in sheer natural beauty and life-sustaining qualities benefiting the state and region.

After working on the Headwater's project, I know that I will never look at this remarkable river, this old friend, in quite the same way again.

Photo by Peter Morrill

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