Thursday, September 28, 2023

Please heed warnings to stay off the Middle Snake River! State authorities are working to contain, eradicate quagga mussel larvae

Quagga mussels coat a boat propeller in Utah 

Hi all, 

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) has confirmed the presence of quagga mussel larvae in the Middle Snake area between Shoshone Falls and the Centennial Waterfront Park below the Perrine Bridge. These findings mark the first time a rapid response plan has been put into action to eliminate quagga mussels discovered in Idaho waters.

This is something we all hoped would never happen. Like other Idaho boaters, I've been dutifully purchasing my invasive species stickers each year to support the statewide watercraft inspection program run by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture. Multiple boat-check stations across the state inspect hundreds of watercraft each year. They often intercept fouled boats from Lake Powell, Lake Mead or other places that have been invaded by quagga mussels.  

Watercraft inspectors hot wash a boat in Twin Falls. 

Somehow, someone launched a watercraft fouled with invasive mussels at some point in the Middle Snake region in recent weeks. They could have started an outbreak that could cost the state and others millions of dollars if the quaggas take root, multiply and destroy the river ecosystem.  

The introduction of quagga mussels poses a major threat to Idaho. All hands are on deck to contain and control the invasive species. Quaggas can quickly spread and clog pipes that deliver water for drinking, energy, agriculture, recreation, and a variety of other uses. These mussels also negatively affect fish populations and wildlife habitat. The mussels are highly competitive, persistent, and can create monocultures that will eliminate Idaho’s diverse biological landscape.

Even things like duck decoys and fishing waders need to be contaminated.

Gov. Brad Little and the ISDA are overseeing a swift response to the problem in coordination with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Twin Falls County Commissioners, the mayor of Twin Falls and more. In the meantime, the Middle Snake River has been closed to public use. It’s imperative that the public stay away from the river while further water testing is done, and treatment plans are developed, officials said.

What can you do to help?

  •  CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY ALL WATERCRAFT AND ITEMS THAT GO IN THE WATER – This situation is reminder to anyone who has watercraft or items you put in the water to be vigilant in practicing the steps of CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY before putting your watercraft or item back in the water. This includes boats, kayaks, paddleboards, canoes, oars, waders, boots, lifejackets, fishing gear, buckets, nets, and other items. Visit for information on CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY.

  • If your watercraft (including kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, boats, and others) has been on the Snake River in the Centennial Park area of Twin Falls in the past 30 days, please take it to an ISDA hot wash station in Twin Falls for proper treatment. Conveyances (items like duck decoys, waders, fishing tackle, etc.) should also be taken to a hot wash station. DO NOT attempt to decontaminate watercraft yourself. De-contamination requires a hot wash at 140 degrees F. 

  • Stay out – Closures are in place in and along the Snake River until further notice as the investigation in the area continues. The public’s cooperation in staying out of the impacted area is crucial to the success of our efforts. For current closure information, visit

  • Chemical treatment starts next week - Another reason to stay away from the river and let the professionals do their work.  

How can you stay updated?

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For more information about the quagga mussel issue, go here:

I have my fingers crossed that chemical treatments will eradicate the quagga larvae in the Middle Snake region. Even if there are some short term impacts to other species, it's hugely important to keep these invasive mussels out of the Snake River and all other water bodies in Idaho. 

Please do your part! 


- SS 

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Seven days of bliss floating the Main Salmon - River of No Return in Central Idaho

Shane Preston rows down the Salmon River as the morning sun rises over the mile-deep canyon.

Hi all, 

Last week, it was a real treat to float the Main Salmon - River of No Return as it cuts across the mid-section of Idaho in the vast 2.3-million-acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. 

As a private boater, I used to float "The Main" every year, but permits are getting harder to obtain! My last trip was in 2015, and that gave me enough time away from the canyon to truly appreciate its virtues. I've actually spent more time on the Middle Fork and Lower Salmon than the Main in recent years. 

Barth Hot Springs 

One of the primary virtues of The Main Salmon, in my opinion, are those deep river channels between the rapids. I love to dig my oars deep into the water, and slowly push through those long, deep-water pools, following the thread of current exhibited by a bubble line on the river's surface. Looking down at the water on sunny day, you see thousands of diamonds dancing on the water. Definitely a "wow" moment.  

Often times, just by the luck of having gorgeous weather last week, we had almost no wind. Some mornings we had this super-cool waft of downriver breeze that pushed us downriver in those deep-water channels, and I barely had to dip an oar into the river to make progress. I could just kick back and enjoy the mile-high timbered slopes on both sides of the canyon, look for elk and wild sheep, and check out the scenery. 

New Sapp Creek Rapids. We all ran down the far left-hand side and did fine. 
Right side was full of big lateral folding flipper waves.   

During our 7-day trip, we also experienced the new Sapp Creek Rapids below Allison Ranch - definitely a Class 4 rapids worth scouting - and witnessed the fire scars from this year's Elkhorn Wildfire. The fire scars extended from Magpie campsite down to Elkhorn Rapids ... a distance of more than 20 miles. The fire zone got hit with some heavy rain to form the new rapids at Sapp Creek, and also at Alder Creek, about 7.5 miles downriver from the Corn Creek boat launch. 

We had a great group of 9 people, four from Portland, including our friends Anne Daly and Keith Jensen, who snagged the permit, and the rest from Boise. We took turns cooking every night, and that made things seem really easy and relaxed. 

Keith Jensen is loving the retired life these days. He and his wife Anne are heading
for the Middle Fork in mid-September.  

With 80 miles to travel in 7 days, we only needed to cover about 12 miles a day, and that makes for a leisurely morning, and early arrival in camp, where you can swim and bake in the sun, read a book in a hammock in the shade, or just hang out in lawn chairs and marvel at the scenery. 

Keep in mind that you can draw a cancelation on the Main, post-control season, on, if you want to think about that this year or next. 

The bronze of Polly Bemis by her cabin was completed in 2021. 

Overall, the Main is a real treasure. We loved seeing the new bronze of Polly Bemis at the Bemis Ranch, where you can see her historic cabin, next to the time-share condo buildings. We also stopped in at Buckskin Bills for ice, beer and ice cream! 


Amazing to think we've been doing the Middle Fork and Main for almost 40 years now! 
Started doing it in our 20s (before kids) and now we're in our 60s. 

Magpie used to be one of our favorite camps. Wonder how this will look next year?