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Roundtable Discussions

Darrell Bolz, reported:

Caldwell continues it work on the downtown plaza as a way to bring people to downtown.  A group recently visited Rapid City, South Dakota, who put in a very successful plaza.  The site for the plaza is available and now awaits the approval of the city council.  New businesses continue to start in the Canyon county area.

One issue that concerns me is the price of gasoline.  In studying the price of crude oil and the price of gas today, it appears as though there is a discrepancy.  The last time that crude oil was the price it is today, gas was approximately $2.00 per gallon.

Art Beal, Idaho Resource and Development, reported:

In addition to our water trail and wildfire prevention that we have harped on, we are in the middle of a “Shade Tree” project to plant a shade tree on the west side of homes in the Treasure Valley to primarily reduce energy consumption but also will have air quality benefits.  We received a grant from the IDL several years ago to complete a canopy study to collect data on trees, buildings, hard-scape, etc. in all the Treasure Valley communities.  Using this data we were able to obtain another grant from INL in partnership with Idaho Power to implement the acquisition of about 1,000 trees planted each in the spring and fall of 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.  Idaho Power started off the program in 2013 prior to getting the INL grant.  Idaho Power will be producing reports as they follow up on these plantings.  The survey for the tree count netted about two million trees in the Boise area.

The Boise Forest coalition is working on the Clear Creek, Robie Creek area between Boise and Idaho City.  One of the problems encountered is how to work with the private landowner.  We believe that working with the local conservation district will be a way to involve the whole forest in strand management for disease and fire control.  The local district has included an article on strand value and management to come out this week. 

Lori Porreca, Federal Highway Administration, reported: 

ITD has hired a new Freight Program Manager and is also starting a statewide Freight Plan which is a continuation of the work previously done with the Statewide Freight Study.  The planning team is reaching out to stakeholders in the private and public sectors to participate in the planning process.  There is also a standing committee, the Statewide Freight Technical Assistance Committee, that will help provide recommendations on investments and policy related to freight to the ITD Board.  If anyone on the IRP board is interested in participating, please contact me and I will connect you with the new program manager and team.

Shannon Madsen, Small Business Administration, reported:  

  • Loans- Year to date loans = 520/ $170,210,969  (392 loan guaranty loans  128 CDC loans)

Up 65% from last year

  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) National Roadtour – SBIR Roadtour is coming to Boise 8/21.  The SBIR program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic and small businesses to engage in Federal Research/R&D that has the potential for commercialization.  Agencies with R&D budgets that exceed $100MM are required to allocate 2.8% of their R&D budget to these programs.  Currently 11 Agencies participate.
  • Broadway Bridge Project- SBA is working with the Boise Chamber of Commerce to assist small businesses impacted by the Broadway Bridge Construction (proposed 9 month project).  We are personally visiting small businesses, conducting trainings and workshops, and one-on-one counseling.
  • Rural Outreach- Economic Development team is aggressively outreaching to outlying communities to assist small business.  We are conducting workshops, trainings, counseling, and anything else requested.  We are collaborating with partners such as Department of Labor (DOL), Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and SCORE.  We are trying to assign new communities every 6-12 months.

Barbara Petty, University of Idaho – Extension, reported:

It is August so our county faculty are experiencing county fair season and our specialists have been busy hosting field days and tours, sharing their research with local producers.  Our summer internship program is just wrapping up.  We sponsored interns in several rural counties.  The interns focused on science, on-farm research and Extension, health and nutrition and 4-H robotics.  Two of the interns had a focus of reaching Hispanic youth.

Several of our UI Extension educators were awarded a National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant for $506,000 for a three-year project titled “Beginner Farmer and Rancher Development Program.” 

With support from the Idaho State Legislature and reassignment of another position UI Extension has hired four new 4-H Area Educator positions strategically located throughout the state.  We have also hired a new Area Educator in Farm Economics, located in Caribou County, a new Cropping Systems Area Educator located in Madison County, and a new Local Food Systems Area Educator to serve Ada and surrounding counties.  Boundary County has two new educators, one in agriculture with a crops focus and the second educator has a split 4-H/Family and Consumer Sciences assignment.  We have also filled the crops educator position in Minidoka County that has been open for several years and the livestock position in Lincoln County.  We are in the interviewing process for educators for Power County and Bear Lake County.

4-H Food Smart Families program is reaching limited income families and communities by teaching 10 healthy living lessons. The program is delivered by Teen Advocates, and UI interns who partner with Eat Smart Idaho Nutrition Advisors. Funding for 4-H Food Smart Families and Eat Smart Idaho is provided by the National 4-H Council, the ConAgra Foods Foundation, the Albertson's Corporation, the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food and Nutrition Services, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and the University of Idaho.

Cheryle Zwang, Idaho Bureau of Land Management, reported:

Idaho and Southwestern Montana Greater Sage-Grouse (GRSG) Final EIS (FEIS) and Record of Decision: 

The BLM as the lead agency, together with the Forest Service as a cooperating agency, is preparing one of fifteen sub-regional EISs as part of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service National Greater-Sage Planning Strategy.  The final EISs were the result of a robust, multi-year public process, including public scoping sessions, public meetings and a public comment period on the draft EISs.  The Idaho and Southwestern Montana FEIS and Record of Decision will amend 26 BLM and 8 Forest Service land use plans to address management of Greater Sage-Grouse habitat in Idaho and portions of Montana and Utah on approximately 9.2 million acres of BLM-administered lands and 1.9 million acres of National Forest System lands.

The Final EIS’s were subject to a 60-day Governor’s Consistency Review and concurrent 30-day protest period.  We carefully reviewed feedback from the Governors on specific aspects of the land management plans and worked to make changes and improvements, where possible.  We are in the final stretch of a four year-long marathon to develop plans in close consultation with the states, scientists and stakeholders, and we believe that the plans strike the right balance to put in place effective conservation measures that not only benefit the greater sage grouse but also preserve Western heritage and sustain rural economies.  We remain committed to working with the states to conserve the greater sage-grouse and its habitat such that a listing under the Endangered Species Act is not necessary. 

Gateway West Transmission Line, Segments 8 and 9:  Idaho BLM is preparing a supplemental draft environmental impact statement (SEIS) for segments 8 and 9 of the proposed Gateway West transmission line project.   The SEIS will focus on new information contained in the revised right of way (ROW) application and a proposed mitigation and enhancement portfolio (MEP) submitted by Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power, the companies proposing the Gateway West project.   As part of that effort, BLM is now in the process of identifying a preferred alternative and we expect release of the SDEIS document in the very near future.  

Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness Management Plan was released on April 20, 2015.  The BLM’s  final management plan covers the six wilderness areas and 16 wild and scenic river segments in Owyhee County, Idaho, that were designated by the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (OPLMA). The Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness and Wild & Scenic River Management Plan (WMP) form the framework for managing approximately 517,000 acres of wilderness and about 325 miles of wild and scenic rivers.   The WMP was appealed, but a stay denied; therefore the WMP is in effect and BLM is working through the appeal process. 

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act designates three areas to become part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, including the Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness (117,000 acres), White Clouds Wilderness (91,000 acres) and Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness (88,000 acres). These protected areas preserve approximately 276,000 acres of high mountain backcountry with crystal lakes and abundant wildlife.

The BLM manages more than 24,000 acres of the Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness, and 450 acres of the White Clouds Wilderness. The U.S. Forest Service manages the other federal lands within the wilderness areas.   BLM will be kicking off a Wilderness Management Planning effort, in close coordination with our sister agency, the Forest Service, in the near future and we will be involving all of our intergovernmental partners and the public in this process. 

Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA) will soon be benefitting from the formulation of a non-profit Friends group.  Idaho BLM is assisting and very supportive of this effort as it will benefit the public lands and resources, help to provide citizen science, education and interpretation, and enhance the engagement in and support of the NCA by partners, local communities and interested members of the public. 

Trent Clark, Monsanto, reported:

ST. LOUIS (July 16, 2015)  – A ribbon-cutting ceremony today in Filer, Idaho, marked the grand opening of Monsanto’s Wheat Technology Center, which will serve as the company’s core U.S. wheat breeding R&D facility and bring together people and processes to drive innovation in wheat breeding.

 “The Wheat Technology Center gathers some of the nation’s top wheat researchers to maximize sharing and collaboration,” said Kristin Schneider, Monsanto’s global wheat breeding lead. “From a breeding perspective, this will help us respond more quickly and efficiently to some of the challenges wheat growers face on their farms.”

Monsanto’s wheat program breeds and commercializes varieties in the major classes of wheat and has a network of hundreds of seed suppliers. In addition to a broad presence with its licensed WestBred Wheat brand in the West, Monsanto also licenses varieties to seed companies in the eastern United States. Schneider said increasing breeding efficiency will help bring wheat varieties to market with potential for increased genetic gain.

The Wheat Technology Center expansion includes a facility for wheat seed cleaning, trial preparation and seed storage, as well as two new greenhouse facilities with an additional 14,000 square feet of growing space and enhanced laboratory space. The expansion added 17 full-time employees and more than 20 contract seasonal positions at the Filer site, making it the company’s second largest in the state. Monsanto has approximately 1,000 full-time employees in Idaho.

“This is a big day in fostering research and development for agriculture, the wheat industry, and Idaho’s Magic Valley,” said Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little. “Monsanto’s Wheat Technology Center adds to an already fast-growing, world-class cluster of food science and food industry research sites in the Twin Falls area.”

Lt. Gov. Little and other Idaho officials were joined by academic experts and representatives from various wheat organizations. Dr. Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s executive vice president and chief technology officer, said collaboration throughout the industry will be needed to bring forward new technologies in wheat.

“Monsanto is committed to bringing innovations to wheat farmers, and we strive to do this in a way that helps farmers have better harvests while continuing to use resources like water, nutrients and land more efficiently,” said Fraley. “There are great opportunities that come with driving innovation in wheat, and the opening of the Wheat Technology Center is an example of our continued commitment to the industry.”

Monsanto is committed to bringing a broad range of solutions to help nourish our growing world. We produce seeds for fruits, vegetables and key crops – such as corn, soybeans, and cotton – that help farmers have better harvests while using water and other important resources more efficiently. We work to find sustainable solutions for soil health, help farmers use data to improve farming practices and conserve natural resources, and provide crop protection products to minimize damage from pests and disease. Through programs and partnerships, we collaborate with farmers, researchers, nonprofit organizations, universities and others to help tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. To learn more about Monsanto, our commitments and our more than 20,000 dedicated employees, please visit: discover.monsanto.com and monsanto.com. Follow our business on Twitter® at twitter.com/MonsantoCo, on the company blog, Beyond the Rows® at monsantoblog.com or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.

The following link is an article from Idaho’s own Joshua Wright that appeared in Forbes Magazine speaking to the issue of “not forgetting the ‘t’ in STEM” as it relates to the computer science field.  Trent added that Joshua’s point is correct for just about every other STEM job category, the “t“ or technician-levels are where the largest numbers of job openings need to be filled.

 The 'T' In STEM_ Getting More U S.pdf

Ann Joslin, Idaho Commission for Libraries, reported:

  • Josh Hightree will join Shirley Biladeau on our staff to give a presentation about IRP’s community reviews at the October Idaho Library Association annual conference. They will also give a presentation on the role of public libraries in community and economic development at the Idaho Economic Development Association annual conference in November.
  • We’re in the 3rd year of a grant to provide financial literacy workshops and resources through 9 public libraries in south central Idaho. The workshops use the Extension Service’s curriculum and address topics such as saving for college, identify theft, and refinancing a mortgage.
  • The Commission convenes “College, Career, & Coffee” gatherings the first Wednesday of each month for agency and organization staff who have an interest in helping more Idaho students graduate from high school ready for college or a career.
  • The Legislature funded a 1-year pilot for making MicroSoft’s IT Academy (ITA) available in all high schools and public libraries. Funding is through the State Department of Education (SDE), and we are working with them on training and implementation in the public libraries. A potential challenge for some rural libraries may be getting adequate broadband to dedicate to an ITA workstation.  SDE IT staff is prepared to offer technical support to small school districts and public libraries that don’t have dedicated IT staff.
  • The Commission is working with Department of Labor’s Workforce Development staff and other partners to craft a new state workforce development plan under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Public libraries are now eligible recipients of WIOA funds if they are part of the state plan.
  • Boundary County Library was recently visited by Senator Keough, Labor Director Edmunds, and representatives from Professional Technical Education and NIC to see the plans and progress of the MIT Fab Lab that the library is developing. (The library installed a ShopBot Buddy in July.) That project complements the work of the Commission in supporting maker spaces in public libraries. Now in our 3rd year and working with 21 libraries, the Commission is getting national attention for our approach to developing a maker culture for hands-on STEM-based learning in libraries. Our staff has been invited to 4 national events to highlight Idaho’s “MakeIT @ the Library.”

Maureen Gresham, American Planners Association, Idaho Chapter, reported:

American Planning Association, Idaho Chapter update currently planning the annual conference which will be held in Sandpoint, ID October 7 – 9th.  The conference is part of the services APA, Idaho Chapter provides to its members to give them the tools/resources needed to promote sustainable growth and development throughout Idaho.  It is also open to non-APA members and IRP partners are encouraged to attend.   

Pat Barclay, Idaho Council on Industry and the Environment, reported:

ICIE’s Practical Paths for 2015 is titled Technology and Innovation in Agriculture and will be held November 4th at the Red Lion Downtowner.  The Wednesday weekly radio program continues.  If you have any suggestions on environmental topics, let Pat know.  Elemental Idaho is a collaborative production of Radio Boise and ICIE.  

Stephanie Cook, Idaho National Laboratory, reported:

DOE Pulse

National labs put power behind NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto 

After a journey of three billion miles lasting more than nine years, NASA’s New Horizons mission finally flew by Pluto and its mysterious moons. The craft is powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) that was assembled, tested and prepared for launch by researchers at DOE's Idaho National Laboratory. New knowledge and scientific discoveries have been flowing from New Horizons since its closest approach to Pluto on July 14. The bounty of data will continue to trickle back to Earth for the next 16 months, and the craft's long journey will continue deep into the Kuiper belt — the vast region of icy objects and remnants of the formation of the solar system dating from more than 4 billion years ago. The RTG power system uses heat from the natural decay of plutonium­238 to provide an uninterrupted and reliable source of electricity and heat in the remote and harsh environment of deep space. Los Alamos and Oak Ridge national laboratories contribute to the production of radioisotope heat sources, and the power conversion system was constructed by Lockheed Martin in Valley Forge, Pa. INL then assembled and tested the radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) before delivering it to the NASA launch site. This virtual tour of INL's Space and Security Power Systems Facility describes the similar process INL completed for the Mars Science Laboratory's Curiosity Rover. “Not many people have to wait 10 years for the payoff of their hard work, but it is enormously gratifying to see the close­up imagery being beamed back,” said Stephen Johnson, director of INL's Space Nuclear Power & Isotope Technologies Division. “We still have many members of our team that supported the 2006 launch working here in Idaho, and the excitement about the new discoveries is really starting to build.”

Contact:  Joe Campbell, 208.533.7783, joseph.campbell@inl.gov

Senator Dan Schmidt, Idaho State Legislator, reported:

The Port of Lewiston has announced they are no longer going to ship using containers. This will cause a hardship for the Palouse farmers in that area to get their lentils and beans to market. There still will be bulk shipping out of Lewiston; most wheat is shipped bulk on barges.  The Port of Portland no longer handles containers because of the Columbia River barge and the larger container ships. The Port of Portland has also encountered labor issues.  This is an important concern in the Senator’s region.           

John Meyers, US Housing and Urban Development, reported:

CoreLogic released their 2014/2015 report on foreclosures.  Nationwide foreclosures declined by 28.9%.  Idaho from June 2014 to June 2015, we had 3,062 foreclosures compared to 4,152 for the same time period last year.  More information can be found at June 2015 National Foreclosure Report

In partnership with the EPA, HUD is conducting lead paint safety and healthy home training classes in Boise.  Some of the IHFA staff will be attending this too.  August 18th and 19th in partnership with Small Business Administration, HUD is conducting Section 3 training and 8A8 Program.  These will be held in Twin Falls, Nampa, and Boise.  September 16th will be their annual congressional briefing.  They expect to be on continuing resolution (CR) in October which will cut their travel.

Representative Donna Pence, Idaho State Legislature, reported:

Lots of good things are going on in the Twin Falls area.  There is a new visitor center next to the Perrine Bridge outside of Twin Falls which will help the economic development in that area. 

Glanbia has finished their headquarters in Twin Falls.  Glanbia Foods, Inc. is one of the largest producers of cheese and whey-based ingredients, and the largest barrel cheese manufacturer in the world. With four facility locations throughout Magic Valley, Glanbia Foods has two processing cheese plants in Gooding and Twin Falls, and two whey processing plants in Gooding and Richfield.

The new designation of wilderness area in Blaine County will be an asset to economic development for that region.

Erik Kingston, Idaho Housing and Finance Association, reported:

·         Congress is proposing a 93% reduction in HOME Partnership funds for 2016.  This will significantly impact efforts to create housing that is affordable and meets the needs of working Idaho families, veterans and the elderly. 

·         IHFA is gearing up to launch Avenue for Hope fund raiser in December.  There is a dollar-for-dollar match by IHFA’s Home Partnership Foundation. 

·         The 2015 Housing and Economic Development Conference takes place October 6th and 7th at the Boise Centre.  More information and registration is at 2015HousingConf.com.

·         The Idaho Chapter of the APA hosts its conference the same week in Sandpoint.  Erik and Jennifer Yost from Nampa will be on a panel exploring the recent Supreme Court decision on disparate impact and its effect on land use planning.  They will also discuss small footprint housing and its role in economic development. 

·         IHFA’s Housing First project team got to visit Opportunity Village Eugene, the gated community for the homeless featured in a video Erik presented during our January board meeting.    

Sheri Schwenke, U.S. Forest Service, reported:

Two of the National Forests in Idaho have been successful in using the Categorical Exclusions from Section 8204 of the Agriculture Act of 2014 (also referred to as Farm Bill) to increase the pace of restoration activities on National Forest system lands.

The Williams Creek Project is located entirely on National Forest System (NFS) lands in Valley County, Idaho on the Boise National Forest.  The Decision Memo was signed in May 2015 and a Stewardship Contract will be completed by September 30, 2015 using an Integrated Resource Timber Contract (IRTC).  Activities include commercially and noncommercial thinning and fuels reduction on approximately 1,457 acres.

The Jasper Mountain project on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest is located approximately 8.5 miles north of Priest River, Idaho on approximately 2,000 acres.  The Decision Memo was signed in May 2015 and activities include commercially and non-commercial thinning and fuel reduction.

In addition to these Farm Bill projects, numerous collaboratives are engaged in working with the National Forests in Idaho.  On the Payette National Forest, via the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, a recent decision was made on the Lost Creek Boulder Creek Restoration Project.  The Lost Creek-Boulder Creek Landscape Restoration Project encompasses approximately 80,000 acres on the New Meadows Ranger District in Adams County, Idaho.  Project activities include commercial and non-commercial vegetation treatments, fuels reductions, road management, watershed, wildlife and fish habitat restoration, and recreation improvements.

Two Forests are scheduled to begin their Forest Plan revisions in the next couple years; the Salmon-Challis and the Caribou-Targhee.  Here on the Boise National Forest, we are working as a cooperating agency with the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation on the Boise River Feasibility Study.  The purpose of the study is to evaluate options to increasing water retention capability while reducing the significant flood risk to Boise, Idaho and other communities along the Boise River.  The Idaho Water Resources Board is the non-federal sponsor for the $3 million dollar study. Potential measures include raising Arrowrock Dam up to approximately 70 feet in height which would inundate additional sections of the Middle and South Fork Boise River impacting roads, bridges, and recreation facilities within these drainages.  The road along the Middle Fork provides all year access to the community of Atlanta, Idaho could be impacted by this project and may need to be relocated.

Jess Byrne, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, reported:

As of July, DEQ has a new director – former Senator John Tippets from Bennington, Idaho.  Director Tippets’ background will be very helpful to DEQ particularly because of the heavy legislative agenda the agency has in the coming years, especially as it relates to the Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (IPDES) program that the state is currently developing in lieu of the federal program.

DEQ has a total of eight pieces of legislation that will be presented this upcoming session, two are more relevant to rural Idaho, one regarding allowing 30 year drinking water loans for non-disadvantaged communities and the other to allow the agency to charge fees for the underground storage tank program. Most of the other pieces of legislation related to the IPDES program.