BLM Continues Successful Partnership to Introduce Idaho Youth to Nature’s Classroom
School may be out for the summer, but nature’s classroom is always in full session in northern Idaho! Just ask the sixty kids who participated in a series of Watchable Wildlife Nature Camps throughout July, hosted by the BLM and Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
This summer, campers each morning explored nature’s classrooms at BLM’s Blue Creek Bay recreation site within the 736-acre Wallace Forest Conservation Area and BLM’s Mica Bay Boater Park along the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene. Along the many forested trails at Blue Creek Bay, explorers sought signs of wildlife – tracks, bones, feathers and fur. And they learned about forest ecosystems as they listened for and identified bird sounds.
At Mica Bay Boater Park, campers waded in cool waters to beat the heat, and searched for insects, fish, snails and even a few crawdads. Here campers learned about aquatic ecosystems, which are plentiful in northern Idaho.
To escape the heat, campers spent late afternoons at the North Idaho Wildlife Education Center in Coeur d'Alene, with wildlife mounts ranging from woodland caribou to tiny pygmy owls and even a “bat room” that simulates a cave. The diverse assortment of raptors, owls, fish and mammals offered campers hands-on experiences, such as learning what owls eat by dissecting owl pellets. Campers looked for mouse bones and other interesting items that owls don’t digest during just one of the fun and cool “classroom assignments” of camp.
-Suzanne Endsley, Public Affairs Specialist for BLM Idaho Coeur d'Alene District
You may be surprised to find out that the BLM wild horse and burro adoption process doesn’t end once the animal leaves the adoption facility. In order to obtain a full title, a horse or burro must reside with the applicant for one year and meet the BLM criteria. After one year, BLM sends the applicant an eligibility letter. The letter must be signed by the applicant and a veterinarian or extension agent to verify the health of the animal. Once the letter is returned to the BLM and cleared, the owner will be provided the title to the animal. BLM range assistant Denice Morgan recently conducted a compliance check to verify that two burros adopted from a 2012 adoption were doing well. Sophie and Maggie were found to be healthy and happy. Owner Stefanie Simmons has a fondness for animals and has gone out of her way to make homes for many strays like these two burros.
While conducting monitoring work, BLM Idaho Rangeland Technician Jason Lierman happened upon a baby badger and its mama trying to cross the Horse Butte road in the Jarbidge Field Office. Watch to see what this protective mama does next!
Although this unusual tool might resemble the funky-looking proton pack used by the Ghostbusters team to dissipate ghosts in the 1984 movie, it actually has another purpose. BLM staff use the resist-o-graph to learn more about what’s going on inside a tree. For recreation managers, that’s especially important because although a tree can look great from the exterior, what’s going on inside could be a recipe for disaster.
Trees are an important element of each recreation site for the BLM’s Coeur d’ Alene Field Office. The plentiful trees offer shady spots for afternoon family picnics and add to the beauty of these lake-based sites. But stresses such as windstorms, ice or lightning as well as infestations from bugs and disease can take a toll on the integrity of the trees, turning this natural beauty into a public hazard.
BLM chooses an individual tree, as part of a sample group of trees, to test and then uses the tool to bore into it using a micro-sized drill bit. As the bit moves through the interior, the resistance caused by solid wood or the lack thereof is charted onto graph paper. The graph provides the scientist on-the-spot knowledge of gaps or hollows in the core that could mean the tree is potentially unstable. This information is then reviewed to determine if action needs to be taken to ensure the safest situation for the nearby recreating public.