Hells Canyon

BriarCraft / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Power is working to improve water quality and habitat in parts of the Snake River upstream from dams in Hells Canyon.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that the utility company recently wrapped up a project to deepen a stretch of river and plant more than 18,000 trees near Walter's Ferry and other efforts in different parts of the river are expected.

From the Kyle McGrady collection, courtesy of Bob McGrady

Early in the last century, people living in Hells Canyon didn't have much contact with the outside world.  Their lifeline were  the mail boats that braved the challenging Snake River.  Former Lewis Clark State College professor Carole Simon-Smolinski has been studying Hells Canyon. She'll talk about the mail boat tradition tonight in Boise.  She says the boats started running around 100 years ago.

The Forest Service has received funding to buy a few privately owned parcels of land in the northwest. 

The money for the land buys comes from a federal conservation fund, that gets a tiny percent of the royalties from offshore oil drilling.

Debbie Okholm is with the Forest Service. She says more than 15 percent of the land inside national forest boundaries in the northwest is actually owned by other people. So the forest service focuses on acquiring that land.